I have read thru some of the other threads on the current union and collective bargaining debates and have not seen this idea mentioned. I apologize if I'm regurgitating someone elses idea.
I work in the private sector as an auto mechanic. If all of my co-workers were to band together as a union and demand more pay and better bennie's with the threat of striking my employer would likely have to close the doors. Even if we were to only ask to be compensated equally with public employees, my employer would not be able to sustain a profitable and competitive business while absorbing the increase in labor costs.
My power lies in my ability to sell my services to the highest bidder, not in union bargaining. Even if it means having to move my family to another location, I can and will do so. My employer knows this and compensates me as much as the market will bear to keep me happy and productive.
Contrast that with public employees unions. Governments can raise taxes\fees or simply spend more than they take in to cover expenses such as labor costs. They can and have done this for a long time. They don't have to live within their means in the same way private business does. This simply is unsustainable and must not continue.
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Thread: Unions and Sustainability
03-13-2011, 02:56 PM #1
Unions and SustainabilityMy wise and profound comments and opinions are mine alone and are in no way associated with any other individual or group.
03-13-2011, 03:34 PM #2Politics is like driving. To go forward select "D", to go backward select "R."
03-13-2011, 03:56 PM #3
- Join Date
- Jan 2007
- Green Bay
I will try to answer here before rhetorical talk start to overpower here. I can say that your understanding of unions here is incorrect. You second paragraph points that out.
First and foremost, unions are not needed in every place, but the misnotions that unions demand more and more despite the company costs is wrong. Union members do understand the economic issues and have asked for more during good times and have made concessions in bad times. The notion that all unions do is make demands is absolutely wrong. What unions do do is keep a level playing field.
Now take your line of work and employer, sounds perhaps like a small business and not really a place a union is needed. If you believe you are getting a fair wage and decent benefits or compensation for your labor, then that is your perogative. However, if you feel that you aren't then you may have to address that, it doesn't mean you have to unionize, but it doesn't mean that fingers need to be pointed at others and they should come down because you aren't there.
Now in a bigger corporations and a bigger workplace, then there can be a reason to have a union. Having a union keeps the playing field level and workers to receive decent compensation for the fruits of their labor. This does not mean they are breaking the company, but one must look at the bigger picture. In many places you see corporate execs pulling in six to seven figure salaries and huge bonuses, while workers who's labor goes towards said profits are scraping by. Organizing as a union lets people together address issues of decent compensation to have a decent job and respect in the workplace.
Now unions also address more than just wages and benefits and do have a stake in other issues like workplace safety etc. There are other issues which address how time off is taken, OT is handled, promotions conducted and so on. It was the efforts of labor unions that have created workplace safety initiatives so people could work in a safe workplace. Now one can say there are things like OSHA etc now, but that only goes so far. An example would be the mine disaster a couple years ago in WV when several miners were killed. The company had a history of safety violations, but it was easier to pay a fine than implement the safety initiatives. It is the unions that help keep a level playing field to address such concerns.
Now when it comes to the public unions, there are many fallacies there as well. Number one, such unions are not organized as against the taxpayer as portrayed. Like private sector unions they look out to have a decent wage and benefits and like companies have made concessions because of economic times etc. However, there is huge differences as well, because a public worker will not get bonuses, stock options, etc as seen in the private sector. The compensation and benefits also reflect the jobs done as well as to keep a comparable to other industry. In most cases public workers have higher education and degrees and certifications necessary to do the job, and like the private sector, such recognition of more knowledge should be acknowledged in form of decent pay and benefits. The notion or concept that because one is in the public sector that their knowledge and efforts or job should not be recognized is baffling. Just because one pays taxes, there is a mindset being perpetuated (thus leading to such a question being asked here) that a public worker should either make less than the taxpayer or that they are overpaid for their work....neither of which is accurate.
The issue with spending in govt goes way beyond the public workers. Public workers are being villified and accused of the financial woes and it is unjustified. It is not the workers, union or not, going forth and making outrageous demands. If you really want to understand something, you have to look at the big picture as well. The same time (here in WI) that workers are being attacked, corporations are getting tax breaks and the accountability standards are being eased, which does cost the taxpayer as well. In many cases big money wants to get their hands on pension funds and so forth that have been protected from Wall St, so you see such attacks as you do now. In many cases govt has been shirking their responsibility to pay into such funds and is a big reason you see the issues we have today. This is not just because of economic times now, but govt failing to hold their responsibility. Also, look at where spending is as well, the same time govt is asking for concessions and so forth, they are building convention centers etc. Not to mention welfare, there is so much money given to people in some type of welfare compensation, but where is the looking into that? Bottom line is that there is much more than just the workers being blamed here when it comes to spending.The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.
03-13-2011, 04:20 PM #4
I've been demoted from heavy truck mechanic to automotive mechanic by the collective City government. Effectively, that classification drop, drops the pay scale. Pay wise, that is a $7-10 hourly pay decrease compared to the private sector. When I first started, health insurance was free. Then 5%, and now 10% after 3 contracts. Our deductible tripled in as many years. Our pension system is self sufficient compared to the Police and Fire Dept. Unions. We actually have made money, not lost it. But, we are still getting hit with a .75% increase into what we pay into our pension plan, every freaking year. Out of the last 9 years, 6 have been without a pay raise. Our last contract gave us a wash for 2010, but with a 3.5% pay raise for 2011 and 2012. More than likely, we will have to take concessions again for the 2013-2016 contract with no pay raise and pay more out of our checks for benefits.
I know the private sector as an auto mechanic and heavy truck mechanic for independent shops. I would never expect an independent shop to come close to what the city government can offer. There's a fundamental difference between supporting 5,000 employees, and 20.
My point.... We've been making concessions before the market and economy crashed. Is it my fault, no. But I'm tired of paying for it, and seeing things here built that are not needed, to inflate the ego's of the Mayor and City Council.
EDIT: jccrabby3084 must have posted while typing mine. Well said and done jccrabby3084.
Last edited by FIREMECH1; 03-13-2011 at 04:34 PM.I'm the one Fire and Rescue calls, when they need to be Rescued.
Originally Posted by EastKyFF
03-13-2011, 04:29 PM #5
- Join Date
- Apr 2004
- Bossier Parrish, Louisiana
The issue with spending in govt goes way beyond the public workers. Public workers are being villified and accused of the financial woes and it is unjustified. It is not the workers, union or not, going forth and making outrageous demands. If you really want to understand something, you have to look at the big picture as well. The same time (here in WI) that workers are being attacked, corporations are getting tax breaks and the accountability standards are being eased, which does cost the taxpayer as well. In many cases big money wants to get their hands on pension funds and so forth that have been protected from Wall St, so you see such attacks as you do now. In many cases govt has been shirking their responsibility to pay into such funds and is a big reason you see the issues we have today. This is not just because of economic times now, but govt failing to hold their responsibility. Also, look at where spending is as well, the same time govt is asking for concessions and so forth, they are building convention centers etc. Not to mention welfare, there is so much money given to people in some type of welfare compensation, but where is the looking into that? Bottom line is that there is much more than just the workers being blamed here when it comes to spending.
I don't think there are many members of the public that do not beleive that unionized public sector workers should get fair wages and benefits. There are some bit for the most part, the public feels that they should be compensated justly.
I think the bigger problem is the public sees the abuses and is justifiably upset.
I can remember talking to my father, who would relay to me that the negotiator on the (state) government side was actually pleased when labor walked out of the room with everything, or in some cases, slightly more than they were asking for. The reality is that the a portion of the public feels that the foxes for many years have been guarding the hen house, and that public sector workers have had an easy ride in terms of benefits. While this is not true in all cases, in the state I was referencing the state employees union had a tremendous amount of political pull, and there was a strong motivation to keep them happy, even if it cost the taxpayers, to keep them happy and keep them as a strong pro political block. The same can be said for local and county employees depending on the political pull they wielded in their local areas.
They also see public sector workers contributing, in many cases, nothing towards health insurance and/or pensions while they are required to put far more into both. They see what some consider generous vacation packages and severance packages, and witness situations where retired workers are rehired at the same or greater salaries in another capacity while collecting retirement from their previous position.
They see also public workers, including firefighters, on disability competing in strenuous physical events or activities or working strenuous jobs while out on disability. They see public workers, especially firefighters and police, collecting enormous amounts of overtime towards the end of their careers to boost their retirement far beyond what most private sector employees will ever achieve, I know for a fact this is common in my home state as the retirement is based solely on the total earnings from the last year of service.
Right or wrong, this is what the public sees, and yes, their feelings are based on these perceptions, right or wrong, v. what they are receiving as compensation in their jobs.
Most public sector employees have it very good when talking about wages, benefits, worker protections and retirement compared to the average private sector employee. Many have it very, very good. And the public sees that. Compared to my private sector ambo job, my current public sector position affords me many perks, both financial, job security and fringe such as vacation and zero cost health insurance that I was receiving there though essentially doing the same work.
I am not in favor of anyone losing part of thier compensation, but the bottom line is there are many cities and states that can no longer afford the fire protection or, to a slightly less extent, the law enforcement bill they have been paying. The choices are simple - fewer jobs or fewer benefits. The private sector working has been playing that game for years as they have watched the public sector maintain their compensation and positions. I'm not surprised they feel as they do.Train to fight the fires you fight.
03-13-2011, 04:51 PM #6
- Join Date
- Apr 2009
There is also the fallacy in the original post that in general government employees make more in pay and benefits than private sector employees with similar education and training in companies of similar size.
Now, I'm sure that LA is correct in that there are private ambulance folks making less than public ambulance folks. The company is setting the wages and odds are that the owners are making a killing based on the low wages they're paying their employees. Just because the private sector pays a certain wage doesn't mean that it is either more "right" or "fair" than what is being paid to the public employees. The town mayor doesn't generally get a big bonus or have a financial incentive to pay his employees as little as possible. If anything, I'd be willing to have the government pay a little more to ensure that we get the best people. Let the private sector hire the folks who can't compete for the public jobs and are willing to take less money and benefits.
03-13-2011, 05:41 PM #7
jccrabby3084, I appreciate the thoughtful and detailed comments.
I'm not saying that Unions haven't and won't have their place.
I also am fully aware that public employee benifits and wages are but a small part of government expenditures and that there's plenty of other places that need cuts or outright elimination.
I also want to make clear that I'm not attacking public employees. Most are hard working honest individuals.
I do know what I see, and that is public employees whose jobs require much the same qualifications as mine. Such things as technical skills, ongoing training to keep up with advances in industry, good work habits, personal integrity and leadership skills. These employees seem to recieve a similiar pay rate but that's about where it ends. Such things as retirement, health insurance, vacations\holidays\sick days and paid training are far above what is available to most private employees. Also, private employees are held much more accountable for their time and productivity. In short, we tend to work harder for the same or less. I see this up close and on a daily basis. There are exceptions of course.
I feel safe in assuming that the rate public employee benifits are a result of collective bargaining and politicians agreeing to meet these demands regardless of whether or not the budget will allow it. Call it fiscal irresponsibility enhanced by union demands.My wise and profound comments and opinions are mine alone and are in no way associated with any other individual or group.
03-13-2011, 05:49 PM #8
But... let's assume it's true. Was that higher level of training\certification recieved as a benifit of their job and provided\paid for by the employer? If so then that in itself is a benifit that many private employees do not have.My wise and profound comments and opinions are mine alone and are in no way associated with any other individual or group.
03-13-2011, 06:05 PM #9
03-13-2011, 06:12 PM #10
- Join Date
- Feb 2009
Do unions have their place??... Yes
Have they gotten out of control??... Yes
Someone asked if you watch the news.... Yeah, just look how they act
Are these idiots on TV representative of all union employees??.... No
Do you want proof of how out of control the unions have gotten??.... Visit Detroit
Is some idiot going to post how outragous these statements are??.... Without a doubt
Anyone can look at the facts...
Some try and dispute them...
And the whole time Obama condemns the actions taken in Wisconsin he denys these same rights to federal employees...
I don't care how strong you feel toward the brotherhood... WAKE UP guys
Now lets here about how cynical my comments are, please.... I'm truly dying to hear it
03-13-2011, 06:19 PM #11
And pay and benefits are just one issue that the IAFF represents.
Having an established association allows the firefighter to have a voice in safety, staffing, station closures, equipment, improvements and innovations. these issues not only effect our own safety, but the ability to provide for the public we serve. An association allows these views to be expressed without fear of retribution against the individual.
Do government employees that sit behind a desk need a union? Do people that work in hazardous environments or are exposed to danger as part of their daily routine need to be represented?
Pay and benefits also effects safety of the firefighter and the public. Without fair compensation a department will not recruit the best candidates for the job. Those people will seek employment elsewhere, where they will be compensated at an amount that will support their family. If you can only recruit the bottom of the barrel of candidates then there is where the level of public safety they provide will remain.~Drew
USAR TF Rescue Specialist
03-13-2011, 06:27 PM #12
- Join Date
- Jan 2007
- Green Bay
However, what remains is that there are such requirements out there. Not every dept does it, but there are also many that will give preference to those who do have education. Although in order to retain quality employees it also helps to compensate fairly and accordinly. There is no real savings when a dept sees high turnover because workers are moving elsewhere because of better compensation.
In the case of teachers here, a bachelor's degree is the bare minimum required to get hired. Then there are other public sector jobs like health inspector, attorneys, nurses, accounting etc, of which require education to be able to apply. Basically in most public jobs the education requirements are there first and not the result of a dept/community spending money for people to obtain the necessary certs. There may be incentives for people to advance their education, but that also will vary.
I wanted also to touch on something else in regards to unions. My local is a combined union made up of smaller dept locals. The airport crash rescue was a non-union private company and the workers wanted to unionize. So in our local we are comprised of 4 smaller public FD locals and a private union. Talking with the airport rep, he said that when they were first looking to organize the company made the claims they wouldn' get anything more than what they were and that paying dues was just a waste of money etc. However, after signing a contract, one of the admin people (an honest stright forward person from how he is described) talked to the rep later and said that because they signed a contract locking in what they have that they were now protected with a healthcare increase. They are not making outrageous demands, but they also are not walked over either.The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.
03-13-2011, 06:36 PM #13
03-13-2011, 06:40 PM #14
- Join Date
- Jan 2007
- Green Bay
Now you say visit Detroit as proof of unions getting out of control. Well, make sure you look at the corporate execs when you do that as well. While the UAW did get some great pay and benefits, the execs were walking away with quite a pocketful as well. What killed Detroit wasn't the unions, but the ignorance of the American auto industry to look ahead. Gas was cheaper and they turned out gas guzzling SUV's instead of looking to retool and design more fuel efficient vehicles. Is this the fault of unions? By the time the auto industry realized the SUVs weren't selling as good, they were already behind the curve. Such woes can not be blamed solely on unions.
Obama has nothing to do with denying rights to federal employees. There was a national collective bargaining bill that was defeated last year, in a democrat controlled Congress. (Just in case you wanted to play the card about unions controlling dems)
There is not a need for unions to be in every workplace, but unions do have their place and they really are not out of control as you may claim. It is tough to say how out of control they are when there are concessions made, yet don't make the news. It is funny how quick a story about a pay raise makes the media, yet when concessions are made, nary a word. If you belong in a union you may have some understanding, if not, then you are on the outside pointing fingers without truly knowing for sure.The thoughts and opinions posted here are mine and mine alone and do not reflect the thoughts and or views of city or dept affiliation.
03-13-2011, 07:08 PM #15
Additionally, public employees are forced to pay union dues. These dues are then funneled into democrat campaign contributions to promote policies that increase the number of public employees. The greater number of public employees increases the dues that the union collects.
A sample of the news that "doesn't get to these parts".....
From WSJ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...761790288.html
Mr. Scanlon, who has run elections for AFSCME for nearly 15 years, acknowledged the connection between the number of government jobs and the union's political clout. "The more members coming in, the more dues coming in, the more money we have for politics," Mr. Scanlon said. AFSCME's membership has grown 25% in the past decade.
AFSCME began the year with a $70 million budget to campaign for Democrats who supported its priorities in Washington. It wasn't planning to help those who opposed issues including health-care legislation and extending unemployment benefits.
Sounds like a scam to me.
03-13-2011, 07:25 PM #16
I don't have the time to respond to everyone here. Sorry if you felt slighted.
To comment #1; This is exactly the problem. It's not what the city (or county\state) can offer it's what they do offer. Often what they do offer is more than they can afford.
To comment #2; If you're "getting screwed" then leave. I know my toolbox has wheels on it and I've used them recently to my advantage. My guess is that you're still getting a pretty good deal compared to what else is out there or you'd already have left. Perhaps your pay package is only now inline with what it should have been all along.
03-13-2011, 07:27 PM #17
I am amazed on a daily business how little people know about unions and collective bargaining. Turn off Fox News and do some research.
03-13-2011, 07:42 PM #18
- Join Date
- Apr 2004
- Bossier Parrish, Louisiana
Again, most unionized firefighters have little to complain about given wages and benefits, and still have a far better deal in terms of paying for fringes than the general population. Like it or not, that's what the public sees, and yes, in some cases, that's what the public resents.
Last edited by LaFireEducator; 03-13-2011 at 07:51 PM.Train to fight the fires you fight.
03-13-2011, 07:53 PM #19
Crazy, but that's how it goes
- Join Date
- Jul 1999
- Rural Wisconsin, Retired from the burbs of Milwaukee
Millions of people living as foes
Maybe it's not too late
To learn how to love, and forget how to hate
03-13-2011, 08:02 PM #20
- Join Date
- Feb 2009
You say "peaceful" Did Rep. Michael Capuano (Union backed U.S. Representative from Massachusetts's 8th congressional district) not call for protestors to "get into the streets and get a little bloody when necessary"?
You say the UAW didn't kill Detroit? I thought the UAW didn't even deny that. I guess UAW should of bought up bankrupt automakers. I wonder why they didn't?
Obama has nothing to do with denying rights to federal employees? I guess if he feels so strongly about the subject then, he could of included that in his health bill... Right? Every other part of his agenda was in it.
Gov. Scott Walker wasn't asking for too much. Do you not agree? Fair is spending money that you have. Fair is spending your own money that you have. Now, in the private sector, when the money runs out, jobs go away. Businesses go away. When the money is running out, all but the essentials are dropped. Free office lunches, businesses trips, bonuses, new office furniture, upgraded computers, software, health insurance, contributions to retirement accounts: all that gone. To continue to pay for anything beyond keeping the lights on and salaries is plain stupid if the goal is to keep the business alive. See, in the private sector the purpose of a business is not to give you health care.
In the private sector the purpose of a business is not to give you a retirement or sick days or trips to the vet. In the public sector, that's exactly what jobs are seen as. It makes me sick to watch angry, militant, ungrateful state employees WITH JOBS complain that they can't receive extravagant benefit and pension contributions from people who have no money because they are out of work. No one's asked them to dip into their savings. That's what people in the private sector are having to do. When the money runs out, there should be zero contributions to pensions and health insurance -- and if that doesn't cover the tab, then the job is cut. BUT not before
But wait... we just want more don't we?
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