Monday, July 25, 2005

Unions good? Bad? Long post

We seem to have touched a nerve here. This is good because it provokes dialogue. Let us proceed with more then.

As a citizen, we believe unions once stood for good. We previously stated that they fought the good fight against outrageous and illegal job actions, they pioneered health and insurance coverage, they trained generations of workers coming up behind them and created safety rules and they fought for a living wage and regular pay raises. These were all good things at the time as there were no laws and no recourse for the workers of yesteryear.

Generally, police distrust unions. Part of it is institutional; police have always been the buffer between companies and unions and, as it was, unions were usually bucking the status quo and more often than not, agitating for change by breaking the existing rules to effect these changes. Police enforce the existing rules and aren't usually allowed to pick and choose what laws to enforce, so they were seen as tools of the "oppressors." One of the outcomes of this was the Haymarket massacre.

As a cop and republican, we distrust unions more so than usual. Unions have become calcified dinosaurs that hinder efforts more so than they help anymore. Unions have become the stumbling block that prevents reform and progress. Example: does anyone have any idea how hard it is to fire a union teacher? An incompetent teacher who constantly fails to teach our children? Yes, we know teachers are hamstrung by certain rules of their employers, but if those obstacles are overcome, it is still impossible to fire a teacher who doesn't make the grade. Example: WalMart is trying to open one or two stores within city limits. The city council is caving to lots of union pressure to deny WalMart permits to build and open a store in the Austin neighborhood, even though the aldercreature of this ward is begging for this job generator, not just the store itself, but the construction jobs it will also provide. If any place needs jobs, Austin is near the top. WalMart provides the impetus for massive economic changes, but as it is a non-union operation, unions say "no" and this hurts the community at large. Example: the UAW often demanded hefty pay raises, generous work rules, fought the automation of assembly lines and generally made it very expensive to produce automobiles in the United States. In fact, many manufacturing unions fought for exactly the same things. Is it any wonder that the manufacturing sector of this country is decaying at an unprecedented and alarming rate? Americans demand affordable products and if they can get it cheaper from overseas, they're going to buy it. It's a fact of life.

The only portion of unions that has grown at all in the past few years is the government unions. Every other union is shrinking. Herein lies a BIG problem. Most police and fire departments and many other government employees cannot strike. It's written into existing contracts along with local, state and federal law. They have no power to force the city to its knees in negotiations. Ticket boycotts are illegal and even advocating a job action like that is grounds for firing. Look it up. So when you ask, "Could you imagine Mayor Daley bargaining with Police Officers if there was no union?" we reply "yes, we can." It would be almost exactly the same because we have no club with which to beat the mayor. The only reason we got the contract we did is because of a neutral arbitrator. The union didn't win very much at all because the city didn't agree to very much at all. The arbitrator went by past history and pretty much gave us the raises and increases that we got in past years. We don't blame the current FOP people because the only history the arbitrator had to go on was the old "give away the store" Nolan team people.

Another reason we believe the time of the union has past is that the union has become, part and parcel, an arm of the democratic party. Look at some of the platforms they advocate. Clinton had to submit his entire election and reelection platforms to the unions to get their endorsements. They had veto power over all of it. And all too often, the platforms had next to nothing to do with what union members ethical and moral beliefs were. There are studies that show that although unions endorsed democratic candidates at a ridiculously high margin (something like 90+%), union members themselves voted republican almost 40% of the time. Unions have something that no other organization short of the government has: the power to tax you (dues). The mistake unions have (and are) making is not consulting with their members as to how those dues are spent, especially in the political arena. This is one factor driving away people who would otherwise join unions. It is possible that this fracture in the AFL-CIO will produce something more responsive to its members by denying the national union the dues money it uses to pursue a decidedly liberal agenda. At the very least, it may produce something more along the lines of how their members actually vote.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said. The unions are actually costing jobs . There have been "shows"(housewares, electronics ) at McCormick place that have left Chicago due to the high cost of union labor . My brother was a exhibitor at the Gift show at McCormick place . When he set up his display he used a screwdriver . The UNION shop steward told him he had to hire a UNION person to set up a display if a tool is needed . This was not a elborate display , just glass shelves . The show at McCormick place is no more , the show went to the Merchandise Mart which does not have the strict UNION rules .

7/26/2005 07:22:00 AM  
Anonymous leftisthebest said...

Mr. Moderator, you state things would be the same even if he didn't have union representation. Okay then, you cite some examples, how about these?

Example: If there is no one to represent us, then who negotiates the new contract?

Example: Who represents an officer when he is looking at time?

Example: the commander tries to throw a lackie in some position, bypassing seniority or bid, who takes the stand?

Example: you have nothing to do on a Wednesday in July, who takes your family to Santa's Village?

Why did unions buck the staus quo years ago? The rich controlled everything. Let's see...cut the wages but still make the worker pay the same rent and food prices in the company-owned homes and stores.

Workers had a six-day, 12-hour day without overtime or medical coverage.

And Mr.Moderator, I won't even go into the police of that day who were extremely poorly paid, but received "supplemental" income for breaking up union meetings.

Unfortunately, Mr.Moderator, and I like you, you have been brainwashed by the right wing portion of your party that could care less about you or your family. They care only of money.

7/26/2005 08:08:00 AM  
Blogger SCC said...

Thank you anonymous for your pointing out the fact the Chicago is losing HUGE amounts of convention business to other cities because of onerous union work rules. We had forgotten that one.

To answer leftisthebest:

Answer #1) We didn't say disband the FOP. That would be foolish. But even the FOP admits that we are not a union, we are a Fraternal Order. We have and should continue to have a set of elected members who negotiate with the city for our contract, but we should stop fooling ourselves in that we ever get anything the city isn't forced to give us through arbitration or comprimise.
Answer #2) see above
Answer #3) see above
Answer #4) If that is the only time you do anything with your family, we feel awfully sorry for you. You live in the third largest and probably the most culturally diverse city in the nation. Explore it.

As we said, things would remain the same.

The example you cite as to cutting wages and maintaining rent and food prices is a situation that was unique to the Pullman Railroad Car Company. This was by no means a widespread pratice. And it failed. That's exactly why the unions were successful AT THAT TIME fighting for an 8 hour day, overtime compensation and medical coverage. Finally, regardless of what the officers of that day did or didn't do for supplemental income, they were still caught in a no win situation leading to the history of mistrust between the police and unions that we first pointed out.

And of course, we care about money. I frees us from many other worries. But it is by no means the only thing. We certainly didn't take this job because we wanted to be rich and it is a sad state of affairs that you believe money is the only thing that motivates the right side of the political spectrum as it obviously colors your judgement.

7/26/2005 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous leftisthebest said...

Once again Mr (or Ms) SCC you and the Bush backers and ultra right (led by Rush) falsely portray a viewpoint.

Where do I say money was the most important thing. Where do I cite the importance of money? NO PLACE.

In fact, the point of my thread was the union (in this case FOP) protecting our jobs from interfence from bosses. Oh yea, the Santa's Village example was a joke, but you in your hatred for the left choose to exploit that.

Once again I'll say what I said to Mr. Miderator... If unions are so evil then resign from FOP and join Fair Share. No, you'll not do that of course. I'll say it again the blind alliance to the Bushites and far right is frightening.

7/26/2005 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Bush boy said...

Moderator seems to have touched a nerve lefty. Exploit? Hatred? My my my, you have a short fuse and even shorter tolerence for a light rebuke. It seems the Moderator answered all your points deftly and with a sense of humor. You seem to be the one claiming the entire right "care only about money" (your words) and Mr (or Ms) Moderator correctly points out that in numerous posts on this board, you claim the right is motivated by greed and money and how it colors your judgement. Bravo Moderator. Poor lefty can't even re-read what he/she has typed and attacks a non existant argument

7/26/2005 02:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Bush boy said...

And, as I read through the entire 2-3 months worth of comments, the only person on the board to bring up Rush Limbaugh is....lefty! Moderator hasn't quoted or spoken of Rush ever, but lefty constantly drags him into the argument. Rush must be an easy straw man to knock down, because nothing else leftry tries makes sense in the real world.

7/26/2005 03:14:00 PM  
Anonymous leftisthebest said...

I never said that Mr.Moderator quoted, or referred to, Rush. I brought that phony (Rush not esteemed Moderator) myself.

I constantly hear people saying, "Rush said this, Rush said that," as if it were Bible. Officers also constantly have him on the radio. (When's the last time you heard a P/O with Air America on?) Before you bring it up BB (Bush Boy) some of the goofs on Air America do the same.

My, BB the reason you say I do not make sense is because right wingers like to close their eyes to the plight of the underclass.

P/S I like our Moderator and have not personally attacked him.

7/26/2005 05:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm surprised that any of you take any stock in anything that Rush Limbaugh say. I for one think he's a marvelous comedian. Which is what he is. He comments on the political community and pokes fun at it. Certainly it generally the moderates and lefties that he pokes fun at rather than the right who are the time honored targets but he's still highly amusing. Those of use who consider outself social reformists and what else are policemen but reformists, need not to take ourselves so seriously that we can't see the contradictions and the humor in what we do. In other words, GET OVER YOURSELF!!

7/26/2005 07:04:00 PM  

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