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Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology Forum - Perennial Ideas and Debates that cross societal/time boundaries


View Poll Results: Do you support the concept of worker unions?
Yes, I do. 34 82.93%
Only sometimes. 4 9.76%
No, I do not. 3 7.32%
Undecided. 0 0%
Voters: 41. You may not vote on this poll

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Old January 3rd, 2018, 08:58 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Jake10 View Post
Your points are valid, but we also need to consider some of the consequences of having unions. One of which is that a lot of American companies have partially or completely moved away to other parts of the world because they got fed up with dealing with unions.
Call me biased (as well as please provide any evidence or arguments if I'm wrong on this), but that sounds like that has less to with unions asking for too much and more to do with companies that just didn't want to concede to their employees, and decided to just move production to places where they can pay workers far less in far worse conditions than before, which eventually impacted the quality of those few that still worked in the states.

It's no secret that around the time that taxes and regulations where cut under Reagan that companies began the process of outsourcing. Once they weren't expected to foot the lion's share of the tax burden on top of dealing with relatively strong unions, at least at the time, they moved to maximize profits and minimize expenses, which is more or less the agenda for people who own a business. Essentially, the owners were being greedy, especially since the profit margins for companies and the wages for CEOs and the like have been some of the highest in history since then, while regular wages have been stagnate and taxes are at all-time lows throughout the late 20th century and till today.

We, well, my parents' and grandparents' generations, where promised that if we did away or weakened with unions, as well as lowered taxes and regulations, benefits and protections would still remain and wages would gradually increase since, hypothetically, a happy, loyal, and well-payed workforce is in an employer's best interest, which I agree with actually. Yet so far, this promise hasn't come to pass in the past 70 years of this being the policy of both employers of multi-billion enterprises, and the political party that pushed it.

Last edited by ameteurhistorian; January 3rd, 2018 at 09:07 AM.
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 09:13 AM   #12

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Originally Posted by Valens View Post
It depends on the country in question. There are many countries where governments are both unable and unwilling to protect workers because of their subservience to big business and reliance on foreign investment.



Are you sure it's about the unions, and not cheaper costs of productions in the developing world? Essentially, it's just about profit.
Yes, it does have a lot to do with the country in question, since some of the moves by companies have been to countries where unions have little power. Nevertheless, it seems that the countries where governments do have the abilities to protect workers are the ones where unions are strongest.

Cheaper labor and production costs are a part of it, and some of that ties in with unions. Yes, it is all about profits, but that's the world we live in. In the end, employers do what they do to make money, and workers have to cope with that. Still, some of the actions of unions go beyond seeking fair wages, which does anger employers. An example of that would be a company in New Brunswick where computer programmers were not allowed to connect cables to computers. They had to call an electrician, because the union felt that it needed to protect their jobs.
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 09:26 AM   #13

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Originally Posted by ameteurhistorian View Post
Call me biased (as well as please provide any evidence or arguments if I'm wrong on this), but that sounds like that has less to with unions asking for too much and more to do with companies that just didn't want to concede to their employees, and decided to just move production to places where they can pay workers far less in far worse conditions than before, which eventually impacted the quality of those few that still worked in the states.

It's no secret that around the time that taxes and regulations where cut under Reagan that companies began the process of outsourcing. Once they weren't expected to foot the lion's share of the tax burden on top of dealing with relatively strong unions, at least at the time, they moved to maximize profits and minimize expenses, which is more or less the agenda for people who own a business. Essentially, the owners were being greedy, especially since the profit margins for companies and the wages for CEOs and the like have been some of the highest in history since then, while regular wages have been stagnate and taxes are at all-time lows throughout the late 20th century and till today.

We, well, my parents' and grandparents' generations, where promised that if we did away or weakened with unions, as well as lowered taxes and regulations, benefits and protections would still remain and wages would gradually increase since, hypothetically, a happy, loyal, and well-payed workforce is in an employer's best interest, which I agree with actually. Yet so far, this promise hasn't come to pass in the past 70 years of this being the policy of both employers of multi-billion enterprises, and the political party that pushed it.
Sure, a lot of employers are greedy. But, how about unions? Are they not greedy? Do they not push for strikes only when they know the companies will be hit hard by them?

The thing about what your parents were told is that it now involves globalization. Whether we like it or not, we can no longer see our competition from a local perspective. Now, the competition is global, and workers have no choice but to deal with that.
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 09:35 AM   #14
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Sure, a lot of employers are greedy. But, how about unions? Are they not greedy? Do they not push for strikes only when they know the companies will be hit hard by them?
Overall, the employer is going to make more money and have more of a say than any of their employees individually, period. No matter what unions do, the people in them are not going to be reaping the full benefits like the owners and shareholders will. Unless if a business adopts a functional collectivist model, there is going to a disparity of wages and agency and it's going to favor those who own and manage the company.

In what limited experience I've had with unions, public or private, the grievances are pretty understandable. The most common one I know is workers expecting pensions and not being provided them. These pensions were once a guarantee after working X-many years, and now they've been given IOUs and not having them come through. This seems to be a common pattern in the USA where protests are due to companies not keeping their end of the bargain, as well as bargain rights in general being curtailed by local legislature.

Maybe I am wrong here, but that doesn't sound being greedy. Maybe I'm in need of some examples?

Quote:
The thing about what your parents were told is that it now involves globalization. Whether we like it or not, we can no longer see our competition from a local perspective. Now, the competition is global, and workers have no choice but to deal with that.
France has been able to maintain high wages and worker quality of life alongside a strong economy almost entirely thanks to unions. Unlike other Euro nations, France doesn't have a legally required minimum wage or benefits and such-like, it's all done within the private sector by popular worker demand. The only time those two meet is when the unions protest and legislate to keep their protections and wages.

It sounds like to me that the problem isn't globalization, but how companies and unions handle it. You have one extreme in the US where companies seem to take advantage of the situation to maximize profits at the expense of unions, and the other in France where the unions were able to gain enough of a power base to prevent possible losses on their end. Again, I could be wrong here, but it doesn't sound like globalization is the primary issue.

Last edited by ameteurhistorian; January 3rd, 2018 at 09:40 AM.
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 09:41 AM   #15
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A free market economy must allow labour to organize and enter into collective bargaining They are selling their time and skills and have a right to fair compensation.
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 10:17 AM   #16

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Originally Posted by Jake10 View Post
Yes, it does have a lot to do with the country in question, since some of the moves by companies have been to countries where unions have little power. Nevertheless, it seems that the countries where governments do have the abilities to protect workers are the ones where unions are strongest.

Cheaper labor and production costs are a part of it, and some of that ties in with unions. Yes, it is all about profits, but that's the world we live in. In the end, employers do what they do to make money, and workers have to cope with that. Still, some of the actions of unions go beyond seeking fair wages, which does anger employers. An example of that would be a company in New Brunswick where computer programmers were not allowed to connect cables to computers. They had to call an electrician, because the union felt that it needed to protect their jobs.
I think we have to make a big distinction between employers themselves. Big multinational corporations and small to middle sized businesses cannot be treated the same way.
The latter definitively need more protection, since they form the basis of a healthy, production based economy.
Multinational corporations with large number of employers worldwide have a significant leverage over both national governments, as well as international organizations, and thus are able to influence legislation at the expense of the unions and overall workers' right.

Too powerful unions, on the other hand, can hinder small and middle size business, and that is where national governments must struck a healthy balance between protection workers, and fostering a good business climate.

The multinationals don't have that kind of a problem.
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 11:29 AM   #17

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For me, the OP is not complete. I support the right to unionize, but I also support the right to decline such organization without paying what is known as shop fees. Strikes by public officials are something else. I am always torn when I see a teacher strike. I have been through one as a student and one as a parent. They affect morale when they drag on.

Last edited by Rodger; January 3rd, 2018 at 11:31 AM.
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 11:44 AM   #18

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Originally Posted by Rodger View Post
For me, the OP is not complete. I support the right to unionize, but I also support the right to decline such organization without paying what is known as shop fees. Strikes by public officials are something else. I am always torn when I see a teacher strike. I have been through one as a student and one as a parent. They affect morale when they drag on.
Is this a good definition of what you're referring to? If not, would you explain it to me?

"Agency shop. An agency shop is a form of union security agreement where the employer may hire union or non-union workers, and employees need not join the union in order to remain employed. However, the non-union worker must pay a fee to cover collective bargaining costs."
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 01:17 PM   #19

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Originally Posted by ameteurhistorian View Post
Overall, the employer is going to make more money and have more of a say than any of their employees individually, period. No matter what unions do, the people in them are not going to be reaping the full benefits like the owners and shareholders will. Unless if a business adopts a functional collectivist model, there is going to a disparity of wages and agency and it's going to favor those who own and manage the company.

In what limited experience I've had with unions, public or private, the grievances are pretty understandable. The most common one I know is workers expecting pensions and not being provided them. These pensions were once a guarantee after working X-many years, and now they've been given IOUs and not having them come through. This seems to be a common pattern in the USA where protests are due to companies not keeping their end of the bargain, as well as bargain rights in general being curtailed by local legislature.

Maybe I am wrong here, but that doesn't sound being greedy. Maybe I'm in need of some examples?


France has been able to maintain high wages and worker quality of life alongside a strong economy almost entirely thanks to unions. Unlike other Euro nations, France doesn't have a legally required minimum wage or benefits and such-like, it's all done within the private sector by popular worker demand. The only time those two meet is when the unions protest and legislate to keep their protections and wages.

It sounds like to me that the problem isn't globalization, but how companies and unions handle it. You have one extreme in the US where companies seem to take advantage of the situation to maximize profits at the expense of unions, and the other in France where the unions were able to gain enough of a power base to prevent possible losses on their end. Again, I could be wrong here, but it doesn't sound like globalization is the primary issue.
If we look at France, we see that they have unemployment rates around 9.7, and those are better than they've had in the past.

https://tradingeconomics.com/france/unemployment-rate

It doesn't surprise me, because when I lived in Hong Kong I saw a lot of French people there looking for work. Hong Kong, on the other hand, is a city where unions don't have a lot of power, but their unemployment rate is down around 3%.
https://tradingeconomics.com/hong-ko...mployment-rate

So, people from France were leaving their country and going to Hong Kong, Why? The reason being that, although Hong Kong does not have strong unions, they have a lot more employment opportunities. This means that if an employer is not providing what a worker wants, the worker can turn to others who offer something different. Personally, if an employer does not want me, I don't think I want to force the employer to keep me there through a union. I would much rather go to another employer who does want me. So, the advantages of unions appears to be high at first, but, in the long run, it may not be all that great.

Still workers need protection, as we all agree on, but when we look at a lot of union tactics, it makes us wonder if protection is really what they provide. In cases of workers who go against the union and have their cars and/or homes vandalized, the question of who they really need protection from comes up. Or, the idea that workers who don't support the union should be bullied, is something unions promote, but that really only seems to support their interests.

In any event, a worker who does not feel employers are offering fair treatment always has the option of becoming self employed.
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Old January 3rd, 2018, 01:18 PM   #20

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A free market economy must allow labour to organize and enter into collective bargaining They are selling their time and skills and have a right to fair compensation.
Sure, Steve, but are unions really the best way of doing that? I ask because we all know the types of problems that come about with unions.
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