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Would you join a union if one were available in your field?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on September 25, 2008

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Photo of Zain Akber

“Yes, I would. I used to work for UPS, and it’s very beneficial to be part of a union. They watch your back and take care of you, so I think it’s a good idea.”

Photo of Eugene Delaini

“I wouldn’t have. I think there have historically been a lot of abuses of union power. I think a good employer is going to find the best people, and that’s their challenge. If you want to be successful, you have to surround yourself with great people. I think it’s a natural process.”

Photo of Ametria Tate

“Sure, for job security and to be sure my rights were protected. And also to make sure that my work was respected by my employer, so they couldn’t just fire me and find someone else on a whim.”

Photo of Chuck Schimmel

“I would think almost certainly not because it would be completely unnecessary for lawyers to unionize. I think most lawyers can take care of themselves well enough.”

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Flap Doodle 9 years, 5 months ago

Where else can you contribute to organized crime through a payroll deduction?

lori 9 years, 5 months ago

As a nurse, yes, I would join a union if one were available.

sgtwolverine 9 years, 5 months ago

No. Not a chance. I've seen the UAW think of itself over the health of the automakers far too many times for me to think unions have any real place in heavily regulated and litigated modern America.Although since I am self-employed, it would be kind of funny if I started a union and lobbied my boss for better wages and a better working environment. Those would be some interesting negotiation sessions.

nverlost 9 years, 5 months ago

Just look at the Airline and Automotive industry and tell me how valuable the unions are. They choke their companies into cutting cost to pay their over inflated salaries, pension plans and top notch health care plans they think they are owed. These companies continue to lose money every quarter and now we have the automakers taking a $25 Billion handout from the gov't to feed their machine and pockets under their screams that it's for "green energy research". Who pays for the unions in the end; you and I someway or another through higher airline ticket prices, demanding flight schedules, cars that are shoddily made and all due to cutting costs to pay their union labors. They once served a very important role in the American workforce but it's only here now because of politicians pandering to them.

killjoy 9 years, 5 months ago

Unions have no place in modern America. They protect the lazy and worthless.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 5 months ago

I love the attorney's response. "I'm a big boy, I can fight my own fights."Me: I think the idea of a union went from "let's not be oppressed by big business" to "let's be the oppressors of big business (taking small businesses down with us)". Unions are the #1 reason why the U.S. is no longer the greatest manufacturing nation in the world.

nurse 9 years, 5 months ago

My husband belonged to a union for 30 years and recently retired at the age of 48 with full retirement benefits. Throughout the years, the union provided us with wonderful health insurance and great job security. Right now, the union hires workers into their apprentice programs and they make a very good wage and once they become trained journeyman their salaries go up even more. The problem is - no one wants to be a skilled labor/craftsman anymore as it doesn't involve sitting on your butt behind a desk and checking your e-mail all day long. To those who are bashing unions, don't worry, they will go away, as we are a country full of American cry-babies who don't really want to work hard or basically work at all.

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 5 months ago

Unions had a valid place in our economy at one point in time - maybe decades ago. They're antiquated now and do more to hurt American productivity than they do to help those they supposedly serve. And, their politics are so far to the left, I couldn't stand it!

acg 9 years, 5 months ago

Yes, have and did. It's the best thing that ever happened to my bottom line.

acg 9 years, 5 months ago

nurse, I couldn't have said it better myself. I see a lot of bashing re: the unions on here from people that have no idea what they're talking about and have never even belonged to a union organization. I also loved the whole "so far to the left" comment. That nearly made me fall outta my chair. Next time you get off of work after a 40 hour week instead of a mandatory 60 hour week, thank a Union. Next time you're sitting your lazy butt around the house on labor day, swilling beer and bbqing, thank the Union. These organizations were formed to help you all, but go ahead and spit in their faces, they don't mind. They make way more than those of you doing the same job for some scabby ass contractor that has no problem whatsoever with hiring an illegal alien to do your job for even cheaper than you do. See, I happen to know for a fact that we're watched so closely by the DOL, our people wouldn't even try to hire an illegal. Can you say the same thing about your employer? I've been working under these so called unscrupulous union reps for 12 years and all I see is hard working guys that were plucked out of the field and are doing their best to better the working conditions and benefits for their brothers. They don't make much more than I do. But, yep, they're all money sucking scum that are lining their pockets with the workers dues. LOL. I have an idea. Read a book. Learn something. Don't just regurgitate what Rush told you to say.

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 5 months ago

acg,Your comment about the 40 hour work week explains why unions were of value 100 years ago, not today. The current iteration of the American union is one of a left-wing propaganda machine. Have you ever heard them on 90.1 FM?? No thanks. I will never belong to or support a union.

nurse 9 years, 5 months ago

Bowhunter 99, my husband never "coasted" through a day of his working life as a union member. Up until the last day before he retired, he was on the job when he was supposed to be and did quality work - as any skilled craftsman in a union would do. Your comments that unions protect the worthless and promote laziness is totally incorrect. But, as I stated before, we are headed in the direction of unions becoming a thing of the past, so you will get your wish. We will have illegal aliens come to our country and do work at a very cheap wage, because - yes (to their credit), they actually want to work. We, in America, on the other hand, have millions of folks on some sort of government "system" and hey, that is a much easier job than going out and learning and trade and working hard and honestly to make your way. Personally, I think we should be worrying more about people who could work (at any job for that matter, union or non-union), but don't, because our tax payer dollars are making that possible for them.

Flap Doodle 9 years, 5 months ago

TOB, I had to bring in some trap-door buffalo as out-of-town-talent to restore order. It got ugly there for a while.

acg 9 years, 5 months ago

No, I don't listen to talk radio. It's a waste of time for anyone who has an actual brain. I don't know what Unions you are listening to that have a hard left slant, but of my membership of 1000 in just the state of KS, a very large portion of them are registered republicans because they're afraid of losing gun privileges, they're made up of the "salt of the earth" folks who don't believe in gay marriage or abortion rights and support what the GOP used to stand for. Now, are you telling me that you're listening to one Union organization blather about on a talk radio program and you're assuming that all members of all union organizations feel the same way? You know what they say about assuming, right? It just makes you a d-bag.

texburgh 9 years, 5 months ago

I have always been a union member and I always will. Because i appreciate a good wage and health care and a 40-hr week and OSHA and all the standard of living improvements brought to me and every other American worker by the brave union struggles of the past. I'm sticking with the Union!

Tony Kisner 9 years, 5 months ago

If I worked in a highly skilled trade, a nurse for example or an airline pilot where there is a small pool of people with the same marketable skills, I would join a union. By leveraging their collective bargaining power they effectively increase the amount of dollars they can sell their labor for. Conversely if I am a director of HR I will consult with other HR managers and artificially set the price I will pay for unskilled and skilled labor if possible. I agree with Chuck the lawyer if you can set a high bar for entry into your profession or guild you may indeed not need to bargain collectively, i.e. becoming licensed to practice your trade. It is all about supply and demand and how much you can affect the market rates when selling or buying.

acg 9 years, 5 months ago

If a member didn't want any portion of his dues being used for a political purpose, then they have the right to become what is called a Beck Objector. That states they wish their dues to not be used for PAC donations, etc. Every member is explained this at the time of their intiation. If it was such a problem for them, they would sign the little piece of paper that says "none of my dues to politicians, please" and that's that. They choose to use a portion of their dues money for PAC purposes because everyone knows the only way to get votes for issues affecting your specific organization is to buy them.

janeyb 9 years, 5 months ago

If business owners had to pay illegal immigrants a fair reported wage and provide benefits they wouldn't hire them. It has nothing to do with what good workers they are. I know a business owner (Topeka) who had a problem with one of the illegal hispanic staff and when he fired the guy the whole staff walked out. He didn't realize they were all cousins. When one has to close his restaurant for lack of staff it hurts profits. With the focus this week on Golden Parachutes and CEO pay, why is the LJW trying to beat up on union employees?

Wendy magillicutty 9 years, 5 months ago

gotta jump in on this one...there are work related abuses in EVERY field, unions included. Bank presidents embezzle but they don't do away with Banks. Oh wait. hmmm...well, the principle is sound, it's just the people in positions that screw up; bad things can and will happen every place these dang people are. Oh and are you really so naive to think that a big corporation's board of directors, making 300 times what you earn and constantly watching the bottom line, is going to just "do the right thing" and take care of you just because you think you're entitled to a lunch break or retirement benefits (promised on the 1st day of the job) or clear overtime guidelines or days off or a holiday or paid vacation or....on and on and on...AND a big thing people forget, your legislative body can override your hard earned contract in a heart beat. Overtime guidelines anyone? Vote SMART!

nurse 9 years, 5 months ago

nverlost, I'm sorry, I'm obviously not as smart as you, so please clarify for me.... So, are you saying that union workers don't show up, don't work hard, and complain? Please correct me if I'm wrong. Also, is it a good thing that a Mexican worker will move on to the next job for a better opportunity? Is that good for the employer? I guess I'm the simpleton here, because I absolutely don't understand your response at all. I do know, however, that many union workers are hard workers, trying to raise a family, own a home, and do the right thing.

dminear60 9 years, 5 months ago

Marion: Do you have any facts to back up that load of crap?

notajayhawk 9 years, 5 months ago

I did so, twice, in the past. The only thing either union did was spend a lot of my money to promote a political agenda I didn't want. As to the question of whether I would do so, in the future? Never, ever, again. (Incidentally, my salary is now approximately 45% higher than it was when I was a union member - and I don't have to pay dues.)

SettingTheRecordStraight 9 years, 5 months ago

acg, I didn't say that "all members of all union organizations" feel the same way. That would be ridiculous. However, I think it's safe to say that the majority of union leadership in America tilts to the hard left on issues affecting the economy and the rights of job providers. Unions also (generally) use their members' dues to fund the campaigns of politicians on the far left.The worst of the bunch may be the NEA/KNEA.

nverlost 9 years, 5 months ago

nurse - how do you think the unions got to the situation you elude they are headed? They did it to themselves after years of greed. Many business owners I know love Mexican employees because they show up and work hard, without complaining, but will move on to the next job if they see a better opportunity. Gee, why wouldn't I hire a Mexican laborer over a union laborer? Seems pretty simple doesn't it.

jonas_opines 9 years, 5 months ago

Well, I didn't the only time I had the opportunity, but I can't say that it was a principled stand. More of an indifferent one. Perhaps the best world would be one in which there were no unions but the constant impending threat of unions, to keep the owners respectful of their workers.

Wendy magillicutty 9 years, 5 months ago

the union I am a part of did NOT take union dues for political agendas but would gladly accept separate donations for the political agenda. plenty of people spent countless hours pouring over voting histories and supposed platforms of each and every candidate, something I wish I had more time to do. meanwhile, while we sat in meetings with you and your boss (like the time they forced you to use your vacation instead of funeral leave) you were getting paid by the company, we had to rely on the union to compensate. while we were at conventions asking your elected official why they voted____ on the bill, we relied on the union to compensate our wages or sometimes we even used our own days off and vacation days, just to get you what you already deserve. you're welcome; you get to stay at work and do your job and get paid while your union reps work to help you keep your job, keep good wages and keep management to their did the union pay us? union dues. that's right, you chipped in and helped fund your own representation; now doesn't that feel good?

Wendy magillicutty 9 years, 4 months ago

u are welcome and thank you for your dues as well!

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