What Happened To The Unions?

Topic 32505 | Page 1

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Etch's Comment
member avatar

So I remember when I was a kid my pops drove OTR and regional. I also remember the teamsters being a pretty big deal. This was back when Hoffa Jr was running for teamster president. I’m just curious about what happened. Teamsters don’t seem to be such a big deal anymore. During my 20+ years with the fire dept I was in the Union until I was promoted to supervisor level. I’m not going to say I’m 100% pro-Union. I’ve seen where it has helped as well as where it slowed things way down. In the fire service the Union can be a powerful tool for both firefighters as well as management who often find themselves caught between the crews and political minded city councils and mayors. Pt looking to start a whole debate on it, just curious about where the Union went.

Regional:

Regional Route

Usually refers to a driver hauling freight within one particular region of the country. You might be in the "Southeast Regional Division" or "Midwest Regional". Regional route drivers often get home on the weekends which is one of the main appeals for this type of route.

OTR:

Over The Road

OTR driving normally means you'll be hauling freight to various customers throughout your company's hauling region. It often entails being gone from home for two to three weeks at a time.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar

Hey Etch,

The unions had a powerful hold on trucking back in the day, as they did in many industries. In trucking, the unions declined after they de-regulated the industry in 1980.

Motor Carrier Act of 1980

The industry changed dramatically after de-regulation. It opened the opportunity for anyone to jump in and compete. It drove freight rates down and ushered in heavy competition and innovation. The unions held strong in the LTL (less than truckload) segment but didn't maintain a foothold elsewhere.

Today, the industry is the most fragmented industry imaginable. In most industries, if you combine the top handful of companies, you have a significant portion of the industry. Use the airlines, auto manufacturers, and the movie industry as examples.

In trucking, if you combine the top 10 largest carriers in the country, I don't think you'll have 1% of the trucks on the road. It would be extremely difficult for the unions to get a foothold outside of the LTL space with such heavy fragmentation.

Fortunately, no amount of technology will ever make trucking easy. It's still an incredibly demanding and risky job, which keeps wages relatively strong versus most blue-collar careers.

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
Robert B. (The Dragon) ye's Comment
member avatar

The Motor Carriers Act happened. The Teamsters had such a stranglehold on the logistics industry that the federal gubbament had to get involved. Corruption, greed, racism and horrible practices ruined them. Not only did they control the drivers, they controlled the docks and much of the available warehousing at the time. If you wanted your products, you had to play their game or you didn’t play at all. It’s a shame really but oh so typical of many unions.

Brett Aquila's Comment
member avatar
It’s a shame really but oh so typical of many unions.

I would say corruption and greed are typical of sociopaths who often make their way into powerful places. It's something that has plagued corporations and governments throughout human history.

If you look at the state of blue-collar labor before the unions in the 19th and early 20th centuries and compare it to what we have today, conditions have improved 1,000-fold. Collective bargaining helped improve wages and safety dramatically, but unions were vulnerable to corruption just like any power center, and that's what ruined a good thing, unfortunately.

Having the benefit of collective bargaining is a no-brainer, but finding someone trustworthy to lead the way is extremely difficult. The combination of corruption within legitimate unions and anti-union propaganda by corporations has soured most people on unions. Unfortunately, the graph below doesn't dissuade most people from their anti-union stance.

Picture below: The ratio of CEO-to-worker wages over time. Notice what happened when the unions lost their foothold on industry in the late 70's and early 80's. Without collective bargaining, who will keep upper management in check?

0804748001666381398.jpg

Robert B. (The Dragon) ye's Comment
member avatar

Totally agree with you Brett. I still pull for the skilled trades unions in many ways because of their apprenticeship programs. A new member effectively starts out as hired sweat. Through hard work, dedication and education, they earn their way to the title of ironworker, electrician, carpenter and so on. Continuing education opens up more doors to master level certifications, project managers, site super, you name it. Those are the unions I support because those members have skin in the game. Teamsters, UAW, NEA and others? They can go right to hell as far as I’m concerned because of the corruption at the top but also the laziness and ineptitude among their ranks.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

double-quotes-start.png

It’s a shame really but oh so typical of many unions.

double-quotes-end.png

I would say corruption and greed are typical of sociopaths who often make their way into powerful places. It's something that has plagued corporations and governments throughout human history.

If you look at the state of blue-collar labor before the unions in the 19th and early 20th centuries and compare it to what we have today, conditions have improved 1,000-fold. Collective bargaining helped improve wages and safety dramatically, but unions were vulnerable to corruption just like any power center, and that's what ruined a good thing, unfortunately.

Having the benefit of collective bargaining is a no-brainer, but finding someone trustworthy to lead the way is extremely difficult. The combination of corruption within legitimate unions and anti-union propaganda by corporations has soured most people on unions. Unfortunately, the graph below doesn't dissuade most people from their anti-union stance.

Picture below: The ratio of CEO-to-worker wages over time. Notice what happened when the unions lost their foothold on industry in the late 70's and early 80's. Without collective bargaining, who will keep upper management in check?

0804748001666381398.jpg

I hope people realize how valuable and insightful this information is. Brett, I am not trying to kiss your rear end. Really just wanting to emphasize the potency of what you have shared.

Dave T.'s Comment
member avatar

At my last job, I was working as a contractor for one of the big three automakers. I ran a yard truck on nights at a parts distribution center for them. Just seeing how things worked with the UAW and how much the workers took advantage of them and the things they got away with makes me never want to work a Union job. Some of the workers would be drinking on the job, others doing drugs on their lunch breaks… they would come stumbling out into the yard where I was super busy moving trailers. Upper management knew about all of it but couldn’t do anything because of the union protection even with people wrecking forklifts and whatnot. The workers inside didn’t see a problem with any of this but from my perspective, it was a dangerous situation. I have a pretty strong work ethic but those people inside that place have lost every bit of theirs because once they get that union card, they can kick back and do what ever and as little as they want because of that protection while making a ton of money with free healthcare and amazing benefits. It’s no wonder that new vehicles cost so much these days. I’m not a big fan of the unions after that.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

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

Hey Dave,

There is no defending the behaviors you witnessed. No one would argue with that. But let me make two points:

1) The union didn't ruin the workers who were drinking on the job, failing their duties, and displaying extremely low standards. The unions enable these people to be who they really are - very low-class people with low personal standards and no sense of pride or integrity.

If their job was on the line and they had to perform at a high level, many of them would, and some of them wouldn't. But the unions didn't create low-class people, they enabled them. Maybe those doing the hiring should hire higher-quality people. Maybe those workers in the union with high standards should hold their peers accountable.

There is nothing anyone could offer me that would lead to me behaving that way because I hold myself to high standards. I might quit a job like that to escape that environment, but I would never drop my standards for any reason. You could offer me $1 million a year, and I still wouldn't drop my standards because I can always find ways to earn $1 million and maintain my integrity, but once your integrity is gone, there's no undoing what you've done.

2) Have you thought about what upper management gets away with at companies without unions? Do you think they behave with the utmost integrity? Do you think they make the safety and well-being of their workers a top priority? The graph above clearly shows that most of them will take every nickel they can for themselves while paying the workers the bare minimum necessary to keep enough employees on the job. They spend most of their time on golf courses, yachts, and private clubs, laughing their asses off at the $10 million salary they're basically stealing while doing next to nothing to earn it.

Look back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Look at how badly the workers were abused. Hell, at one point in this country and many countries worldwide, you had outright slavery! It wasn't until they outlawed slavery and required management to limit the working hours and provide a safer work environment that things improved.

Just like the union workers, many in upper management will live to extremely low standards if no one holds them accountable.

People often mistake cause and effect. My mom always blames alcohol and drugs for ruining people. I always try to explain to her that alcohol and drugs don't ruin people but simply expose their weaknesses.

People will often live to the lowest standards they can get away with. Shame on the unions for allowing that kind of behavior, and shame on the workers for not holding each other accountable.

HOS:

Hours Of Service

HOS refers to the logbook hours of service regulations.

DWI:

Driving While Intoxicated

OWI:

Operating While Intoxicated

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