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Are Unions relevant?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Seko- Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03 Mar 2011 at 07:12
Lirelou thanks for your in depth personal history. I always appreciate them from servicemen.

Now back to the points in this thread. Tricare does cover benefits for both active duty personnel, retirees and most Reserves. TriCare has diverse options as well. Whether one utilizes them with a contracted service provider, Private or Public civilian Hospital or in a Veterans Affairs Hospital is beyond the scope of my original statement though. Military personnel still carry that ability through taxpayer funded insurance. The point I was making is in regards to your point in which you stated: Public servants who enjoy better benefits than the average taxpayer are unlikely to find much sympathy outside their own circles.

That I found interesting because you too (Military personnel) are one of the public servants who receive better benefits than the average taxpayer as well. Yet we do not question your allegiance and we tend to have utmost regard, hence, sympathy for our servicemen/women. I don't find it a stretch to show the same regard for other public workers.


Edited by Seko - 03 Mar 2011 at 07:15
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eventhorizon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05 Mar 2011 at 15:35
http://www.kpfk.org/

If people like Amy Goodman and Ian Masters are telling the truth about American politics, then Wall street's financial wizards have stolen, or at least were instrumental in the vanishing act of, $20 Trillion from US and world economy and then had the audactiy to get bailed out with US tax payers money. Thanks to deregulation started during Reagan era, where usual suspects like Greenspan, Larry Summers et al were cheer leaders for the fantastic new financial instruments like Credit Default Swaps. As a result of this great heist (Madoff's ponzi scheme was obviously peanuts compared to this deal) now most private sectors workers and many other retirees (present and future) find themselves with a greatly diminished 401k. The pension funds of public sector workers fell for the same scam and are now in shortfall. The problem with public sector pensions are that they are guaranteed, so any shortfall has to be paid by tax payers. So now, all these tax payers are thinking and saying aloud, why should we pay taxes to pay for public sector pension, where we do not ourselves have pensions and our 401k is diminished.

While this fight is brewing and this is just the beginning, I think the Republican corporate masters, in their infinite wisdom, have just made a fatal blunder. This has the potential to bury the Republican party for good, if word gets out that this is a classic divide and rule technique to divert attention from the real culprit, the corporate specially financial industry profiteers:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vS0hj4kiqsA

Inside Job, documentary directed by Charles Ferguson

gcle, Al-Jassas and others have pointed out that middle class is the bed rock of any society and public sector workers with good pension benefits is the only remaining pillar of this working/middle class at least for the US, while the Republican party and its corporate backers have managed to continue to ship off manufacturing and service sector jobs by outsourcing. If it was possible, they would probably ship off public sector jobs as well.

I think this is the last straw that will break the camel's back. Expect public sector workers to organize like nothing before and educate the public about whats going on. Yes they will have to take some cut in their benefits, but in the end the Republican party, as we know it today, will be history. Billionaires and millionaires greed got them in the end, I would say and their glory days of low taxes are probably over in the US of A. Tea Party will not be able to save the day, as the demographics of young people are stacked against them. It needed a match to light the fire and Scott Walker has just lighted the match. But then again I could be wrong.

A newly energized democratic party with much more influence in Obama's second term, might be exactly what the doctor has ordered for the US. A new foreign and trade policy paradigm with regards to G2 or Chimerica will hopefully usher in as well, where non-representative regimes are marginalized in taking part in international trading system such as WTO. Facebook and Twitter for the Chinese, anyone?


Edited by eventhorizon - 05 Mar 2011 at 15:39
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote eventhorizon Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Mar 2011 at 05:18
http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine/the-book

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In THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, Naomi Klein explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Exposing the thinking, the money trail and the puppet strings behind the world-changing crises and wars of the last four decades, The Shock Doctrine is the gripping story of how America’s “free market” policies have come to dominate the world-- through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries.

At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq’s civil war, a new law is unveiled that would allow Shell and BP to claim the country’s vast oil reserves…. Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly out-sources the running of the “War on Terror” to Halliburton and Blackwater…. After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts.... New Orleans’s residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be reopened…. These events are examples of “the shock doctrine”: using the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks – wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters -- to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy. Sometimes, when the first two shocks don’t succeed in wiping out resistance, a third shock is employed: the electrode in the prison cell or the Taser gun on the streets.

Based on breakthrough historical research and four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, The Shock Doctrine vividly shows how disaster capitalism – the rapid-fire corporate reengineering of societies still reeling from shock – did not begin with September 11, 2001. The book traces its origins back fifty years, to the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman, which produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today. New, surprising connections are drawn between economic policy, “shock and awe” warfare and covert CIA-funded experiments in electroshock and sensory deprivation in the 1950s, research that helped write the torture manuals used today in Guantanamo Bay.

The Shock Doctrine follows the application of these ideas through our contemporary history, showing in riveting detail how well-known events of the recent past have been deliberate, active theatres for the shock doctrine, among them: Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973, the Falklands War in 1982, the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Asian Financial crisis in 1997 and Hurricane Mitch in 1998.




Edited by eventhorizon - 10 Mar 2011 at 05:21
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote lirelou Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Mar 2011 at 14:28
Even the Horizon said:  "gcle, Al-Jassas and others have pointed out that middle class is the bed rock of any society and public sector workers with good pension benefits is the only remaining pillar of this working/middle class at least for the US,"

While GCLE, Al-Jass and others may have pointed out that the middle class is the bed rock of (some or our, but NOT any) society, I fail to see that the public sector workers with good pension benefits is the only remaining pillar of this working/middle class in the U.S.. If that is the case, we are all indeed shafted, because who is going to pay the taxes that support those retired public sector workers good pension benefits? The unemployed? Those working at less than optimal wages? Those working in the informal sector whose real earnings exceed what they report?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Mar 2011 at 06:12
Originally posted by eventhorizon eventhorizon wrote:


gcle, Al-Jassas and others have pointed out that middle class is the bed rock of any society
Actually my point was that the people who call themselves 'middle-class' in the US are really working-class. It's part of the American Dream I guess - you're get to relabel yourself.
 
Joe Bageant's Deer Hunting With Jesus makes the point better than I can, but basically if you earn a living by doing what other people tell you to do, even if you're 'self-employed' or a 'contractor', you're working class.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Mar 2011 at 06:14
Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:

If that is the case, we are all indeed shafted,
You got it.
The question is 'who shafted you?'
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Seko- Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Mar 2011 at 06:48
Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:

Even the Horizon said:  "gcle, Al-Jassas and others have pointed out that middle class is the bed rock of any society and public sector workers with good pension benefits is the only remaining pillar of this working/middle class at least for the US,"

While GCLE, Al-Jass and others may have pointed out that the middle class is the bed rock of (some or our, but NOT any) society, I fail to see that the public sector workers with good pension benefits is the only remaining pillar of this working/middle class in the U.S.. If that is the case, we are all indeed shafted, because who is going to pay the taxes that support those retired public sector workers good pension benefits? The unemployed? Those working at less than optimal wages? Those working in the informal sector whose real earnings exceed what they report?


State taxes maybe. But last I heard many governors are either dropping employees like flies or even cutting down our taxes. Go figure. Yeah a drop in the bucket that doesn't solve local, state and National debt problems much. What am I blabbing about though? I am a private business owner who should collect on these perks. I should be one of the happy GOP. Now onto a more serious question for most of us who are not public employees...who is going to pay for my Social Security?

One thing particularly bothers me. We keep talking about lowering taxes. Corporate tax, personal income tax so on so forth. Why? Well for starters...(plain 'ol selfishness for one) its good for the economy (that's my business and I could care less about yours especially if you are my competition). Two, it's supposed to stimulate the economy. "If we didn't have to pay high taxes (whatever that is suppose to mean), 'If we didn't have to pay for health care...if we didn't have to pay public servants then we could do better in our own business communities. We could even hire more people". Show me the money honey!

 Let's see what really happened in the last decade. We gave lower taxes to business as incentives for more business. We gave business incentives in Hub Zones. We gave out tax credits. Why? For jobs of course. And some of that worked. But the part that worked, and in a bad way, was when business got greedy and to the 'nth degree. We then procured outsourcing as a profit maker. We hired more part-timers instead of full time workers so we don't have to pay benefits. We want to kill Unions because they are the last bastion of defense against big business gone wild. We like to fire people just because it looks good and we could care less about the family down the road. Used to be make Service and Manufacturing locally. Nope! Not any more as much. Gotta have that outsourced too. Cheaper for me and cheaper for you. As long as you can pay for my goods and services. Would you like a one year warranty with that Japanese television Mr. Smith? All this while we ignore that family down the road.

Yes the middle class is a dying breed. It goes hand in hand with the demise of collective bargaining.
So let's get greedy. Kill the Unions. Kill the middle class. Kill any threat to businesses' profiteers. Plus, my CEO is a zillionare who gets his face planted on the front page of our ever-shrinking newspapers. Who needs newspapers anyways? Just a bunch of Liberal mouthpieces.

Remember this mantra folks. Nonprofit is bad. Profit is good. Public is bad. Private is good. Taxes are bad. Investment is good. Workers are bad. Owners are good. Homegrown industry is bad. Outsourcing is good. Made in America is bad. Made in XYZ is good. You are bad. I am good.

Some of us want to welcome back modern day robber barons just like the good old days. Looks like the good old days are finally here.

Just in case you didn't know my post is in jest but is still for real. I am being facetious but honest. Now show me the money!


Edited by Seko - 11 Mar 2011 at 06:52
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Seko- Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Apr 2011 at 07:39
UPDATE

Just as there was a large turnover in the 2010 National elections last November, one in which Wisconsin's Scott Walker was elected; due to voter remorse another backlash has ensued. With 100 percent of the state's precincts reporting, JoAnne Kloppenburg had edged out sitting Justice David Prosser 740,090 votes to 739,886 for a seat at the State Supreme Court. Expect a recount. The significance of this is that in January, Prosser had a projected lead of more than 55% to Kloppenburg's some 30 odd percent support or there about. Prosser is a Republican while Kloppenburg is a Democrat with Union backing. With all the ballyhoo over collective bargaining Wisconsonites want nothing to do with the Walker types anymore.

In relative news yesterday... Chris Abele handily defeated state Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale) at the polls Tuesday to become the next Milwaukee County executive. A position Scott Walker held for eight years prior to becoming Governor. You can fill in the meaning of this. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Apr 2011 at 08:08
For what it is worth, isn't it true that FDR was totally against "public service" unions?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Windemere Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Apr 2011 at 10:55
Unions are certainly necessary to enforce employees' rights, to ensure fairness in the workplace, to uphold the labor laws, and to represent employees through collective-bargaining. We take these rights for granted now, but shouldn't.
 
Unions have become way too complacent over the past 30 or 40 years, representing a middle-class membership, and for the most part, completely ignoring the working-class. ( I still adhere to old economic, income-based definitions for defining the difference between the working-class and the middle-class. There's some truth in defining the working-class as those who do what they are told to do, and middle-class as those who give the orders, but even millionaire executives hold down jobs carrying out their bosses' commands, and a shift-supervisor at Burger King, earning a bit more than the rank-and-file employees, spends much of his/her time directing the work of others). Hopefully what happened in Wisconsin will be a wake-up call to unions. They need to get busy and begin unionizing and representing not just the middle-class (skilled-laborers, police, teachers, nurses etc) but also the almost completely unrepresented working-class (manual laborers, food-service workers, minimum-wage earners, etc.). These were people that unions were originally created to represent, but now are left out in the cold. Modern unions, in practice, are now actually elitist in the workforce which they represent.
 
It's easy to put forth  resounding rhetoric about workers' rights, while at the same time ignoring those workers most in need of representation. Unions need money in order to survive, and it's easier to collect dues from higher-paid ($50,000 annual wage-earners) than from lower-paid ($16,000 annual wage-earners). It makes it more comfortable to charge dues in the first place. And the unions can console themselves by pretending that they benefit all workers, which isn't really true. As always, actions speak louder than words.  It's actually going to be much, much harder to represent  low-paid employees, but the whole rationale behind the unions' existence in the first place is the struggle for fair wages and supportive working-conditions, which was never easy.
 
Hopefully the threat to collective-bargaining rights in Wisconsin will lead to some soul-searching on the part of unions, and to the realization that they need to begin recruiting the working-class, as well as the middle-class, if they hope to survive themselves. Possibly the political trend in WIsconsin may be now in the process of reversing itself, but that shouldn't lead to a return to complacency and a comfortable status quo on the part of the unions. For years now, union membership has been declining, and to reverse this trend all workers, not just prosperous ones, need to be included and represented.


Edited by Windemere - 08 Apr 2011 at 11:08
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote pikeshot1600 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Apr 2011 at 12:05
Unions, as do all other special interests, represent the parochial interests of their leadership (the leadership first) and their memberships only.  The interests of industry customers (in the case of industrial unions) or political constituencies (in the case of public employee unions) don't mean anything.

Self interest trumps the interests of broader economic interests, or of public policy interests, in every situation.

You decide how important the interests of 6 or 7% of the workforce are.




Edited by pikeshot1600 - 08 Apr 2011 at 12:06
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote drgonzaga Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Apr 2011 at 14:00
I must say the fur is flying here and all I could think about was a portrait of angry villagers armed with the crude instruments of their trades marching up the hill to that castle so as to get at Dr. Frankenstein's monster. One might venture to say that in the current enviroment "unions" are the perfect foils upon which to heap the bitterness over a problem only tangentially associated with the history of labor. Lets face it, the organizations now feeling the pinch have scant relationship to what was formerly understood as Labor, whose historic struggle while in the public arena concerned the private aspects of society and the relationships between individuals concerned with material production, whose results could be quantiifed. Collective bargaining, after all touches upon the interaction of power poles: the numbers held by the workers and the capital required for operation. In that sense, if unions are irrelevant so too the professional managers running the operation for the sake of huge anonymous pools of cash dispersed willy-nilly through other faceless entities in charge of managing monies for groupings that have no life and are themselves little more than paper. The only reason the Ford Corporation survived the Detroit meltdown becomes obvious in that scenario: it's owners still have human faces and a personal interest in preserving the inherited structure. Hence, if we are to discuss the relevance of unions we must do so within the traditional definition of labor and in that respect union organization remains relevant.
 
What has changed is the character of unions as a phenomenon of the government sector. As someone has mentioned earlier, FDR was appalled at the thought of unionization with respect to government workers. We will not go into the darker side of earlier politics where the distribution of "government" jobs was one of the plums of office--be it in the old federal post offices [who can recall when the most sought after position in the executive cabinet was Postmaster-General], in the US Customs Service, or the Interior Department. However, even in those days government was but a marginal element in the business life of the nation. Has anyone thought to recall the old argument that was put forth during the debate over the "privatization" of the Postal Service? Heck, it was even repeated almost verbatim when Freddy Mac and Fanny Mae were put out to pasture.


Edited by drgonzaga - 08 Apr 2011 at 14:05
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Apr 2011 at 15:28
Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

Unions, as do all other special interests, represent the parochial interests of their leadership (the leadership first) and their memberships only.  The interests of industry customers (in the case of industrial unions) or political constituencies (in the case of public employee unions) don't mean anything.

Self interest trumps the interests of broader economic interests, or of public policy interests, in every situation.

You decide how important the interests of 6 or 7% of the workforce are.


 
Well, there is special, and then there is special. If you add up all the various categories of work in modern society, you will soon transcend special, and journey into general. And in fact, unions did represent a large part of this constituency not too long ago, and still do in some countries.
 
In the US, and to an extent in Canada, the neo-liberal onslaught has diminished union membership, along with, to an extent, a change in workplace demographics. It is harder, for example, to unionize a few individuals doing contract work developing software for a big corporation, than it would have been to unionize a large number of machinists in a big factory.
 
In my time, I have seen both sides of the street, and I have seen a lot more altruism, and broad support for social goals, in unions. And I have seen relentless "parochialism", and narrow self-interest, in the milieu of business management.
 
Any organization of course has its own culture, depending on its makeup, but to claim the goals of the labour movement are those of only 6-7% of the workforce, if that is what you are doing, is going beyond extreme.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Apr 2011 at 21:43
Originally posted by pikeshot1600 pikeshot1600 wrote:

Unions, as do all other special interests, represent the parochial interests of their leadership (the leadership first) and their memberships only.  The interests of industry customers (in the case of industrial unions) or political constituencies (in the case of public employee unions) don't mean anything.

Self interest trumps the interests of broader economic interests, or of public policy interests, in every situation.
I wouldn't disagree with that in general, though there have been exceptions in the past and probably are some now. We suffer somewhat from the decline of monarchy and traditional aristocracies.
 
But your point is of course the basic reason why unions cannot be dismissed as 'irrelevant'. The self-interest of working people is just as 'relevant' as the self-interests of employers or any other group. It just takes more effort to organise.
Quote
You decide how important the interests of 6 or 7% of the workforce are.
The interests of the bottom 7% of the population are more important than the interests of the top 1%. In most democracies this is reflected by greater power at the polls, but the US is different since effectively elections represent the distribution of capital not demographics.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote opuslola Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Apr 2011 at 09:42
Bill Cliinton was the only party responsible for restoring solvency into the US debt problem?

You must be taking too many mind altering drugs?

Just what party controlled both the Senate and the Lower House, during his second term? Just what man (or posssibly two men), literally forced him to agree to do so? That is his "move towards the middle?"

One was his political advisor, and the other was Newt!

But, as usual, I will assume that one or more of you will have other ideas?

Sorry about all of the "!'s" and "?'s"

I just sometimes love emphasis.

Edited by opuslola - 09 Apr 2011 at 09:44
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Al Jassas Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 10 Apr 2011 at 19:55
Originally posted by opuslola opuslola wrote:

Bill Cliinton was the only party responsible for restoring solvency into the US debt problem?

You must be taking too many mind altering drugs?

Just what party controlled both the Senate and the Lower House, during his second term? Just what man (or posssibly two men), literally forced him to agree to do so? That is his "move towards the middle?"

One was his political advisor, and the other was Newt!

But, as usual, I will assume that one or more of you will have other ideas?

Sorry about all of the "!'s" and "?'s"

I just sometimes love emphasis.
 
The reason why the US made a surplus during Clinton was because the tax policy was generally stable for a long time and at high rates compared with what they are now. Add to this a stable long term growth with low inflation allowing revinue to catch up an then exceed spending and finally all time low defense spending, around half what it is right now.
 
If Bush didn't go to Iraq and Afghanistan he would have made a surplus by 2007-2008 or at least a very low deficit that would have been written off by the time the tax cuts expired. But as you know he went and spent $3 trillion plus and then decided to bail out banks with another $1.5 trillion keeping taxes low and increasing artificial tax aid to corporations (aka subsidies and no competition contracts).
 
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