Monday, September 04, 2006

Arg!

Ok, so I guess I'm doing all of my comments as new posts until I can figure out what's wrong. So here goes.

Here's the short version of my response to Chuck, cause I'm not typing all of that again:

Yes, there is a "controversy" over the war, obviously. I didn't think that's what you meant. If that's what you meant, then you were basically saying I should be talking about the war instead of your legal ads. Well, ok. We've talked plenty about the war on here.

I was saying that I didn't think the protests themselves were very controversial. Nobody is trying to keep anyone from doing it (either them or you), and nobody seems terribly excited about either group of protesters. That's all.

Anyway, send your ad if you find it; I'm still curious.

On to other things, it's Labor Day, and with it comes the news that Athens firefighters might be forming a union.

All for now; enjoy the rest of your day off.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

why don't y'all just email each other?

Chuck said...

Good idea.

I totally support the idea of a firefighters' union - it just makes perfect sense to me. I think the "Rule of 80" should be applied to them. These are hard working people who risk their lives on a daily basis, why are they only receiving $125 per month in pension? I use $125 a WEEK just for gas and food.

Ed said...

I totally support unions, also. I have just finished organizing one in my workplace. Conditions are improving for all of us already.

andyrusk said...

Shucks. I just got voted in to Local 479. Enjoying your day off? Thank the labor movement. :)

Dawg Corleone said...

Workers of the world, unite. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.

hillary said...

Um, yes.

Ed said...

That is some nice, puerile, uninformed conservatism there, Dawg.

Dawg Corleone said...

Seriously, I've never believed gov't workers should have unions. Labor unions were formed, essentially, to talk about how to share profits. The gov't is, last time I looked, not supposed to be in the profit business.

I'm not anti-union, but I'm anti-government workers unions.

andyrusk said...

Labor unions were formed to keep workers alive, to guarantee safe working conditions, a fair day's pay for a fair day's work, to end child labor, to protect whistle blowers, to ensure compensation and medical care for those injured on the job, shall I continue?

Weekends? OSHA? 40hr work week? Worker's Comp? Thank the Labor movement.

Capitalism would be a pretty sorry beast without organized labor. They're two sides of the same coin.

From "The Virginian" by Owen Wister, 1911.
Dedicated to TR.

"Our Democracy has many enemies, both in Wall Street and in the Labor Unions; but as those in Wall Street have by their excesses created those in the Unions, they are the worst; if the pillars of our house fall, it is they who will have been the cause thereof."

I don't see the excesses of Wall Street drawing to an end anytime soon, do you?

Ask a coal miner.

Dawg Corleone said...

My point precisely. Government work ain't capitalism.

As I say, hooray, Unions! Just not for government workers, the ones who are on my dime.

And just not for me. I ain't much of a joiner.

andyrusk said...

Work is work, pal. It all sucks and much of it is dangerous. It is every working man and woman's right to determine what their labor is worth. Union's protect that right.

The Cops in ACC have received a pay raise every year. The fire department has been passed over.

Polusplagchnos said...

While it's true, broadly speaking, that government work ain't capitalism, it's also true what andyrusk pointed out: work is work. It may be that unions were formed at some point, at some places, to ensure that workers were not exploited when it came to the distribution of profit, it needn't be the case that, therefore, all unions forevermore must be for a just distribution of profit.

Would you, dawg, accept that a union can have as an interest making the workplace safer or more hospitable for the workers? Is this a good thing or an unnecessary thing?

I am confused, though, about the "on my dime" comment. What is the implicit conclusion to draw from this? Is it that, by becoming organized, workers will draw more from that dime and thereby decrease the amount available for the production of government services?

andyrusk said...

Indeed, the "on my dime comment." If you do support unions in the private sector, then you no doubt avoid Wal-Mart like the plague. I do. In so doing, you probably spend a bit more on consumables and gorceries than you might like. But hey, it's for a good reason- you're supporting your community and your country.

Everybody does better when everybody does better. Right?

So what's the difference? It's your dime no matter where you spend it.

Put it like this- I'm trapped on the twentieth floor of a burning building. I want the guy coming to rescue me focused on the task at hand, not worrying about his mortgage payment, his daughter's nagging cough, or whether or not they'll be money in his pension to cover treatment for all the nasty shit he's breathing while he's coming to get me.

Same for the MTA workers who went on strike a few months back. I want the guy looking at the TRACK, not at the classifieds hunting a second job.

This country's a great one for flag-sucking. We gladhand cops and firemen and soldiers. Then we give 'em equipment built by the lowest bidder, and board up the VA hospitals while they're bivuoaced in the armpit of the world. Thousands of Ground Zero and Katrina rescue workers will die prematurely from undiagnosed afflictions that nobody cares to discuss. Let alone pay to treat- especially "not on my dime."

We talk big about our working class heros, too. But somewhere along the way the American Dream got hijacked by folks who didn't cotton to the idea of a 9-5 gig and a modest Levittown house with a sensible sedan in the garage. Tycoon. That's the new icon, the new measure of success. How big is your TV? Your engine? You get more for less at Wal-Mart, so never mind the human cost. "How dare these lowly sanitation workers strike? I've got a blackberry to pay off!"

Don't mean to rail at you dawg, but I can't think of a better place for my dimes to go than into a blue collar paycheck.

Fishplate said...

It is every working man and woman's right to determine what their labor is worth.

Absolutely. But why do you need a union? To keep your current job, instead of sending a message to your employer by selling your labor to anohter bidder. Is that lazy, or lack of risk-taking?

And why have unions become as big a business as exists anywhere in the US?

If you want to go on strike, go ahead. But why shouldn't your employer hire others to do the work that you won't do?

hillary said...

You need a union because it is right to pay your workers a fair wage. And because, un-united, workers have pretty much no power. Shouldn't there be some sort of balance between employer and employed?

Fishplate said...

You need a union because it is right to pay your workers a fair wage.

So, it's a moral issue?

And because, un-united, workers have pretty much no power.

Well, get your fellow workers to agree with you, and you can all walk out together. But then why should your employer go out of business because you refuse to work?

Shouldn't there be some sort of balance between employer and employed?

Sure. The employer offers a wage, and the employee offers labor. Each has something the other needs. If they cannot agree on mutually satisfactory terms, then they should not enter into a contract.

andyrusk said...

Name one industry that's gone belly up because their employees unionized.

Steel? Nah, it was China that put the hurt on American Steel.

Detroit? Nah, Japan just designed and built better cars for the past thirty years.

Fossil fuels? Nah, American energy companies are still going strong, and American miners are dying for 'em.

Textiles? Nah, that was NAFTA that killed textiles. Agriculture, too.

Union's protect worker's rights, plain and simple. A contract cannot be relied upon to do so. Say you go to work, for a tool-and-die plant, you sign your contract, etc, which guarantees doubletime hazard pay if you work with chemicals. You pull two shifts washing 1088 barstock with acid, and there's no extra dough on your check. You go to the foreman and ask him and he tells you that the acid ain't hazardous. You look it up on the internet and it's known to cause cancer in California, but not in Michigan. What do you do? Quit? When it's the only place in town that's hiring?

Factories, Mills, Mines, Corporations, etc. have a long history of abusing folks in this country and getting away with it beacuse they have the money to spend ten years in court, where as one lowly worker certainly does not.

Can companies hire and fire whoever the hell they want? In Right To Work states like Georgia, they can and do, which was the case with McLane Trucking before they unionized. They were stiffing drivers on overtime. Complain and you got laid off. So the drivers started to organize. The Boss got wind of it, fired and replaced a bunch of drivers. He continued to stiff his new drivers on overtime. Needless to say, they finally got their union.

I invite you to do a little reading. Calumet, Michigan and Ludlow, Colorado are good places to start. A book called "Big Coal" should be on your list as well.

Fishplate said...

Name one industry that's gone belly up because their employees unionized.

I assume this question is meant for me...please note I never said ~industry~, I said ~employer~. There's a difference.

Just think, if a group of employees band together to force a bad employer out of business, then an opening occurs in the market. Someone will step in to fill that opening, and the workers will be the ones with the necessary knowledge to produce that product.

Union's protect worker's rights, plain and simple.

No, workers protect worker's rights.

You go to the foreman and ask him and he tells you that the acid ain't hazardous. You look it up on the internet and it's known to cause cancer in California, but not in Michigan.

No, you look it up on the MSDS posted at the site where the chemical is used. If there's no MSDS, you call OSHA. Otherwise, the MSDS rules.

What do you do? Quit? When it's the only place in town that's hiring?

Yep. If that's what it takes. If your employer is screwing you, they are screwing all the employees. All of you can quit, and put him out of business. Or you can quit, and save your life. If you have marketable skills, you will be reemployed. If not, get new skills. I never stop learning new things - my employer could disappear overnight, but I will still be here, and I will be able to make a good living.

On the other end of the coin, why should I be ~forced~ to give money to a union, which then uses my money to lobby for a cause in which I do not believe? Where, then, is my right to keep my job with the only employer in town that's hiring? Who is protecting my rights in that case?

Once upon a time, unions served a valuable purpose. Some unions today still do so. But many others are in the union business solely because it is lucrative and confers power, just like many politicians. There are some remarkable parallels between union officials and state and congressioanl leaders. This is what I find disturbing.

I know about Ludlow. And some places in Wyoming as well. Still, it's ~your~ responsibility to learn, and your decision to make. Do you put up with the conditions, or do you quit? I know it's harder what you don't have the support of family, money or connections, but nothing is guaranteed. And sometimes cliches have a basis in fact.

As an individual, I know what is right and wrong for me. If I can convince my fellow workers, fine. If I can't, well it's their own lookout, isn't it? You'll never get ahead if you don't pay attention...

hillary said...

So, it's a moral issue?

Yes. It is. It's also a power issue and obviously it's an economic issue, but do you think it's right for an employer _not_ to pay his/her employees a fair wage?

Sidebar: Did anyone read the piece in the New Yorker about dependency ratios with regard to benefits paid? It argues that the number of those working for a company relative to the number of those retired (often because the industry has become more efficient) is the biggest factor in those companies' being able or not to pay the pensions etc. they promised. Not that the pensions were overly generous.

andyrusk said...

They did quit in Ludlow, and JP Morgan turned machine guns on 'em, and the US Army stood there and watched 'em do it.

andyrusk said...

The Sago Mine in West Vriginia, the one that blew up in 2006 killing 12 men, had logged 276 MSHA violations over the preceding two years, and been fined only $24,374. That's about $156 per violation. MSHA's enforcement record is pretty dismal. So is OSHA's.

Fishplate said...

Yes. It is [a moral issue]. It's also a power issue and obviously it's an economic issue, but do you think it's right for an employer _not_ to pay his/her employees a fair wage?

It's impossible for an employer to pay anything less than a fair wage, when both parties enter into a working relationship with eyes open. As long as you aren't a slave, you took the job freely, knowing the pay rate before you started. You are free to quit at any time.

The Sago Mine in West Vriginia, the one that blew up in 2006 killing 12 men, had logged 276 MSHA violations over the preceding two years, and been fined only $24,374. That's about $156 per violation. MSHA's enforcement record is pretty dismal. So is OSHA's.

So, it seems that the enforcement of existing regulations is lacking, as is the incentive to correct problems. 276 violations should have shut the place down. Clearly, the union that represented those mine workers was right in the thick of things, protecting their interests.

Fishplate said...

They did quit in Ludlow, and JP Morgan turned machine guns on 'em, and the US Army stood there and watched 'em do it.

Are you suggesting that the Colorado Coalfield War is typical of employee-employer relations?

Anonymous said...

Hey Publius,

How about have a thread for everybody to go around and make predictions about what percentage each candidate will get? What do you say?

hillary said...

It's impossible for an employer to pay anything less than a fair wage, when both parties enter into a working relationship with eyes open. As long as you aren't a slave, you took the job freely, knowing the pay rate before you started. You are free to quit at any time.

Economics doesn't actually work in a vacuum like this. People need to eat and take care of their kids.

DoubleDawgDareYa said...

"Well, get your fellow workers to agree with you, and you can all walk out together."

Isn't that kind of what a union does?

Fishplate said...

Isn't that kind of what a union does?

Yep. Now you're getting there...

Fishplate said...

Economics doesn't actually work in a vacuum like this. People need to eat and take care of their kids.

Yes, and people need to be able to afford to eat and take care of their kids.

hillary said...

Are we still disagreeing?

Anonymous said...

Unions also protect lazy workers.