Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Union Blues

This article from The Union News (which it actually got from The Bowling Green Daily News)

"Boeing...a huge aerospace corporation that employs directly and indirectly more than 150,000 people..recently announced that it is searching for sites to build another plant. Unfortunately, Kentucky won't be in the running because it's not a right-to-work state. In Seattle, where Boeing is currently building the 787 Dreamliner, it is running about 2 years behind, in part because of a strike by 25,000 members of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Last fall, the machinists union staged a 57-day strike at factories around Seattle. It was the union's 4th strike in 20 years. This is why Boeing is considering a 2nd assembly plant for its 787 to make up for the repeated delays. Boeing is said to be looking at South Carolina and Texas because they are right-to-work states, which means that employees aren't required to join a union if one exists at a company."

So here we have one of the largest aerospace companies in the world, one that was originally founded in Seattle, WA, and it is looking for other places to locate, largely due to problems with its biggest union.

And here is another article taken from The Seattle Times:

"The start of the school is near and so, too, the unfortunate threat of class delays if teachers go on strike in three Western Washington school districts......A state mediator has been called in to negotiations in the Mount Vernon School District and Shoreline teachers are moving toward a strike.
Every year, families face uncertainty because of contract negotiations....
Yes, strikes by teachers ARE ILLEGAL but they occur...State law forbids strikes to prevent a breakdown in critical services such as fire, police and eduction. But they happen....."

Yes, you read that right. Strikes by the teachers union here in Washington is illegal, yet they happen.
Most of the school districts in Western Washington are broke and yet these people are screaming for more money. They are lucky they have a job and don't get their butts fired.
Although I think that teachers are one of those professions that are by and large underpaid, I find myself having no sympathy for these teachers that go on strike, especially in the middle of a recession where unemployment is skyrocketing.

Teachers unions in the Seattle area seem to be constantly going on strike for more money. And it is illegal! It befuddles me why the state does not enforce the laws that are already on the books and allow these strikes to happen.

It is because of things like these that my respect for unions has diminished quite a bit over the last few months, even to a point where I think that unions have outlived their usefulness and they are no longer needed.

There are a few reasons that labor unions got organized to make improvements in their respective workplaces:

(1) They wanted to stop child labor.
There are now child labor laws and putting children to work is illegal. The minimum age to work in most industries in the United States is 16. No need for unions in this regard.
(2) They wanted to establish an 8-hour work day.
This is already commonplace in most industries and those where it is not common, employees get overtime pay for working more than 8 hours. Again, no need for unions to get this established.
(3) They wanted to improve worker safety and health.
OSHA was signed into law in 1970 by President Richard Nixon. No need for the union to help improve worker safety and health.
(4) They wanted to improve wages for workers.
The first minimum wage law in the United States was introduced in 1938 and has risen consistently every few years. Why do we need unions to improve wages?

The fact is, they are obsolete. They enacted some major changes in the country's labor laws and for that they can be applauded. But now, they are not necessary and as I have pointed out, are causing more harm than good.

Because of the machinist labor union here in Seattle, there is a strong chance that thousands of jobs will be lost when Boeing decides to up and move to a right-to-work state. On top of that, the state of Kentucky was thrown out of the running for a brand new plant that would have created hundreds if not thousands of jobs in the Bowling Green area because Kentucky is not a right-to-work state. Boeing is only considering right-to-work states to build their new facilities. Why? Because they are tired of having to deal with union strikes every few years and getting behind in production because of them.

Maybe I am off base here but I really think that the time for unions has come. It is time to make every state in the country a right-to-work state.

If an employee wants to belong to a union for whatever reason, fine, let them join one. But if an employee does not want to belong to a union just to get a job with a particular company, they should have the option not to join.

Most opponents of right-to-work state that making a state right-to-work undermines the union and makes it less attractive to employees to join a union if they are not required to join one. Well I say that is the unions problem. Unless they can come up with a better way to attract employees other than by coercion, then they have no right to complain about it.

I will say it again. The time for the labor movement union has come and gone.

Kudos to the
NW Republican for pointing out the Boeing article.


  1. "The time for the labor Union movement has come and gone"

    But the Democrat party mantra is...

    Workers unite... and take down "the man".

    Then file for unemployment benefits and welfare from the government for the rest of your miserable lives.

  2. Just one thought on this.

    Workers can unite without union representation.

  3. I think that unions still have a place, but they need to modernize. There are plenty of cases in which management of a company just completely losses touch with its workers and the workers have no course of action to stand up and fight for better treatment. Unions could help in that. Personally I’d like to see them take on more of an advocacy role than what they have done in the past.

    Steve said – “Workers can unite without union representation.”

    Not to ask a stupid question, but how? I know that in the case on my employer, if we collectively united and say went on strike or went to the head of the site to express grievances that we would probably all be fired before the day was over. I think that would also happen if I still worked for my previous employer as well.

  4. Personally, I think that if the workers are getting treated poorly by management, they can find other jobs. Once enough people leave, the company might actually get the idea that something is wrong.

    I really don't see that going on strike is ever going to fix something permanently. Obviously if it did, these unions would not be constantly striking. The fact is these these unions are not striking because the employees feel they are being treated unfairly. They want more money. Pure and simple.

    In today's economy, most of these people are lucky to even have a job. To be griping that they want more money is kind of irresponsible in my opinion. And then telling management that they are going to stop work until management pays them what they want. That is bully tactics in my opinion. Personally, if I were the head of one of these company's where the union was striking. I would say fine, strike. Guess what? You are all fired. Then I would go out and find people that can't find decent jobs and hire them. Problem solved. At least for the company. As for the workers that went on strike. Tough cookies.

    I know this may seem harsh but I really don't think complaining that you don't make enough money when people in unions typically make twice sometimes three times as much (because they are constantly going on strike for more money, not because they are worth these amounts) as those that do typically the same job that are not unionized.

    I really believe that if you got together with some of your workers and requested with your management to address some grievances, if they are valid, I seriously doubt your employer is going to fire you over them. Perhaps you should at least give them a chance to see if their basic humanity prevails and they might even address your issues. It could happen.

    But I really don't see labor unions taking on any sort of an advocacy role. Unions are politics and that is the way they will stay until some of our elected officials do something about it. The first thing they can do is stop pandering to them.

    That is all I have to say about it for now.