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Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Unions Still Suck, Example Notwithstanding

--posted by Tony Garcia on 11/06/2012

A previous post that was also linked on Facebook had some innocuous discussion in the Facebook comments. I made one concurring point that earned a disagreeing response.

Now, due to the cost to my "inner circle" in friends and family because they could not tolerate disagreement or refused to be respectful to opposition I had decided that all disagreements relating to blog posts linked on Facebook had to be removed from Facebook and brought to the blog.

So a comment came that disagreed. It warrants response (and should be preserved in the interest of open discussion) but I will not have it the debate on Facebook. I asked the person to move the comment here and they did not. At this moment I realize a possible reason: what they were replying to was a previous Facebook comment. So I moved that here also, brought their comment here and am now going to reply.

My comment:
The laws are so strong now (thanks to effective unions in the past and in spite of unions of the present) that if all he unions disappeared I don't believe there would be any problems. The unions now on the other hand are shooting themselves in the foot more often than not. From the Ford plant in St Paul closing because of the union's stubbornness on wages to companies all over the country experiencing the same to AFSCME going on strike and having to come back to a worse deal than they walked out on BOTH times the went on strike. The teacher's unions in Elk River, for example, pricing themselves so far beyond market (annual 10% raises during this economy is ridiculous and greedy) which led to huge cuts all around that ended up hurting the kids more than if the teachers had to settle for a raise that the average citizen in the area got during those years (2%-3%).

The response:
Whoa- so teachers don't get to ask for a 10% raise that would put them on par with middle-middle class? The problem is the schools in general aren't getting enough money. It isn't unreasonable for teachers to demand fair pay for what they worth.

I am from a deeply rooted pro-union family. The union went on strike on the Iron Range when safety was an issue - the only reason Mintack fixed the issue was because if they strength of the picket line.
Manny was in the same union for many years - never were we bled dry, asked to pay much for union dues. When [redacted] had knee surgery, his union rep and others from the large union came over with fresh cooked freezable meals, toilet paper, and an envelope with a check inside - that happened to cover the money [redacted] would have lost out on between the surgery and the two week waiting period until his temporary disability insurance kicked in. They would also call every few days to see if they could send someone over to help me take care of a baby [redacted], a 3 year old [redacted] and a laid-up [redacted].
When [redacted] was able to go back to work, and caught viral meningitis the first night back, the union was by his side when he was told he was going to be fired (which would be totally illegal!)!

Unless you are in or had direct experience as a union worker, you have no idea how much good they really do. Lumping one bad union rep into all unions would be like me lumping all republicians as mean spirited, women hating, wife, children bible-beating, anti-government (unless it's the death penalty), whiyes-only America because I've read article and have seen/read/heard news reports saying one or more of those from republicans.
The first thing that has to be addressed is the often used, very insulting and terribly broken idea that only people within a group are able to speak about the group, or worse, only people within a class can opine about the class. This broken mentality is used to an extreme in the abortion debate and more often than not it is the left that tries this exclusionary debate tactic in other areas too. Here it is in a union discussion, "[u]nless you are in or had direct experience..." The fact is people can talk intelligently about unions without having been in one. And to be sure, I am talking with experience both inside and out.

Furthermore, I am not talking about ONE bad rep. I am talking about the entire union (AFSCME) being corrupt and unions in general being bad in the big picture anymore.

The next item to address is the 10% issue. First, I didn't say teachers could not ask for it. Ask for the moon. The issue is that they got it locked into a contract and it was while the rest of the citizens were seeing pay cuts, lay offs or pay freezes. It was those 10% annual raises that was breaking the budget and the unions mule-like stubbornness to yield on those increases that caused classes to get closed, the teacher roster to be shrunk and still a need to go to the middle class taxpayer for an increase in property taxes. The property tax increase, paid for by citizens that were experiencing pay cuts, lay offs and pay freezes, were simply to bridge a major budget gap...and when salaries for teachers made up 75% of the budget and those salaries were being increased by 10%...there is a problem.

Crap, 10% annual increases just for existing, no matter what the economy is like, is ridiculous...especially when it is the taxpayer that is funding it.

Finally, I find it fascinating that on the one hand the reply says that 'lumping' one experience as a reflection of the whole is bad, but uses one personal experience as a reflection of the whole to make the case that unions are good. I agree, using one experience to reflect upon the whole is poor practice and bad sampling. But I have seen many, many, many, many more examples of unions causing more harm for the big picture than causing good. From crooked books, unethical campaigning practices, strong arm and intimidation for compliance, violence against non-conformists, pricing themselves out of jobs, demanding unreasonable concessions, putting teachers ahead of students, protecting bad employees at the expense of good employees, prohibiting career advancement for the sake of not raising the bar too high...all of these have multiple occurrences from most unions across the country.

Examples of them doing right by the larger good and bigger picture are just too few and far between. In fact, your personal example is not exclusive to unions. That would be done by a church group, close neighbors or a tight family. I have heard of PTA groups doing similar things and perfect strangers opening help-fund accounts for people going through hard times. Bowling leagues have done similar acts of goodness as have softball teams. I remember a collection for someone being done for the family of a swimming teammate of one of my exchange student's. They had a medical emergency or something and collections were being done to help them. People pitch in like that when there is a death in a family. A close friend of mine and his siblings families didn't have to cook for over a week after the death of a parent because so many people gave them prepared meals. That can be heard all over the place.

In fact, I think a stronger case can be made that your experience was just people and the only reason the word "union" is involved is that it happened to be the membership that the people were introduced in. I would bet that union compassion had nothing to do with it, but human compassion did. If it were unique to the union then there would not be a plethora of examples of similar (or more) compassionate contribution outside of unions.

The main point still remains, and remains well supported and poorly refuted: Unions Suck.

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