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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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Comments

Wendy magillicutty 5 years, 6 months ago

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

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spiderman 5 years, 6 months ago

read Thomas Franks new bookand you will have a better view on the importance of unions.see chart belowspiderman (Anonymous) says:in explaining 'how conservatives rule', Thomas Frankdid an excellent job of illustrating how with the Clinton balanced budget - W began a specific plan (as did Ron Reagan) of increasing federal debt through Dept. of Defense (War/star wars), tax reductions to the wealthy so that now the top 1% own 50% of all the money!Even countries like Brazil do not have this much of an exaggerated income strata separation from the middle class.The Republicans with their SUV's and West Lawrence McMansions - across America have been lulled into complacency by their real estate inflation and big SUVwhile the Bush/Cheney team took the wrecking crew to the economy leaving only OIL & DOD profiteers with most of the cash.read the Wrecking Crew !here is deficit chart of republican vs. democrathttp://www.democraticunderground.com/dis

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spiderman 5 years, 6 months ago

thanks BADBOY,one of my late great-aunts had a super retirement until her death at age 87mostly funded by her husbands union retirement.

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spiderman 5 years, 6 months ago

Thomas Frank spoke specifically about the Republican RNC and extreme right wing beatingdown the unions today in his summary of his new book 'the wrecking crew'.only 8% of Americans are now protected by union negotiations & leadership.dumbing down is what it's called.http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2008/sep...

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Wendy magillicutty 5 years, 6 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 word.how 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?

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notajayhawk 5 years, 6 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.)

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ss18 5 years, 6 months ago

I shure wood joine a union.

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Pilgrim 5 years, 6 months ago

Only if I was anxious to speed up the elimination of my job.

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bndairdundat 5 years, 6 months ago

After 30+ years as a union member I retired in 2001. Just a few short months later 9/11 helped destroy the retirement income of many hundreds if not many thousands of people who were relying solely on the investments accumulated through their working careers. Yes, I did work with a few slackers, but most union members, myself included, took pride in a job well done. I saw recently where some professorships at the university start around $29,000 per year. Ask your Teamster neighbor what his/her potential retirement could be. You would all be Teamsters for this kind of security! I don't have to worry if the company(s) I worked for sell out, risking losing most or all of the "Company" plan. The union was in place to protect all members hired by the company. In many cases I have seen employers ask the union for help to get rid of slackers. The response was always, "You hired them, you fire them. We are not a part of either process. If you have legitimate cause for dismissal there is nothing we can do." Union jobs pay very well in most instances, with very exceptional benefit programs. Yet, many of the union jobs go unfilled. Today money can be made sitting at a desk, typing away, no dirt under the fingernails, no aching muscles from a long day of lifting, carrying, stacking, etc. I don't really blame them, if I was 40 years younger I might give it a try. Every time you clock out from your non union job Friday afternoon with another 40 hour week under your belt, thank a union member. If it hadn't been for unions you would be working 6 days a week, 60+ hours at half or less money. The union jobs set the stage for all the jobs. But I forgot, this is Lawrence. I might as well be talking to the "art" downtown .....

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ss18 5 years, 6 months ago

Unions can help fight for workers' rights when powerful and greedy CEOs are phucking the workers.

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texburgh 5 years, 6 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!

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BABBOY 5 years, 6 months ago

Man, there are so many stupid people on this site. I mean why even bother. I can only assume most have never worked a day in their life and are just professional students or bloggers who are impressed with their ability to post stupid comments.In short, unions have provided high wage workers for people who work off the strength of their backs. Simple economics. What does a high wage workers do with their money? They spend it in your city. Unions are a good thing because they create quality jobs for folks who cannot or not able to get a college degree. They are not something to be afraid of or jealous of because you have a lousy job or you just do understand them. It is true that plants are going overseas. But, they would have done that long ago if it were not for the unions and their contracts. See Wal-mart. The plants are going overseas because the workers in India will work for what no American worker will work for whether they are union or non-union.It does not matter. Too many people do not get it. Too many people buy into what idiots like John McCain are saying and believe liberals, unions, their lawyers or anyone who fights for the underprivileged are evil. I mean talk about buying into the propaganda of your enemy. Soon, it will just be rich and the poor. Do you really think that John McCain, his trophy wife, and his 13 houses gives a crap about your job? The unions were our last hope for preserving the middle class. I hope all your kids can go to college and do something other then drink beer and hope to get a job in marketing. There is not go to be anything to market, build or sell without a middle class driving the economy.But, whatever....

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dminear60 5 years, 6 months ago

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

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jonas_opines 5 years, 6 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.

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Wendy magillicutty 5 years, 6 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!

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lmatt 5 years, 6 months ago

Heck NO. Union's are nothing but a legal form of the mob! Why do you need to work for a union? Over paid employees who dont work hard enough for the money they get. Screw the UNIONS!!!!

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nurse 5 years, 6 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.

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Flap Doodle 5 years, 6 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.

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spiderman 5 years, 6 months ago

of course, because even in the professions the US tax is slanted far to much to benefitlarge corporations.last report by Government Accounting Office?1/3 of corporations paid NO TAX in 2006.

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janeyb 5 years, 6 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?

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acg 5 years, 6 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.

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nverlost 5 years, 6 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.

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The_Original_Bob 5 years, 6 months ago

Snap -Were you able to squash the lemur union uprising?

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autie 5 years, 6 months ago

Absolutely..Not. Unions had their place years ago..that Upton Sinclair thing. But today, they only drive up cost and impair productivity.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 6 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.

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nurse 5 years, 6 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.

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acg 5 years, 6 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.

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Tony Kisner 5 years, 6 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.

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SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 6 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.

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Bowhunter99 5 years, 6 months ago

Unions protect the worthless and promote laziness.... Once the scum bags reach some sort of 'seniority', they just coast the rest of their lives knowing they're untouchable due to 'union rules'.And... out of sheer curiosity... since when did it become illegal to replace an employee? Can you quit at a moment's notice and go to a better job completely disregarding the well being of the employer? I think you can. Can you look for another job while you have this one without telling your employer? I believe you can as well. So why can't your employer do the same? The entitlement generation is in for a rude awakening!

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acg 5 years, 6 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.

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nverlost 5 years, 6 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.

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nurse 5 years, 6 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.

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The_Original_Bob 5 years, 6 months ago

"Where else can you contribute to organized crime through a payroll deduction?" SnapHealth insurance companies.

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Flap Doodle 5 years, 6 months ago

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

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SettingTheRecordStraight 5 years, 6 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!

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 6 months ago

"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."- Chuck Schimmel, attorney, Lawrence"Marion writes:Hmmm.....some lawyer who doesn't realise that he is already a member of one of the strongest and most powerful labour unions in the nation; the American Bar Association, which has as its primary purpose to keep the American people as far from ordinary and simple justice as possible.

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sgtwolverine 5 years, 6 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.

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OldEnuf2BYurDad 5 years, 6 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.

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The_Original_Bob 5 years, 6 months ago

Nah. In some fields they may have a place, but I tend to look upon most of them no differently than policial parties.

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 5 years, 6 months ago

"It's the best thing that ever happened to my bottom line." -acgI thought that was what thongs were for, not unions.

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acg 5 years, 6 months ago

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

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RETICENT_IRREVERENT 5 years, 6 months ago

I joined quite a few unions in my field. I would not have been able to connect all the pipe if I had not glued in the unions and joined them.

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Donnuts 5 years, 6 months ago

Oh, as far as joining one. I would have to admit there are lots of abuses in some of them though. There used to be lots of kickbacks and corruption. The UAW?, oh well I think that is it. Sold out several car manufactures in Michigan and Missouri and made entire communities collapse and put people out of work entirely displacing people and putting them against each other to stay alive.I am not sure if I would join one, the problem is that if you join you might never know if it is a good one to be a part of or not until it is...too late?

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Donnuts 5 years, 6 months ago

I donut work for UPS but I joined a "strike" in 1998 to help with the midrange wage increase for their end of the shipping industry. I was going to write about the differences and I guess the big problem was at some hub in Boston. I did not get the assignment though.

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spacehog 5 years, 6 months ago

I like America, just as everybody else does. I love America, I gotta say that. But America will be judged.-Bob Dylan

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spacehog 5 years, 6 months ago

Hey Killjoy, go work at the Post Office for a while. After the supervisors and "management" mentally hogtie and rape your lazy and worthless ass a few times you might change your mind.....

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lori 5 years, 6 months ago

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

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killjoy 5 years, 6 months ago

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

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blue73harley 5 years, 6 months ago

In the manufacturing arena, I would say no. Unions would only serve to lose any competitiveness we have and push even more jobs off-shore.

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