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Are Unions relevant?

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Topic: Are Unions relevant?
Posted By: Al Jassas
Subject: Are Unions relevant?
Date Posted: 27 Feb 2011 at 18:20
Hello to you all
 
Obviously many of you have at least heard about the standoff in the American state of Wisconsin between democrats and republicans about union rights. In any case here is a summary:
 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12498249 - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12498249
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12517062 - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12517062
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12584332 - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12584332
 
Anyway this got me thinking. Are unions relevant?
 
No one can deny that modern labour laws are a direct result of union activity. Before unions rose in the 2nd half of the 19th century child labour was widespread. People worked long hours for paltry wages and no benifits including weekends and in horrid conditions. Unions slowly forced governments to give concessions first by strike action and then through policital activism.
 
Then came the golden years of prosperity and the rise of the middle class when most people who were known as "working class" enjoyed in fact middle class standing. Unions in many countries became irrelevant and union membership began to decline especially after corruption found its way to them. Hard economic times combined with unreasonable union demands/actions made union busting policies popular and Thatcher lead the way and the rest of the world followed leading to a dramatic reduction of union membership, political and economic power.
 
Now one has to ask, was this for better or worse? Are the unions relevant when comes to labour's rights or can labour do without them?
 
Al-Jassas



Replies:
Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 28 Feb 2011 at 00:34
Essentially the concern here is with the right of any group of people to work together for their common interests. Trades unions are only a specific example of that: religious groups, political parties, or football clubs are others. It seems to me to underlie the guarantee in the US Constitution (1st amendment) of the "the right of the people peaceably to assemble".
 
The right (indeed the duty in some cases) of workers in a trade to form associations to work for their own betterment and control their own members goes back in English law at least to the Elizabethan Statute of Artificers, and before that to the medieval guilds. (From time to time attempts were, as is well known, to limit that freedom through the Combination Acts of the late 18th-early 19th century, but were ultimately unacceptable.
 
The guilds and their successors were essentially combinations of both employers and employees, in modern jargon: masters, journeymen and apprentices in their own). It wasn't until later, with the Industrial Revolution and the birth of the proletariat, that inter-class issues rather than inter-trade issues became prominent (but not always pre-eminent: cf my article The Aristocracy of Labour in the AE Library at http://www.allempires.info/the-aristocracy-of-labour_topic210.html - http://www.allempires.info/the-aristocracy-of-labour_topic210.html  .)
 
'Trades unions' therefore is now something of a misnomer, since employers' associations are also essentially trades unions (the word trade itself not really applying to either side of much inustrial relations any more).
 
I don't see any justifiable reason for refusing to allow particular groups of workers, no matter what combination of employers they work for, the right to 'peaceably' assemble and work for their own interest, any more than there would be to restrict the right of employers to do so. The supreme court decision to allow corporations to spend as much money as they like on buying politicians is challengeable, and totally unjustifiable if it grants commercial corporations rights it refuses to unions (which are also legal persons).
 
That is not to say that unions, just like corporations, do not need oversight. Unions can exploit the community just as employers can (as became only to evident in 60s-70s Britain). They need to be subject to the rule of law, just as corporations need to be.
 
But unions will always be relevant as long as large numbers of working class people continue to be
employed by small numbers of rich ones.
 
(Note that the definition of working-class needs to be vocationally defined as those who earn a living by doing what they are told to do, even though for the sake of status or because they view class in terms of money and possession, or because they are theoretically 'contractors', they call themselves 'middle-class'.)
 
 
 


-------------
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork.

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.



Posted By: Parnell
Date Posted: 28 Feb 2011 at 01:39
Graham's post sums it up well.

Nowadays the only trade union with relevance are the public sector unions.


-------------
http://xkcd.com/15/



Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it. ~George Bernard Shaw


Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 28 Feb 2011 at 02:16
You may mean 'with power' rather than 'with relevance'.
 
Depends what country you're talking about though. You couldn't say that of France or Luxembourg or Belgium or Germany.
 
Generally speaking, the better contries are doing in the current economic situation, the stronger the trades unions are.


-------------
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork.

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.



Posted By: Al Jassas
Date Posted: 28 Feb 2011 at 02:44
I think that the weakening of the unions through legistlation and lack of interest was one of the worst things to happen to the middle class in the long term and the last 30 years is a proof.
 
When unions were weakened politically corporations and rich people took over and government policies titled towards the business class. The result was the weakening of the middle class both politically and economically. The income gap between high earners (top 20%) and low earners in the US increased from 7.69-1 to 14.1-1 and its even more when we consider the top 5% and the rest.
 
Al-Jassas


Posted By: Parnell
Date Posted: 28 Feb 2011 at 02:45
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

You may mean 'with power' rather than 'with relevance'.
 
Depends what country you're talking about though. You couldn't say that of France or Luxembourg or Belgium or Germany.
 
Generally speaking, the better contries are doing in the current economic situation, the stronger the trades unions are.


Not really. South Africa has massively powerful trade unions and highly restrictive labour laws, along with huge unemployment.  France has been struggling for decades under any meaningful analysis of economic growth. Both it and Belgiums debt to GDP ratio has been climbing. Belgium, France and Germany have had very high unemployment over the last decade, at least by Anglo Saxon/Irish standards.

Strong trade unions and labour laws may benefit those who actually have a job, but all the data suggests that they act as a deterrent to job creation.


-------------
http://xkcd.com/15/



Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it. ~George Bernard Shaw


Posted By: drgonzaga
Date Posted: 28 Feb 2011 at 03:16
Hmm...I believe this thread will turn ito a discussion upon at what point the principle of unions becomes but an exercise detailing at just what point unions become little else than an image of the Cosa Nostra!
 
With respect to the United States, one has to observe that unionization as touches upon the public sector will produce results antithetical to the historical processes that shaped the union movement in the private sector. Besides, to speak of trade unions in a contemporary setting is little more than wistful nostalgia for the dodo. When government itself becomes the "dominant" employer you might as well throw the "rule books" out the window. 


-------------
Honi soit qui mal y pense


Posted By: Al Jassas
Date Posted: 28 Feb 2011 at 03:16

Just because there is a correlation between unemployment and strong union movement in some countries doesn't that one is responsible for the other.

One might just suggest the opposite. The UK has europe's strongest union movement and highest membership and yet has one of the lowest unemployment rates. Unemployment is usually caused by structural problems within a country's economy or with the usual round of growth and stagnation and both have nothing to do with labour laws or unions.
 
In the case of South Africa the apartheid legacy is the main culprit. If you are a well educated person you will easily find a well paying Job in SA. Remember that there is actually a net migration to South Africa by white europeans because jobs are available.
 
In France the country still follows an industrial based economy with a large agricultural sector. Because of the rise of China a lot of the old low cost manufacturing jobs left France resulting in high unemployment. Unlike Britain which immediately supported the services sector by freeing the banking system and attracting foreign investments in its services secotr France remained very conservative in that regards which reduced the flow of money and investments there. And for your information France has one of europe's lowest trade union membership rates.
 
Al-Jassas


Posted By: Joe
Date Posted: 28 Feb 2011 at 04:03
Originally posted by drgonzaga drgonzaga wrote:

Hmm...I believe this thread will turn ito a discussion upon at what point the principle of unions becomes but an exercise detailing at just what point unions become little else than an image of the Cosa Nostra!


Most of what they do is ridiculous the "cosa nostra" that dominate unions dominate work places with "You will buy our materials" or "you will hire our workers". Sometimes people get killed for not doing it. It happens all the time in NYC. Many construction sites for decades were dominated by the mafia. With their materials and workers being bought and hired and these people pay through their noses under the threat of violence or death.

Unions are good however so people have a say. If 20,000 people get randomly fired for no reason or their getting sh*t wages while the owner makes millions or billions. They deserve the right to protest and not work. They deserve to organize; this is America.


Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 28 Feb 2011 at 05:00
Originally posted by Parnell Parnell wrote:

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

You may mean 'with power' rather than 'with relevance'.
 
Depends what country you're talking about though. You couldn't say that of France or Luxembourg or Belgium or Germany.
 
Generally speaking, the better contries are doing in the current economic situation, the stronger the trades unions are.


Not really. South Africa has massively powerful trade unions and highly restrictive labour laws, along with huge unemployment.  France has been struggling for decades under any meaningful analysis of economic growth. Both it and Belgiums debt to GDP ratio has been climbing. Belgium, France and Germany have had very high unemployment over the last decade, at least by Anglo Saxon/Irish standards.
'Have had' is rather the point. The question is which are recovering most quickly. The UK has the highest debt to GDP ratio of anybody within reason at about 360%, and I don't see why it's seen as a handicap anyway, given the failings of GDP as any kind of realistic measure, and the different classes and terms of debt that exist. £1,000 that has to be paid now is more serious than a £1,000,000 due for repayment ten years away. You don't go bankrupt if your loans aren't due, if you're trusted enough to refinance, and if you're paying your way.
 
The German unemployment rate has falled quickly over the last 5/6 years from 11% to 5%, France has been stable around 10% for a decade now, and Luxembourg has also been flat around 5/6% fror some years. While the US's suspect U3 figure has risen dramatically from 4.5% or so to touch 10% and is still around 9-odd%: its more comparable  U6 rate is up around 16%.
 
And the countries of Europe aren't has harmed by high unemployment as the US thanks to the social support network which ensures that monetary demand isn't as stifled by unemployment - especially long-term - as it iis in the US's less supportive situation. 
 
And that is largely due to the political weakness of the weakness of the working class (the so-called 'middle class').
Quote
Strong trade unions and labour laws may benefit those who actually have a job, but all the data suggests that they act as a deterrent to job creation.
Well they actas a deterrent to creating cheap jobs, that's true. However historically they have acted to increase overmanning if anything: creating overmanning is creating jobs, no? A large part of the point of anti-union legislation is the attempt to create a situation in which it is easier and cheaper to fire people. That is hardly job creation.


-------------
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork.

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.



Posted By: Omar al Hashim
Date Posted: 28 Feb 2011 at 08:03
Yes!
 
Unions are terribly important, the problem I see with them is that as they acheive their goals the need for them is reduced. A bigger problem I find in Australia is that the Unions are less interested in organising labor than they are in their own continuation. They serve more as a parking lot for Labor party staffers than a organisation for pushing workers rights.
 
Of the two unions I am eligible for, one I find is reasonably good, the other is staffers parking lot that is more interested in not 'rocking the Labor boat' than it is in doing it's job.


Posted By: Seko-
Date Posted: 28 Feb 2011 at 13:18
I've been waiting for a thread like this to pop up ever since Madison became America's news. As we know the US has been in a recession in many parts of the country (rust belt, Florida, Nevada, N. England even). Governor Walker's mission has been to kill state unions in Wisconsin. Now without hindsight and sudden impulse one would think it is just to curb the state's debt. Republican representatives of Wisconsin's government are all for it. Democrats are up in arms as evidenced by the numerous protests. This is one party that doesn't drink the cool aid, and especially any form of bitter tea.

Unions are the back bone of the middle class. Without them (both unions and middle class) America will not be the same as we now know it.  Public safety workers, police officers, and state troopers are supposedly exempt from the plan - the Governor wouldn't want to make too big of a political mistake. Teachers, trash collectors, snow plowers, municipal and most other state workers face disillusion as the GOP attempts to end their collective bargaining rights. That is huge in my opinion. Without representation, bargaining power during contract negotiations and job security those who are targeted for the axe would fall under the wiles of mistreatment. Yet there is one goal hidden within the GOP agenda. Public employees have their livelihoods at stake but the Democratic party is also targeted as political prey. The intention of Governor Walker and his henchmen is to pull the backing from under the feet of the Democrats. Kill the Unions and you kill a massive source of organized campaign funding and volunteers for the Democratic party. By taking away their key base the Left would become crippled and that my friends is the big picture. Mister Walker knows it as do his supporters. We know this cause the cat got out of the bag recently when the governor spilled his beans to a fake Billionaire donor via a prank phone call (who really was a small time reporter impersonating the mogul).  http://www.buffalobeast.com/?p=5045

Unions can always negotiate and help the local, state and federal governments cut down deficits. Individual public and private workers are at the mercy of their bosses (who isn't?). Yet as individuals their bargaining power is limited. Their ability to fight for benefits, work schedules and overtime pay are at stake. That is why the Republican party is so swift to cash in on the Tea Party mandate and not only to cripple Union representation but to pull the rug from under the feet of the whole Democratic party.

All American trade unions are supportive of their brothers and sisters in Wisconsin. The Teamsters, UAW, and AFL-CIO among others. Fox news can try but they can't spin this one. Too many people, too many jobs and too many protests say so. That is the real America.


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 28 Feb 2011 at 13:29
Unions are not as powerful as they once were. In the days of mass production manufacturing, you had a large workforce employed in the same organisation which could be easily mobilised for collective bargaining. This was a big change from the mass of rural workers and domestic servants which were geographically dispersed and far harder to organise.

With the dismantling of much of the manufacturing base in the West, you have less and less people concentrated geographically and in the one workplace who can be organised for collective bargaining. Australia in the 1950s had the highest rate of free union membership in the world, with about 60% of the workforce forming part of a union. Last time I checked a few years ago, that figure had dropped to 23%.

Big business has the opportunity to manipulate the media, influence government through informal means and also withold capital. So without unions, workers face having to negotiate in an environment of assymetrical resources and power. Unions are useful and relevant as acting as a counter balance to that assymetry of power. But, as has been mentioned, when unions gain too much political power and union leaders pick fights for their own ego, unions can have a destructive and unfair influence on society. Balance is key, though not always easy to achieve.


Posted By: Seko-
Date Posted: 28 Feb 2011 at 13:34
Big business buys big politicians. Big Unions buys big politicians. That is balance. Cripple one and the other takes over. 


Posted By: Captain Vancouver
Date Posted: 28 Feb 2011 at 14:17

Yes Seko, I think you have about summed it up.

 

Those that feel that unions are an anachronism need only to look around. Not only to Wisconsin. In my corner of the world (BC) we have a very lively split between left and right. Voting tends to divide between the business/corporate interest party 45%, and the more left wing social democratic party 45%, and the remainder for various fringes. Opposition to the right wing agenda is voracious. Yet we have still seen basic labor rights deteriorate in past years. The eight hour day has gone (10 hours until overtime), and child labor laws have eroded (working at 14 and 15 is ok, and they get less than the minimum wage), and a number of other items. If you feel nostalgic pangs for the days of Charles Dickens, then yes, labor unions are probably not your thing.

 

Another question that has come up here is about unions limiting employment. I think they probably do, and that is a good thing. I think most people feel better about themselves having a real job- that is, something that is worthwhile and socially redeeming, and not just any old scam that will bring in a few bucks. In any economic system, there is an amount of production (GDP for example) that may be divided up so many ways. These ways are unavoidably subjective.

 

The right wing will argue that those without viable employment should scramble, and do whatever to make a buck. Sell baubles door to door. Rent pornographic videos. Yet these things do nothing for society. The labor movement argues that if a job is worth doing, it should be worth paying for. For those that are out of work, as some will inevitably be in a modern industrial society, some share of national wealth should still be there for them. Better to direct energy to worthwhile projects, than have it directed to whatever itinerant profiteer that is in the neighborhood, and to ensure a reasonable life for all. The point is not to deny employment, but to insist on equitable standards for all.



Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 01 Mar 2011 at 14:48
Originally posted by Seko Seko wrote:

I've been waiting for a thread like this to pop up ever since Madison became America's news. As we know the US has been in a recession in many parts of the country (rust belt, Florida, Nevada, N. England even). Governor Walker's mission has been to kill state unions in Wisconsin. Now without hindsight and sudden impulse one would think it is just to curb the state's debt. Republican representatives of Wisconsin's government are all for it. Democrats are up in arms as evidenced by the numerous protests. This is one party that doesn't drink the cool aid, and especially any form of bitter tea.

Unions are the back bone of the middle class. Without them (both unions and middle class) America will not be the same as we now know it.  Public safety workers, police officers, and state troopers are supposedly exempt from the plan - the Governor wouldn't want to make too big of a political mistake. Teachers, trash collectors, snow plowers, municipal and most other state workers face disillusion as the GOP attempts to end their collective bargaining rights. That is huge in my opinion. Without representation, bargaining power during contract negotiations and job security those who are targeted for the axe would fall under the wiles of mistreatment. Yet there is one goal hidden within the GOP agenda. Public employees have their livelihoods at stake but the Democratic party is also targeted as political prey. The intention of Governor Walker and his henchmen is to pull the backing from under the feet of the Democrats. Kill the Unions and you kill a massive source of organized campaign funding and volunteers for the Democratic party. By taking away their key base the Left would become crippled and that my friends is the big picture. Mister Walker knows it as do his supporters. We know this cause the cat got out of the bag recently when the governor spilled his beans to a fake Billionaire donor via a prank phone call (who really was a small time reporter impersonating the mogul).  http://www.buffalobeast.com/?p=5045

Unions can always negotiate and help the local, state and federal governments cut down deficits. Individual public and private workers are at the mercy of their bosses (who isn't?). Yet as individuals their bargaining power is limited. Their ability to fight for benefits, work schedules and overtime pay are at stake. That is why the Republican party is so swift to cash in on the Tea Party mandate and not only to cripple Union representation but to pull the rug from under the feet of the whole Democratic party.

All American trade unions are supportive of their brothers and sisters in Wisconsin. The Teamsters, UAW, and AFL-CIO among others. Fox news can try but they can't spin this one. Too many people, too many jobs and too many protests say so. That is the real America.


An interesting post Seko. However, what about when dark blue Democrats turn on state and local workers?

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/02/27/blue-state-dems-turn-on-state-local-workers/ - http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/02/27/blue-state-dems-turn-on-state-local-workers/

Should we not then think that both parties would be seen as a monstrous threat by the public sectors rather than just focusing on just Republicans only? A bit misdirected anger in focusing in on the weaker head of a supposed hydra. Then again, why not. They are only signing their own tickets to oblivion.

I mean from my position here in the south, it only makes public/private unions seem that more loathsome as to be,  and by appearances only so far, the willing tools of any particular political party, and again by appearances only, of the Democrat party at that.


Posted By: Zagros
Date Posted: 01 Mar 2011 at 19:49
I recently joined UNITE, so obviously I am going to say yes, they are relevant.

-------------
"There was glory in pissing, Corabb decided as he watched the stream curve out and make that familiar but unique sound as it hit the ground." So true.


Posted By: Al Jassas
Date Posted: 01 Mar 2011 at 20:21
Originally posted by Panther Panther wrote:

Originally posted by Seko Seko wrote:

I've been waiting for a thread like this to pop up ever since Madison became America's news. As we know the US has been in a recession in many parts of the country (rust belt, Florida, Nevada, N. England even). Governor Walker's mission has been to kill state unions in Wisconsin. Now without hindsight and sudden impulse one would think it is just to curb the state's debt. Republican representatives of Wisconsin's government are all for it. Democrats are up in arms as evidenced by the numerous protests. This is one party that doesn't drink the cool aid, and especially any form of bitter tea.

Unions are the back bone of the middle class. Without them (both unions and middle class) America will not be the same as we now know it.  Public safety workers, police officers, and state troopers are supposedly exempt from the plan - the Governor wouldn't want to make too big of a political mistake. Teachers, trash collectors, snow plowers, municipal and most other state workers face disillusion as the GOP attempts to end their collective bargaining rights. That is huge in my opinion. Without representation, bargaining power during contract negotiations and job security those who are targeted for the axe would fall under the wiles of mistreatment. Yet there is one goal hidden within the GOP agenda. Public employees have their livelihoods at stake but the Democratic party is also targeted as political prey. The intention of Governor Walker and his henchmen is to pull the backing from under the feet of the Democrats. Kill the Unions and you kill a massive source of organized campaign funding and volunteers for the Democratic party. By taking away their key base the Left would become crippled and that my friends is the big picture. Mister Walker knows it as do his supporters. We know this cause the cat got out of the bag recently when the governor spilled his beans to a fake Billionaire donor via a prank phone call (who really was a small time reporter impersonating the mogul).  http://www.buffalobeast.com/?p=5045

Unions can always negotiate and help the local, state and federal governments cut down deficits. Individual public and private workers are at the mercy of their bosses (who isn't?). Yet as individuals their bargaining power is limited. Their ability to fight for benefits, work schedules and overtime pay are at stake. That is why the Republican party is so swift to cash in on the Tea Party mandate and not only to cripple Union representation but to pull the rug from under the feet of the whole Democratic party.

All American trade unions are supportive of their brothers and sisters in Wisconsin. The Teamsters, UAW, and AFL-CIO among others. Fox news can try but they can't spin this one. Too many people, too many jobs and too many protests say so. That is the real America.


An interesting post Seko. However, what about when dark blue Democrats turn on state and local workers?

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/02/27/blue-state-dems-turn-on-state-local-workers/ - http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/02/27/blue-state-dems-turn-on-state-local-workers/

Should we not then think that both parties would be seen as a monstrous threat by the public sectors rather than just focusing on just Republicans only? A bit misdirected anger in focusing in on the weaker head of a supposed hydra. Then again, why not. They are only signing their own tickets to oblivion.

I mean from my position here in the south, it only makes public/private unions seem that more loathsome as to be,  and by appearances only so far, the willing tools of any particular political party, and again by appearances only, of the Democrat party at that.
 
Sorry Panther but the site you quoted is full of BS and completely misleading and the fact that he called Obama, a guy more conservative than Reagan or Bush Sr., a liberal proves that. There is no comparison between what the republicans are doing to the unions and what the democrats are doing.
 
Both said they will cut jobs and lower wages and in both cases unions actually agreed to do so. What is different in Wisconsin and other republican controlled states is that the rights that makes unions what they are, primarily the right to collective bargaining, is threatened and is the target. No "liberal" democrat would even dream of proposing a such a legistlation, at least not now.
 
Al-Jassas


Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 01 Mar 2011 at 21:23
In the US's current situation cutting jobs and lowering wages are recipes for disaster, whether unions agree to them or don't agree to them. Partly this is because a few groups benefit from it while the mass of the country suffers, more though it's because there is some kind of infectious econommic insanity loose in the world. It certainly is not restricted to the Republican party.
 
'Insane' isn't too strong a word for believing that the way to lower unemployment is to fire people and the way to solve people having insufficent wealth is to take it away from them.


-------------
Citizen of Ankh-Morpork.

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.



Posted By: Seko-
Date Posted: 02 Mar 2011 at 00:17
Originally posted by Panther Panther wrote:

Originally posted by Seko Seko wrote:

I've been waiting for a thread like this to pop up ever since Madison became America's news. As we know the US has been in a recession in many parts of the country (rust belt, Florida, Nevada, N. England even). Governor Walker's mission has been to kill state unions in Wisconsin. Now without hindsight and sudden impulse one would think it is just to curb the state's debt. Republican representatives of Wisconsin's government are all for it. Democrats are up in arms as evidenced by the numerous protests. This is one party that doesn't drink the cool aid, and especially any form of bitter tea.

Unions are the back bone of the middle class. Without them (both unions and middle class) America will not be the same as we now know it.  Public safety workers, police officers, and state troopers are supposedly exempt from the plan - the Governor wouldn't want to make too big of a political mistake. Teachers, trash collectors, snow plowers, municipal and most other state workers face disillusion as the GOP attempts to end their collective bargaining rights. That is huge in my opinion. Without representation, bargaining power during contract negotiations and job security those who are targeted for the axe would fall under the wiles of mistreatment. Yet there is one goal hidden within the GOP agenda. Public employees have their livelihoods at stake but the Democratic party is also targeted as political prey. The intention of Governor Walker and his henchmen is to pull the backing from under the feet of the Democrats. Kill the Unions and you kill a massive source of organized campaign funding and volunteers for the Democratic party. By taking away their key base the Left would become crippled and that my friends is the big picture. Mister Walker knows it as do his supporters. We know this cause the cat got out of the bag recently when the governor spilled his beans to a fake Billionaire donor via a prank phone call (who really was a small time reporter impersonating the mogul).  http://www.buffalobeast.com/?p=5045

Unions can always negotiate and help the local, state and federal governments cut down deficits. Individual public and private workers are at the mercy of their bosses (who isn't?). Yet as individuals their bargaining power is limited. Their ability to fight for benefits, work schedules and overtime pay are at stake. That is why the Republican party is so swift to cash in on the Tea Party mandate and not only to cripple Union representation but to pull the rug from under the feet of the whole Democratic party.

All American trade unions are supportive of their brothers and sisters in Wisconsin. The Teamsters, UAW, and AFL-CIO among others. Fox news can try but they can't spin this one. Too many people, too many jobs and too many protests say so. That is the real America.


An interesting post Seko. However, what about when dark blue Democrats turn on state and local workers?

http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/02/27/blue-state-dems-turn-on-state-local-workers/ - http://blogs.the-american-interest.com/wrm/2011/02/27/blue-state-dems-turn-on-state-local-workers/

Should we not then think that both parties would be seen as a monstrous threat by the public sectors rather than just focusing on just Republicans only? A bit misdirected anger in focusing in on the weaker head of a supposed hydra. Then again, why not. They are only signing their own tickets to oblivion.

I mean from my position here in the south, it only makes public/private unions seem that more loathsome as to be,  and by appearances only so far, the willing tools of any particular political party, and again by appearances only, of the Democrat party at that.


You mean newly elected Mayors and such? Yes. Dems across the board as a whole? Mostly yes to that too. Yes to what? To being fiscally responsible. Everyone has to manage a budget. States, Counties and Cities. That means tightening belts. The democrats have a history of doing that you know. We don't need to look that far back either. His name was Bill Clinton. Took us out of the red and into the black.

Regarding Madison, it is painfully obvious who is attempting to eliminate what my dear friend. We can not spin this any other political way other than a Republican attack on the Democratic base.

As for the South...last I heard you Texans were in debt to the tune of 15 Billion dollars. How are you all going to climb out of that one? And you don't have too many unions to blame either.


Posted By: Al Jassas
Date Posted: 02 Mar 2011 at 00:43
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

In the US's current situation cutting jobs and lowering wages are recipes for disaster, whether unions agree to them or don't agree to them. Partly this is because a few groups benefit from it while the mass of the country suffers, more though it's because there is some kind of infectious econommic insanity loose in the world. It certainly is not restricted to the Republican party.
 
'Insane' isn't too strong a word for believing that the way to lower unemployment is to fire people and the way to solve people having insufficent wealth is to take it away from them.
 
I am not with you on this.
 
Yes there is a negative feedback loop created by layoffs especially in a consumer spending driven economy like the US. However one must not forget that the government sector isn't that big and the layoffs are not actually that effective in an economy as big as the US's.
 
What is more concerning is this obsession with deficits which has no meaning at least at the state level. In order to balance the budget massive sacrifices in local spending which is responsible for millions of jobs is choked while large corporations get tax cuts that not only contribute nothing to end the deficit but that will end up being used by clever accountants to artificially bump the bottom line so that more bonuses are handed down.
 
If anyone should be worried by deficits its the federal government and according to most macroeconomic indicators the US has nothing to worry about in that regards for a simple reason, the dollar is still the major reserve currency in the world and no matter how bad things are China will never gamble its economy by dumping the dollar, at least not now. This phenomenon is called by Niall Ferguson (who I greatly despise but he is right in this point) Chimerica:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emRbMur7eH0 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=emRbMur7eH0 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DeQYWro8YU -
 
Al-Jassas


Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 02 Mar 2011 at 01:18
Originally posted by Al Jassas Al Jassas wrote:

Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

In the US's current situation cutting jobs and lowering wages are recipes for disaster, whether unions agree to them or don't agree to them. Partly this is because a few groups benefit from it while the mass of the country suffers, more though it's because there is some kind of infectious econommic insanity loose in the world. It certainly is not restricted to the Republican party.
 
'Insane' isn't too strong a word for believing that the way to lower unemployment is to fire people and the way to solve people having insufficent wealth is to take it away from them.
 
I am not with you on this.
 
Yes there is a negative feedback loop created by layoffs especially in a consumer spending driven economy like the US. However one must not forget that the government sector isn't that big and the layoffs are not actually that effective in an economy as big as the US's.
They nevertheless make things worse not better. As does reducing social benefits. One of the major reasons that the US is in trouble - more incidentally than any other major economy - is that wealth has been transferring steadily from the general run of people (who represent far and away the biggest section of demand) to a few, who, in the very nature of weath accumulation, simply 'save' that wealth instead of using it to finance the restitution of demand.
 
Actiona needs to be taking to start transferring it back, or else the economy will enter the same slow decline it did through the last third of the 19th century, and again after the 1920s boom. That doesn't mean the countr will 'collapse' necessarily, it just means a heck of a lot of people will continue to get poorer as unemployment spreads, supply of credit gets even more sluggish, and the dollar shoots up in internal value - for most of the population - with the slump in real estate prices. 
Quote  
What is more concerning is this obsession with deficits which has no meaning at least at the state level. In order to balance the budget massive sacrifices in local spending which is responsible for millions of jobs is choked while large corporations get tax cuts that not only contribute nothing to end the deficit but that will end up being used by clever accountants to artificially bump the bottom line so that more bonuses are handed down.
As far as I can see that doesn't conflict with what I said.
Quote  
If anyone should be worried by deficits its the federal government and according to most macroeconomic indicators the US has nothing to worry about in that regards for a simple reason, the dollar is still the major reserve currency in the world and no matter how bad things are China will never gamble its economy by dumping the dollar, at least not now. This phenomenon is called by Niall Ferguson (who I greatly despise but he is right in this point) Chimerica:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DeQYWro8YU - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DeQYWro8YU
Part of the US's troubles stem from the fact that it is the major reserve currency. That was exactly the plight that Britain found itself in in the '50s.
 
Otherwise you need to distinguish between the federal deficit and the national deficit: what the US as a whole - not the government alone owes the rest of the world. What the government overspends is one thing; running a persistent trade deficit is entirely another. Yet another deficit is the amount that the US population owes both to Americans and American institutions and also foreign ones.
 
They all have different effects and all need differing actions, and cutting all of them in a knee-jerk reflex in which 'austerity' is seen as an admirable goal by a people still with a Puritan work ethic.


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Citizen of Ankh-Morpork.

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.



Posted By: Al Jassas
Date Posted: 02 Mar 2011 at 02:51
Originally posted by gcle2003 gcle2003 wrote:

 
 
They all have different effects and all need differing actions, and cutting all of them in a knee-jerk reflex in which 'austerity' is seen as an admirable goal by a people still with a Puritan work ethic.

 

Indeed you are right about this point. All international financial crises beginning with the first truly international one in the 19th century (1857) began in the US because of the obsesstion of its political class with the utopic universe of laissez-faire and libertarian economy.
 
Al-Jassas


Posted By: Guests
Date Posted: 02 Mar 2011 at 10:34
Originally posted by Seko Seko wrote:



You mean newly elected Mayors and such? Yes. Dems across the board as a whole? Mostly yes to that too. Yes to what? To being fiscally responsible. Everyone has to manage a budget. States, Counties and Cities. That means tightening belts. The democrats have a history of doing that you know. We don't need to look that far back either. His name was Bill Clinton. Took us out of the red and into the black.


Well it is comforting reading that we agree on the desire for fiscal responsibility, the only thing is how best to achieve it with as little partisanship as possible?

The Democrats have a history alright. but i'd rather not get into that here? This paragraph was going to be longer, but i now realize that it would not be in the spirit of this thread. Suffice it to say, i care not in discussing either parties political history, as i currently see political history as being easily hijacked by the most cynically unscrupulous politicians with the most imagination at playing up the cult of personality, of that which my concerns are, that it is coming too grossly dominate this country we citizens of it love!


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Regarding Madison, it is painfully obvious who is attempting to eliminate what my dear friend. We can not spin this any other political way other than a Republican attack on the Democratic base.


I understand this as being conflicting points of view my friend. But is Governor Walker correct in stating that Wisconsin is in the red... flat out broke? Apparently some see this as Republican retribution, while others see this as him doing the job he promised he would do if he was elected.

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As for the South...last I heard you Texans were in debt to the tune of 15 Billion dollars. How are you all going to climb out of that one? And you don't have too many unions to blame either.


Heh... i left myself wide open for that one. I should have known better.

Besides Republicans and Democrats trying to score points with the public by bludgeoning each other over whose to blame for what ever problem, real or imagined, being in debt is also the "in" thing to be. The new cool, so it seems?  Nothing says "gangsta" like a politician with the pockets of their pants pulled out.



Posted By: Captain Vancouver
Date Posted: 02 Mar 2011 at 12:07
Originally posted by Panther Panther wrote:

Originally posted by Seko Seko wrote:



You mean newly elected Mayors and such? Yes. Dems across the board as a whole? Mostly yes to that too. Yes to what? To being fiscally responsible. Everyone has to manage a budget. States, Counties and Cities. That means tightening belts. The democrats have a history of doing that you know. We don't need to look that far back either. His name was Bill Clinton. Took us out of the red and into the black.


Well it is comforting reading that we agree on the desire for fiscal responsibility, the only thing is how best to achieve it with as little partisanship as possible?

The Democrats have a history alright. but i'd rather not get into that here? This paragraph was going to be longer, but i now realize that it would not be in the spirit of this thread. Suffice it to say, i care not in discussing either parties political history, as i currently see political history as being easily hijacked by the most cynically unscrupulous politicians with the most imagination at playing up the cult of personality, of that which my concerns are, that it is coming too grossly dominate this country we citizens of it love!


Quote
Regarding Madison, it is painfully obvious who is attempting to eliminate what my dear friend. We can not spin this any other political way other than a Republican attack on the Democratic base.


I understand this as being conflicting points of view my friend. But is Governor Walker correct in stating that Wisconsin is in the red... flat out broke? Apparently some see this as Republican retribution, while others see this as him doing the job he promised he would do if he was elected.

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As for the South...last I heard you Texans were in debt to the tune of 15 Billion dollars. How are you all going to climb out of that one? And you don't have too many unions to blame either.


Heh... i left myself wide open for that one. I should have known better.

Besides Republicans and Democrats trying to score points with the public by bludgeoning each other over whose to blame for what ever problem, real or imagined, being in debt is also the "in" thing to be. The new cool, so it seems?  Nothing says "gangsta" like a politician with the pockets of their pants pulled out.

 
 

It seems to me the issue in Wisconsin is a political and ideological one, rather than an economic one. Unions there have already conceded the necessity of making financial concessions. The contentious part is, I believe, the attempt to remove bargaining rights from unions, now and into the future. This is actually a fundamental right in a democratic society, and one that was hard won, over many years of struggle. Walker’s claim that bargaining rights must be removed presupposes the stance of future negotiations. Who knows? In the future, public service unions in the state may come up with their own innovative suggestions for dealing with budget problems. It wouldn’t be the first time.

 

If there were doubts about Walker’s intentions, his telephone conversation with the ersatz “Koch brothers” should have shed some light on his true persona. In a reasonable society, this should have been reason enough for disgrace and resignation.

 

In fact the political right has often tried to raise the image of the ideal political leader being merely a manager, a fiscally responsible accountant who knows business, and the workings of the market, and rejects philosophical namby-pamby, as being the ideal leader. But when we look at the major social issues confronting the world today, we see, in my opinion, that management skills are only of limited value. Human society is not a business. All budgetary issues are subjective. Today for example, the US defense budget is sacrosanct. Any meaningful suggestions of cuts would bring out angry mobs with burning torches. But was not always so. And almost certainly will not be so in the future. Today Wisconsin is considered by some to be “broke”. But it is not- there is considerable wealth in the state, by world standards, even by western standards. The overriding question is how this money will be allocated, and how it will be spent. Not too surprisingly, those on the far right have some ideas about this, and they are ones that are not in the best interest of the country, or of average working Americans.



Posted By: lirelou
Date Posted: 02 Mar 2011 at 15:54
My experience with unions is limited, but as to whether they are relevant or not, that very much depends upon the Unions themselves. Unions can play a positive role in the workplace and economy, or they can be destructive to the point of destroying the very markets that pay their member' wages. A case in point occurred back in the 1970s when Cerveza Corona was Puerto Rico's leading beer, holding somewhere over 90% of the Island market. To keep out American beer giants, they had convinced the legislature to pass a law that all beer sold in cans had to be in 10 ounce versions. Then, in the 70s, a combination of a hard headed owner and equally hard headed Union leadership went into a long strike over wages in one of the islands highest paid industries. The strike dragged out over several years. In the meanwhile, Shaeffer, an American beer, retooled part of its production to provide 10 oz. cans for the Puerto Rican market. THey also hired the Island's loveliest female singer, Nydia Caro, to shill their product. Since the only other locally produced beer, India, was described as "cow urine on Alka Seltzer", Shaeffer won over a large number of former Corona drinkers. When the strike ended, Corona expected to regain its market share. It did not, and eventually had to file for bankruptcy. Of interest, there was very little sympathy among the public for the former Corona workers, who were viewed as having been parties to their own demise.

Do Union members come from the middle class? Apparently those representing public servants seen themselves as such. Or are the great majority of Union members really working class? If so, it would seem their Union's first responsibility is to keep its members working as long as the wages and benefits are fair, especially in this economy. Public servants who enjoy better benefits than the average taxpayer are unlikely to find much sympathy outside their own circles.


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Phong trần mài một lưỡi gươm, Những loài giá áo túi cơm sá gì


Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 02 Mar 2011 at 21:44
Why do you think the continuation of the strike was the fault of the union rather than of the employer? Takes two to tango, doesn't it?
 
Seems to me if the employing company had given in earlier, it ould still be in business, instead of dead. Whether or not the union's position was similarly suicidal depends on the general employment in the island, which you don't mention, but at least I bet most of them found other jobs.
Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:

Do Union members come from the middle class? Apparently those representing public servants seen themselves as such. Or are the great majority of Union members really working class?
The great majority of the American people are working class, except they don't apply the term to themselves because they see it somehow as shameful or beneath their diginity.
 
If you earn you living by doing what you are told to do (whether 'self-employed' or not) and you're paid on a wage scale set by your employer, then you're working class economically, no matter what airs you want to give yourself. If you earn your living telling other people what they shold do, you're lower middle class. If you earn you living telling other people what to do and you set the fees you charge, you're upper middle class.
 
If you don't have to earn your living you're upper class.
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 If so, it would seem their Union's first responsibility is to keep its members working as long as the wages and benefits are fair, especially in this economy.
Well that's a judgment call isn't it? Who decides what is fair? I don't hear you saying it is the directors duty to keep operating while its profits - or the bonuses they pay themselves - are 'fair' do I?
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Public servants who enjoy better benefits than the average taxpayer are unlikely to find much sympathy outside their own circles.
Another mythical beast - the average taxpayer. Public servants pay the same taxes as anyone else, and they are not terribly well paid at that. You cannot say that for CEOs of banks for instance, or baseball players.
Don't the military get better benefits than average Americans? On healthcare for instance? Do they lack sympathy among the people?


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Citizen of Ankh-Morpork.

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.



Posted By: Seko-
Date Posted: 03 Mar 2011 at 03:00
Absolutely on the button Graham. The Military is funded by taxpayers. Beneficiaries are insured through TriCare and receive full coverage for inpatient treatment at VA Hospitals. Thus it is so hypocritical to point the finger at other Public workers and their Unions when the Military is one of the fattest of them all.

I had a discussion the other morning with a couple of stern Republicans over the issues in Wisconsin. When talk came to public support, that the voters gave them last November, they said it was their right to cut debt by drastically altering the political landscape. I told 'em, "Not so fast. Did you read the latest polls on popular support? Governor Walker would not get voted into office had the elections been today."

According to yesterday's news, The 2 month newb Governor would lose to Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barret if the elections occurred this week. Fifty-two percent of respondents said that today they would vote for Barrett and 45 percent said they would vote for Walker. Those numbers are a complete reversal of November's election. Back then, Walker received 52 percent and Barrett received 46 percent of the vote.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_theticket/20110301/el_yblog_theticket/wisconsin-voters-express-buyers-remorse-over-gov-scott-walker

Collective bargaining ensures a fair and free economy (well, as fair as we currently can get). By attempting to remove this system from play owners of businesses (private as well folks...it's been going on for some time too) think they are entitled to influence politicians without recourse or competition. They think they can give their CEO's golden parachutes. They think they can eliminate jobs for a few stock  percentage points. They think they can ship jobs overseas for cheap labor. They think they can eliminate the middle class. Problem is, so far they have been doing what they think. They also think they will always have us fooled!




Posted By: lirelou
Date Posted: 03 Mar 2011 at 04:51
GCLE, please point out where I say that the strike was the "fault of the union". I believe the wording "a combination of..." is adequate to assume I am blaming both parties. As for unemployment in Puerto Rico, historically very high. And as for those workers getting other jobs, perhaps, but I wouldn't have bet on it. In Puerto Rico, getting a job is very much a case of who you know that's already in the company. (El que tiene padrino, se bautiza. He who has a Godfather, baptizes himself, as they say on the island)

Sorry, but I have been a public servant on two occasions. The first time as a bilingual Social Worker in Massachusetts, where belonging to the Union was a requirement for holding the job. And my first discussion with my Union rep was an unfriendly one. He was counseling me to slow down on my performance, as it was making my fellow social workers 'look bad'. After I retired from the military, I spent 17 years as a DIA analyst, mostly overseas, on a few occasions working within multi-agency task forces with civilians from myriad agencies. I've seen the competent, and the incompetent, and I have a very good idea of what federal civil servants get paid, as I do of what Florida and my local county civil servants get paid, to include teachers. The civil side of the military is indeed fat, but not as well paid as many of their state and county counterparts. But they have many of the same problems, and are in desperate need of being cut back. My particular position was not allowed to join a union. In some cases we were paid for overtime, or given compensatory time, and in other cases we were not. In one case, we worked 13 hour shifts for 9 weeks straight with no time off, and still drew our basic pay. We grumbled about not receiving 'comp time', but we all agreed that we were generally well paid. Different work ethic, I guess.  

Seko, First, your information on Tricare is only partially correct. Tricare will pay for inpatient treatment at VA Hospitals for active duty personnel and their dependents, but being admitted to one for inpatient services depends upon the hospital's patient load. Treatment at a local hospital is more likely, but Tricare still pays. To give you a recent example, a friend who is a female reserve officer on a three year tour of active duty recently crashed in on a HALO jump when another jumper went through her 'chute. She broke numerous bones, to include her femur and collarbone, in addition to rib and spinal injuries. There is no hospital at MacDill AFB, it is a mere clinic. But there is a large VA hospital in Tampa. She was treated at Tampa General, which is a civilian hospital.

Now, as to why the military gets such treatment (as opposed to civilians working for the military, who do not), a little history lesson: In 1989, we invaded Panama and did away with their Army just a few weeks after I retired. I had argued against doing away with the "PDF", as they had some very fine units at the company level. But, Mad Max and his staff were convinced the doing away with the PDF was some panacea that would solve Panama's political problems, so with the invasion, the PDF were dissolved, to be replaced by a totally civilian police. In 1993 I returned to Panama in the wake of the kidnapping of three American missionaries by Colombian FARC troops in the remote Darien region. When the Americans demanded to know why the PNP (Panamanian National Police) had not ginned up a rescue effort to go into the jungle and track the guerrillas down, they essentially received the following arguments:  These are civilian police. They are not trained nor equipped for paramilitary operations. We do not have the logistics capability to support them in the field. Our police have no mess halls, like military troops do, nor do we have a stockpile of military uniforms, equipment, or field rations. More importantly, all of our police are covered by various medical insurance plans which they choose. Should one of our officers get wounded or injured on the job, medically evacuating them to the nearest civilian hospital is the job of the local emergency medical providers. And the first question the officer will be asked upon entering the hospital is: What is your medical insurance plan?

Ergo, it was many months before anything could be done about the "New Tribes Missionaries". When one of the staff remembered that the old PDF had an infantry company that specialized in jungle and anti-guerrilla operations (the 7th "Macho de Monte" Company), the reply from the Panamanian Police was: "You disbanded them. They don't exist anymore."

Bottom line: There is a major difference between civilian police, and the military, even though both wear uniforms, go armed, and must be prepared to step into the line of fire. St. Pete, just across the water, just lost it's third police officer killed in a month, and the only three that have been killed in the line of duty there in 30 years. I lost that many friends is just a few minutes at Duc Lap on 25 August 1968. 

So, sign me "The Hypocrite"



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Phong trần mài một lưỡi gươm, Những loài giá áo túi cơm sá gì


Posted By: gcle2003
Date Posted: 03 Mar 2011 at 05:49
Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:

GCLE, please point out where I say that the strike was the "fault of the union". I believe the wording "a combination of..." is adequate to assume I am blaming both parties.
You said: "a combination of a hard headed owner and equally hard headed Union leadership ..."
 
Previously though you had said:
Originally posted by lirelou lirelou wrote:

My experience with unions is limited, but as to whether they are relevant or not, that very much depends upon the Unions themselves. Unions can play a positive role in the workplace and economy, or they can be destructive to the point of destroying the very markets that pay their member' wages.
That was what was one-sided. Yu could have said depended on the employers and the unions both. You could have added that employers can be destructive or play a constructive role.
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As for unemployment in Puerto Rico, historically very high. And as for those workers getting other jobs, perhaps, but I wouldn't have bet on it. In Puerto Rico, getting a job is very much a case of who you know that's already in the company. (El que tiene padrino, se bautiza. He who has a Godfather, baptizes himself, as they say on the island)

Sorry, but I have been a public servant on two occasions. The first time as a bilingual Social Worker in Massachusetts, where belonging to the Union was a requirement for holding the job. And my first discussion with my Union rep was an unfriendly one. He was counseling me to slow down on my performance, as it was making my fellow social workers 'look bad'.
That happens. From a union point of view that comes down to giving a fair day's work for a fair days's pay, not working yourself to death going as hard as you can.
 
With a military background I'd have thought you were aware of that, at least in peacetime.
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After I retired from the military, I spent 17 years as a DIA analyst, mostly overseas, on a few occasions working within multi-agency task forces with civilians from myriad agencies. I've seen the competent, and the incompetent, and I have a very good idea of what federal civil servants get paid, as I do of what Florida and my local county civil servants get paid, to include teachers. The civil side of the military is indeed fat, but not as well paid as many of their state and county counterparts. But they have many of the same problems, and are in desperate need of being cut back.
I was referring to the military side of the military, not the civil side. I don't actually know what privileges civilians working for the military get, apart from the much published stories about contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan, which I accept is a different story.
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 My particular position was not allowed to join a union. In some cases we were paid for overtime, or given compensatory time, and in other cases we were not. In one case, we worked 13 hour shifts for 9 weeks straight with no time off, and still drew our basic pay. We grumbled about not receiving 'comp time', but we all agreed that we were generally well paid. Different work ethic, I guess.  
Defînitely a different work ethic. And the brainwashing starts early in life. You were conned.  


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Citizen of Ankh-Morpork.

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.



Posted By: Seko-
Date 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.


Posted By: eventhorizon
Date Posted: 05 Mar 2011 at 15:35
http://www.kpfk.org/ - 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 - 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?


Posted By: eventhorizon
Date Posted: 10 Mar 2011 at 05:18
http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine/the-book - 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.




Posted By: lirelou
Date 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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Phong trần mài một lưỡi gươm, Những loài giá áo túi cơm sá gì


Posted By: gcle2003
Date 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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Citizen of Ankh-Morpork.

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.



Posted By: gcle2003
Date 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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Citizen of Ankh-Morpork.

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.



Posted By: Seko-
Date 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!


Posted By: Seko-
Date 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. 


Posted By: opuslola
Date 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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"History, a distillation of rumour."-Thomas Carlyle

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Carlyle


Posted By: Windemere
Date 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.


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Dis Aliter Visum
"Beware of martyrs and those who would die for their beliefs; for they frequently make many others die with them, often before them, sometimes instead of them."


Posted By: pikeshot1600
Date 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.




Posted By: drgonzaga
Date 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.


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Honi soit qui mal y pense


Posted By: Captain Vancouver
Date 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.


Posted By: gcle2003
Date 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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Citizen of Ankh-Morpork.

Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.



Posted By: opuslola
Date 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.

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"History, a distillation of rumour."-Thomas Carlyle

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Carlyle


Posted By: Al Jassas
Date 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).
 
Al-Jassas



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