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Hypocrisy, Thy Name is Union

Even Unions are anti-Union:

Callaghan said he personally told Mulgrew on June 9 about his intention to try to organize nonunionized workers at UFT headquarters.

"I told him I want to have the same rights that teachers have," said Callaghan, 63, of Staten Island. "He told me he didn't want that, that he wanted to be able to fire whoever he wanted to."

The UFT has long strenuously resisted city efforts to make it easier for school administrators to fire teachers.

"This is the exact antithesis of what they preach, and Michael Mulgrew is the biggest hypocrite out there," Callaghan fumed.

Callaghan said he's planning to file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board against the UFT for illegally blocking his unionizing effort, and he added he would slap the union with an age-discrimination lawsuit.

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Discussions - 32 Comments

Their reasoning is so nuanced it would make your head explode just to hear it.

It's all about power ... acquisition of, maintenance of and expansion of ... power.

All else is subordinate: logic, reason, decency, humanity ...

Close...it's all about Power without Performance. I am happy to grant all kinds of people power over me and my assets--mechanics over my car, financial advisers over my accounts, etc.--so long as I can revoke that power the moment I'm dissatisfied with their performance. Democrats generally want power without accountability. If you're confident in your ability to do the job successfully, such that no sane employer would fire you, you don't need elaborate job protections. You wouldn't want to be shackled to other slackers who lack your skills and motivation. Joining a union is revelatory.

If the Republic actually survives to the next generation, we really have to work on stripping unions of their legal protections granted during FDR's reign. The secret of their success is the power of the government; without it they can be "managed" and therefore less toxic to our society.

But under no circumstances should civil service employees be allowed to unionize. Ever.

"If you're confident in your ability to do the job successfully, such that no sane employer would fire you, you don't need elaborate job protections. You wouldn't want to be shackled to other slackers who lack your skills and motivation. Joining a union is revelatory."

Golden. This should be emblazoned on every teaching diploma.

When you click on the link you get some important details;

So, we have a story about a guy who's clearly competent, as he worked for the union's newsletter and as a speechwriter for union leaders for the past 13 years plus he wrote six stories in the most recent newsletter for teachers, who informes UFT President Michael Mulgrew that he was trying to unionize some of his co-workers.

"I told him I want to have the same rights that teachers have," said Callaghan, 63, of Staten Island. "He told me he didn't want that, that he wanted to be able to fire whoever he wanted to."

"Callaghan said he decided to unionize the 12 UFT writers after a colleague was fired last year without cause. "

Two days later he's summarily fired and the answer to that injustice is to oppose unions?

It pains me to agree with a supporter of the liberal/left but facts are facts.

"They gave me no reason, no letter, no cause at all," said Callaghan, who insisted that he has received no reprimands or notices about problems with his work.

"We have no protections and no disciplinary process," he said.

So how do you square the circle?

Unions arose because of actions just like Mulgrew's and frequently toward competent employees who are viewed as challenging the actions of their employers and who do so frequently out of principle. As why else would you challenge the boss?

The fact that many if not all unions have responded to that injustice and become another evil, doesn't change the original need for a check upon management/ownership's arrogance.

So, what's the alternative to unions?

Until someone can answer that, to advocate for the elimination of unions is to effectively suggest we return to the days of the robber barons when ownership and management behaved as workplace dictators.

Perhaps the answer is to have limits upon unions because human beings, whether union bosses or CEO's frequently behave arrogantly and unjustly.

Not that we want more laws but until human beings follow the golden rule, what other alternative is there?

Public-employee unions are very different from the classic private company unions. Traditional unions have an adversarial relationship with management. Public sector unions have a collusive relationship with management (the politicians whom they elect and who vote on their contracts).
The UFT knows that a union representing their employees would be an adversarial union, so they didn't want it. It's not actual hypocrisy only because public-sector unions aren't really the same thing.

Not to go against the stream, and admitting something I'm not desperately proud of, but I'm a member of a public employee union, and I do see a (small) value to them, mostly because, while in the upper echelons of PEUs (like the SEIU) their interests collude with the upper eschelons of management, on the ground level, public employee union members are, in the end, managed and employed by politicians, people who would sell their own kin for a vote.

None of this should be construed to justify either what PEUs do in the grander scheme, or even to justify a lot of what they do on the ground level, but the one thing they have done for me is to protect some folks (not all of whom deserve it, bluntly) from the vissitudes of an elected petty tyrant.

I should have added...

...which, it very much sounds like, is the case in the post.

Anon,

That's the problem ain't it.

Public employee unions protect workers from politicians willing to do anything for a vote. Then the unions realize that they can promise politicians votes. It is too easy to make the process corrupt.

It's not a slippery slope, it's a flippin' landslide. No public unions under any circumstances.

As for private sector unions, if we have no business monopolies then we should have no labor monopolies. The antidote for being fired is to GO FIND ANOTHER JOB with a more reasonable employer. As for being fired just prior to retirement, this is why people need to take care of their own affairs.

Every day in every way, people should build their own independence. That truly is the American way.

In other news, sources say that water is, in fact, wet. Later on we will be probing the whole "sky is blue" controversy.

I think it's adorable how so many of you have such an inflated opinion of your own self-worth that you think whatever company you work for wouldn't fire you in a heart-beat to employ someone willing to accept less. Oh, it'll never happen to YOU! In a job-market flooded with workers they'd never let YOU go.

Just look at real wages, slashed benefits, lost pay and raises that don't even match inflation. Just look at everything your losing, lost, or never had in the first place. And then look at what the fat cats, the monied, the 'Glorious Producers' grant themselves on a daily basis.

Keep telling yourself that your boss values you and would NEVER let you go so he can meet his payroll numbers for the year to get his nice, tidy bonus. Keep telling yourself that.

Because he loves you and would NEVER hurt you again. Those pay freezes? They won't happen again! He promised you! Lost matching 401(K)? He LOVES you! He promised it wouldn't happen again! And just conveniently ignore the fact that real wages have stagnated for the last thirty years. It's not like you ever had it in the first place. So you don't even miss it.

No employer, including unions, want to be organized. The moment a bargaining unit is certified, an employers authority, ability and autonomy is blunted. In a perfect world, doing a good job and being a good employee would be enough to ensure job security. We do not live in a perfect world, and more times than any of us would like to admit, otherwise productive employees are disciplined or terminated simply due to situations that are out of their control. The reality is that a happy employee group will remain non-bargaining. The threat of a union, if taken seriously by an employer, should be all that is needed to make for a fair and just workplace. For some reason, many employers feel that they are immune from being organized, no matter how poorly their staff feels they are treated.

Unions are employers, just like the employers they have collective bargaining agreements with. The people who run unions are no more infallible than those individuals running their signatory employers. You cannot point to a union acting dumb and say, "see, this is why unions are bad." This story actually points to the important need that unions fill. Even when working for a union, an employee needs collective representation and protection. Power can and does corrupt, and unions act as a check and balance on that power.

Robber barons? Are you serious? We do have an alternative - it's called the minimum wage. Welcome to 2010, Mr. "Upton Sinclair" Britain. PEUs are destroying our economy (see: California), and what's worse is we're allowing failed private sector unions (a la UAW) to tap into the tax revenue.

God forbid the owner of a company (who has assumed all the financial risk) or the managers he places in charge of his company make a decision they think will help benefit the company and possibly fire an employee. Of course, if a company is arbitrarily firing employees, people will quit applying there for a job and the lack of continuity (revolving door of bitter employees)will cause the business to suffer and probably fail. It is in the self-interest of the owner to have happy, PRODUCTIVE employees (a la union-less Silicon Valley). And are you really trying to divide us into workers and owners-of-the-means-of-production? Try removing the red-tinted glasses, Karl. I say again, this is 2010, the Soviet Union lost, please let their failed philosophy die too.

Bargain away, but let's strip unions of Federal protections. If workers have a right to strike, then employers should have the right to 1) be protected from violence, and 2) hire other workers (i.e., "scabs") who are happy for the work. Unions are about coercion, pure and simple. Time to let them pass into history (much easier said than done, of course). Whose fault is it that their skills are so poor that they are easily replaced??

And yes, I've been exploited by a few employers in my day. Life ain't perfect, but I'm a grownup.

[Robber barons? Are you serious? We do have an alternative - it's called the minimum wage. ]

Which is a minimum wage, not a living wage. If the minimum were a LIVING wage, you'd have an argument worth making. As it is? Not really. Minimum wage is in no way, shape, or form

[Welcome to 2010, Mr. "Upton Sinclair" Britain. PEUs are destroying our economy (see: California)]

Actually, California has a bass-ackwards constitution, a short-sighted voting population, and one of the most bizarre systems out of any of the fifty states. There's a reason California is in the shape it's in, and the fact that you blame public employee unions for it tells me that you haven't the faintest clue of why.

For instance, look at the voting requirements to institute tax policy changes in that state (protip- it's a super majority required, which runs into the 25% problem in American Politics (which is to say, there is a solid 25% of Americans who vote who are just completely, totally, and absolutely INSANE)).

[, and what's worse is we're allowing failed private sector unions (a la UAW) to tap into the tax revenue. ]

Actually, what's worse is that we have pathologically uniformed voters like you.

[God forbid the owner of a company (who has assumed all the financial risk) or the managers he places in charge of his company make a decision they think will help benefit the company and possibly fire an employee.]

God forbid that the people who put in their time making the products that the company sells have a say-- you know, the people who actually produce that which the company sells. You know, the people who put their time, a far more valuable commodity than mere money, into making sure the company actually meets it's goals.

God forbid that you stop acting like a battered spouse who keeps saying that HE PROMISED ME IT WON'T HAPPEN AGAIN! HE REALLY LOVES ME! HE'S CHANGED!

[Of course, if a company is arbitrarily firing employees, people will quit applying there for a job and the lack of continuity (revolving door of bitter employees)will cause the business to suffer and probably fail.]

You don't understand the concept of what having a surplus of workers looking for a job does to the relationship between employer and employee, do you?

[It is in the self-interest of the owner to have happy, PRODUCTIVE employees (a la union-less Silicon Valley). And are you really trying to divide us into workers and owners-of-the-means-of-production?]

There are a lot of things that are in the interest of people that they don't do. Short-term profit motives quite often blind people, even the Mighty Producers, from realistic long-term effects.

[Try removing the red-tinted glasses, Karl. I say again, this is 2010, the Soviet Union lost, please let their failed philosophy die too.]

Interestingly enough, we had a stronger, more robust middle class, reasonable, sustainable economic growth, and more realistic gaps between the classes when unions were the status quo.

But why do you hate freedom? Why SHOULDN'T a group of people be able to band together to get better conditions/prices/wages for themselves? It's a fundamental of economies of scale, simply applied to the worker as well as to the consumer.

Oh, wait. There I go. Thinking you actually know anything about economics and, well, anything beyond that which your boss tells you. Sorry about that.

"Interestingly enough, we had a stronger, more robust middle class, reasonable, sustainable economic growth, and more realistic gaps between the classes when unions were the status quo."

That was also the period of time when the United States owned 75% of the world market (the late 1940s and most of the 1950s). Our competitors had been driven to their knees by WWII.

I am old enough to remember the days when one had to ask about the "strike du jour." Garbage piling up in NYC, airports shut down, subways not running. The fact was, unions were paralyzing the country in order to extract ever more money from non-union workers. Screw that.

NO ONE owes anyone else a "living wage." Nature doesn't work that way, and neither does society. We do have basic human dignity to consider, which is why I'm in favor of TEMPORARY safety nets for unfortunate people. What I'm not in favor of is chronic subsidies for the ignorant/stupid, the unskilled, the lazy, and the incompetent. Like any other animal, each of us is born into this world with the individual responsibility to wrest a living from the environment. Some species (e.g., humans, ants, bees) spread this responsibility by engaging in divisions of labor, but that's not a license to demand that others take care of us.

Of course, this is a hardcore libertarian take on the question (and I'm not a libertarian), but it is the appropriate starting place for a discussion of unions.

"God forbid that you stop acting like a battered spouse who keeps saying that HE PROMISED ME IT WON'T HAPPEN AGAIN! HE REALLY LOVES ME! HE'S CHANGED!"

You have adopted the unions' inflamatory (and Marxist) rhetoric which divides humanity into two classes: workers and the owners of the means of production. The rest of the country doesn't buy into this philosophy of permanent economic victim-hood. This is the land of opportunity, not the land of the working oppressed. I'm sorry you don't see America as the great, free nation the rest of us do. Via Entrepreneurialism!

"You don't understand the concept of what having a surplus of workers looking for a job does to the relationship between employer and employee, do you?"

I agree with Redwald: explain why an employer is morally obligated to pay his employees a certain amount and treat them a certain way. What, is it his Christian duty or something like that?

"There are a lot of things that are in the interest of people that they don't do. Short-term profit motives quite often blind people, even the Mighty Producers, from realistic long-term effects."

Haha, I know right? Like GM's UAW muscling their wages up to $28/hr plus gold-plated benefits and retirement, thus bankrupting the company.

"Actually, California has a bass-ackwards constitution, a short-sighted voting population, and one of the most bizarre systems out of any of the fifty states. There's a reason California is in the shape it's in, and the fact that you blame public employee unions for it tells me that you haven't the faintest clue of why."

I'm in California, bro. It's easy to get spending initiatives on the ballot. What happens is people create initiatives to do all kinds of nice things, like provide housing for the poor, money for public education, increases in the police budget, college classes for prison inmates, tuition assistant programs, etc, etc, etc, and because people think it's nice to provide all those things and because they're told that if they don't we'll have to lay off police and fire-fighters and teachers the measures always pass. The problem is that people don't reflect on how we will pay for these things and the new beauracracy it will create. Most of these spending intiatives are pushed by public employee unions. I hear the radio adds all the time.

Here's an article on just LA's problems:

http://www.dailynews.com/ci_9220386

"Late last year, the Daily News reviewed the city's third proprietary department ... and found that even as it sought to hike utility rates, the average DWP worker made $76,949 a year - nearly 20 percent more than the average civilian city worker. The review comes as the budget crisis also has reignited debate about a contract deal Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council approved late last year that gives thousands of workers double-digit raises over the next five years ... At least six months before Villaraigosa and the council granted the Coalition of L.A. City Unions the five-year deal worth raises of 23 percent for its 22,000 workers in October, local economists said they had warned city officials of a deteriorating local economy."

At the end of the day it comes down to union members believing the high wages and benefits they accrued over the years are an entitlement and that SOMEBODY (be it tax-payers or their boss) owes it to them. Unfortunately for them, my generation doesn't find their us-versus-them rhetoric palletable nor their compensation competitive or sustainable.

[I am old enough to remember the days when one had to ask about the "strike du jour." Garbage piling up in NYC, airports shut down, subways not running. The fact was, unions were paralyzing the country in order to extract ever more money from non-union workers. Screw that.]

So, what you're saying: Organizing providers of capital to maximize benefits for shareholders - AMERICAN

Organizing providers of labor to maximize benefits for laborers - EVIL AND COMMUNIST

Don't get me wrong, I'm not arguing that Unions are a perfect answer. They aren't. But they aren't the evil demon everyone seems to like to make them out to be.

[NO ONE owes anyone else a "living wage." Nature doesn't work that way, and neither does society. We do have basic human dignity to consider, which is why I'm in favor of TEMPORARY safety nets for unfortunate people. What I'm not in favor of is chronic subsidies for the ignorant/stupid, the unskilled, the lazy, and the incompetent. Like any other animal, each of us is born into this world with the individual responsibility to wrest a living from the environment. Some species (e.g., humans, ants, bees) spread this responsibility by engaging in divisions of labor, but that's not a license to demand that others take care of us.]

The problem is that that approach, of equating people to animals, leads to just that sort of behavior. It's in the interests of the state and the citizens of that state to minimize such situations-- when you have chronically under-employed people making a bare pittance, you force them into a corner wherein they will act like the animal you expect them to be.

Rather self-fulfilling. As well as extremely self-destructive in terms of the social fabric.

[Of course, this is a hardcore libertarian take on the question (and I'm not a libertarian), but it is the appropriate starting place for a discussion of unions.]

[You have adopted the unions' inflamatory (and Marxist) rhetoric which divides humanity into two classes: workers and the owners of the means of production.]

I wonder why people tend to do that? Might it be because the lives of the rich are as far beyond my life as my life is beyond that of the dollar a day sorts in many other countries.

"There's class warfare, all right, but it's my class, the rich class, that's making war, and we're winning." Warren Buffet

[The rest of the country doesn't buy into this philosophy of permanent economic victim-hood. This is the land of opportunity, not the land of the working oppressed. I'm sorry you don't see America as the great, free nation the rest of us do. Via Entrepreneurialism!]

Actually, I'd suggest you look into subjects like economic mobility in the modern era:

http://www.pewtrusts.org/our_work_report_detail.aspx?id=35528

http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2006/04/b1579981.html

From American Progress dot Org:

>>The key findings relating to intergenerational mobility include the following:

*
Children from low-income families have only a 1 percent chance of reaching the top 5 percent of the income distribution, versus children of the rich who have about a 22 percent chance.
*
Children born to the middle quintile of parental family income ($42,000 to $54,300) had about the same chance of ending up in a lower quintile than their parents (39.5 percent) as they did of moving to a higher quintile (36.5 percent). Their chances of attaining the top five percentiles of the income distribution were just 1.8 percent.
*
By international standards, the United States has an unusually low level of intergenerational mobility: our parents’ income is highly predictive of our incomes as adults. Intergenerational mobility in the United States is lower than in France, Germany, Sweden, Canada, Finland, Norway and Denmark. Among high-income countries for which comparable estimates are available, only the United Kingdom had a lower rate of mobility than the United States.in the exact same way as corporations and consumers use their power to get better treatment and recompense.

[Haha, I know right? Like GM's UAW muscling their wages up to $28/hr plus gold-plated benefits and retirement, thus bankrupting the company.]

Or it might've been that GM stuck to making cars that no one wanted to fucking buy. They kept pushing the gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks while people were moving away from that, and they went through a bout of consumer lack of confidence because of their inferior product.

But, yeah. Keep sucking that dick, sparky. I'm sure eventually it'll trickle down for you.

[I'm in California, bro. It's easy to get spending initiatives on the ballot. What happens is people create initiatives to do all kinds of nice things, like provide housing for the poor, money for public education, increases in the police budget, college classes for prison inmates, tuition assistant programs, etc, etc, etc, and because people think it's nice to provide all those things and because they're told that if they don't we'll have to lay off police and fire-fighters and teachers the measures always pass. The problem is that people don't reflect on how we will pay for these things and the new beauracracy it will create. Most of these spending intiatives are pushed by public employee unions. I hear the radio adds all the time.]

The problem is that while those are relatively easy to pass, the funding for said programs is next to impossible- the California state Constitution is pretty much an object lesson in unfunded mandates.

And even if you can get a majority to vote for the program itself, and even if you could get a simple majority to vote for the funding, the funding initiatives require a super majority. Which, as I stated above, runs into the "25% of Americans are fucking insane" premise I outlined above.

[Here's an article on just LA's problems:

http://www.dailynews.com/ci_9220386

"Late last year, the Daily News reviewed the city's third proprietary department ... and found that even as it sought to hike utility rates, the average DWP worker made $76,949 a year - nearly 20 percent more than the average civilian city worker. The review comes as the budget crisis also has reignited debate about a contract deal Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the City Council approved late last year that gives thousands of workers double-digit raises over the next five years ... At least six months before Villaraigosa and the council granted the Coalition of L.A. City Unions the five-year deal worth raises of 23 percent for its 22,000 workers in October, local economists said they had warned city officials of a deteriorating local economy."]

Oh, so you want the state to be able to ignore the contractual obligations they signed? Would that solve it?

You aren't a fan of the rule of law, are you?

[At the end of the day it comes down to union members believing the high wages and benefits they accrued over the years are an entitlement and that SOMEBODY (be it tax-payers or their boss) owes it to them. Unfortunately for them, my generation doesn't find their us-versus-them rhetoric palletable nor their compensation competitive or sustainable.]

You're adorable. I hope you never, ever change. The world would be a lesser place without your spluttering light flickering in its darkness.

By the way, your "my generation" splutterings come off a a bit weak-- for every person of my generation who leans to the right that I know, I know two who lean left.

And, given the situation that all too many people of my generation are facing nowadays, as they either exit college in their mid twenties and enter the work force, find themselves unemployed at thirty, or find themselves engaged in drawn out legal battles with their employers (I fall in the second two categories), that us-vs-them mindset is coming back very strongly.

Especially when you have the ever-widening wealth gap, the decrease in intergenerational mobility, the pop-culture fetishistic obsession with the obscenely wealthy, etc.

I guess it should be interesting times to come.

We are animals -- time to face the truth. And just as animals will take the "easy way out," far too many humans will take the unemployment/welfare check instead of struggling to improve their longterm situation. Like most animals, we are inherently calorie-conserving (i.e., lazy). Unfortunately for us, being civilized (i.e., not complete slaves to the natural environment) requires massive amounts of initiative and energy. Anything that vitiates that motivation/energy will end up being a society-destroyer in the long run.

Unions are an attempt to make life predictable and stable, but that is the death-knell of a dynamic economy. The genius of capitalism is that it mimics nature in a variety of ways, and that makes it sustainable but also painful at timesl. Our problem in the West (probably our problem as human beings) is that we want to reap the rewards of dynamism without paying the costs. Can't be done, not in the long run.

As for "the rich," (which is not a monolithic class at all, but churns just like the economy), who would you rather hold/use the wealth generated by the economy, fragmented competing elites or corrupt political elites who also hold a monopoly on coercion?

Just as we disallow monopolies in business, so should we disallow monopolies in labor. Both can ruin us, and right now it's the union monopolies in government that are threatening our way of life.

First of all, please avoid the language, this isn't that sort of blog.

"Or it might've been that GM stuck to making cars that no one wanted to ... buy. They kept pushing the gas-guzzling SUVs and trucks while people were moving away from that, and they went through a bout of consumer lack of confidence because of their inferior product."

Trucks and SUVs were their cash-crops.

Just to clarify, you do understand that the Center for American Progress is funded by the rich George Soros, correct? He's worth an estimated $14billion. So it's OK to keep all the money to yourself as long as you donate to progressive causes, I guess.

"...or find themselves engaged in drawn out legal battles with their employers (I fall in the second two categories)"

It all makes sense now. Hopefully things work out for the best and one day you see America in the positive light the rest of us do.

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