Top Of My Head

Thoughts on everything from Politics to Video Games

Tag: Unions

Being Anti-Union Equals Anti-Worker

In nearly every single argument regarding Unions I receive two responses:

  • Unions did a lot, but we don’t need them now.
  • Unions protect bad workers, so we don’t need them.

I find both of these arguments ridiculous and let me tell you why.

Unions protect bad workers, so we don’t need them.

I have had a lot of jobs in my lifetime and I have never belonged to a Union.  At a lot of my jobs, I have sat next to or worked with someone who to put it bluntly sucked at their job.  They either didn’t work very hard (or, as hard as I think they should) or they were difficult and some we’re so busy holding on to knowledge that they actually hindered the work of the people around them.  Some people in this world are lazy.  This isn’t an opinion – it is an observable fact.  Some people rise as far as they can on the food chain and then stop putting in the effort – in other words – they just do what they need to do to get by and that’s it.

But, to say that Unions protect bad workers as a reason to not have a Union means that you’ve never experienced how bad workers are protected every day.  I once worked with a woman that was so bad that I wondered if she had pictures of our boss dancing naked at a pool party because nothing ever happened to her.  I don’t know if he felt sorry for her or what, but she did as little as possible and when you asked her a question, you usually got a blank stare.  For the record, I hate blank stares and I hate pulling someone’s teeth to get an answer, so I become an non-team player and just go find the answer myself and refuse to work with people who don’t want to work with me.  Oh, I’m pleasant, but pretty much, I’m calling you a moron in my head.

We’re never going to eliminate bad workers, but eliminating protections for good workers just to punish the bad ones is a lousy idea.

Unions did a lot, but we don’t need them now.

I once had a job where I busted my butt.  I was the second one in (in a group of 35) and the last to leave at night.  I would stick around work writing reports until 6 or 7 after arriving in the office at 8 and skipping lunch or eating at my desk.  I received near perfect reviews, which should have translated into large raises, as you received a percent based on the five point scale you met (earn a score of 5, you received 5%, for example).  However; since I was at the top of the food chain for my wage group, I never received the top raise.  Never, not once.  And, before you say, “Well, Julie, that’s just one job.”  This has actually been at the last three jobs I’ve held.  It’s one of the reasons I move around – to get that wage I feel I deserve.

At one position, I was told by my boss that yes, I did a great job; but you’re overpaid, so I’m not giving you a raise.  That wouldn’t happen in a Union position.  There would be set rules to follow.  I’m all for merit pay, but it seems like merit pay means, bust your ass and we’re give you whatever we feel like giving you.

Now, I’m blessed in that I have a college degree and I work in a field that has more positions than available workers.  When I’m unhappy or feel unappreciated, I just send out my resume and, usually, within three months (sometimes more, sometimes less) I have a brand new job with a brand new higher salary.

However; most people aren’t blessed to have a skill or live in an area where their skill is in high demand.  They get what the market pays and when times are a little tough, they cut salaries of the workers.

Have you ever noticed that CEOs never take pay cuts?  CEOs always have health care.  CEOs have paid sick days and vacation days.  Why is that?  Have they worked harder than the rest of us?  Hardly.  Have they made the company more profitable or run better?  Only if they’ve laid off a bunch of people for the first one and not very likely for the second.  There’s a reason the CEO of your company doesn’t want the workers to join a Union.  And, it has NOTHING to do with “You shouldn’t have to join a Union to work here.”  When employees join together to negotiate salaries and benefits, all of the employees benefit: from the dishwasher up to the computer programmer or sales clerk.

Want some hard facts?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), “In 2012, among full-time wage and salary workers, union members had median usual weekly earnings of $943, while those who were not union members had median weekly earnings of $742.”  That’s a difference of $201.  Over the course of a year, the amount adds up to $10,452 more that the Union member earns.

Still think Unions are bad for you?

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Recall Governor Scott Walker

Today kicks off the effort to remove Scott Walker from the Governor’s office.  We could’ve saved ourselves a lot of trouble and never voted him to be Governor in the first place, but that’s another story.

So, why remove Governor Walker?

He’s done almost exactly what he said he would do.  We are now all able to carry concealed weapons in this state.  He’s limited the power of those nasty unions.  Wisconsin is now open for business.  He’s created more jobs.

Um, wait, no he hasn’t.

Now, pay attention:  Governors and Presidents do not create jobs.  Small businesses and corporations create jobs.  People purchase items, which creates demand, which creates the need for more employees, which creates jobs.  Companies are not going to hire merely because they’re sitting on millions of dollars.  Most of the large corporations and companies (I am not discussing small businesses, because I don’t have the facts about them) that had trouble are now back in the black.  A lot of corporations are showing record profits on the books.  Thanks to tax cuts, subsidies and other benefits, they aren’t paying all that much in taxes.

They’re not hiring.  Why?  Because there’s no demand there.

Now, that said, I would like to point out that unemployment rate in the state of Wisconsin was 7.4% in January, 2011 – when Scott Walker took office.  With the exception of a brief moment (April, 2011 7.3%), the unemployment rate has steadily grown to a high of 7.9% to 7.8% (September, 2011).

Walker’s campaign was about how we were going to balance the budget and create jobs.  He pounded his Wisconsin’s open for Business slogan until you wanted to choke him with it.  He hasn’t created jobs.  Unemployment has gone up and not down.

Is it fair to judge him on something I really don’t think he could do anyway?  Yes.  Yes, because job creation was his own standard.  He was opening Wisconsin for business.  He was going to create jobs.  Then, he turned away the millions for the high speed rail system and cost the state 4,000 jobs.

And, the lack of jobs isn’t my only beef with him.  He’s made our state unsafe with the concealed carry law.  Sorry, no – I don’t believe that every single person who legally obtains a weapon is sane, rational and knows how to use it.  No, I don’t think being able to carry a weapon into bars and office buildings make us all safe.  Just one example:  Charles Julius Guiteau legally obtained his weapon and he used it to shoot a president.  (That’s one example, from 130 years ago, but this discussion isn’t about concealed carry.)

Anyway, there’s only been 2 successful recalls of governors in US history – let’s make it 3.

RECALL WALKER!!!

And, while I am not affiliated with this group in any manner, here is a link to United Wisconsin’s website.  You’ll learn even more information on the recall effort and why you should support the recall.

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Walker’s Anti-Union Success

If the budget was all about balance and not destroying unions, then why – as a friend put it – did “Walker and his henchmen” pull the collective bargaining rights out and pass it?

I’ll tell you why. This isn’t about our great state. It is about Governor Walker making his friends over at Koch Industries happy. Watch who takes over our state owned energy assets and then ask yourself if this was about a balanced budget.

Worse – he campaigned on how he will create jobs. I don’t see anything in this budget that has created one job.

Can you say RECALL, boys and girls?

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Walker’s Budget – Bad for Wisconsin

Even if Walker’s budget didn’t include the restricting of rights for our fellow citizens, it would still be bad for Wisconsin.  I applaud our Democratic lawmakers who have stood firm in their joint refusal to return home.  They are true PATROITS, who do not want our state sold to the lowest bidder, as Walker and the rest of the Republicans want.

Let’s look at the Senate bill, shall we?

Right there on Page 6 is this paragraph:

“Currently, this state owns and operates numerous heating, cooling, and power plants that were constructed by the state to provide heating, cooling, and power to
state facilities. The Department of Administration (DOA) determines the method of operation of these plants and may delegate this authority to any other state agency that has managing authority for a plant. This bill permits DOA to sell or contract for the operation of any such plant. The bill exempts such sales and contracts from the requirement for approval of the Public Service Commission (PSC) that may otherwise apply under current law. The bill provides that the net proceeds
of any sale, after retirement of any outstanding state debt and any necessary repayment of federal financial assistance, is deposited in the budget stabilization fund. The bill also allows DOA, at any time, to petition the PSC to regulate as a public utility any person who purchases or contracts for the operation of any plant under the bill. Under current law, the PSC has regulatory authority over public utilities, including the authority to set rates for utility service.”

Now, take a look at this section (Page 26).

16.896 Sale or contractual operation of state−owned heating, cooling, and power plants. (1) Notwithstanding ss. 13.48 (14) (am) and 16.705 (1), the department may sell any state−owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49 (3) (b).(emphasis mine)

Right there, Walker is giving away our state. It doesn’t mention how much money our “numerous heating, cooling, and power plants” might bring into the state. It doesn’t say how much money the state will make off the sale. And, if we sell off the plants, won’t that mean the state will then have to pay for the privilege of using plants we paid to build and maintain?

And, let’s think who is going to benefit from this no-bid, no approval sale?  Could it be Koch Industries – Walker’s second highest campaign contributor?  You watch – bill passes, Koch moves in – state loses.

What’s next?  Oh, yes,  he wants to take away state employees’ rights to protest the state government.  Take a look, it is on page 5.

“Under current law, the governor may declare a state of emergency if he or she determines that an emergency exists resulting from a disaster or the imminent threat of a disaster. This bill authorizes a state agency to discharge any state employee who fails to report to work as scheduled for any three unexcused working days during a state of emergency or who participates in a strike, work stoppage, sit−down, stay−in, slowdown, or other concerted activities to interrupt the of operations or services of state government, including specifically purported mass resignations or sick calls. Under the bill, engaging in any of these actions constitutes just cause for discharge.” (emphasis mine)

I don’t have a problem with demanding employees to show up for work during a state emergency, but saying that they will be fired if they strike? That’s going too far. We don’t allow private companies to fire striking employees and public employees deserve the same rights as the rest of us.

I want to digress from going over the bill for a moment and point something out.  Someone I know keeps harping on Wisconsin teachers and how they need more competition, etc.  I would like to point out that indeed Wisconsin teachers’ salaries are in the top 50% of the nation.  I would, also, like to point out that so are our children’s test scores.  We pay our teachers more than 50% of the nation and in return we have students who test in the upper 50%.  For what more could you ask?

Then there is the Assembly bill, which has all ready passed.  That’s where Walker takes away the funding for family planning.  In other words, even if you’re poor, you don’t get birth control pills.

Under current law, DHS provides funding for family planning services, including maintaining a state plan for community−based family planning programs and specific annual grants. This bill eliminates this family planning services funding.

(emphasis mine)

According to the Huffington Post, this will save the state a whole 1.9 million dollars a year.  Has Walker thought about how much having unwanted babies will cost the state per year?  They’ll need childcare, food (more money from WIC) and educations.  According to BabyCenter‘s calculator, the total cost of raising a child in the Midwest from 0 to 18 is $243,068. I don’t know how much of that will be paid by Wisconsin taxpayers, but I’m sure some of it will. How about we don’t have the mother become pregnant in the first place? I’m sure we can find other ways of saving 1.9 million. We could always make Walker pay for his own residence and not maintain the governor’s mansion for him. According to State Sen. Bob Wirch (quoted on PolitiFact), it costs one million dollars over a four year term. If Walker paid his own way, we could save $250,000 per year. It would at least be a start.

If this isn’t enough to convince you that Walker and his budget is bad for Wisconsin, well, I just don’t know what else to say.  There are more items, but I’m not done reading the thousand plus pages of the budget.

So, as I’ve said before and I’ll say again, Let’s RECALL Walker!

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Saving Unions in Wisconsin

Walker won’t negotiate and remove the ban on collective bargaining. This is not only wrong, but it is making a mockery of our great state. I saw an article on Huffington Post and now I know why he isn’t backing down.
His largest campaign contributor – Koch Industries – is anti-union. They, also, have the most to gain by the passage of this bill. The bill will “allow the state to sell or contract out any state-owned energy asset in no-bid deals with private corporations.”
Walker is going to sellout our state much like Scott McCallum did when he sold our tobacco settlement for pennies on the dollar.
I’m pushing for a recall of Walker and his bad ideas.
Who’s with me?

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Shutting Down the Unions

Ever since Ronald Reagan fired the striking Air Traffic Controllers, Unions have been getting a bad rap in this country and the newly elected Republicans want to take them down ever further.  American workers need the ability to collectively bargain.  They need to know that they cannot be fired without a reason.  Companies should pay a fair wage for a fair day’s work.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we?  We keep hearing from the right that we should get back to tradition values and our traditional country, so let’s take a look at what that means – what life was like for non-union workers at the turn of the century.

People worked in sweatshops with no required breaks for coffee, lunch or even bathrooms.  They worked six or, in some cases, seven days a week for wages that would barely feed their families.  The idea that women stayed at home, tending to home and hearth is a fallacy.  They worked just as hard as their husbands did, maybe even harder, since once home, they had to attend to home and hearth.  Children worked alongside adults for half the money.  This was all before the unions.

Back then, companies hired strike breakers to keep their employees’ wages low and their own profits high.  The government past laws to make it unlawful to participate in unions.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

We forget how far we’ve come.  Instead, we’ve been fed a belief that companies “care” about their employees and they’re willing to look out for our well being.  Oh, there are some companies that truly believe in the American way of life, but they’re rare.

Now, instead of hiring thugs to keep the unions out, companies hire other companies to give talks and lectures on the “dangers” of unions.  They’ve actually managed to convince hard working people that unions are bad and that the big brother company knows best for you.  I’ve sat through these lectures and talks.  I’ve heard these anti-union people speak.  They’re good at what they do.  I sat through these lessons of lies while working for a family owned company (not the one I’m at right now) and heard these speakers talk about making the heads of the union rich with the employees’ dues – totally ignoring the fact that through our hard work and sweat, we’ve made the owner of the company a very rich man.

Now, according to a New York Times article, our newly elected Republican officials want to weaken unions even more than they are.  Our very own “Scott Walker of Wisconsin, are even threatening to take away government workers’ right to form unions and bargain contracts.”  That’s just one step away from taking away private workers’ rights.

Doesn’t that scare you?  Even a little?

It does me.

Ask yourself this:  Who benefits when workers cannot form unions?  Is it the worker?  No, it isn’t – it is the company.  Companies do not like unions.  There was a time when the threat of a union could force an employer to give fair raises to its employees.

Company thugs no longer weld baseball bats – they weld laws written by anti-worker politicians.  They’ve come for your fair wages, health care and benefits.  The whole time, they’re lying to you – the American worker – by saying that this is for your benefit.  This will help the workers, this will help the taxpayers.

No, taking away the right to collectively bargain contracts only helps the Businesses.  The government has all ready made it easier for businesses to send our jobs overseas.  Now, they want to make it easier for businesses to pay you less and work you more for the jobs that are still here.

Henry Ford once said, “There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: Make the best quality of goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible.”  It is really too bad that our CEOs have forgotten his words.

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