January 11, 2016

"The Supreme Court seemed poised on Monday to deliver a severe blow to organized labor."

Adam Liptak reports on the oral argument this morning in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, a case — it should be noted — about public-sector unions.
“The problem is that everything that is bargained for with the government is within the political sphere,” [Justice Scalia] said.
That's important, because under the precedent, "the Supreme Court made a distinction between...  [f]orcing nonmembers to pay for a union’s political activities... [and r]equir[ing] nonmembers to help pay for the union’s collective bargaining efforts to prevent freeloading and ensure “labor peace.” But if it's all political activity, as it arguably is with a public-sector union, then there's a First Amendment right not to be forced to pay for any of it.

93 comments:

Gahrie said...

I am a member of three teachers unions (local, state, national) by fiat. At one time I was my site's rep, because no one else would take the job. I have personally benefited because I am a union member.

All of that being said, I am philosophically opposed to government employees being allowed to join a union.

Brando said...

It's a pet peeve of mine when people are talking about public sector unions and they talk as though we are about to go back to the days of 20 hour workdays in the mines and child labor if the government sector union does not get to force people to pay dues for them. If there's a good defense of a public sector union's practice, then make it--otherwise, you're being irrelevant.

Chuck said...

The California Teachers Association's various tens of millions of dollars in political activism, reported by the nonpartisan ballotpedia:

https://ballotpedia.org/California_Teachers_Association

Millions each, for gay marriage, abortion rights, state taxes, prescription drug plan benefits... and of course more than $26 million to fight school choice.

Chuck said...

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin was savaged by his organized labor opponents for suggesting in a speech that Franklin Delano Roosevelt disfavored public sector unionization.

Problem is, Walker was right:

http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2013/aug/13/scott-walker/Did-FDR-oppose-collective-bargaining-for-governmen/

"TRUE."

Sebastian said...

"if it's all political activity, as it arguably is with a public-sector union, then there's a First Amendment right not to be forced to pay for any of it." 'Arguably"? As Gahrie already said, following FDR, government employees should not be allowed to mobilize or bargain against the public and corrupt public officials in doing so.

Rick said...

as though we are about to go back to the days of 20 hour workdays in the mines and child labor if the government sector union does not get to force people to pay dues for them.

How do alarmists get away with hyperventilating over being subject to the same labor circumstances as 85% of working Americans? All those things they claim will happen? They don't.

tim maguire said...

Free riding? Free riding off a group you are forced to let speak for you?

rehajm said...

I've always wondered why it was a natural assumption a labor union was a better negotiator than every individual. A young exceptional teacher would be better served on his own rather than suffering with the seniority bias of a big labor contract.

David said...

"poised to deliver a blow"

The brutes!

garage mahal said...

Blow to workers? YESSS!!!!!!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I fully support people's freedom of association right to join a union ( including public sector unions ). Or to not join. The union should have the right to collect dues from its members, and nobody else. The union should have the right to negotiate for its members, and nobody else. The union may not negotiate any sort of closed shop requirement. ( Just as a non-union member could not negotiate with their employer to exclude union members from being hired. )

No forced speech. No free rider issue.

Gideon7 said...

"All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

Thorley Winston said...

I think the argument that the pro-public sector union side is making is that the workers who choose not to pay the union dues will be “free riding” off of the “benefits“ (e.g. higher wages, benefits, work rules, etc.) that the union provides since it probably won’t be able to distinguish between union and non-union employees in a practical way.

I understand the “free rider” argument but I think it’s problematic to charge someone for a “service” that they didn’t ask you to provide particularly when the “benefits” may not be worth what you’re seeking to charge them.

For example, if I’m a single employee with no children and the union put its focus into negotiating for a more generous paid maternity leave, it’s hard to see that as a “benefit” that I should pay for. Particularly when the end result is that workers who decide to have children will be more likely to be gone from the workplace and I’ll be expected to cover their workload while they’re out.



Ignorance is Bliss said...

garage mahal said...

Blow to workers? YESSS!!!!!!

You are correct, the current system is a blow to workers who do not want their money forcibly taken by a union that does not represent their interests. That is why the workers sued. Hopefully the Supreme Court will side with the workers and not require them to pay agency fees.

David Begley said...

This case will be decided before the general election barring unusual circumstances.

Dems will go wild if they lose. Earthquake.

Occupy SCOTUS. Just like Madison.

garage mahal said...

"Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost!" -- Ronald Reagan

PB said...

It's not that a labor union would be a necessarily better negotiator, but that the employer being negotiated with is the government and elected officials. When you are also primarily responsible for electing the party you are later negotiating with, they will be in your debt and not negotiate in the best interests of the people.

The primary outcome of this has been drastically unfunded pensions. Oh, and Social Security and Medicare - which are correctly termed Ponzi Schemes that if attempted in the private sector would land those involved in federal prison.

garage mahal said...

"workers who do not want their money forcibly taken by a union that does not represent their interests."

Easy remedy: don't join the union, grab your bootstraps, pull them up, shut the fuck up, and go work somewhere else.

MayBee said...

It's important for government workers to have a union to protect them from the government.

MayBee said...

Government is the name for the things we all do together. Except the people who work for the government. They need a union.

cubanbob said...

Can't trust elected officials to negotiate in good faith the taxpayer's money. Public sector pay and benefits should be required to be voted on by the taxpayers in generally scheduled elections.

Mingus Jerry said...




Now get back to work or you're all fired --- Reagan to PATCO

Ignorance is Bliss said...

"Suck it!" -- Ronald Reagan, to PATCO

Bricap said...

I don't object to the right to collective bargaining, whether public or private sector. I do think that a union has to earn its membership, though. If I'm not mistaken, this case concerns a teacher who is more interested in a reduced class size than a higher salary? That would be one of the best arguments I've heard for not being required to pay dues. (What is the counter to that, anyone?) Ignorance Is Bliss summed it up well at 12:38 PM today. I do not like the idea that a union is supposed to represent everybody whether union or nonunion, either.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

garage mahal said...

Easy remedy...

Sure, that would be easy. Or they could fight for justice. That is the route they decided to take.

MayBee said...

Garage mahal said:
Easy remedy: don't join the union, grab your bootstraps, pull them up, shut the fuck up, and go work somewhere else.


Or, if you want to be in a union, go work somewhere other than the government.

tim maguire said...

Nice to know we can always depend on garage mahal for the mean spirited barely on-topic comic relief.

The Drill SGT said...

So Althouse,

1. Who's are the parties of the suit? The CTA or the State?

and yes, I did read the article and can't tell since the State AG is the one mentioned having written the brief and if you believe that.

2. So if "Agency fees" are equal in cost to "Union Dues" where do the underpants gnomes come up with all the millions for PACs?


garage mahal said...

"Or, if you want to be in a union, go work somewhere other than the government."

N9t sure of other states, but in Wisconsin nobody was ever forced to join a union. Not one. That's just of many Republican lies.

President-Mom-Jeans said...

I'm predicting a bad day for Bitchtits when the decision comes out.

Much stomping of pudgy feet and gnashing of teeth (in between bites of fried foods).

Ignorance is Bliss said...

garage mahal said...

N9t sure of other states, but in Wisconsin nobody was ever forced to join a union. Not one. That's just of many Republican lies.

Was anyone ever forced to pay money to a union in order to get or keep their job?

Michael said...

garage Why would anyone feel it necessary to have protection from or bargaining rights with an all benevolent government? The government would never hurt anyone or cheat anyone or be unfair to anyone.

Pookie Number 2 said...

Easy remedy: don't join the union, grab your bootstraps, pull them up, shut the fuck up, and go work somewhere else.

Someone smarter than Garage (such as a chew toy, a moderately worn sock, or perhaps a dessert plate) would wonder whether this easy remedy should also be applied to people demanding a minimum wage. Garage, alas, will continue to confuse workers and unions.

Michael said...

In the alternative we could require all school children to pay union dues in which case, as Shanker famously noted, they would themselves get representation.

n.n said...

A labor form of union in the private sector.

A republican form of government in the public sector.

Establishment of monopolies under organized labor and democratic government lead to violation of civil and human rights.

gadfly said...

garage mahal said...
"Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost!" -- Ronald Reagan

Reagan was at a 1980 campaign rally specifically talking about Lech Walesa's Solidarity Trade Union in Poland which featured work stoppages against the Commies. One year later, Dutch fired 11,000 PATCO air traffic controllers for an illegal strike by federal employees that "imperiled public safety."

Because of restrictive contract work rules and unethical, often illegal, actions on the part of unions, it is no wonder that only 11% of all workers are paying dues. It is significant that more than 80% of union members now work in government-paid jobs where strikes are prohibited. Just move on, because nothing political is happening here!

traditionalguy said...

Open Shop government jobs. It's about time.

garage mahal said...

"Garage, alas, will continue to confuse workers and unions."

Brilliant. Unions are comprised of non-workers.

gerry said...

Garage quoting Ronald Reagan is wonderful!

Ignorance is Bliss said...

garage mahal said...

Brilliant. Unions are comprised of non-workers.

That does seem to be the case every time I have to visit the DMV.

Real American said...

"Should the teachers’ argument prevail, public-sector unions across the nation, already under political pressure, could lose tens of millions of dollars and find their effectiveness diminished."

You say that like its a bad thing.

eric said...

"Brilliant. Unions are comprised of non-workers"

And example of Garage opening his mouth wife and inserting his foot.

My laugh for the day, although I don't suppose union workers would think Garage is funny.

Peter said...

The "free rider" argument would be moot if unions were not required to represent those who chose not to join. Perhaps its time to revisit labor law so that's not the case?

In any case, claiming there's a real choice to not join the union in non-RTW states is disingenuous, as the difference in price between "agency fees" and full union dues is often trivial, and if you don't pay full dues you'll still have to work under whatever terms the union negotiates, but you'll no longer have any say in what the union does.

Paying mandatory agency fees seems very much like paying taxes, yet if unions are not governments then why do they have the authority to tax? If my neighbor mows my lawn after I've asked him not to, should I be obligated to pay for the "service" (especially if he also mowed my garden because he figured my yard would be better without it)?

eric said...

Wife=wide. Autocorrect!!!

Pookie Number 2 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rick said...

Peter said...
The "free rider" argument would be moot if unions were not required to represent those who chose not to join.


The "free rider" argument doesn't make any sense. It's true the unions have a free rider problem, but why has government taken it upon itself to solve their problem?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Rick said...

The "free rider" argument doesn't make any sense. It's true the unions have a free rider problem, but why has government taken it upon itself to solve their problem?

The government creates the free-rider problem. The NLRA* requires unions to represent all workers in the worksite/job category that the union covers. Union members occasionally trot out this fact to argue that Right to Work laws are unfair. What they never mention is that the unions vigorously oppose changing the law to remove the requirement that they represent non-members too, as that would reduce their overall power.

*I don't remember, but public sector unions might be covered by a different law with a similar provision.

Pookie Number 2 said...

Brilliant. Unions are comprised of non-workers.

Well, then, they must be the exact same thing, then. The same way you must believe that corporations are people, because they comprise (note accurate word usage) people.

You are a stupid, stupid person.

Birkel said...

None of us has nearly enough time to comment on each of the stupid comments left by "garage mahal". Perhaps we should each take a shift.

I nominate "Pookie Number 2" to assign our working hours and collect from "garage mahal" his dues for our Correcting Stupidity Union. After all, he is the founding member.

SGT Ted said...

No one should have to give money to a private entity in order to hold a public sector job. The military runs just fine without unions. There's no reason for public sector unions to exist.

Public sector unions are just a money laundering operation for the Democrat Party election campaigns.

MikeR said...

As is usually the case, pro-union people (here represented by garage) seem to live in some kind of alternate reality. Their comments rarely make any sense to those of us who hold regular jobs from which we can be fired at any time, and are okay with that. That is, the other 85% of the American people. Join the club, union workers! It isn't that bad; for some weird reason, our employers don't fire us on a whim very often.

Krumhorn said...

When schoolchildren start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children. - Albert Shenker

- Krumhorn

garage mahal said...

"The same way you must believe that corporations are people"

A corporation can poison the water of a Republican, make them pay to clean it up, and rely on the Republican and their abject stupidity to fight for their right to continue to do so. It's as if Republicans just don't hold jobs.

Eric said...

Brilliant. Unions are comprised of non-workers.

Hah. That's the way it always looks when I have to deal with them.

Pookie Number 2 said...

I nominate "Pookie Number 2" to assign our working hours and collect from "garage mahal" his dues for our Correcting Stupidity Union. After all, he is the founding member.

I'll get right on that, although based on his comments, Garage Mahal seems too stupid to have any money.

For example:

A corporation can poison the water of a Republican, make them pay to clean it up, and rely on the Republican and their abject stupidity to fight for their right to continue to do so. It's as if Republicans just don't hold jobs.

I think somewhere in Garage's rather unevolved brain, he's been made aware of the damage that Democrats do to minorities. This particular incomprehensible mess of a paragraph, bereft as it is of logic and coherence, seems to be a typically feeble attempt to project this sort of damage on Republicans, which is what the partisan unintelligent (around these parts, we call them "Garages") tend to do.

Apparently that's easier than distinguishing between 'unions' and 'workers', which is just too much of a cerebral stretch for Garage.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I propose formation of the FABC, Federation of Althouse Blog Commenters. Membership and dues will be compulsory. 100% of dues will be assigned to candidates selected by a majority vote of the membership, and if garage doesn't like it, he can go comment at little green footballs

TomHynes said...

If I were a worker in a union shop, i would prefer to negotiate my own deal"Pay me $1 an hour more than the union workers. In exchange, you can fire me any time you want for any reason." Most employers would jump at that offer, and most employees would make the same offer, destroying the union. Therefore, unions demand laws that say they must represent all workers.

Michael said...

Garage
A corporation can poison the water of a Republican, make them pay to clean it up, and rely on the Republican and their abject stupidity to fight for their right to continue to do so. It's as if Republicans just don't hold jobs.

Sort of like our EPA and poisoned rivers. Is that what you were thinking?

FullMoon said...

Garage whispered:
A corporation can poison the water of a Republican, make them pay to clean it up, and rely on the Republican and their abject stupidity to fight for their right to continue to do so. It's as if Republicans just don't hold jobs.

There are no Republicans on welfare. Just friends we haven't met yet,

The Godfather said...

@garage: Thanks for participating in the discussion. You make it much more amusing. Keep it up. (I mean it, no snark. Your ideas may be loopy, but they make a real contribution.)

Birkel said...

TomHynes has the measure of the situation, exactly.

samanthasmom said...

I was a coerced member of the teachers' union. At one point my union negotiated a contract that cut the pay of anyone with less than 5 years of experience in exchange for a raise for people nearing retirement. The older folks tried to convince the younger teachers it was a good deal or them, too, because it would mean a higher retirement pension. There was a mass exodus of newer teachers from the school system, and many of the teachers leaving left teaching all together. The response from the older teachers- "Teaching isn't about money. If they were dedicated to the profession, they would have stayed and waited their turn."

Simon said...

I am deeply skeptical of this case. Not because I have any affection for Abood, mind you, but because I am not at all sure that the First Amendment applies to this case in the first place. When the government relates to a person not as their government but as their employer, we should treat it as an employer, not the government; think of the Garcetti case, for example. The California rule at issue is essentially a rule of employment that happens to be embodied in a statute rather than an HR directive. While I realize that this isn't the ground on which the case has been argued (although at least one amicus raises the point), it does make me reluctant to overule Abood when the unions would win under a correct approach anyway.

PianoLessons said...

Chuck is correct - when Walker said FDR opposed government employees unionizing, Walker was right.

And we Madisonians know what happened with Act 10. Worse abuse (and I know of hundreds) I heard of was a Monroe WI Elementary School with a List of students' parents who donated to Walker posted in their faculty lounge.

I predict SCOTUS will come down against the teachers' unions (and other government unions) as I heard what Kennedy brought up....Whoever writes this book about the death of the teacher unions in USA really ought to give Scott Walker some credit.

cyrus83 said...

If unions are really as wonderful as they are said to be, they should end up keeping most of the members and keep most of the dues coming even should they lose this case. The only possible way a public union should be worried is if they suspect they will lose a lot of members and a lot of money should they lose the case. But that begs the question, why do they suspect they will lose a lot of members?

Oddly, should unions lose, one thing that may hurt their membership is the number of benefits protected in state constitutions...which kind of reduces their value. If the pension is already constitutionally protected, you don't need the union for that. And with Obamacare, you don't need the unions for healthcare. Which doesn't leave a whole lot of other stuff to negotiate over, unless anybody thinks that public employers are suddenly about to get very stingy with days off or other ancillary benefits.

madisonfella said...

Not only should government workers be banned from organizing a union, they shouldn't be allowed to vote until they are retired.

I'm not allowed to choose my own boss, so why should they?

Mark said...

Saying "No" should always be an option.

And Garage, unions are organisms that feed on production. (Please note, if you can't distinguish between "labor" and "production" you probably lack the capacity to distinguish between masturbation and intercourse.)

Robert Cook said...

"Not only should government workers be banned from organizing a union, they shouldn't be allowed to vote until they are retired.

"I'm not allowed to choose my own boss, so why should they?"


Bad case of sour grapes, eh? Just because you have no say over your conditions of work, organized workers should have their legal right to vote as citizens abrogated?

"And Garage, unions are organisms that feed on production."

Unions are organizations--people with a commonality of interests joined together, working toward achieving common goals...you know...democracy!

Robert Cook said...

"I've always wondered why it was a natural assumption a labor union was a better negotiator than every individual. A young exceptional teacher would be better served on his own rather than suffering with the seniority bias of a big labor contract."

It doesn't matter how good a negotiator any given individual is--and many individuals are not good negotiators for themselves--if the organization the individual hopes to negotiate with refuses to bargain. The individual has no power to influence the organization's decisions regarding pay, working conditions, hours, etc., etc. (You know, sort of like a king and his subjects...a lone individual challenging the king will simply be banished from the kingdom, or cast into a dungeon--or hanged or beheaded--while a group of the king's subjects, working together to petition the king for relief from their grievances--or from the king--have somewhat better chances of achieving at least some of what they want.)

damikesc said...

I fully support people's freedom of association right to join a union ( including public sector unions ).

Disagree vehemently. Nobody on EITHER side has THEIR money specifically on the line. The government officials get donations from the unions to give away other people's money and to protect them. The unions get their benefits for their donations.

Easy remedy: don't join the union, grab your bootstraps, pull them up, shut the fuck up, and go work somewhere else.

Why should they have to work somewhere else? Provide any legal justification for forcing somebody to join a union to get a job.

N9t sure of other states, but in Wisconsin nobody was ever forced to join a union. Not one. That's just of many Republican lies.

They just had to pay. Big difference. Using your logic, you went ape shit over Act 10 for, literally, no reason whatsoever.

A corporation can poison the water of a Republican, make them pay to clean it up, and rely on the Republican and their abject stupidity to fight for their right to continue to do so. It's as if Republicans just don't hold jobs.

You misspelled EPA there.

And I'd buy the need for unions being needed if the government didn't have more people lose their job due to dying than due to being fired. Or one can argue that the government is perfectly competent and perfectly efficient and nobody is extraneous.

Robert Cook said...

"For example, if I’m a single employee with no children and the union put its focus into negotiating for a more generous paid maternity leave, it’s hard to see that as a 'benefit' that I should pay for. Particularly when the end result is that workers who decide to have children will be more likely to be gone from the workplace and I’ll be expected to cover their workload while they’re out."

?????

How are you "paying" for that benefit? When one is a union member, one pays dues to help fund the union's functioning. There is no a la carte dues-paying, where each and every benefit the union negotiates for its members requires specific additional dues payments. One is paying dues for the whole of the work does and benefits provided by the union for its members; if some members use benefits that others don't use, it's not costing any of them any more than they would be paying in dues otherwise. If one is single now, it's possible one may be married in a year or five or ten. One day the once-single union member may need to make use of the paid maternity leave benefit his or her union negotiated way back when he or she was young and single.

I suppose you think a childless member of a community should be exempt from paying taxes intended for the local public school system, eh?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Robert Cook said...

Bad case of sour grapes, eh?

What you quoted was from madisonfella, so more a case of a sour troll than sour grapes.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Robert Cook said...

It doesn't matter how good a negotiator any given individual is--and many individuals are not good negotiators for themselves--if the organization the individual hopes to negotiate with refuses to bargain. The individual has no power to influence the organization's decisions regarding pay, working conditions, hours, etc., etc

So you believe that teachers have nothing of value to offer schools? I guess I have a higher opinion of teachers than you do.

Robert Cook said...

"So you believe that teachers have nothing of value to offer schools? I guess I have a higher opinion of teachers than you do."

Your question is a non-sequitur. You're inferring something that is not implied in my comment. Whatever value schools have derives from their teachers. What does this have to do with anything I said?

Pookie Number 2 said...

What does this have to do with anything I said?

You said that "The individual has no power to influence the organization's decisions regarding pay, working conditions, hours, etc., etc." In the case of teachers, either that's because they have nothing of value to offer, or the political types that make employment decisions in the current educational system don't appreciate value.

You may well have meant the latter - it's certainly true, and yet another inevitable unfortunate consequence of bureaucratic decision-making.

Larry J said...

Brilliant. Unions are comprised of non-workers.

In the area of public sector unions, the government has far more employees than actual workers. There is a difference. Workers do real work.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Nothing non-sequitur.

You said the individual has no power to influence the organization's decisions. But the individual has the power to withhold their labor. If the school wants that labor, they have to offer compensation that the individual is willing to work for.

The only way they would have no power is if their labor was of no value to the school.

Maybe you meant that they have no power to force the school to pay above-market rates for their labor. That would be true.

damikesc said...

How are you "paying" for that benefit?

You're aware that benefits aren't free, right? Every benefit has a cost attached to it.

One is paying dues for the whole of the work does and benefits provided by the union for its members; if some members use benefits that others don't use, it's not costing any of them any more than they would be paying in dues otherwise.

If you're paying the same whether you want it or not, you're not making a solid argument for the need for paying dues. If I clean your house and demand you pay me, even if you don't ask me to clean your house, I've hardly done you a service.

If one is single now, it's possible one may be married in a year or five or ten.

Then it will be worried about then.

Also, just so you know, that reasoning was why insurers didn't cover birth control for years.

One day the once-single union member may need to make use of the paid maternity leave benefit his or her union negotiated way back when he or she was young and single.

...and if they don't?

What about the unions who seek to punish younger employees to benefit the older?

Birkel said...

damikesc:

You are aware that Robert Cook does not believe in The Dismal Science of economics. As a collectivist Robert Cook does believe there is a free lunch; if only the right people were in charge, this time it will be different.

Mockery is all the Leftists on this blog deserve.

PatHMV said...

Robert Cook, in the hypothetical given, the single, childless union member is paying dues that are being used to negotiate better working conditions for OTHER people. The union has taken his money and used it to help negotiate a contract that is less favorable for the individual employee described in the hypothetical.

In the real-world example given by another commenter, the older teachers in the union used their control over the union machinery to negotiate a contract that benefited them at the expense of the younger teachers. The union did not negotiate better working conditions for all employees, but preferential treatment for the older teachers with more seniority. Do you believe that is fair, and that the only recourse the negatively-impacted younger teachers should have is leaving the profession altogether, or accepting the disparate treatment until they gain enough power within the union to change the results?

More generally, the individual DOES have the power to influence what the pay and other working conditions offered by the employer. If the employee quits, because the job doesn't pay well enough, there is a cost to the employer. He must expend resources to find another employee willing to do the job for the offered pay and conditions, and risk not having the work done if he can't find such an employee. if the conditions are truly terrible, then the business won't be able to find enough employees and they will go out of business.

Now, I'm speaking generally, not in absolutes. Certainly their are examples in history where local economic conditions were so depressed (coal mining territory comes to mind) that employees had few realistic options other than to accept substandard wages and dangerous working conditions, because the costs of moving to another region of the country were so high.

But we're not living in those times. NOW, today, unions in this country are a major drag on productivity that focus primarily on political issues rather than real working conditions.

james conrad said...

Public service unions have become nothing but slush funds for the democrat party, it's long past time to abolish this scam.

Robert Cook said...

"Robert Cook, in the hypothetical given, the single, childless union member is paying dues that are being used to negotiate better working conditions for OTHER people. The union has taken his money and used it to help negotiate a contract that is less favorable for the individual employee described in the hypothetical."

No, the union is taking each member's dues and negotiating for pay and an array of benefits for all of its members. This does not mean that every member needs or will avail himself of each and every benefit negotiated for and this does mean that those who don't need every benefit included in the contract provisions are receiving a contract that is less favorable to them. By definition, a contract made for a cohort of workers cannot be tailor-made to each individual within the cohort. (In the same way, we cannot pick and choose how our tax monies are allocated; they just go into a big pool and are spent as the tax collecting government body deems necessary and appropriate. Not every taxpayer needs or will benefit by everything the taxes are used to fund, but the community as a whole benefits.)

"In the real-world example given by another commenter, the older teachers in the union used their control over the union machinery to negotiate a contract that benefited them at the expense of the younger teachers. The union did not negotiate better working conditions for all employees, but preferential treatment for the older teachers with more seniority. Do you believe that is fair, and that the only recourse the negatively-impacted younger teachers should have is leaving the profession altogether, or accepting the disparate treatment until they gain enough power within the union to change the results?"

This is not fair or desirable. I don't know the particulars of this case, but with the ongoing and unceasing war against all unions in this country, some unions are making the unfortunate--but sometimes possibly unavoidable--decision to agree to contracts with such staggered pay and benefit levels simply in order to get a contract at all.

(End of Part 1)

Robert Cook said...

(Part 2)

"More generally, the individual DOES have the power to influence what the pay and other working conditions offered by the employer. If the employee quits, because the job doesn't pay well enough, there is a cost to the employer. He must expend resources to find another employee willing to do the job for the offered pay and conditions, and risk not having the work done if he can't find such an employee. if the conditions are truly terrible, then the business won't be able to find enough employees and they will go out of business."

In case you hadn't noticed, large employers have no compunction letting workers quit--or even firing great masses of workers--in order to pump up their bottom line. Even successful and profitable employers cut benefits and slash payrolls in order to enhance their stock prices, profiting those running the company at the expense of their workers. Individual employees have very little to zero power to compel an employer to pay him or her any more than the employer decides it is willing to pay.

Now, I'm speaking generally, not in absolutes. Certainly their are examples in history where local economic conditions were so depressed (coal mining territory comes to mind) that employees had few realistic options other than to accept substandard wages and dangerous working conditions, because the costs of moving to another region of the country were so high.

"But we're not living in those times."

We ARE living in those times. In fact, we're headed toward becoming a third world economy. We're facing the possibility of another catastrophic recession this year, (and we've never really recovered from the 2008 crash). Jobs have been eliminated by automation or off-shored by the hundreds of thousands over the last couple of decades, and this will continue. Real unemployment in this country has been estimated at about 22%, (not the false figures of 5% or so proffered by the government, which redefines "unemployed" to arrive at a fabricated low rate of unemployment). To the extent jobs are to be had, the great majority are in low-paying no-benefits service jobs, (clerks, food servers, bartenders, etc.).

Most of us are living as if the life we got used to in America these last few decades will continue forever, and that life is already disappearing, not to return. Expect things to get worse.

SGT Ted said...

Unions are organizations--people with a commonality of interests joined together, working toward achieving common goals...you know...democracy!

Like corporations, IOW.

Meade said...

"Like corporations, IOW."

Many unions are even incorporated.

Todd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ken in tx said...

I taught in public schools, as a second career, for nine years. I had a two year leave of absence that I spent in graduate school upgrading my teaching certificate. So that was 11 years of exposure to the culture of the education establishment. I didn't have to join a union. There were two that I could have joined but it wasn't required. I didn't because I didn't want to pay the dues or go to any more meetings than I had to. Much of what many people blame on teacher's unions, i.e., tolerance of incompetent teachers, political correctness, anti-Christian religious bias and anti-conservative political bias in the classroom and principal's office are not the result of unionization. They are the result of the culture of the education establishment that is promulgated by the colleges of education in our universities, throughout the nation. To correct the problem, you have to start there. Unions only make it worse.

Todd said...

Dang "zombie fingers...", that should have read:

Robert Cook said...

Tell you what, since no one around here and no big businesses know how to do it "right", why don't you tell us of the business(es) that you have started and are successful and employing lots of people and paying them great salaries and giving them great benefits.

If fact, as you know how to do it "right" and have demonstrated through your actions that you do, why not write a book explaining this to everyone else so that we all can enjoy the wisdom and experience that you have gained running large and successful businesses!

What, what? You are not running large and successful businesses that employ lots of people? Oh, never mind...

Unknown said...

And that is why public sector unions should be illegal.

Gahrie said...

You are not running large and successful businesses that employ lots of people?

Comrade Cookie believes that that is the government's job......

gregq said...

garage mahal said...
"workers who do not want their money forcibly taken by a union that does not represent their interests."

Easy remedy: don't join the union, grab your bootstraps, pull them up, shut the fuck up, and go work somewhere else.


Let's turn that around, Garage, shall we? You want to join a Union? grab your bootstraps, pull them up, shut the fuck up, and go work somewhere else.

When employers get that freedom, I'll listen to your suggestion about what people should do when the gov't wants to force them to pay off a union.

Robert Cook said...

"You are not running large and successful businesses that employ lots of people?"

You're behind the times. Today, to run large and successful businesses, the required operating principle is to employ ever fewer and fewer people, and to the extent employees must be retained, to employ more people in foreign companies where the pay scale is below the American living wage, and as few as possible domestically. To the extent domestic employees must be retained, redefine them as "independent contractors," or hire permanent temps--temp workers who are kept in their assignments for years--so that no benefits are required and the pay rates are inconsistent with maintaining what is considered a middle-class standard of living.

Todd said...

Robert Cook said...

A lot of stuff that shows he never has been involved in any significant way with running an actual business nor has he given realistic thought to what is involved with same...

1/13/16, 7:29 AM


My point exactly.