We benefit from unions

This letter is in support of the American worker.

Suppose a woman is fired because she complained about being harassed. Or someone gets fired for not agreeing to do something dangerous or illegal.

In those situations, the person fired would be able to sue because there are labor laws in this country to prevent outrageous abuse of employees. Those laws exist because unions lobbied and negotiated for them.

Every person in this country who has been employed or collected unemployment has benefited from unions, even if they did not belong to them.

Lose the right to bargain as a group and, poof, those protections will vanish.

What is at stake in Wisconsin is not taxpayer money. The unions have already conceded the money. It is the right to join together to bargain for fair treatment for workers.

In America, people usually cherish their rights. Without the right to join together to defend one worker who is being treated unfairly, all workers can simply be picked off, one by one.

While I do not defend any actions by individual unions, I can promise this: Once the right to bargain collectively is lost, it will be lost forever.

For those people who say unions destroyed the once-thriving manufacturing base that existed in this country, I would like to suggest that it was with the unions that it reached its peak, and that if it has reached its demise, the cause could very well be elsewhere.

Claire Gamache, Lewiston

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Comments

You can look at it that way or....

I can see your point. And maybe to an extent that's true. But I don't believe that's the biggest reason. They want to be as productive as possible. And to do that, they need the best employees. If they don't reward their best employees, they'll simply go somewhere else to where they can get better pay, benefits, ect. It's simple competition through a free market and that principle has a hard time in unions where promotions can be/are based more on who's put their time in instead of simply who's better.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

In response to Zachary

I have not doubt everything your father said about his experience with the union is true, however, you are making my point exactly. Most non-union companies want to stay that way and because of that make sure to treat their employees so that they will not want to join a union. That is a benefit to those employees that would very soon disappear without the existence of organized bargaining. Just look at the benefits the State of Maine gives to its upper level employees who are not in the union. Why? Because they want to keep them motivated to stay out of the union.

But...

I have several friends who are teachers. From talking to them, when the first started there is a sort of grace period where they don't have to join. But then after a year or two, I can't remember the exact length, there is tremendous pressure to join and teachers who don't join are not treated fairly. I have no links for this Ronnie, sorry, this is just coming straight from the mouths of new teachers. As far as your comment Claire, I respect it but disagree. I had a great discussion with my father last weekend on unions. He, as well as just about everyone in my extended family lost their job in the International Paper strike in '87. Very long and hard story, shortened, he said he realized his mistake of putting such a large portion of his responsibility and life with someone else. He left the union and got a job with a non-unionized company. As he said, he worked hard and the company he works for has rewarded him for over 20 years now. He has a better life now then he probably ever could have if he stayed at IP when they called workers back. If someone comes into the company he works for and is slack and/or lazy, they are let go. He can recount that working at IP, there were many unqualified and/or lazy people who not only kept their job, but were promoted because of tenure. Again, no links for this, just another story from someone who has direct experience with unions.

RONALD RIML's picture

There are good and bad with both -

But that does not justify the Union Busting going on in Wisconsin when the Unions made the concessions asked for.

You were in the Military - no unions, but certain 'semi' and non-official organizations one may have qualified for. One was not 'required' to join, but then again - one was not considered a 'Team Player' And these groups normally 'educated' the slackers rather than covered for them. This occurs in any organization which has pride in itself.

The unions in which I worked didn't want lazy deadwood endangering their co-workers. Ask your father why his put up with it. Maybe they were a different bread of cat.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

What's fair

To my knowledge no one is required to join a union to teach in a public school. Those who do not join however are required to pay a share of the expenses incurred by the union in negotiating benefits for them. Otherwise these guys would be coasting along getting their benefits for free while their fellow workers would be picking up the tab. Not very fair when you think about it. I'm also under the impression that unions cannot use dues money for political purposes and are required to collect separately for such activities. I still maintain that workers are better protected from abuse when they are united than when they go it alone.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Nobody cares

I find it interesting that hardly anyone here seems to care about fairness to workers or their rights to bargain. We have been so brainwashed about being competitive that we no longer look at what we are supposed to be competitive with. The current reality is that those companies that left the US to go to Mexico and Indonesia have mostly left those countries in favor of mainland China where there are workers that do not need to be paid at all because they are prison labor. This is what we are being asked to be competitive with. Instead of competing we should be boycotting these companies and buying local whenever we can. And most of all we need to protect our right to bargain.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

I know several people who

I know several people who have bargained in their own behalf with their employers their entire lives and have done quite well. This mob mentality that motivates unions into banding against employers is exactly what ruined the auto and steel industries in this country. A person earning $18 an hour just can't afford to buy a car that was built by someone earning $42 an hour. Simple math.

 's picture

Protect the right to .. what?

The usual translation of that is to protect the right to join a union. If that's important, then so is the right not to join a union. I hope you will support the movement to convert Maine into a "right to work" state, where you can take a state job or teach in public schools without being coerced to participate in something you disagree with.

RONALD RIML's picture

We Opt to Stay out of Union so We got Maine Jobs!!!

Lucky Us!! Sahib very good.....

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

So that's how the Brooks

So that's how the Brooks Brothers suits are made.

 's picture

May I opt out of the

May I opt out of the retirement system? May I negotiate my own wage and benefit package. Yes, indeed, if I'm a confidential employee. Otherwise, nope, I'm stuck with what the union says is the best I can get. It seems most union supporters here are happy to believe what they're told.

It is possible, or it used to be, to opt out of the retirement system. Oh, it's still withheld from your pay all year, but in December you submit a form to request (beg) to get it back. After a few weeks, while union workers "process" the form, you'll get your money - every penny. No interest, of course, because the state spent the money, it didn't invest it.

You have to go through this every year. Meanwhile, make sure Social Security and Medicare are handled properly.

Yup, it's easy to work for the state of Maine, as long as you accept what the union says you're worth and forget what your education and experience could command in the DPS - Dreaded Private Sector.

RONALD RIML's picture

Union doesn't run the retirement system - the State does.

The Maine Public Employees Retirement System oversees Teacher Members --> http://www.msrs.org/Active%20Members/Teacher_Members.htm

And Mike - have you ever been to 'Contract Negotiations. I have - both sides of the table.

Trust me - The Union will always say that you're worth more - education and experience - than what the School Committee says you are worth. The School Committee elected by your neighbors.

 's picture

The state and the unions

The state and the unions sleep in the same bed. No, I have never been to contract negotiations. I have never been a member of a union and not one of my jobs over a 40+ year career came with any retirement benefits. For each one, I sent resumés, attended interviews, conducted my own negotiations and more than once walked away from offers I didn't like. All that cost a lot in time, effort and money, but it never once occurred to me to ask taxpayers to pick up the tab.

You're saying that public employees, on average, are too dumb to rate offers on their own without "guidance" from a union. I know a lot of teachers and, trust me, Ron, they are, on average, way smarter than you give them credit for. But, yes, most of them wear blinders when it comes to unions.

RONALD RIML's picture

Mike LeBlanc - Master of Innuendo

If teachers don't need unions, Mike - why do businesses need the Chamber of Commerce, et al?

 's picture

No comparison.

No business is compelled to join the CoC. The CoC is not funded by taxpayers.

RONALD RIML's picture

Neither is the union funded by taxpayers.

Nor is any teacher compelled to join the union.

 's picture

Of course they are compelled.

But, using the tried and true game plan of bullies everywhere, the compelling takes place behind closed doors, well away from disinfecting sunlight.

A public employee union is funded by their extorted dues (see above) withheld from the employees' paychecks, paid by taxes. Just because it isn't direct doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

RONALD RIML's picture

All votes take place in public session

And most arm-twisting, no matter it be labor, political manuevering, purchasing and acquistition (other than bid-opening), etc ad-infinitum takes place at the intersection of Closed-Doors Ave. & Good Ol' Boy St.

RONALD RIML's picture

Once money is transferred to teacher it is no longer 'Tax' $$$

Nice stretch of the imgaination, though, Mike. Any other lies and disinformation you wish to spead???

RONALD RIML's picture

You do have a right not to join the Union.

But you must pay a 'fair share' - less than Union dues - for the Union's cost incurred in bargainning for the wages and benefits which you enjoy.

Greg Rose's picture

How can you disagree here?

It is interesting Mr. Riml that people have given your above post a "thumbs down" disagree. You are stating fact, not opinion.

RONALD RIML's picture

For the 'Ignorant' - it's merely a 'Beauty Contest' here....

Kind of like being 'popular' in High School'

 's picture

It's Ron's opinion that

It's Ron's opinion that everyone enjoys those wages and benefits as the best they could possible get.

Historical note: 61% of the Maine electorate voted against Baldacci in 2006.

RONALD RIML's picture

Really?? Since when are you speaking for me???

It may be more you speaking out of both sides yoiur mouth......

Greg Rose's picture

and a personal note...

I didn't vote for Baldacci either...

 's picture

I wonder why ...

... Maine's Majority didn't raise a commotion back then. Could it be the switch in parties? Nah, they couldn't be that superficial.

Domain Name:MAINESMAJORITY.ORG
Created On:16-Dec-2010 02:30:52 UTC <-------- When the tantrum began
Last Updated On:14-Feb-2011 03:49:45 UTC
Expiration Date:16-Dec-2011 02:30:52 UTC

Greg Rose's picture

Sure they could....

Of course Maine's Majority could be that superficial. Certainly when Baldacci was elected, those who didn't vote for him could have organized and had a tantrum of their own. We ALL have the right to our tantrums regardles of party affiliation.

 's picture

We did organize.

The result became known on this past election day. I'm with you. We must not let anyone infringe on our right to throw a peaceful tantrum.

Greg Rose's picture

new here yes...

I did kind of get that drift. Facts? Truth? Who needs to pay attention to those things anyways? Apparently, all one needs to do is look to the Maine Heritage Policy Center for guidance. Sorry. I forgot for a moment that people had free will and the ability to think and process information for themselves. Sad isn't it? Why think for yourself when the MHPC can do it for you? It's a sad state of affairs we are facing...

 's picture

Did you also get the drift

Did you also get the drift that anyone who disagrees with Dan is a right-wing wacko? It is indeed sad when that sort of ad-hominem attack passes for discussion. It's also sad that you didn't mention any of the left-wing sites that provide the thinking for many posters here.

Greg Rose's picture

Independence

I agree. There are plenty of ifluence peddlers on the left as well as the right. I am a registered Independent whose personal politics are usually to the left of center on most issues, not all. I examine the issues and their inluence on my life and the overall benefit to society as a whole and make my decisions accordingly.

I have said in other posts that it is my opinion that party politics, regardless of which party, have caused the decay of our system of government at every level. I actually had some respect for Paul Lepage when, on the night he was declared "winner" of the gubernatorial race, he said that he would be "going to work tomorrow" at his job at Marden's. That respect didn't last long... he's kept talking... and everytime he's opened his mouth, he's inserted his self-righteous foot into it.

RAYMOND FRECHETTE's picture

Making it harder to terminate

Making it harder to terminate (fire) people does not really help anyone; the slackers take advantage of this and drag a company (or State) down. If one is not happy at their work it is time to move on. Same thing if their supervisors are not satisfied with their production. Look at the results of union membership and strength---how many textile mills, shoe shops, and even old line paper producers left in Maine. Is IP still there? No one wins with exhorbitant wage demands and making it tougher to terminate people. Safe labor laws are not just a province of unions, they are the province of State inspectors sent and funded by the Legislature. Government employee unions cannot force the government to move out of the country as private industry has, but we are reaching the point of not being able to fund the promises made long ago. It is time to stop the foolishness and while we MUST HONOR promised benefits, from this day on we must admit we can no longer afford these promises. I say let the elected officials set aside so much money to fund the equivalent of popular 401k plans annually for Government employees. As far as guaranteeing them a job, I say the State and its directors and supervisors should be able to terminate anyone at any time for any reason.

Mike True's picture

attack on unions

I agree with you completely dear writer. Let me add that the attack on Unions is political as well. The only 3 contributors in the top 10 that were not rightwing corporate pacs were 3 public service unions, the SEIU, the AFSCMU and the NEA. (by the way none were in the top 4!) The motivation is to beat down the Dems and the middle class - ver dangerous if we do not take action.

 's picture

Once is enough.

Mike, you're not going to get more people to agree with you by repeating your posts. Perhaps you spilled some koolaid in your keyboard making some of the keys sticky.

Mike True's picture

repetion

sorry - sorry

Mike True's picture

attack on unions

I agree with you completely dear writer. Let me add that the attack on Unions is political as well. The only 3 contributors in the top 10 that were not rightwing corporate pacs were 3 public service unions, the SEIU, the AFSCMU and the NEA. (by the way none were in the top 4!) The motivation is to beat down the Dems and the middle class - ver dangerous if we do not take action.

One trick pony

If someone argues with you long enough Ron, sometimes longer than others and in this case not long at all, it comes down to tax the rich. I noticed, again, that you chose to demonize Bush I, Bush II and Reagan, arguably rightfully so for this topic, but chose to leave out Obama who just pushed to extend the same tax cuts that you're speaking out against. But, like you don't think spending cuts will get us out of this mess, I don't think raising taxes alone, especially only on the rich, will get us out of this. Raising taxes just a wee bit across the board, cut spending big time, and let that evil 'ol free market do its thing is the way to go.

RONALD RIML's picture

And my 'One Trick' is Truth... You should climb aboard.

Do you remember this link?

----> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_debt_by_U.S._presidential_terms

Reagan, Bush I, and Bush II raised the national debt a total of 62.7% GDP while all other Presidents since WW-II lowered the national debt during their administrations.

And Obama? Bush II handed that poor bugger not one - but two unfunded wars fought entirely on the nations' credit card - along with the Global Financial Crisis of 2008.

I've left him out of it because he didn't cause this mess - he inherited it. And he's going to catch hell from the Republicans for doing the exact same thing Reagan and both the Bush's did. Or he'll catch hell from the Republicans for doing - unlike Reagan and the two Bush's - taking the bull by the horns and raising taxes.

So he can't win with you guys. So why include him.

Show me a plan where you can cut enough to pay down the debt. I doubt you can.

By the way. General Motors - which many anti-Obama people were going to throw to the wolves - just made it's first profit since 2004. It looks like government saved jobs.

http://www.mlive.com/auto/index.ssf/2011/02/general_motors_profit-sharin...

"General Motors this morning reported its first annual profit since 2004 and said it will reward hourly employees with the company's largest profit-sharing checks ever.

The automaker says payouts to approximately 45,000 hourly U.S. workers will average $4,300. In addition, roughly 3,000 employees from GM Components Holdings will receive an average of $3,200.

Officials did not disclose profit-sharing for GM's 28,000 salaried workers, but the Associated Press previously reported the majority of those employees will receive 4 to 16 percent of their base pay.

GM reported a $4.7 billion profit for 2010, capped off by a $510 million fourth quarter, the latest chapter in a remarkable turnaround following the company's government-backed bankruptcy in 2009."

Mike True's picture

one trick pony

We need to raise the tax rate on the wealthier earners in this county -- it is called shared sacrifice for the welfare of the nation. We also need to cut spending - especially military spending - we are overly commited in two wars in the Mid East - and Obama was faced with the option of either not renewing any of the Bush tax cuts or renewing them all - his choice was to renew for only those making less that 250K per year. Could not get what he wanted so he had to do the best he could. So do you want to lessen government regulation? Cut medicare? Cut Social Security? Cut the military budget? I made a choice -- can you?

Mike True's picture

one trick pony

We need to raise the tax rate on the wealthier earners in this county -- it is called shared sacrifice for the welfare of the nation. We also need to cut spending - especially military spending - we are overly commited in two wars in the Mid East - and Obama was faced with the option of either not renewing any of the Bush tax cuts or renewing them all - his choice was to renew for only those making less that 250K per year. Could not get what he wanted so he had to do the best he could. So do you want to lessen government regulation? Cut medicare? Cut Social Security? Cut the military budget? I made a choice -- can you?

Jason Theriault's picture

Both are needed

The problem is that neither side wants to have compromise thrown in their face come next November, so they want to stick to their guns.
But your right, we need let the tax cuts expire and cut spending.

That said, the reason Democrats focus on increasing taxes on the upper tax brackets is that in the past 30 years, income disparity has increased significantly. There are probably numerous reasons, from globalization to deregulation to technological changes to the marketplace. If you try and pin it to one cause, your pushing an agenda. However, the fact remains that middle and lower class income has seen little to no growth, while upper class income growth has accelerated, making it look like the "rich" are getting richer while the "poor" are getting poorer. So Democrats seek to put pressure on upper income growth through taxes.

Will it help? I don't know, but I doubt that any one thing will be some sort of silver bullet. We need to spend a ton more on education, but spend it well, because the best defense against "class" divisions in the populace is education.

 's picture

Margaret Thatcher put it

Margaret Thatcher put it best: "Socialism works great until you run out of other people's money." We have run out. When bad legislation, so prevalent in the last 40 years in Augusta, meets arithmetic, arithmetic will always win.

RONALD RIML's picture

And what happens to Capitalism???

When the Big Kids have levereged all the money (Capital) away from the Little Kids?

Besides to the Winners go the Spoils - and they go to the Caymen Islands.........

 's picture

When unions in private sector

When unions in private sector companies elect representatives to meet with the management or owners it is to decide how to divide the profits. When the public sector union reps meet with management it is to decide how to divide up the taxpayers money. The problem is the taxpayer has no say it how much they pay except at the ballot box. Since the American public has an affinty for electing sleazy, venal, power-hungry liars to political office with no sense of the fiduciary duty with which they are entrusted we will continue on the path we are on. If I kept spending more than I took in eventually I would have declare bankruptcy, so why would the cities and states be any different? The answer is not higher taxes but less spending.

RONALD RIML's picture

The answer is paying down the debt by returning

to the taxes we had before Reagan and the two Bushes irresonponsibly cut them to unsustainable levels.

You'll never be able to cut spending enough to get us out of this crushing debt.

 's picture

Cut taxes to 1980's level?

Cut taxes to 1980's level? Heck yeah, for once you actually make sense.

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