Hear, hear.
Are you really asking for reasoning and critical thinking from those people? Call me jaded, but I doubt that will happen. Excellent point though, Goldy.
Unions did some good things in the past, therefore they must exist and have their demands met in perpetuity
Well, my answer is simple: raising my personal taxes would have little effect, even were they doubled and me beggared.

On the other hand, raising a lot of peoples' taxes a little could result in enough to make a real difference. This is colectivism, which in its pure form is a bad idea but otherwise can nicely complement individualism nicely---for example, making unemployment less dangerous can increase both entrepreneurial activity and the degree to which a sane breadwinner can stand up to her boss.

Do you know the current state and local tax burden as a percentage of income? The Tax Foundation only provides data through 2008 when Washington was 35th from the top.

MADISON (WKOW, AP) -- Police say nearly 70,000 people met at the Wisconsin State Capitol to protest the Republican bill that would strip public workers of most of their collective bargaining rights.…
Tea Party backers outnumbered in Wisconsin budget demonstrations…
Goldy, you're a wonderful human.
It isn't just the labor unions we have to thank for the 8-hour workday. Haymarket, May Day, anarchists, blah blah etc..

On the one hand, I agree that fairly taxing the rich, raising the ceiling on taxable wages for Social Security and addressing regressive taxes are obvious fixes to budgets. On the other hand, I would support capping all state and federal wages at 80k a year. And any benefits those workers receive (11 paid holidays, 2 weeks of sick pay a year, paid vacation, etc) should be put into law for all workers to benefit from.
Okay, I hereby volunteer to pay a reasonable income tax on any income my wife and I take in over $400,000.
Haven't you ever heard people say, "I don't get Columbus Day off, I don't get MLK Day off, why should they?" as if it will be better for everyone when we have no paid holidays any more?
@ 9: if you want some of the benefits that public sector workers have negotiated for themselves through unionizing, i would - through your own union - bargain for them. i'm assuming you're in a union. if not, that is step numero uno. no one is going to pass a law enhancing anyone's benefits. that shit is bargained for. i'm blown away by private sector workers who are jealous of gov't worker benefits but who aren't taking action in their own workplace to bargain collectively. i'm not saying this is you, 9, but it's a lot of people!
And just to throw a little more salt in the collective wound, next time you non-union folks feel like you deserve a raise, another few days of vacation or sick leave or personal days, or a little better employer contribution to whatever health & retirement plan you might have, just walk into your boss's office ALL BY YOUR LONESOME, sit down across the desk from them and TRY to hash it out.

If you're really lucky, they might actually listen to you for several minutes before telling you all the reasons why they can't give you a single thing you've just asked for; OTOH, they might just either laugh you out of their office, or, if they're really a dick, threaten to can your ungrateful ass on the spot for even daring to bring up such a stupid, ridiculous idea.

Then, as you're walking slowly back to your cubicle (or whatever part of the workplace you occupy day-in day-out) with your sorry tail dragging between your legs, remind yourself again why "unions once had a purpose, but not anymore".
and @ goldy: thank you so much for this post. love the last paragraph -- YES!

@ comte: thank you!!

Exactly. It always amazes me (although perhaps it shouldn't) that non-union workers can complain so much about unionized workers getting all these bennies they don't, without ever once coming to even the most basic realization as to WHY that's the case.

Hey non-union workers: you want better wages, benefits and working conditions? You want RESPECT in your workplace? Well, there's a very SIMPLE way to get it: UNIONIZE! Sure, your boss might fire you, but they can do that NOW for no reason whatsoever, so really, what have you got to lose by trying?

In the meantime, please keep in mind that people who are willing to stand together and FIGHT for their collective betterment DESERVE what they get; those who AREN'T deserve what THEY GET too.

The attitude of the right is beyond reasoning/critical thinking. It's an issue of narrative & myth. Those on the right, far more than on the left, want a certain narrative. They want to believe in something simple & straightforward. They demand an easy story that tells they are understood, they are righteous, and they must always fight because traitors & cowards will try to stop them. Anyone who questions this story, whether to point out complications, inherent contradictions, or extenuating circumstances is a member of this pack that stands against the righteous.

This story parses perfectly w/ the Christian Narrative, so as someone in power, it's easy to disseminate and reproduce for the masses to do your own dirty work. Humans are generally more comfortable w/ myths & stories, as that reality has been dominant in the history of consciousness, that they are w/ "reason" & "critical thinking."
Nice to read a cogent view on unions here on Slog. After all the anti-union postings by that diva intern, Matt Luby, (and the Stranger staff's nauseating defense of him), it's good to know that stench is disappearing.
I'd consider giving that stuff up if I had any of it. Stupid contract labor. :(
Old labor in this country has deep anarchist roots. There is a reason why is not taught in schools ,the world owes US labor a huge debt. May day started here not in the USSR.
Those black clad kids with gutter punk atttire have no clue about anarchism.
@11: Okay, then I guess the answer to your question @3 is that if someone does volunteer, someone else will respond with pointless, incomprehensible nonsense.
Huh, somewhat ironic that as you're discussing taxes, and doing things for the collective good, I'm sitting in a hospital waiting room while my daughter (19) has her gall bladder out (faulty ones seem to run in the in-laws family). The biggest expense we'll have will be the last minute plane ticket out here. Two nights in hospital, drugs, surgery, anesthesia, cost: 0. Well, that's not true, it's covered by our taxes...all of our taxes.

And everyone who hates unions, or has forgotten what we gained by them should read Jane Urquhart's "Away," and read about a family of 8 huddling on the kitchen table while rats swam through the water of the flooded room. No social safety net, and the kids working side by side with their parents, 10 hours a day.
Uions helped to create the middle class. This current trend of demonizing unions will increase the power of the upper class and destroy the middle class. The vast majority of citizens then will be living on the edge, just above minimum wage level, until the cycle repeats and they rise up again as a group - a "union" of people - and demand the equal chance that the privileged upper class will have denied them for years..... I hope to be dead by then, but things seem to be speeding up.
Every time you go on and on about a regressive state income tax or horrible fees that hurt the productive people of Washington, I tell you how we should be funding these things through Property and Asset taxes.

My guess is that you're some kind of trust fund baby propped up by his parents stock holdings, so the last thing you would want is a property tax (in fact, you probably supported the 1098 property tax cut, because it would benefit the asset rich over the productive classes).

But you ignore me. So I ignore you.
@24: He isn't the only one ignoring you, I'm afraid.
So many possible responses here...

Track A: Most of those things aren't that useful to me. As a skilled professional, I work more than 8 hours, and on weekends, and I am not eligible for overtime. Social security is a relatively poor deal for me. Supply and demand for my skills is such that I am able to negotiate for vacation and other benefits without colluding with other suppliers.

Track B: If, hypothetically, unions are evil, is a list of useful things they produced a proof of their goodness? Couldn't a Roman argue that slavery must be good, because slaves built the collesium?

Track C: Is anyone speaking up against a union on SLOG now a troll? Has SLOG changed from a place to exchange ideas to a place for union supporters to cheer on their cause?
Most Republicans would love to turn the clock back 100+ years on workers' rights.

If corporate CEOs and their paid lackeys in Congress had their way, all labor unions would be banned and all federal and state labor laws regulating workplace conditions repealed. Workers' comp, overtime, paid vacation, health benefits, sick days, pension funds, etc. ... all would be distant memories.

A labor union stripped of collective bargaining power would be completely ineffectual and purposeless, serving as little more than an organized pity party -- somewhat akin to the Sarah Palin fan club.
Hey, is running a pool right now on its readers feelings about unions. Right now they are 53% negative and 29% positive, with 307,693 responses. Obviously the poll isn't scientific and obviously the outcome even of a scientific poll doesn't prove which side is right. But having no reason to believe this poll is stuffed, and knowing from other polls that CNNs online readership tends to lean left of the country as a whole, I am surprised to see such a preponderance of anti-union sentiment.
Canuck, best wishes to your daughter for a speedy recovery.

(How wonderful to think she doesn't so much need my superstitious wishings because, unlike us, your family's health has the systemic support of all your countrymen.)
But all that thinking and questioning hurts my brain. I'd rather just blame those greedy, greedy teachers.
It kind of kills me seeing people who make maybe $12-16/hr saying, "What do I need with a union?" I've always figured that those people are thinking they can go way farther in their careers by butt crack tonguing management and administration than they can by organizing. In some cases, it seems to work. I've seen some REAL brown-nosers hang on to their jobs while better, more productive, harder working people lose theirs. These are also the people who run-and-tell when there's talk of organizing. It's a way of scoring points.

There are lots of obstacles to organizing these days, and that may be one of the big reasons why union membership has dropped from 30-35% of the workforce in the 50s to around 7% now.

Do any of you know anybody who's actually been in a union?

Almost all my relatives growing up were in a union either for their whole career or at one time of the other. My two sisters worked at a supermarket during high school as cashiers and had to join the union.

Do you that each and every one of them had the same opinion...that the union was crooked and took money out of their paycheck without doing anything for them.

Every one of them.
Ah, but your good wishes will speed things along, gus! Just got a call from her surgeon--a personal call! From the doctor! On my iPhone!--saying she's out of surgery, woot! Her biggest concern, pre op, was the tiny scar she will have on her tiny tummy, would that I had such problems....(do I need an intervention, do you think, I am standing by the ambulance bay for better slog wifi...?)

And clearly, you all have had a huge influence: As I look at signs in the waiting room, it says "new fathers may visit the maternity ward at any time," and my thought is, what about mothers visiting new mothers...?
Done. I own my own business so don't get any of the benefits you describe as being solely union derived. That is, unless I give them to myself. I tried marching into my office and demanding a meeting with myself over shorter working days once, but it got too confusing for me so I stopped.

And someone else pointed out what I had meant to. That is, hypothetical assignment of past achievements to unions doesn't demonstrate present need for them. Indeed, the laws as they stand protect the worker to the extent they need protection. You have workplace safety standards, maximum workweeks, paid time off etc. (That last is theft by the way. Why is it my problem as an employer if you get sick? If you can't perform your work for a few days, fine, take time off. Why I should pay for that time or for your vacation to Puerto Vallarta is very puzzling to me. Why I should pay for your medical care is not so much puzzling as insulting. You could do what I do, save and make sure that your bills are paid in the absence of an income, but that would be too smart, wouldn't it?) What unions want now is to protect workers from the consequences of laziness, incompetence or stupidity.

Which is why they are such a good fit for government employees, who stand at the apex of all those characteristics.

Anecdotelly, a young friend is just completing a technical course in instrumentation of machines. He could go to work for several government agencies at a high rate of pay, including at Hanford. His placement counselor told him not to. The reputation for laziness and worthlessness of those in government employ would destroy his chances in the real world, even if the pay is actual prevailing wages, not the ridiculously high notion of them that public works demand. This sentiment was confirmed by several prospective employers he's contacted.

Unions should be treated under RICO statutes as a criminal extortion enterprise.
In a declining economy in which every taxpayer is suffering, unions cannot possibly hope to hold on to utterly golden-age benefits.

Outrageous it would be to prevent the right to congregate for such unions (among other things); but so suffers the body politic, so suffers those that service it.
I'm so glad, Canuck! (No intervention for you, I'm just sorry it's one of Slog's usual dead weekends - not much fresh for you to see...)

And boy, Seattleblues, your mind seems to have limitless ways of keeping you a class A shit. It's impressive in its way.
it's all a scam, WI handed out coprporate tax breaks that are causing the current fiscal imbalance there, it's a one two punch to the public weal. Sadly, media including hipster media isn't reporting the real story of how greedy corrupt corporations already got there tax breaks. The 70,000 should be demanding an end to that corporate welfare not just playing defense on the union thing; once again the GOP wins the message battle and Dems simply play defense.

you win with offense. Wars are not won with successful evacuations folks. (Apol. to W.C.)
@32: my mom was in a union her entire career. they helped immensely during her brain cancer and death. starting in 1980, she voted GOP for god knows what reason, but always backed her union.
Retaining the right to collective bargaining is one thing. Having effective union representation is another. Just like anything, a union can become a bureacracy which exists only to support itself, picking and choosing its battles randomly.

While unions historically have been very effective in providing fair worker benefits to all-union or not--lots of folks think that will continue in "right to work" states (no unions allowed). I don't think it will. I think that the high unemployment rate in the US could actually be intentional.

Keep the workforce hungry and they will become more compliant, less noisy, less demanding, and increasingly more meek. The goal is to make everyone happy with whatever they have, no matter how bad.

So aside from the small business owner, or the worker who thinks that their professional chops protects them somehow from arbitrary actions by an employer, many many people depend on corporations for their living.

The popular anti-union harping here in WA is against the public employees (and Boeing). The WA public employees union, from what I have seen, isn't terribly effective and managers and HR departments in particular, have found ways around most union rules.

At Boeing, we've all learned the difference between union work (the plane gets built and built right ) and farmed out global work (nightmare liner). In that instance, it seems that the union is also interested in making the workers competentant and accountable.

But the history of unions...the best stuff has happened when there's a lot at stake (Pullman Rail, Haymarket and now Wisconsin). Everyone has gotten a little complacent and maybe this thing will also wake up our public employees union to do a better job.
@38, I've heard that a-lot of unions backed Reagan in the 80's. Why, I don't know.
@Supreme Ruler, just because you evidentially come from a family of lazy, indifferent half-wits, doesn't, that doesn't mean we're all like you.

It's been my experience that the workers who bitch the most about unions are the one who management - if they knew anything about the contracts they had signed - should be getting rid of. Those employees actually benefit the most from membership.
"If you think your taxes are too low, why don't you volunteer to pay more?"
That line always reminds me exactly what repubs, baggers, libertarians are: Thoroughly selfish and passive.

They are the epitome of Diffusion of Responsibility. Everyone stands around complaining about all the problems in the world and none of them want to chip in, they all want someone else to take care of it.

This country could not function if people were allowed to pick and choose how much they think they should chip in. They'd all choose to contribute nothing, thinking that everyone else would contribute more, so they could selfishly keep everything in order to get ahead by cheating.

Republicans. Teabaggers. Libertarians. Selfish, social loafers - every last one of them.

Yep. I cheated by working 70 and 80 hour weeks for 4 years building my business. I cheated by buying a house I could actually afford and paying it off early, by buying cars for cash and by never keeping a balance on my credit cards. I cheated by marrying relatively late when I could afford the financial responsibilities of wife and children. I cheated by buying health insurance appropriate to my needs, not to standards set by politicians bought off by insurance companies.

Anyone could work hard. Anyone could succeed. Unions exist to provide an excuse for those who wish to do neither but gain the rewards of both.

The ones who cheat are not my type. They're the ones who want a cut of my pie not because they made good choices, but precisely because they made bad ones. They want protection from their own bad decisions, not the lessons those decisions can teach so that they don't repeat them. They want employment on their terms, but they don't want to do the work to earn it. They want medical care and housing and food and clothing and education subsidized by thrifty productive fellow citizens. Again, not because they made good choices. They use their bad choices as blackmail to pick my pocket.

And in your opinion I'M the one who cheats?
Unions exist to protect the rights of those who are most often shit upon by those in charge. My grandmother has wonderful stories about life in the factories in the midwest before they were unionized. One of the overlords used to come in and pick himself a girl about every other day. If she refused or complained, she got fired. None of them could afford to be without a job, so they did neither. My grandmother was one of those picked, ended up pregnant, but was lucky enough to lose the fetus before things progressed too far. Then her factory was unionized, and the girls could tell the overlord no and not get fired. In fact, they could tell on him and not get fired, which is what they did.
You don't think this shit still happens? I'd be happy to tell you the story of the principal who sexually harassed the first year teacher in one of the schools I was in recently. Or how about the Wal-Mart employee who was called off her break to help a manager move something, fell and hurt herself while doing so, then was told she couldn't claim L&I because she was on her break. What about the miners who die because they are ordered into unsafe conditions; those who are lucky enough to be in a union can make demands for safer conditions, better equipment. Those who aren't frequently end up dead.
Seattleblues, I feel bad that you seem to be so bitter about the choices you've made. But your conflicts and regrets are your problem. You really need to stop projecting onto others.
Thank you...I've been telling this to anti-union dolts for YEARS!

Most of them are so poorly educated they weren't aware that UNIONS are responsible for EVERY benefit and right we have as workers. Apparently, most dullards think that businesses voluntarily give us paid vacation, over time, holidays, worker safety, 8 hour days, bathroom breaks and fire exits on their own accord and not after decades of protests, strikes and deaths.
a skilled professional, mr. wright? certainly not a skilled professional writer, as it's spelled c-o-l-i-s-e-u-m, not c-o-l-l-e-s-i-u-m, dumbass.

Man, that's a whole lotta anger at something that doesn't exist.

I mean, I have issues w/ unions & how they operate, but those are grounded in reality, along w/ the assumption that humans tend to act similarly if put in the same situation. Maybe that assumption is a stretch, but it does allow me to see myself in other people's shoes, which is something that I doubt seriously you have ever tried to do, judging on your post.

See, most people are like you-- they want their piece of the pie & are willing to work for it. Those who don't are usually too busy getting drunk on the street to make much difference in this world. There are a few who aren't willing to work, but they are able to manipulate those around them to do their work for them. These people are very wealthy and own a lot of property. They manipulate politicians and media personalities who manipulate you, telling you those other people who want a fair share are just lazy and don't work as hard as you do. This story has been told as long as there has been a labor movement. You're still operating on a level of thinking that hasn't evolved in over two hundred years. I'm sure it gives you security, but it doesn't apply at all to the world we're living in right now.

The point is, we're really all in this together. Healthy unions give more money to the middle class, which in turn hire people like you, private businessmen, thereby keeping you in business. If there were no middle class, you'd have to ply your trade only to the wealthy. There is thousands of years of history which shows that societies w/ a healthy middle class are more successful than others. That is why America speaks English, instead of French or Spanish.
StuckInUtah, no doubt SB would tell you your relatives should have worked harder and started their own companies, and then they wouldn't have needed those pesky unions...sigh. My Irish immigrants on my one grandfather's side certainly found the unions helpful in Paradise, Kentucky, when the miners unionized. Although I remember looking through a photo album and pulling out a picture of this cute kid, taken in the early part of the century, it read, "Thomas Devine, 14 years old, killed his first day in the mines."

Was your trip to Italy a fib? You said you would be gone for months.

@supreme ruler of the universe

The fact that your relatives had a descent wage and didn't get fired for their bitching is proof that the union protected them. But 5 dollars a month into teamsters is soooo muuch.
Supreme Ruler, my mom works in the Wisconsin school system, as an education assistant who works with the angry kids in her school. After 12 years in the system, she makes about $15 per hour, which isn't awful but isn't anything special. Beyond the job itself, which she loves, the only advantage to her working there is the pretty decent benefits package, which is nice being that she has a degenerative disease in her neck and sometimes has doctors stick giant fucking needles in her spine. She's pretty conservative, but in that whole advocate of Christian compassion towards one's fellow man that's so out of fashion on the right these days. We disagree on a lot of things (she's slowly realizing that the Tea Party is insane), but we can almost always come to some consensus.

My mom's also not a blind unionist, and sometimes she pisses people off at union meetings by speaking her mind. She's willing to give up some of her benefits, but not all. Walker's power grab, however, got her off the fence.

She shored up weeks of sick time in preparation for what might happen if her neck goes completely to hell and she can't go to work. I've been in constant contact with her through this whole time, and she has told me that all that sick time will probably go out the window. That means that if my mom - who by the way just turned 60 - has any sort of medical meltdown in Walker's Wisconsin, she'll probably be out of a job and cast into the dumpster. She's well prepared financially, but all of that work can be taken away if some tyrant is allowed to act without restraint.

So yes, I do know someone in a union. Even if I didn't, though, I'd be fully behind the protests in my home state anyway.

And I actually agree to a point with Seattleblues - those who exploit the system from the bottom are scumbags. But those who exploit the system from the top do more damage. Comparing a dirtbag who uses foodstamps for booze and junk food to a bank executive who used bailout money on bonuses and plane rides is ridiculous. But that's the problem with so-called fiscal conservative arguments these days: small businesses have become the human shields of corporations. They're not the same, no matter how much the economic aristocrats assert otherwise.

I'll ignore that I posted this last night on the comments for 'Wisconsin Senate Dems Seek Political Asylum in Illinois'

"I think everyone who is against the union rights should give up their own. No weekends, no overtime, endless workdays, no LNI, no K-12 education and zero worker rights in the courts then no lowered tuition for higher education.
Anti-Union sentiment has always been a red flag for me that the other person has zero information on the last 140 years of american history or the founding ideals of this country. We would be in the dirt like Russia if it wasn't for the Unions."

On the way back from France, my wife wanted to stop in Milan. Milan bores me (lots of overpriced precious shops obscure the historical interest of the place to my mind, sort of like Venice but without the canals,) so I used the internet provided by our hotel to check email, surf the web etc. But take heart, on Monday we'll be back at the house with no internet. And I told my wife at least a month of books, music, neighbors and the quiet of the village before we go anywhere. Is that okay with you? I'd hate for my movements to cause you anxiety, Svensken.

Well I'm glad the internet is fighting off the bore during your world travels.
@53 Seattleblues proves beyond a doubt the existence of a benevolent God.
@34 SeattleBlues - so you run a business and believe your employees - without which you'd have no business - don't deserve health care or paid vacations?

Realize, asshole employers like you is why unions exist. Sounds like you are small potatoes anyway, so at least you only have a few suckers working for you. I wonder if they know how much you despise them.
word, goldy. word.
Too true, Canuck. Alas, females didn't (and often still don't) have the same opportunities back then to start their own business. But I'm sure she probably could have worked harder/more than those 12-hour shifts 6-days a week. That biscuit she used to shove in the bodice of her dress each morning in the hopes she could take a few bites during her shift to stave off hunger pangs (no lunch breaks) probably slowed down her work performance.
Public unions are about as popular as pedophiles these days. Your days are numbered, and no, going from a defined pension to a 401k is not the equivalent of a return to child labor and moderate people know that.
@13 I am pro-union, and I've studied the history of the labor movement and the oppression of union organizing. I'm not anti-union in any way.

I just think that one of the ways the plutocracy maintains power is to divide and conquer-- to treat each separate profession and workplace as separate and needing to beg for its own rights. We have gained some rights like the 40 hour workweek, but there are other rights that should be extended to all workers, like paid sick time, and mass movements could get these things into law for all to benefit from. I would love to see some old-school IWW style general strikes. Maybe I'm still nostalgic for the "one big union" idea.
This isn't about union vs non-union. This is about public worker benefits and why they are so much more generous than what the private sector receives. The strongest private union in the world won't bring back the pension system. With people living so much longer, the numbers just don't work any more. It's not sustainable. Public unions understand this, but won't accept it and they just want the gravy train to continue. As a tax payer, I don't have any problem with paying a teacher a fair salary. But I do have a problem with that teacher working for all of twenty five years and then paying them a pension (with cola increases!) for the next thirty.

You have it backwards, and you have a singularly appropriate tag I'd guess.

My employees have jobs because of me, not the other way around. I chose them because they had skills I wanted, and I pay them well for those skills. I pay benefits to attract good staff, but not because they have some inherent right to benefits. That's why they are called benefits, not salary. But if all of my employees, which as you note is not many, quit en masse I'd find others to fill their places. Without me or others like me, without the mind that created the business, the employee has no such option.

That's the difference people like you never seem able to comprehend.
Seattleblues, I don't know if you actually cheat, as I don't know if you are a moral and ethical person or not; however, although we disagree on, I think, every issue I've ever seen the two of us comment on, I think it's likely that you probably are a good and moral person at heart.

That said, we live in a society that needs cooperation in order to survive. If your neighbor falls on hard times, cooperation in helping him out usually results in stronger ties between everyone and increased effort on the neighbor's part in order to "repay the social debt," so to speak.

You, on the other hand, appear to favor a system that is essentially "every man for himself." In a system like that, those who cheat would tend to be more prosperous than others. If your neighbor feel on hard times, everyone would swoop in like sharks to devour the pieces. That breeds suspicion and encourages backstabbing, lying, and cheating in order to stay powerful.

There are many levels of ability in this society. Should we allow those at the top to utterly dominate everyone else because it's a war of all against all? Or should we band together, to create a symbiotic society in which some people may have more ability than others, but in which the suffering of one affects all, and it becomes in everyone's best interest to help everyone?

You seem to prefer the former. I prefer the latter. You may not truly "cheat," but you favor a society that does.
For the record, I provide a hand produced product to a clientelle willing to pay for it. I admire the skills each and every craftsman I employ brings to bear to produce that product, and the men themselves. No-one acquires a craft without discipline and work and character. An art, maybe, but not a craft.

The false dichotomy of labor versus ownership is a union construct without any basis in reality. In the real world the fact that I could replace my labor does not mean I wish to do so. Nor do they or I see it as conflict. Rather, my craftsmen get to bring to bear skills they worked hard to acquire at a good rate of pay while taking no personal risk. I get to put that product in the hands of buyers. I make more, but I risk a lot more as well. The buyer gets a hand crafted product whose quality they appreciate possibly for generations, and whose price they are happy to pay. Everyone wins.

That is, unless the narrative is a union one. Then it's a conflict between labor and ownership, business and client and all the rest. Unions not only want conflict, their very reason for being would not exist without it. They create it not so much to win or create better working conditions or for social justice or any of the other BS reasons they spout, as to justify their unjustifiable existence.
Many in my mother's family were/are Boeing lifers. I had and uncle who eventually became anti-strike. A good long term employee who experienced good long term pay and benefits didn't see the need for more. He was on his second house, had ATVs for toys. He said the young guys didn't know how to manage their money, that is why what they had wasn't enough.

I am a WA state employee. It's basic data entry/scanning work in a medical records office. As a recent social sciences grad I had my sights on entry level admin. My first experience out the gate was in scanning/data entry, then in a way I became type-cast and that's all I could get. The problem: no future, no broadening of experience, little stability, less then $12/hr. I had been laid off and went to see an employment specialist about obtaining funds via Workforce Investment Act to get an applicable certification (accounting or HIM). Apparently there is a demand for low skill data entry so I could not be considered a candidate to change fields. Seriously, at times I'd spend 40hrs a week pulling staples out of paper.

Now I am part of SEIU 925, job security because it's in a hospital, 15.50/hr. [usual pay is 13:50 but I get a pay differential because of my shift: 2:30pm-11pm M,Th,F & 10AM-6:30PM Sat/Sun.] U-pass, pension after 5 years of vesting, and health/dental/vision.

I started out part time so I could only afford Group Health value plan. I read the linked above Reuters article where an anti-union guy complained about state work's cadillac health plans. I've heard my HMO be referred to as Group Death many times. We'll see what happens when it comes time to use it.

After reading through my labor contract throughly a few times, the only thing that I think we could give up are the annual raises. In one year I'll still get one but none of the non-unionized state employees will.

And yay for my employment being about patient care and not the bottom line.
There's a world of difference between a small business like yours and large, commonly unionized businesses, though, as I'm sure you're aware.

You and your employees already enjoy a closer working relationship. They probably already know that if just one of them quit, much less MANY of them simultaneously, it would have a real impact on your business (I'm assuming you don't have a ton of employees... under 40 probably?).

For large corporations, the workers know that as individuals, the company could lose them and still function almost as effectively. Not only that, there are layers and layers of management levels. In some large corporations, the line worker might never even SEE the person who runs the company. That puts a HUGE burden on the worker to never rock the boat... even when it's clear the boat NEEDS rocking (e.g., when the coal miners are dropping like flies). Unions remove the burden from the individual worker and combine several voices into one for all.

If you had 10 times the number of employees you have now, you might just be tempted to start lowering salaries and benefits. After all, when an employee feels like a small cog in a titanic machine, who's gonna come in all by himself and say you're treating the workers unfairly?
@SB, I agree that you can replace individuals, but without employees at all, you're out of a job, whereas the creators can still create (likely for less or no payoff, but still). Assuming I have your description of what you do correctly, you're a distributor, a middleman between craft and customer. (That's what almost all heads of companies are, I think.) This isn't to say that what you do isn't important, but I can't agree with the idea that one aspect of the process is more important and deserves more of a payoff (in whatever form) than another. You'd be absolutely right to be bothered if the craftsmen kept all the money and your work was marginalized.
@66 Don't you understand? If a person that owns something looks after his self-interest, that's his right. If a person that makes something looks after their self-interest, it's theft.
Yeah, no kidding, right?!?
Fucking double talk... that's all you get from republibaggertarians. And the people who got foreclosed on in the housing crisis were all "greedy and irresponsible" but the banks who let them have the money in the first place needed to be bailed out and aren't at fault because, hey, it's not the banks fault, being greedy is what banks naturally do, we can't punish them for that!

Fuck that.
@Seattleblues, you're up commenting awful early in the morning for Milan. I'm certain with all the tourist shops closed and the sun just rising, all the streets are lovely.

I would comment on your obligation to your fellow man (and of course your employees), but everyone's said pretty much everything already. I do have a question for you, however, did you read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle? Without unions, what is to stop businesses from chipping away at all they have done and returning us to that era? That might sound a bit histrionic, but I am curious as to what you think.

@67, Seattleblues is a carpenter, I don't know if he still makes things, but he has put in his time and risked his capital to make his business.
@70 I absolutely agree, and he should see something for that. But moving away from discussing SB personally (knowing nothing about him or his business beyond a Stranger comment, I feel pretty unqualified to discuss his work), I feel there is sort of a prevailing attitude that those who run a business are the business, and those who do the ground level work are simply the help. Having done grunt work for small businesses and big corporations, I've had moments when I've felt disposable in both, no matter how well or hard I work. It certainly seems to get worse as the company gets bigger, though.

To me, it's less of an issue of money and more an issue of respect and balance. And to restate my distinction, there's a big distinction between small business and corporations in this regard. You can't apply the same regulations to both - which I think the big boys exploit mercilessly. I assume SB knows each of his employees personally, which makes him more invested in their welfare. The heads of national companies don't have these relationships with their workers, so they all become cannon fodder.

I got in the habit of early rising a long time ago and never lost it. My wife however likes to sleep in while in Italy, so I go out and don't bother her. And yes, any Italian historic district is amazing when deserted of tourists with only Italians going about their business. (And not many of them at 7:00 in the morning.)

Any smart business owner owes employees decent treatment, if only out of enlightened self interest. Replacing any one of my staff would be expensive considered only in training costs. Add in the impalpables like what they add to the team, clients who prefer their work etc and the cost increases. Why incur the expense when reasonable accomodation means you don't have to? Unions that recognize that the parent company needed to survive for their workers to have jobs negotiate workable contracts. I just see a lot more us/them mentality from unions I've dealt with lately.

I have read "The Jungle," and in my calmer moments recognize that unions play a necessary role in our multinational corporate environment. What that role is, is more the argument than any contention that they don't have one. However, an urgent breakfast date with my family means I'll leave you with a thought. Though power does corrupt, it corrupts union bosses as well as corporate officers or politicians.
"Though power does corrupt, it corrupts union bosses as well as corporate officers or politicians."

Oh please, Dear. Save the deep thoughts for Norman Vincent Peale.

ANYTHING that is run by humans is going to have some corruption, be it a small town PTA or The World Bank. That's the way we humans are.

You didn't know that? Do you seriously own a business?

But I ask you honestly: in this Year Of Our Lord 2011, how much power does a Union officer have over a corporate boss or a politician? Pull your head out of whatever 70's era John Wayne film you have it stuck in, and take a deep breath of fresh air.
@SB, Not every corporate officer is a Ken Lay (though I would argue that a disproportionately high number are); not every politician is a Richard Nixon; not every union president is a Jimmy Hoffa, not by a long shot. Power corrupts, sure, but if you concede that unions are a necessary structure in maintaining worker rights in today's global economy, please be supportive of them. Corporations are beholden to their shareholders, not their workers. Politicians seem to be beholden to corporate lobbyists, not their constituents. Who speaks up for the worker? Considering how weak unions are in the US right now, no one it seems.
Seattleblues, I pity your wife. I'm sure you're as much of a pain to your family as you are in your other spheres of influence.
Egyptians show solidarity with Wisconsin workers and students:…
Supreme Ruler of the Universe, I know someone that was in the union for 40 years. I also know that you sisters did not have to join that union. The Feds put that ruling through & if you don't be believe it look it up. The unions can't force someone to join them, & they are still intitled to the same benefits as those union counterparts they work with on a day to day basis. They are also intitled to representation by that union in the event the employer trys to step on their toes. So before spouting off about how corrupt unions are try seeing the union as a whole. The union as a whole are not corrupt, they are hard working average americans trying to make sure they have a standard to living that can keep they families in food & clothing & try to provide them with the dream that america is offering. The right wings are trying their best to put a halt to that dream, it's just know one will realize it until it is truly gone, then that is where the whining will begin. The corrupt part are those individuals that try to get ahead on the backs of the very people they should be helping, you know like the Ponzie & Madhoff skeemers in this country.
"If you think your taxes are too low, why don't you volunteer to pay more?" Or something along those lines.

How about thinking along the lines of government waste stories. How many do you hear not only in the fed, but all states have those stories of gov waste. Simple things even, like smaller government or better run government? Just turning the lights off when they leave public building or their monitors save huge amounts. University CEO who make 40 million is a waste when is subsidized by the tax payer. Is that thinking out of the question because we can't find people to serve us who need to use every cent of their budget or be cut back next year for not using it all? Once they can show they have used all their common sense in saving the tax dollars spending them wisely, only then they can consider a tax hike.
"If you think your taxes are too low, why don't you volunteer to pay more?" Or something along those lines.

How about thinking along the lines of government waste stories. How many do you hear not only in the fed, but all states have those stories of gov waste. Simple things even, like smaller government or better run government? Just turning the lights off when they leave public building or their monitors save huge amounts. University CEO who make 40 million is a waste when is subsidized by the tax payer. Is that thinking out of the question because we can't find people to serve us who need to use every cent of their budget or be cut back next year for not using it all? Once they can show they have used all their common sense in saving the tax dollars spending them wisely, only then they can consider a tax hike.
12 things you should learn about the union rallies in Wisconsin…
"Maybe I'm still nostalgic for the "one big union" idea"

Will it come with reeducation camps too?
To follow Heather's links - here's the worldview SeattleBlues operates from:…
phaz @78,

See, the thing is, I don't write in a vacuum. I've addressed the issue of "waste" on numerous occasions, so for a starter, you might try reading these:

"Elway Poll: 71 Percent of WA Voters Are …"

"In Which Goldy Puts a Number on the Actu…"

"Is Washington State Wasting Taxpayer Mon…"

But the gist of my response to you is, you are as likely to find enough "waste" to make a significant dent in our state's budget gap as you are to find a university president earning $40 million... an imaginary being who resides solely in your ass.
Christ, most scientists don't have any of that shit.
Ken @85,

What? You're opposed to a liberal arts education because it has the word "liberal" in it?
It's obvious employees not some sort of collective bargaining, and the onus should be on the employers to do this.

Seattlebites, I applaud your work ethic, but in reality, you still got lucky in that you found an outlet by which to find success.

I don't feel that every business should have a union, but every place should have the opportunity to unionize. I washed dishes at a nursing home, and my life was much better for it because there was a union nursing home down the street. When I worked in the union nursing home, crap ... that place needed a union. The place was acrid, bitter, and miserable with substandard facilities and building. (with no logistical means of expanding or improving it). Without a union, that place would be intolerable.

Seattlebites, if you were a douchebag, you SHOULD be called on it.
It's obvious employees need some sort of collective bargaining. Ideally the employer should be able to listen and provide without forcing the workers to create a weighty beauracracy, but ... most employers seem to be narcissists and bullies.

Seattlebites, I applaud your work ethic, but in reality, you still got lucky in that you found an outlet by which to find success.

I don't feel that every business should have a union, but every place should have the opportunity to unionize. I washed dishes at a nursing home, and my life was much better for it because there was a union nursing home down the street. When I worked in the union nursing home, crap ... that place needed a union. The place was acrid, bitter, and miserable with substandard facilities and building. (with no logistical means of expanding or improving it). Without a union, that place would be intolerable.

Seattlebites, if you were a douchebag, you SHOULD be called on it.
The appropriate answer to the "Why don't you volunteer to pay more?" silliness is, "While I'm more than willing to pay more, I'm not willing to pay both my share of 'more' and yours, deadbeat asshole."
Wait a minute, I have a 8 hour work day, paid vacation, weekends off, and health coverage. I also work for a sub chapter S corporation who has never had collective bargaining and there is no union within the ranks. Its just a private enterprise and the company knows that to obtain productive employees they have to treat them fair. Its called the free exchange of labor, and it works best without unions meddling in it. So your point that all of us should be thankful we have this because of unions is ridiculous and childish. Here's to your uneducated blog!
@90, Do you have any conception of the history of labor in the US? Do you know WHY you have an 8 hour work day? WHY you have weekends off? WHY you have PTO? WHY you have health coverage? You really think your company gives you these things out of the goodness of its leaders' hearts? See how long all that lasts if the unions are all broken and the government gets out of the way of the "free exchange of labor".
I seriously believe there needs to be more unionization out there, but I don't believe everyone SHOULD unionize. Collective bargaining is ultimately more of a nuclear option, and perhaps government workers shouldn't be the institutions keeping collective bargaining alive for the masses, but unfortunately they are. Slowly but surely, collective bargaining is gaining weight among grad students and postdoctoral students/researchers. Apparently, these workers have been doing thankless work for YEARS at substandard salaries, and being paid only in education. These aren't just your historians, they also happen to be your scientists and engineers, who are not getting jobs in the real world and doing great services to society, industry, and education for bargain basement prices.

When does it end? When someone shoots our next t-party president ala William McKinley? We are seriously heading toward class warfare again. Living in the south now, holy shit ... it's going to get worse.
@93 the ignorance that the U.S. has of the labor history moment is chilling.
sorry movement ... the sun is blinding my laptop screen
@90 You have the 8-hour work day, paid vacation, weekends off, and health coverage BECAUSE of the union. Once unionized companies were forced to provide these, then other companies - unionized or not - had to follow along or face not having any workers. Should union busting become commonplace, you can bet that your work conditions will become much worse while your corporate managers rake in the profits.
AZ is a right-to-work state, and wages are much, much lower there and workers are treated like crap in many places. I worked an assembly-line job one summer there during college, and was frequently ordered to stay for "mandatory overtime" part way through my shift - though we didn't get paid overtime pay because they would code the time sheets in strange ways to get past the laws. They would also order mandatory weekend work, usually on Friday afternoons, and if you didn't show, you were fired. Not such a big deal for me, but definitely a hardship for those with families who had to make arrangements for child-care or make plans other than spending time with their kids. At least once a day, I watched an injury occur that would shut down the line. We weren't paid for any time that line was down, but we couldn't leave either. If you called the AZ Department of Labor with complaints, nothing happened, and the company would then bring in someone from the National Right To Work group who would then use their scare tactics to ensure no one would try to unionize. I was grateful I only had to endure that for a summer, but many people had to endure that on a daily basis for years. Is that really what you'd like to see us move to?
So, SeattleBlues, you say you offer benefits, yet also say that paid vacation is "theft." So either you offer paid vacation and consider your workers "thieves" for taking it, or by "benefits" you mean something even less substantial than paid leave. The former would be pretty telltale of the low esteem you have for your workers. The latter would mean you're lying even to yourself about offering benefits.

Look, just as religion isn't required for morality to exist, unions aren't always required for moral employers to operate. Microsoft isn't unionized, yet offers better healthcare than the unionized state. Hell, even the baristas at Starbucks get healthcare.

And then there are amoral employers like you, who consider worker's desire for healthcare an "insult" and paid sick days "theft," and rely on turnover to keep their companies staffed. Take pride in running a successful business. But realize that speech you made about caring for your craftsmen is nothing but a fairytale without actions to back it up.
@32, I belong to a small, democratic and honest union. I'm thankful for the contract that was bargained, and I'm thankful for my job. Thank you, Goldy for a well written post.
Unions have destroyed EVERY industry in which they have exerted influence.

Public Education.

The only difference in education is that unions have managed to see that there is no free market competition so the can keep blood sucking off the taxpayers.

At least, they could until now.....

Wisconsin will be a watershed.

What did the man say; never let a crisis go to waste?...

The state fiscal crisis will be the club used to bash the brains out of public "service" unions.

Not a day too soon.....
So how does going from a defined pension plan for public woklrkers to a 401K is the same as bringing back child labor?

Public worker unions are bloodsuckers on the body politic. The battle to remove them has started and most Americans recognize their role is destroying public finances. The far left will lose this one. The right and the centrists will not tolerate the bloodsucking pensions.
@101, I think the only way you'll win this one is if you bring in the National Guard, then you'll see how Pyrrhic a victory against unions will be. By the way, we're real Americans too.
Oh no, taxpayers will win concessions in Wisvmconsin. Then onto Ohio, the American 'Greece', Illinois before the IMF has to bail them out. The blood sucking is over.
@103: Huh, I'm a taxpayer too, I guess I'll see you in the street.

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