Top Of My Head

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Tag: pay

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?

373 – 1

373 – 1 => that’s the difference between your salary and the salary of the guy on top.  For every dollar you earn, a CEO is earning 373 dollars.  And, what do you get for that huge difference?

You get a boss who thinks you’re paid too much.

You get a boss who wants to raise profit margins and he does this by laying off your co-workers or even you.

You get a boss who is more than willing to move a factory overseas to save money, so he can make even more.

You get bad health insurance – if you have any health insurance at all.

You get to save for your own retirement out of the little bit of money that you have – and you get politicians that want to take away your safety net.

You get the feeling that you are expendable.

We could blame the government for our nation’s economic woes.  However; it isn’t entirely the government’s fault.  Greed is good, so the saying goes.  Except, greed is only good for those on top and it harms those of us on the bottom rung (and, even those of us a couple of rungs higher).

Perhaps, the government should take some, but not all, the blame.  It was the government that removed the financial regulations that had prevented a financial collapse for sixty years.  The free market system would work if only greed and the ever desire for higher and higher profit margins wasn’t part of the deal.  When men (and women) only concern themselves with profit and not sound business decisions, economic collapse ensues.

I’m not entirely sure what can completely fix our economy, but I can tell you what won’t and what hasn’t.  Lowering taxes even farther and ending financial (and other business) regulations are not going to put this great nation back on solid financial footing.  We need to put the Glass-Seagull act back into place to protect our financial markets.  And, we need to raise taxes on the upper classes.  The top limit needs to be moved back to 39%.

Ronald Reagan was correct to lower taxes in the eighties.  It was a good thing and it started economy recovery.  However; too much of a good thing can do us harm.  Our current economic status is proving just that.

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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