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Author Topic: A taste of CA labor unions
The Drake
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There's a California ballot measure that would change permission for union dues to be used politically from an opt-out to an opt-in model.

"In Utah, such participation fell from 68 percent to 7 percent after the law passed, according to the foundation, a think tank supportive of such laws."

So, Unions would likely be less active politically - unless they could make a case to each employee to opt-in. Naturally, the union leadership doesn't like this much.

I don't care for opt-out models. Philosophically, I think you should have to get permission first before using someone's dues for politics.

Opponents cite the fact that corporations donate to political campaigns, but do not require the same opt-in. They have a point - because while stockholders can opt-out, by changing leadership or selling stock, they are not given a line item "how much do you want spent on lobbying efforts" kind of presentation.

news article on the proposition

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Zyne
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I am not cool enough to have anything to do with the OC, including reading its paper. [Frown]

I "paid" union dues while a state employee in the northwet that I couldn't opt-out of. All state employees paid in. It was like an extra tax. V. annoying.

However, it was part of my contract with the state, and I knew going in, so it was fair. I could have always worked elsewhere.

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Gaoics79
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I paid union dues when I worked for the City of Montreal. But it was totally worth every penny: $13/h for dumb manual labor, paid vacation, hour long "15 minute" breaks, sleeping in the truck. It was a hell of a summer job [Smile]
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javelin
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YAY! Vote for it!
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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by Zyne:
However, it was part of my contract with the state, and I knew going in, so it was fair. I could have always worked elsewhere.

Funny, that's what I always say about Walmart workers who don't have a Union. [Smile]
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Zyne
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quote:
Funny, that's what I always say about Walmart workers who don't have a Union.
That's a shocker (not).

Anyway, that's the standard I applied to me. It shouldn't apply to other wage slaves. [Razz]

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javelin
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Here's the Economist, weighing in on all this stuff.
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Everard
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"Opponents cite the fact that corporations donate to political campaigns, but do not require the same opt-in. They have a point - because while stockholders can opt-out, by changing leadership or selling stock, they are not given a line item "how much do you want spent on lobbying efforts" kind of presentation."

This is my biggest problem with this proposition- it makes corporations more powerful, politically, relative to labor. And since corporations already are far more powerful then labor, you further unbalance a dynamic that needs to be unbalanced.

Edit: Which isn't to say that union dues for politics shouldn't be opt-in. They should be. But, likewise, so should corporate political spending. And if one isn't, the other shouldn't be.

Ideally, of course, it should be legal for neither corporations or unions to spend money on politics. They don't vote, so they shouldn't be part of the process.

[ November 04, 2005, 12:51 PM: Message edited by: Everard ]

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Snowden
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You don't opt into your citizenship, and I think that this is as important.
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Redskullvw
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Snow

Some people do opt in for their citizenship.

As to the subject of union dues going to politics, it should definately be opt-in. And as for corporate campaigning, federal law pretty much prevents corporations from giving to capaigns already. In the exceptions, it still limits corporations to donating only as much as the maximum ammount that any individual can give. As to donating to national parties, both labor and industry can pretty much give whatever they want. An issue that isn't covered by this bill.

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Lewkowski
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The less power the unions have the better.

Many people say unions help labor... well in specific industries that may be true. But not everyone is a worker. And not everyone will work all their life. But EVERYONE is a consumer. And big business like Wal-Mart is GREAT for the consumer. If Wal-Mart was suddenly unionized it would be horrible for the consumer.

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Rallan
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I was under the impression that WalMart turned out not to be so great for the consumer. In terms of local stores ran out of business, jobs evaporating as those stores close, and the (smaller) pool of new jobs being paid at the minimum possible rate, the end result was a large body of consumers who suddenly have less money to spend, and less choice for the consumers who still have the cash.
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The Drake
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It is usually true that Walmart will put local stores out of business. And if the local businesses were less efficient, then yes there will be fewer jobs performing that function.

None of which is bad for the consumer.

It may be bad for the middle aged shopkeeper who was gouging the residents until Walmart showed up.

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Everard
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"As to the subject of union dues going to politics, it should definately be opt-in. And as for corporate campaigning, federal law pretty much prevents corporations from giving to capaigns already. In the exceptions, it still limits corporations to donating only as much as the maximum ammount that any individual can give. As to donating to national parties, both labor and industry can pretty much give whatever they want. An issue that isn't covered by this bill."

The same laws that prevent corporate campaigning prevent labor campaigning. But the BIG money that corporations spend (that isn't opt-in) goes to lobbying. Labor unions use dues (that aren't opt-in, but would be under this law) to lobby. If this law is enacted, then corporate lobbyists will have far more power then labor lobbyists.


And, as I said above, labor vs corporate interests are already unbalanced in favor of the corporate interests. THe balancing should be going against corporate interests, this law balances against labor interests. If you think that labor SHOULD have less of a voice then corporate interests, then this law is good. Under any other paradigm, its bad.

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Everard
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"It may be bad for the middle aged shopkeeper who was gouging the residents until Walmart showed up."

Does it count as gouging if the middle-aged shopkeeper was making a smaller profit margin then walmart, on the same items?

"It is usually true that Walmart will put local stores out of business. And if the local businesses were less efficient, then yes there will be fewer jobs performing that function.

None of which is bad for the consumer."

Well, yes it is... a bunch of the consumers now don't have jobs, so can't be consumers anymore.

[ November 07, 2005, 10:00 AM: Message edited by: Everard ]

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Digger
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"...a bunch of the consumers now don't have jobs..."

This notion that jobs are like physical items we possess has always baffled me. The image I get is of widgets on a shelf, each embossed with our name where we can point and say, "That job is mine, none other shall possess it." Unions tend to take this idea and codify it using jingoistic slogans to rally the troops. "UnionYES", "Buy American", and so forth. I'm not saying unions are never necessary, but blind adherence to these tenets is just as bad as blind adherence to any tenet.

As for the jobs-as-widgets viewpoint, that's just not the way it works.

Jobs are services. They are activities we must perform to further a larger goal. If the 'job' disappears through competition or through technological advancement, it frees the holder of the job to pursue a new job. I know, the person who 'lost' the job doesn't see it as a good thing. And I'm not trying to paint a shiny happy people version of reality, but as Smith has taught us, this quest for more efficient use of capital does move us along in a good direction. And the person who 'lost' the job never possessed it in the first place. There's nothing tangible to possess.

When I left corporate America, I didn't take a pre-existing job away from someone else. I created a new job for myself by going into business. And through my efforts, a number of subcontractors and professionals that I hire gain further employment for themselves. All told my business keeps about 5 people emplyed full time in addition to myself. These jobs are 'created' out of whole cloth.

That's my answer to the people who are displaced by a Wal-Mart. Use this as an opportunity to better your position. Find a 'better' job. Create a new job. Whatever you can. No one is promising an easy path. It may be painful and difficult. Them's the breaks.

It is interesting to note that we disparage those who decry job lossess through technological advancement as Luddites and backwards looking. Why is efficiency gained through competition viewed differently?

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by Everard:
Does it count as gouging if the middle-aged shopkeeper was making a smaller profit margin then walmart, on the same items?

...

Well, yes it is... a bunch of the consumers now don't have jobs, so can't be consumers anymore.

You're saying consumer when you mean "the community" or "society".

Supporting this guy's lifestyle for being a small shop owner is not good for most people in the community, or society at large. Among the benefits of a walmart or other superstore:

1. Less fuel burned going from the hardware store to the grocery store to the toy store to the pharmacy to the clothing store.

2. Associated less traffic congestion.

3. Lower prices for everyone living at the community (at the expense of owners of other retail outlets losing their businesses - maybe a few dozen individuals).

4. Shift and middle management positions that were not there previously in the community.

I also think that a GOOD small business can survive. At the other end of a Walmart parking lot in my city, there is a video game store called GameStop (also a chain, but leave that aside). I always go there rather than Walmart. Why?

Because it has personal service, no lines, and their products are not locked inside a glass cabinet.

And why labor unions are bad, is that they want to make sure that they can force a company like Walmart to pass on high labor costs to the entire community, so that a chosen few unionized workers can live larger than their talents dictate.

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javelin
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A nitpick, Drake:

Large shopping centers/stores are always worse for traffic congestion, because everyone is going to the same place, instead of many little place, thus causing congestion for traffic going to this particular place.

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Everard
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"And why labor unions are bad, is that they want to make sure that they can force a company like Walmart to pass on high labor costs to the entire community, so that a chosen few unionized workers can live larger than their talents dictate."

On the other hand, and why labor unions are absolutely necessary, is that without labor unions, laborers are forced into living smaller then their talents dictate because they have no power to compete against the massive power of corporations.

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Lewkowski
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"I was under the impression that WalMart turned out not to be so great for the consumer. In terms of local stores ran out of business, jobs evaporating as those stores close, and the (smaller) pool of new jobs being paid at the minimum possible rate, the end result was a large body of consumers who suddenly have less money to spend, and less choice for the consumers who still have the cash. "

I hope your orginal impression has been corrected. Wal-Mart is GREAT for the consumer.

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by javelin:
A nitpick, Drake:

Large shopping centers/stores are always worse for traffic congestion, because everyone is going to the same place, instead of many little place, thus causing congestion for traffic going to this particular place.

Can be true. Depends on whether the local community works and plans for the load. In the small town where I grew up, the Walmart was situated on the main road out of town. There had already been a previous grocery store on the same plot, and Kmart was further up the same road and part of town. The town (or Walmart?) added a traffic light and a turning lane.

Usually, this relieves traffic pressure in downtown areas where you have lots of pedestrians, schools, parks, etc.

This probably changes very dramatically based on the age and location of the town. My hometown is an old New England town, where business and residential areas are pretty well mixed up near the city center.

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by Everard:
On the other hand, and why labor unions are absolutely necessary, is that without labor unions, laborers are forced into living smaller then their talents dictate because they have no power to compete against the massive power of corporations.

Demonstrably untrue. Stacking clothes in a walmart is just about the simplest job that exists in the universe (outside of government patronage - hello Seattle water commissioner).

Unions protect the great skill of dockworkers to, um, carry stuff? Unions are only viable where employees are easily replaced, either because their job is easy (grocery clerk) or because a lot of people would like to do it (acting).

As I've said in the past, I do respect some of the things Unions have done - especially in terms of the physical safety of workers.

But when Unions threaten people for carrying their own boxes onto a trade show floor - that's when they need to have a little less power.

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