Misconceptions about unions/collective bargaining
As a longtime Colorado resident, union member and former state employee, I would like to point out some misconceptions about labor unions and collective bargaining rights in recent statements arguing against proposed efforts to unionize state civil service workers.
It is the opinion of no less than our own U.S. Congress, in the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, that the right to join labor organizations and to collective bargaining in the civil service are in the public interest and directly contribute to the effective conduct of the public’s business.
The argument that collective bargaining rights would force thousands of state employees to unwittingly pay dues to a labor union is patently false.
Under Colorado law, joining a labor union is optional and only union members pay union dues.
Labor organizing and collective bargaining rights are about developing a productive work environment that builds employee-management trust (instead of a top-down-only process) that both recognizes and respects the workplace rights of frontline employees.
Furthermore, through collective bargaining, unions help unite management and employees around common workplace goals. Managers gain valuable insight when they involve employees in day-to-day decision-making, rather than simply issuing orders.
Collective bargaining is the best way to engage frontline employees so they have an effective say in efforts at government reform.
Any attempts at reforming state government without the voice and insight of Colorado’s civil service workforce will not be real reform.
This letter has not been edited.
Jon - I have worked in US manufacturing for almost 20 years from the nonunion, sales side. I have sold machine tools, software, and every variety of equipment that you can think of. For the last 5 years I have worked in the consulting arena selling and deploying the methods of Lean manufacturing, based on the principles of the Toyota Production System (TPS), as well as Six Sigma, a statistical analysis tool developed by Motorola to eliminate variance and defects in process. These tools are what truly increase prodictivity and efficiency in the workplace - both in manufacturing and elsewhere. Almost everytime my company has been invited (hired) to deploy these tools in a union shop, the union has either been a direct roadblock to implementing them, or resisted strongly because these tools ask them to be more productive. From my experience, the last thing any union wants of its members is for them to be MORE productive and efficient.Posted by Michael on November 10, 2007 03:31 PM
I have belonged to both the CWA and IBEW for several year periods in the past. I have also worked with unions from the management side extensively throughout the US and Europe. In both cases the union's overriding function is to protect poor and even incompetent performers, while keeping the top performers compensated exactly as those incompetents. The marginal performers are embolded to grieve managment with every percieved slight, and frequently become union stewards and leaders. Nepotism and cronyism rival the excesses we see in the Executive suite, and union controlled pension funds have a sordid history that even our bleeding heart "open minded" (ie: cult member) intellectual superiors refuse to discuss. Unions have been left behind by history and their resurgence will signify the United States joining Europe as a tired, oudated economic model that cannot compete in the global economy.Posted by JC on November 10, 2007 05:04 PM
Jon, you guys should realize that in today’s global economy a large company, especially automotive, they have enough to worry about even without your union demands. They need the flexibility to make sound business decisions without your socialistic ideology. So far the unions was instrumental (knowingly or not) to drive a lot of the manufacturing jobs to Mexico and over seas. No one claims that union workers are not hard workers, they are, but they have to be smart and well educated too.
And that’s where Six Sigma, ISO9000/QS9000, Kaizen and dozens of other process and product improvement tools come in. These usually viewed as job eliminators, and nothing can be further from the truth. When a company produces good quality products at the right price that customers expect and want, they can’t loose. If they not, they not gonna be around because somebody else will do that, and even the unions will not able to save your job. I’d recommend you read “Who moved my cheese”.
It is interesting that you would use the Federal Government as the example for validating your position on unionizing state employees. Let me remind you of why the Federal Government is perceived as incompetent and incapable by the vast majority of Americans.
Our Federal Government is filled with people who are protected by union rules that make it virtually impossible to terminate the poorest performers or violators of policy. The union ensures these individuals have employment longevity to the detriment of the organization. There are so many of these employees entrenched in our government that it becomes almost impossible to increase efficiency or eliminate waste. Every taxpayer is paying for countless deadbeats in the Federal Government and it’s largely due to unions.
The Federal Government should be an employment option for the best and the brightest, instead it is looked upon as a dumping ground for the under-achievers of our society.
And let's not forget the real reason this bone was handed out by Ritter. He knows exactly where his bread is buttered and now he just handed the Unions more poor schmucks to railroad into Union dues to support the dem campaigns.
This was simply a scheme to steal money from workers to give to Union bosses and to the dem party.
Follow the money.Posted by Dravur on November 10, 2007 06:15 PM
Somebody probably tipped off Ritter that having the DNC in a non-union environment wouldn’t look too good.Posted by Uno on November 10, 2007 06:37 PM
There are two large groups of public workers which have functions under a union. Postal workers and teachers. In both cases there are laws which make it difficult for competitors to enter the field.
It is illegal to attempt to deliver 1st class mail in competition with the post office. People used to complain bitterly about the Post Office. Now that email is providing a viable alternative to 1st class postage and UPS and FedEx are providing competition in parcel mail, the post office has responded and started trying to attract customers. I honor and applaud their efforts.
The teacher's unions are utterly opposed to permitting vouchers and charter school. That means that they are trying to forbid competition. We all agree that we have a crisis in education. This is not to place all the blame on the teachers. But one must admit that they have failed to solve the problem.
Another unionized industry used to be in this position. The telephone industry. Up until ATT was broken into the "baby bells" in 1984, people complained incessantly about "the phone company." There was no alternative. It wasn't until ATT's breakup that innovation lowered prices dramatically. I remember when I was courting my wife in 1974 that phone calls from Denver to Philadelphia cost 10 cents a minute (the equivalent of 44 cents today). Now some companies charge 4 cents and others include nationwide dialing as a free service.
As long as government workers provide services for which there is no alternative, experience shows that we must be careful about allowing unions to impede effective management, innovation and cost cutting.
Been in a Union twice. Got screwed twice. 'Nuff said.Posted by on November 10, 2007 10:20 PM
Graduated HS 1947- started work at Leesville,Ohio coal mine that year and joined United Mine Workers. John L. Lewis called strike and gained $1.00 a day raise. My pay went from $13.05 to $14.05 for 8 hour day, portal to portal. But 1 worker was taken from my crew (meaning 3 of us now did the work that 4 had been doing) and coal went from $4.00 to $7.00 a ton at the tipple, since workers had gained such large increase. Guess who made out on this deal? 1950 I enlisted same day my draft notice arrived. Intended to serve minimum time and return home. But in the service my abilities were recognized, I received training and promotions, and decided to stay in service where I was appreciated and rewarded. I retired in 1976, and worked at Samsonite. Journeyman Electrician and I was required to join Rubber Workers of America. They set my wages at $8.00 per hour, while electricians in Denver Metro area were getting $25.00 per hour and more if supervising others. In both unions I was told by fellow members to work slower, so company would hire more workers. Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana are still very strong union states, and workers drive to borders (70 plus miles one way) to work. My home county - Harrison in Ohio has not changed since the 1940s except all major work has left county, and the state. Now we find unions predominately among Janitors, school teachers, city-county-state-federal employees, and professional sport teams for some reason I do not understand. I remember the effort to unionize the military at same time civil service employees organized. There was a dire need for unions between 1900 - 1930 to get children out of work places, establish 40 hour week, and raise wages. But those have all been taken over by statute and federal agencies such as EPA, OSHA, and Environmental organizations. I see no reason for additional layer of bureacracy between the worker and management, except to cause friction. Favorite expression by management in union shop "go talk to your shop steward" and nothing ever happened. Governor Ritter has put the "proverbial camel's nose under the tent" so it is only time until unions will demand right to strike, and force others to join. I feel both unions took my money (dues) and I received nothing- repeat nothing for it.Posted by Frank25 on November 10, 2007 11:35 PM
wow a union boss defending the union. hey when you have all the government union non workers go on strike will you give up your pay check also?
I like the part where the unions take an hours pay every two weeks for their part in your job.
I had a unionn job once and all I ever saw was the lazy jerk offs always with the union leaders trying to save their job for them because they were screwing off or never showed up to work. I also liked being paid the same wage as the jerks who didnt work but caused problems for everyone else. the union boss told us it was the company who wouldnt pay more, and I asked why should they to keep the lazy and the union in business?
Jon I'm one who beleives that this country is in need today of good unions. The gap between the rich and working class is widening every day. Raises for union & nonunoin workers are being ate up by healthcare costs alone. But to be honest with you the unions are in need of a good house cleaning. They care more about protecting the worthless then working on making union products that they can be proud of. I work for a union shop and they go out of their way to be a pain in management ass then working together. New employees are told to slow down their working to hard and making the others look bad. And this is coming from a prounion person. But todays union members do not have a clue on what unions should be all about. They are a haven for deadbeats plain and simple.Posted by on November 11, 2007 10:00 AM
now with this being said
Raises for union & nonunoin workers are being ate up by healthcare costs alone.
shows how idiotic the post is. unions cry real loud when one of their worthless lot has to pay a penny of the cost because the employer 'owes' it to them.
unions stand for one thing and one thing only, themselves and taking as much as they can and give back nothing.
I also bet that the union for the pro athlets are really concerned for the true working person.
Bureaucracy is the bane of competent work, good product and fair price prctice no matter where it is employed and especially in government. And unions suffer from the same bureaucartical overcomplicated and oranizational defunctional thinking that the state and federal governments do. To add to that abortion in government by istalling yet more complications and disfunctional methods is to invite the total collapse of both.
Which, come to think of it, might not be a bad idea at all. Then we could rid ourselves of all the incompetence and leather headed fools and maybe, just maybe find competent and trustworthy people to elect to represent us. Of course we would have to hold them responsible and accountable and have stiff penalties for failure to do so. Hey, isn't that the same idea the founding fathers had when they set up our goverment in the first place after having fled to the new world to escape the tyranny of the old world?Posted by Allen Campbell on November 12, 2007 07:51 AM
Simple question to the unions.Why aren't ALL unions fighting to get the illegal aliens out of the US?Everybody knows that they are pulling the wages down? The unions could do more to raise wages by getting illegals out of this country than collective bargaining could ever do.I think they want them for union members.The unions do not care about the American worker.They only care about union dues.Posted by An American on November 12, 2007 08:39 AM
Hey An American we will spend 2.6 Trillion $ in Iraq. Why don't you pay attention to that? You must not like America.Posted by on November 12, 2007 09:18 AM
U.A.W. ==U Ain't Workin'
What more do you need to know? The UAW's $75 per hour cost has made the Big-3 completely non-competitive--they have lost market share for 40 years. Detroit shuts down and lays off while the un-unionized foreign transplants (Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Volkswagen, etc.) offer job security and can't open new plants and hire fast enough. Every time (100%) a UAW organization vote comes up, it fails. The American workers at the transplants love their job security , growth and good wages--and they don't want the unions to screw it up.Posted by Hank on November 12, 2007 09:41 AM
One wonders if hank is perceptive enough to realize that the situation he describes exists because management at those firms recognizes that the treatment of their workforce is a determining factor in productivity and profitability and so generally provides those benefits that would ordinarily have to be wrung out of management at another company.Also there is usually a much more cooperative environment in the Japanese managed corporations where they recognize that management and labor are in the same boat. I'd also wager that the discrepancy between the pay of the typical Japanese executive and the average worker is much less than for comparable American firms.Posted by davis X. Machina on November 12, 2007 09:53 AM
If the employers and workers are in the same boat as you put it, those same workers with the unions strong arming the corporation would realize that the more they demand the less likely they are to be employed in the near future.
Their tactics are what is bankrupting the very corporations they work for. Your theory has a big hole in the bottom. Try again.
Bottom line the unions add nothing to giving the public a good product at a competitive price.Posted by An american on November 12, 2007 03:50 PM
"One wonders if hank is perceptive enough to realize that the situation he describes exists because management at those firms recognizes that the treatment of their workforce is a determining factor in productivity and profitability and so generally provides those benefits that would ordinarily have to be wrung out of management at another company."
Easily the most incoherent and backassward sentence that I have read in a long time. I have no idea what this illiterate is talking about. Must be a union boy!Posted by Hank on November 12, 2007 04:23 PM
What more do you need to know? The UAW's $75 per hour cost has made the Big-3 completely non-competitive...
Posted by Hank on November 12, 2007 09:41 AM
The stoners would have to ingest copious amounts of Moroccan hash to reach the states of delusion that Hanks achieves. Gosh no mention at all about the deficient management decisions that caused the car companies to go off the tracks. Leave it to the whiny Republicans to blame the working man and give the rich decision makers a free pass. The car companies failed respond to customer wants and the customers turned to other companies that focused on fuel efficient cars. The car company executives instead of investing in fuel efficient technology chose to spend their money lobbying against fuel standards. The decline of the American auto companies can be traced to the board room not the assembly line. The workers built what they were directed to build. I've worked for Fortune 50 companies and I have horror stories of worthless managers getting paid big bucks to go to an endless supply of meetings where they pass the buck and try to stab each other in the back but will the whiny Republicans ever recognize the failures of the rich. Probably not. They just want to blame the workingman. What a bunch of losers.Posted by Wes on November 12, 2007 07:53 PM
The 9:18 AM posting sounds like he is an illegal alien.Posted by An american on November 13, 2007 12:12 AM
The 9:18 AM posting sounds like he is an illegal alien.
Posted by An american on November 13, 2007 12:12 AM
Hmm I thought questioning a government project with phenomenal costs and negligible results was as American as Republicans playing the fear card in politics. There are a lot of ways to waste money like unsustainable occupations but paying a working man a livable wage isn't one of them. The reason Republican extremists hate unions is that unions cut into the profits of the wealthy. Union busting is dictated by the rich and the servile brainwashed Republican radicals are on board with defeating our economic vitality.Posted by Wes on November 13, 2007 07:28 AM
Wes sounds like a union member!! If he had gone to school he would know that the ones paying his HIGH union wage are not the "wealthy" but the people that buy his product.The
"wealthy" pass the costs on to the buyer.Also he does not want to talk about the fact that most unions are not helping kick the illegal aliens out of our country because they want them to pay union dues.The unions should want these people out of the US because they are pulling the wage base down but the fact is the unions only care about their "fat" pay checks.Unions are just a branch of the terrorist supporting Democrat party.
An American doesnt like the idea of ever working, no wonder he hates Unions. He is on the country's dole, a man who hasnt worked a day in his life, he is male welfare bitch.
An American is a Republican rightwing coward. A chickenhawk who talks tuff but is afraid to join the military and fight for this country. The man is a chickenshit traitorious coward.