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I am a member of two creative unions in the entertainment industry.  Without them, I'd have no pension or health benefits.  In addition, without them, employers in my industry (in my case, studios & producers) would be able to exploit my services without crediting me properly - in a business in which your credit & your name is as good as money, in terms of hiring for future jobs.  They would be able to continue to reap financial benefits from my work for years to come, without allowing me to share in them.  These are among the many things being in a union does for me.  I pay dues in proportion to what I make.  The more I make, the more dues I pay.  There are some crazy big money high earners in my union, and they pay their fair share to help level the playing field for those of us in the lower income brackets.

This isn't the only reason I'm pro-union.  Please, will you read more below, and help me out with a reality/fact-based defense of some charges made by an anti-union friend?

More reason for me to be pro-union: I have a close family member who is one in generations of union trade workers in a high-risk area of the construction industry.  I've watched for years as he's seen his wages and benefits slashed, the number of men on jobs cut down, and other enormous concessions made in order for his union to remain competitive with non-union workers.  Every bargaining session, his union gives up something in order to keep the basics - health & pension benefits, seniority rules so that those who've worked the longest get the best jobs, and safety regulations on job sites.  In addition, unions train their relative has been forced to work side by side with unsatisfactorily trained non-union workers who've endangered the safety of everyone involved.  This is the case in many of the other construction unions he deals with. Yet as his union continues to compromise,  the only concession management ever gives is "permission" for the union to continue bidding for and getting jobs.

It is in this spirit that I whole-heartedly support the Wal-Mart workers.  Not only that, as a business owner with a product, my former company was once screwed over big time by Walmart.  They really stick it to the little guy with a product, if you're "lucky" enough to get a space on their shelves.  They are the 800 lb gorilla and they know it.

In answer to a FACEBOOK post in defense of the workers, I received this response:

Just FYI, these "facts" are produced by the Federated Grocers Union which is in a battle to the death with Wal-Mart. To the extent Wal-Mart's policies are truly predatory (they charge 300% less for a gallon of milk than the best possible competing grocer, simply taking a loss on every gallon to drive out competition) there are already laws in place to govern and punish those actions and they should be enforced. Most of the rest (size, revenues, point of purchase or manufacture of goods) is simply propaganda from the union trying to demonize a non-union shop. Most of the Fortune 500 has similarly outsourced work overseas because unions have driven up the cost of U.S. labor to a level of non-competitiveness. While Wal-Mart may have spent $7.8 million lobbying in 2011, public unions in California alone spent more than $250,000,000 lobbying during that same period of time.
Please, Kossacks.  Help me with a point by point defense of this garbage.  Fact-based only.  

I am sick to death of the anti-union sentiment in this country.  Sick, sick, sick.  The power of all unions - both of mine included - has been whittled away to the bone over the past fifteen years or so.   Some unions can absolutely be obstructionist - I had a horrible experience with the Teamsters in DC many years ago, with them threatening to shut down a low-budget shoot just because they could; a shoot that technically should not have been subject to union rules at all. Have had great experiences through the years with LA Teamsters however; it's not a uniform thing.  That's because union practices can be and are often reformed with inside pressure from members as well as outside pressure from employers.  Corporations, on the other hand, answer to no one unless their feet (they are people, after all) are held to the fire.

Please, help me educate - not necessarily this guy - but others who might read this anti-union propaganda, which has definitely done its job since it began full force during the Reagan years.

Originally posted to hopesprings on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:18 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (22+ / 0-)

    "The ignorant mind, with its infinite afflictions, passions, and evils, is rooted in the three poisons. Greed, anger, and delusion." - Bodhidharma

    by hopesprings on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:18:04 AM PST

  •  Good info here (10+ / 0-)


    Why You Shouldn’t Shop at Walmart on Friday (and Why the Strike is Good for the Economy) by Robert Reich

    A half century ago America’s largest private-sector employer was General Motors, whose full-time workers earned an average hourly wage of around $50, in today’s dollars, including health and pension benefits.
    Today, America’s largest employer is Walmart, whose average employee earns $8.81 an hour. A third of Walmart’s employees work less than 28 hours per week and don’t qualify for benefits.
    But one reason, closely related to this seismic shift, is the decline of labor unions in the United States. In the 1950s, over a third of private-sector workers belonged to a union. Today fewer than 7 percent do. As a result, the typical American worker no longer has the bargaining clout to get a sizeable share of corporate profits.
    Also, this tweet
    Wal-Mart's poverty wages force employees to rely on $2.66 billion in government help every year, or about $420,000 per store.
    — @ClintonMath via web

    Be the change you want to see in the world. -Gandhi

    by DRo on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:56:35 AM PST

  •  Your friend has a chronology problem. (5+ / 0-)
    Most of the Fortune 500 has similarly outsourced work overseas because unions have driven up the cost of U.S. labor to a level of non-competitiveness.
    From the 1979 UAW/GM contract onward, wage concessions have caused a marked deceleration of union wage growth vis-a-vis non-union wages.

    This downward pressure on union wages happened concurrently with the rapid expansion of outsourcing in manufacturing and service beginning in the 1980s and exploding in the 1990s.

    Pardon our dust. Sig line under renovation.

    by Crashing Vor on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 08:40:06 AM PST

  •  Actually It's Free Trade Laws Removing (6+ / 0-)

    or lowering tariffs so much that it's driven down the cost of importing goods from slave wage countries. Also tax benefits given to companies for moving jobs offshore. Unions as you've seen have been negotiating compensation downward not upward most of this time.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 08:40:51 AM PST

  •  hopesprings - the lobbying number isn't right (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Glen The Plumber, hopesprings, kurt

    I don't have a source but the $250 million amount for public employee lobbying in 2011 can't be correct so I would make them give you an independent source. In 2012 public employee unions in California spent many tens of millions on the election cycle, including the propositions, but that's not lobbying and it still didn't total $250 million. I wonder if all the public employee unions in California even collect $250 million in dues each year? I doubt it.

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 08:57:07 AM PST

    •  Thanks VClib, (0+ / 0-)

      I'd love to get the source for that figure.  And/or the correct figure.


      "The ignorant mind, with its infinite afflictions, passions, and evils, is rooted in the three poisons. Greed, anger, and delusion." - Bodhidharma

      by hopesprings on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 11:21:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here is a fun fact : (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JGibson, hopesprings, kurt

    The Federated Grocers Union is in Australia. It is the UFCW (of which my wife was a proud member for 20 years) that is in a fight with WalMart. Details matter. In 2012 spending on politics by all liberal groups was 407 million outside of campaigns. that number does not breakout by groups. It lumps environmentalists, civil rights, labor, etc. Conservative groups spent 881 million, again not broken out. Public employee unions spent 41 million along with other groups to fight Amendment 32 which would have outlawed union spending on politics in California.

    There are no laws in place banning predatory pricing strategies except during a declared emergency like a hurricane.

    The Fortune 500 started outsourcing work overseas when international free trade agreements made that possible. And when the US stopped charging tariffs for goods from places like China, which refuses to take our goods made in the US. So American brand names in China must be built in China with Chinese labor. See Jeep and Buick for example. This free trade approach has been resisted by labor since the Reagan era. Labor mostly supported Reagan in 1980. then the Air Traffic Controllers Union was destroyed and Reagan lifted the tariffs protecting American Steel production.

    On a similar note, labor needs to educate its members to honor picket lines and not to shop at retailers that are being boycotted by labor. Like Walmart. My wife is currently a member of UNITE. But when she was in the UFCW working in a grocery store her fellow union workers shopped at Walmart. And bragged about it. My brother is in the painters union and operators union and he shops at Walmart and brags about it. Labor needs to look inward and examine whether or not they actually have the loyalty of its membership.

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