Unions ...... Good Or Bad??

Topic 11354 | Page 2

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Shiva's Comment
member avatar

Some valid points so far for sure and some things I didn't consider. I do find it odd nobody has much good to say about a union so far.

For all the bad mouthing about unions here, don't forget without unions our working wouldn't be where they are today. You couldn't even go to use the restroom before unions, and you were paid pennies, worked long hours had no health care. If you got sick , you couldn't take a day off without fear of losing your job. It's true, unions have taken great advantage since being accepted and gaining power, but we would all be working in sweatshops without them. Even now across many industries, workers pay and benefits are being cut across the board because of anti-union sentiment. Heckler, my job was outsourced to a 3rd party. This 3rd party company hired me, but at a pay cut , I lost health care, pto, everything. Not to mention my commute to work was costing me $300 a month in tolls and gas. I grew up in a union household, and all our healthcare, dental and vision were taken care of because of a union, not some crap company that lays you off with no pension after 29 yrs of loyal service. Which is what happened to my mom when she turned 59. If it wasn't for my dad being in a union, I don't know what my parents would do. The union still takes care of them and they are both retired now. P.s. don't give me any bs about social security, no one could live off that. Thanks, I am done ranting

Dave D. (Armyman)'s Comment
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It's true that unions did great things back in the day. But, the union leadership has forgotten its purpose. When I see a grocery store cashier or stock boy (a job that is slowly going away) job being unionized, I start to think that it is no longer about SKILLED LABOR (like pipe fitters, electrical workers, auto workers, mine workers, etc.) and about paying union dues, then I know something is amiss.

The union leadership used to come from within the ranks. Nowadays, it is some labor lawyer that would never set foot in a factory.

We owe unions a load of thanks for what they did, back in the day, but why would I pay unions $35 to $50 a month for a two cent/mile raise when some union hack would get 25% to 50%.

Dave

Shiva's Comment
member avatar

It's true that unions did great things back in the day. But, the union leadership has forgotten its purpose. When I see a grocery store cashier or stock boy (a job that is slowly going away) job being unionized, I start to think that it is no longer about SKILLED LABOR (like pipe fitters, electrical workers, auto workers, mine workers, etc.) and about paying union dues, then I know something is amiss.

The union leadership used to come from within the ranks. Nowadays, it is some labor lawyer that would never set foot in a factory.

We owe unions a load of thanks for what they did, back in the day, but why would I pay unions $35 to $50 a month for a two cent/mile raise when some union hack would get 25% to 50%.

Dave

That is true what you say. Unions in general have lost sight of what they once were about "the worker"

Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

I believe unions have served their purpose. About 100 years ago, labor was truly exploited by owners/management. Sweatshops, deadly conditions in mines (coal mines especially), just enough pay for workers to survive. Unionizing and organizing became a literal battle, with corporate armies and riots. The Federal Government had to step in.

The relationship between Companies and Workers finally smoothed out. Now these days, Labor laws (minimum wage, workmen's comp, even Social Security) work to take care of the blue collar worker. Since the middle of the 20th century unions have priced themselves out of a job. Corporations moved operations from the unionized Northeast (Detroit, New York) to Right To Work states, mostly in the South. That's why you go to the middle of nowhere in Mississippi (Hi, Blue Springs, MS!) for a load for Toyota instead of going to Detroit.

You notice few trucking companies are unionized these days. As for trucking, the Teamsters have a rich and colorful history of their own. I'm not going there. Ask Jimmy Hoffa, if you can find him!

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

It's funny you guys say the unions are no longer needed when you're all working jobs that pay about 50% less than they did 20 years ago.

When I started in trucking in '93 I made $40,000 or so my first year. Adjusted for inflation you would have to make about $64,000 today to have the equivalent spending power of $40,000 back in '93. The average first year driver today makes about $35,000 a year. So truck drivers today are barely making half of what we were 20 years ago.

But you know who's the exception to that rule? One of our members "6 String Rhythm". And why is that? Because he's running LTL where most companies are union companies. He's making nearly double what most of you are making, he gets full paid benefits (making his salary even that much better), and he's home every night. The most interesting part about his story is that he's not in a union! But because the company he works for competes in an area of the industry dominated by unions they have to pay union wages or they won't get enough drivers. So he benefits from the unions without having to join one. Of course if something happens on the job he doesn't have a union backing him up. They can drop him like a rotten sack of potatoes and nobody will say a word.

Here's a chart showing driver wages when adjusted for inflation from 2003 to 2013:

graph of dropping truck driver pay by year adjusted for inflation

Now isn't that a pretty picture??

I once worked for a company that was in the same situation. The only way he could keep the union out was to pay union wages because all of his competitors were unionized. One time I voiced a minor complaint to the boss and to punish me he wouldn't fix the air conditioning in my truck for the entire summer. Do you think if we had a union behind us he would have been able to do that? Nope. Not a chance. So I made good wages but like every non-unionized worker I was at the whims of the company management. My choices were to shut up and deal with it or quit my job. Management had a free for all.

Anyone who thinks unions have no place in our society simply doesn't understand what a raw deal most workers are getting nowadays. Management at corporations is making millions or even tens of millions a year while most workers can barely pay their electric bill. You guys are out there on the highways risking your lives working day and night in jobs that allow you to work up to 70 hours a week without overtime pay, you're paying the bulk of your medical benefits out of pocket, and you're doing it for half the wages we did it for 20 years ago. But hey, who needs unions, right? Let management keep giving themselves raises when they're already raking in millions while you guys risk your lives, work your fingers to the bone, and scrounge for pennies to pay your bills while your wages continue to drop.

Every time someone in management reads that a worker is against unions he thinks, "Thank God our propaganda worked! Drop their wages another penny per mile, find an excuse to fire the top 5% of earners, and let's use that money to give ourselves another $100,000 raise this year!"

And there's no union there to do anything about it.

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
Since the middle of the 20th century unions have priced themselves out of a job. Corporations moved operations from the unionized Northeast (Detroit, New York) to Right To Work states, mostly in the South. That's why you go to the middle of nowhere in Mississippi (Hi, Blue Springs, MS!) for a load for Toyota instead of going to Detroit.

And you'll notice in those regions that the non-unionized workers are making half of what the unionized workers were making doing the same job and they're paying the bulk of their own medical benefits out of pocket while management at these companies is making double what they were when the company was unionized. That worked out great for the workers, didn't it?

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Old School's Comment
member avatar
I do find it odd nobody has much good to say about a union so far.

Okay, I'll take the bait!

First off let me say I'm just not a Union guy, but I do know historically they are responsible for many of us, including those of us who don't care for them, being able to earn a decent wage - I think anyone would have a difficult time arguing against that.

Secondly, I have noticed over the years that Union labor forces produce some really fine products. I'm not sure if it is the training, or if it is just the attitude that they are going to be the best there is. Here's an example. How many of you remember when the "KIA" brand of cars were introduced here in the states? They were absolute junk, they were cheap, and there was a reason why they were cheap - they didn't last long. (Remember the YUGO?) YUGO is gone now, but KIA positioned themselves into some American Plants with good old UAW Auto workers in them, and bam! they are suddenly making cars that demand a good price and their quality was way up from where they began.

Just an observation of mine, you can take it for what ever you think it's worth.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Hudsonhawk's Comment
member avatar

Unions were created as a way to protect workers. I think they need to come back before we get a Rockefeller mining camp situation happening again. Once they start paying that company script it's time to wake up!

I've been debating going towards a ironworker union after a few years of trucking. And yes it's very much worth it for that kind of industry. I think the big problem was small unions have been bullied by the big corporations for jobs anyone can do. E.g. grocery unions and warehouse unions. If a corporation doesn't like the contract they usually try to lower incentives then when the union strikes they pay scabs. It's a bum deal. But a highly skilled job they can't just hire someone off the streets.

How hard is it to get a LTL job?

LTL:

Less Than Truckload

Refers to carriers that make a lot of smaller pickups and deliveries for multiple customers as opposed to hauling one big load of freight for one customer. This type of hauling is normally done by companies with terminals scattered throughout the country where freight is sorted before being moved on to its destination.

LTL carriers include:

  • FedEx Freight
  • Con-way
  • YRC Freight
  • UPS
  • Old Dominion
  • Estes
  • Yellow-Roadway
  • ABF Freight
  • R+L Carrier
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

double-quotes-start.png

Since the middle of the 20th century unions have priced themselves out of a job. Corporations moved operations from the unionized Northeast (Detroit, New York) to Right To Work states, mostly in the South. That's why you go to the middle of nowhere in Mississippi (Hi, Blue Springs, MS!) for a load for Toyota instead of going to Detroit.

double-quotes-end.png

And you'll notice in those regions that the non-unionized workers are making half of what the unionized workers were making doing the same job and they're paying the bulk of their own medical benefits out of pocket while management at these companies is making double what they were when the company was unionized. That worked out great for the workers, didn't it?

You are 100% correct, Brett! Do you prefer shopping at Walmart or Lord and Taylor? Corporations have the same choices in where they get their labor.

Your chart for trucking pay is also 100% correct. If the Teamsters and such still had the jobs sewn up, we'd all be in the $60k-70k category. But market forces allow truck companies to lower the entry level pay. I've noted before that trucking companies use the lowest pay that will get their driver seats filled. The Walmart/L&T question still applies: does a company deal with warm bodies with no experience, or do they want 5 year road veterans?

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.
Errol V.'s Comment
member avatar

Tyler Durden, Thanks for asking this question. It's a great, and needed discussion!

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