In which I give my thoughts on this whole #wiunion thing

by thoughtfulconservative

Probably no one will be completely happy with this post. That’s OK.

There’s been a great political division in Wisconsin since Gov. Scott Walker announced plans to do away with collective bargaining for state employees. Most of my readers are well acquainted with what’s been going on in protests, court cases and legislative shenanigans.

On the whole I agree with Walker’s budget (and other) plans including some of the things that the union’s are protesting so vigorously. But I also disagree with some of the things the GOP is trying to accomplish.

I used to be radically anti-union. My father died during a strike at the place he worked. No doubt the stress of not working was part, part not all, of the trigger. He also smoked and was slightly overweight which were probably the main causes.

But in seeing the way some, some, not all, employers work, and the government is an employer in this situation, I find that I cannot be totally anti-union. Unions do good work for workers. Safety, wages, etc., are the result of union advocacy. And in spite of what you’ve heard, employers are not really looking out for the best interests of their employees.

But I do think that benefits should not be part of a collective bargaining arrangement. Oh, I know why it’s happened; benefits are a way to “sweeten the pot,” to help make a bargaining agreement palatable.

And I think one should have an option about whether to join a union or not. Yeah, I know that unions are why the wage benefit package is available to an employee; I guess I just don’t like the idea of being forced to do something. That should provide fodder for discussion.

I realize my poor little blog is going to have much influence on the public debate long since enjoined. But I do wish Walker and the GOP had done things a little bit differently.

Oh, and “union thugs” or other derogatory terms will not make it into my writings on the subject.

Well, I guess that’s it for now. Unless something else comes up…

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9 Comments to “In which I give my thoughts on this whole #wiunion thing”

  1. Nice post. Thanks.

  2. Taking a step back and looking at the larger picture, can you agree that the decline of unions in America is directly related to the stagnation of average compensation in America? I mean, without getting bogged down in specific union/employer issue wrangling, unions have been great for the American middle class–even non-unionized workers benefitted. It’s surely one of the main reasons for the prosperity my father enjoyed during his working years, even though he was never in a union. Now, since unions have been in steep decline for a few decades we find that average Americans haven’t seen a real wage increase in 30 years. I don’t think that’s a coincidence. That’s why when I see unionization under grievous attack I think: there goes even more of the average American’s prosperity.

  3. You’re welcome, Erin.

    Scott, without getting bogged down in specific situations, I think unions have been beneficial to the American worker, especially in the area of child labor, working hours, wages and safety. I don’t know how any one could deny that. They may argue that unions have outlived their usefulness, in which I would have to disagree.

  4. Scott..I somewhat disagree. My husband is in a union. He just got a letter increasing his hourly salary by almost 10%. A first reaction would be jumping for joy, then the reality comes into play. He hasn’t worked more than 9 months (total) in the past 2 1/2 years. He would take a pay DECREASE in a heart beat if it meant 40 hour work weeks, 52 weeks of the year. But sadly in this economy it doesn’t. We wonder if the union would ever consider at least a pay freeze so when their employers bid on work, they aren’t low-balled by the non-union shops that don’t have to pay out over $55 PER HOUR in total compensation. He now has to make the decision to possibly leave the union, take a much lower paying job but if it means steady work, vacation time, health insurance. peace of mind that your next check IS coming he will probably do it. Yes, unions were great in the past and did a lot for safety, pay, working conditions, but in current times, they don’t care about the workers, all they care about is $$. And they don’t care about the 600 guys on the out of work list. (currently, but still expect their union dues to be paid)

  5. Government workers are not the problem when it comes to the budgets. They work hard, pay our taxes and contribute just as much as non-government workers. Why it’s popular all of a sudden to attack them and blame them for the fiscal problems plaguing so many states is ridiculous. The elected officials run up the debt, and then raid pension funds to offset it and turnaround and blame government workers because of it. The teachers, firefighters, police and other workers will suffer now because if it. Wages and benefits should NOT be legislated, it should be negotiated.

  6. I am not sure what part of my comments you’re disagreeing with. The fact that your husband doesn’t like the choices made by his union don’t really alter the fact that unionization basically created the middle class in America.

  7. A more articulate explanation of what I’m trying to say: http://robertreich.org/post/6538345540

  8. My disagreement is in the strength of unions. They are paying many of a politicians pocket these days….just ask WEAC and Doyle.

  9. Unions have been getting weaker for thirty years. At least. And today they are probably a third as powerful as they were in their heyday. Also, part of a union’s reason for being is to lobby for their members interests. I don’t find that sinister. Especially not since corporate political influence has gotten stronger during that time, not weaker.

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