Skip to comments.Viewpoints: Unions pivotal to U.S. future
Posted on 09/04/2011 3:57:29 PM PDT by SmithL
Millions of California workers don't have much to celebrate this Labor Day. State unemployment once again has crept up to a lacerating 12 percent, second-highest in the nation, and the specter looms of a double-dip recession.
The high jobless rate doesn't do justice to the economic trauma working families face. Overall, almost one in four California workers a Depression-era number is searching for a full-time job.
An emerging danger is a "lost generation" scarred by the hopelessness and despair of extended job loss. One-third of the unemployed have been out of work for a year or more. And a new study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation indicates that more than one-third of California children are in families where no parent has a full-time, year-round job.
Meanwhile, the wealthiest Americans are reliving the Gilded Age. The top 10 percent, according to UC Berkeley economist Emmanuel Saez, sucked up 98 percent of income gains over the last three decades, leaving 2 percent for everyone else. The image that comes to mind is John D. Rockefeller handing out dimes in 1910 to the less fortunate.
If we didn't have unions today, we'd have to invent them. Unions have fought for dignity on the job and a decent life off the job, paving the road to the middle class for millions of families. They have been the voice of working Americans members and nonmembers alike on issues from extended unemployment benefits to Medicare.
"You don't have to love unions," Paul Krugman wrote, "to recognize that they're among the few influential players in our political system representing the interests of middle and working-class Americans, as opposed to the wealthy."
(Excerpt) Read more at sacbee.com ...
Harley Shaiken is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, specializing in labor and the global economy.
“pivotal”? in the sense that rabies is “pivotal” to a dog.
American Dope Growers Union Song
Although the unions were once needed organizations, they have become dishonorable and corrupt...and need to be thown into the trash heap of history, imho.
Like many things that start out “good” and end up misused.
Eventually, power-hungry soulless villains will take over any organization, no matter the good intentions with which it was started.
Witness the unions, many religious denominations and religiously based organizations, Harvard and Yale, etc.
I can’t believe I actually read that entire piece of tripe. Harley Shaiken is a typical commie Berkeley prof and is wrong on every point he made.
If we didn't have unions today, we'd have to invent them. Unions have fought for dignity on the job and a decent life off the job, paving the road to the middle class for millions of families.
I can grant that when American labor was "the only game in town," that unions used collective bargaining to secure for their members a larger share of the profit from their labor. I do not understand how they can function when it is easy for corporate management to simply outsource the whole operation to India, China, or Vietnam. It will be interesting to see how Verizon and it's union make out. I don't see the return on investment to current union members when so much of the money goes to support politicians who simply want to enlarge government, that must be funded by taxing the middle class.
>If we didn’t have unions today, we’d have to invent them. Unions have fought for dignity on the job and a decent life off the job, paving the road to the middle class for millions of families. They have been the voice of working Americans members and nonmembers alike on issues from extended unemployment benefits to Medicare. “
Nuff said. The entire article is one ass-kiss to unions. There is absolutely nothing here that will make me even re-think my opinion of unions as nothing more than a virus in the working world.
I'm not an economist, but even I know this isn't how it works.
The fastest way to make America "a better place" is to get rid of all of the unions and put the thugs running them in prison where they belong. "Hard working Americans" should not be forced into paying a bunch of gangsta thugs for the right to have a job.
Dude forgot a couple of words there.
“utter destruction” needs to be placed between “Unions” and “pivotal to U.S. future.”
Bottom line, disband all unions and the DOL!!!!
That's Okay, you still have May Day!
"utter destruction could also go right after "future. One or the other.
I think that we are forging new territory here.
From another thread by a Democrat saying that Obama needs primary opposition:
“Today, it’s clear that certain Democratic constituency groups — unions especially — are on their deathbed. A reinvigoration of debate over the nature of the American workplace is desperately needed, yet labor leaders seem to prefer supplicating quietly to politicians who betray them. This is not inevitable. People can show dignity.”
It is clearly true, from what we have seen in Wisconsin.
Take away the Union money from the Democrats, it is hard to see them putting together a majority for a long time.
The unions are destroying jobs.
The state economy simply cannot afford to support 2.2 MILLION local and state employees.
These people want to go back to the horrible world before capitalism. Back to the feudal ages.
Democrats want what cannot exist, and are willing to destroy the current order in an attempt to achieve the impossible.
These people want to bring back the Guilds and feudalism.
Back in the days of the guilds there was no competition, no innovation, high barriers to entry etc. Capitalism is a much better idea.
“Harley Shaiken...is wrong on every point he made.”
Especially this quote from the article:
“State unemployment once again has crept up to a lacerating 12 percent,”
Unemployment is much, much higher than that. It the “real” unemployment number is at least 18% in CA.
LABOR DAY has been CANCELLED this year...
Due to OBummers disastrous unemployment figures, there are not enough Americans WORKING to be able to Celebrate a Day for LABOR!
You mean, "Cinco De Mayo".
berdie, you are so right. I say that to anyone who will listen.
They don't mind if the nation goes back there as long as they get theirs and the rest be damned. Selfish greed has ruined the Unions credibility.
Probably ... if the unions keep screwing up the country, we’re all doomed! If there weren’t unions, we’d probably be better off and would probably invent something useful.
Been a member of two unions (closed shops) and the problem with them, and too many other unions is that their central operating principle requires a totally adversarial relationship to management. That may have worked in the 50’s and 60’s, but once global competition became a significant factor, lack of understanding and cooperation between management and labor just put too many US industries at a significant disadvantage.
Unions may have been a necessary countermeasure to employer exploitation in the era of the robber barons, but power corrupts, and as the unions gained power, too many ended up corrupt as well - hence we end up with groups like the SEIU, essentially a collection of politically-connected extortionists.
I have never joined a union in my life. I worked out a contractual agreement with my prospective employer, satisfactory to both sides, prior to starting work.
Unions *could* be fixed, and if they were rebuilt I’d have less of a problem with them.
Try this out:
What a union should be is more like the guild or hiring halls of years past - an employer contacts a union and says they need X number of workers skilled at Y to perform job Z. The union hall and the employer agree on a rate and penalty structure for the job, and the workers are sent over.
However, the workers would be employed *by the union* and not by the employer. Any worker performing below the specifications for the job could be sent back to the union hall and their wages plus the non-performance penalty deducted from the amount paid.
Further, the money would be paid directly to the union, and any penalties would be paid by them as well. This would make it in the union’s best interest to only employ and dispatch those best able to perform tasks. The union members would also tend to be self policing, as nobody wants to be sent home with less money because someone else on their team screwed up.
In addition, all lobbying expenses or political donations should be individually voted on by the members at each local and level, and their pay should be decreased by their portion of that amount (i.e., no slush funds). Salaries and compensation should also be annually voted on.
I think something like this would make union-made start meaning ‘built with quality’ instead of ‘slapped together haphazardly by a drunk or high jerkarse who knows he can’t be fired.’
I disagree that unions were ever good. The fact that conditions were starting to change in the workplace due to progress brought about by the free market was what enabled unions to come into existence in the first place. If employees had not achieved a certain amount of clout, then unions could not have been formed. Once unions were established, they quickly began to use politics to increase their power and influence to the detriment of workers and businesses.
Unions, which are nothing but a form of Communism, have been totally destructive to American prosperity and exceptionalism.