Unions

Discussion in 'Every Day Debating' started by S.J. Faerlind, Jan 21, 2013.

  1. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    5,672
    Likes Received:
    191
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Canada
    Ratings:
    +298 / 2 / -1
    We have this crazy situation here that says that if you wish to work in certain jobs or at certain companies, or even if you want to work in some professions that you MUST join the union that represents workers in that job. If you don't join the union, you can't work there.
    Unions don't affect me in my profession but they have affected other people around me, including my children (their teachers must belong to their union in order to teach).
    So what does everyone think of unions? Have you had good experiences with them? Bad experiences with them? Do you feel they are necessary?
     
  2. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2007
    Messages:
    6,537
    Likes Received:
    232
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    UK
    Ratings:
    +342 / 1 / -0
    Unions come in many flavours although there are two common main types that I know of for workers:

    1) The first type (oldest probably) is the Union that generally aims to ensure that a specific line of work that it represents retains a high level of quality/skill within the trade. Generally speaking this type of union is focused around not just protecting its workers by preventing non-members from working but also by ensuring that those members are working to some kind of standard (often broken into stages)

    2) The second type is the type which is founded primarily to ensure that the workers rights are respected (this type can either focus on a specific area of work or be a general representation - although most types do restrict to a type of work/industry).


    Both types are generally founded on some good principles and today the social and financial barriers to joining most unions are not as restrictive as they were in times past (esp the case for the skill based unions - ie group 1). They also allow a unified front which can provide some strong protections to workers, often those in very low level jobs and pulling lower wages and thus would be unable to weather or mount more significant legal or similar challenges without a mass backing (which is what the union itself provides).


    That said they can become difficult- the UK had a major problem with the type 2 unions who would use their considerable power and influence to affect government and also to push for more and more rights/pay for their members which began to push companies out of work. They can also be dangerous to the country - consider a walk out of all union members in the rail networks or the electrical power supply companies and suddenly you've major problems to deal with. I believe it was the Thatcher era in the UK politics where this came to a head with unions being both too powerful and too bully tactic.


    The skill based ones tend to be a little more sane in some respects, but can also be very hard to get into if you don't meet their demands (which can also require up-front fees for assessment) although many times once you are in they are greatly beneficial. These kind also generally preserve a level of quality in craftsmanship which is often something well warranted as it helps negate the concept of ever cheaper which tends to go hand in hand with ever reduced quality in what is produced to allow for cheaper/faster production.


    I think the core ideas are often quite sound and that if you didn't have unions you'd have other things form around group workers - that said some times they can grow to a size where they become a major risk - you only need a few bad apples at the top and you can have a lot of trouble - like a lot of human things the bigger they get the more risky.
     
  3. JIM

    JIM zombie Turncoat

    Joined:
    May 28, 2008
    Messages:
    6,542
    Likes Received:
    213
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    chasing the zombies
    Ratings:
    +330 / 1 / -0
    i'm union, used to be the union rep for my company in my city before i got promoted.
     
  4. JNK

    JNK King of tards

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2012
    Messages:
    5,909
    Likes Received:
    90
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Bern, Switzerland
    Ratings:
    +138 / 4 / -2
    never had to deal with them... I don't even have a clue whether there is union for scientists...
     
  5. Lokasenna

    Lokasenna New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2013
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Location:
    Durham, UK
    Ratings:
    +0 / 0 / -0
    Since I started teaching, I've been offered membership of the union, but I turned it down. Whilst I think that unions are a good idea, and that a safeguard on employee rights and welfare is very sensible, I think quite a few of them misuse their power. Nor am I convinced they are democratic enough.

    I like to think I make my own decisions in life: if I am unsatisfied with my working conditions, then I shall address my bosses directly. I will not abandon my work to picket just because the Union tells me to do so.
     
  6. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    5,672
    Likes Received:
    191
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Canada
    Ratings:
    +298 / 2 / -1
    And therein lies my problem with type 2 unions... when they misuse their power. I don't know about other places in the world but we have legislated employment standards here to prevent employers from taking unfair advantage of their employees. It seems to me that the type 2 unions do a lot of harm with their power and bullying tactics, rather than a lot of good for their employees... pushing for more and more stuff that businesses/taxpayers just can't afford when their members seem to have an amazing contract already.

    Some examples of stuff I've seen:
    Unions demanding a pay-wage increase for their employees, getting it and then increasing their union dues so the employees (who had no choice but to join) actually ended up with a pay cut...

    Unions grumbling that their members have to take a cut in sick days from 20 to 11 and they no longer can bank them if they don't use them. For normal people who don't have chronic health problems, 11 sick days is more than adequate and the idea of banking sick days is ludicrous to me. Geez... in my job you don't dare call in sick unless you're fevered, incapacitated, hospitalized or throwing up and in normal people how often does that really happen?

    A union representing a specific profession (I would guess this is mostly a type 2 union with leanings toward type 1 as well) who targets nonunion members of the same profession. The non-union people are volunteers who do this out of the goodness of their hearts for their local communities who CANNOT afford a full-time professional arrangement because they just don't have the tax-base for it. Without these volunteers and their efforts, many people's lives and property would be unprotected. The union does it's best to put pressure on these volunteers and make their lives difficult in spite of the fact that they offer no solutions to what everybody's supposed to do without them. :p

    A union try to get in with a very good company and the employees wanted nothing to do with it. They knew they were looked after very well already... kept cutting down the signs the union put up with chainsaws. When the union put up metal posts to hold the sign up... they burned it. I don't think they ever managed to get in there...lol.

    I don't have a problem with professions having restrictions on who can be in them... ie: making sure the people in them know what they're doing. Even my own profession has that and it makes complete sense, especially if someone can cause harm through a lack of training. I think in many cases the government here has already mandated certain standards for certain professions and that is highly appropriate. I just wish the type 2 unions had more checks and balances on them so they can't misuse their power.
     
  7. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2004
    Messages:
    7,784
    Likes Received:
    162
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Not in Amsterdam :)
    Ratings:
    +189 / 0 / -0
    You know, I never understood unions such as they are deployed in the United States (and, as I now understand, beyond). I think that it is up to companies to hire people which they find to be of sufficient skill. Market mechanisms will prevent companies from hiring those unfit for the job. And yes, I agree that government is to step in when certain issues like health or safety are concerned.

    I am pretty sure that mandatory workforce syndication is banned in The Netherlands. Here, unions are free to be joined and there are multiple to choose from. When unions have sufficient following within a sector or company, they are entitled to join negotiations regarding terms and conditions for personnel. Of course, they can be very powerful, but crossing members means they'll probably join another union.

    Looking at it from my experience, the American system makes no sense whatsoever. If anyone please can explain me why there can't be competition in work force representation, for instance. Or how it is even remotely possible that union membership might be mandatory. Then please do enlighten me :)
     
  8. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2007
    Messages:
    6,537
    Likes Received:
    232
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    UK
    Ratings:
    +342 / 1 / -0
    The problem is that the market is like a mob - its generally quite stupid and often only thinks in the short term - furthermore the market is comprised of people who generally are thinking of themselves not the market itself. As a result market pressure doesn't always work - heck one can argue that market pressure results in a reduction in the quality of goods. Just look at your average products today and you can see that many are made with only short term life spans and are as limited with features as possible - and the market encourages this. My sister being a prime example of someone who, when items are around a year old, starts to want to upgrade even if the items she has work perfectly find for all she needs.

    I think that having the unions who promote product quality are an important check as they are focused around the product itself more than the market (who are thinking of fashion and their own pocket) and your typical company manager (who is also thinking of profit and their own pocket).

    It's that age old battle between product designers and company mangers - if you leave it in the hands of the market you leave it in the hands of the company manager - a union based around the quality of the product at least allows establishment of a base line set by designers/craftsmen.


    UK side the only union I can think of that is based around craft still is the farriers - I'm sure there are other unions but they don't come to mind (most of the other unions that I'm aware of are more worker rights based).
     
  9. Turambar

    Turambar Harebrained Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2004
    Messages:
    7,784
    Likes Received:
    162
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Not in Amsterdam :)
    Ratings:
    +189 / 0 / -0
    How's that working? Is consumerism or product quality better within the anglo-saxon brand of things?

    I fear you are mixing up guilds with labour force there, OR.
     
  10. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2007
    Messages:
    6,537
    Likes Received:
    232
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    UK
    Ratings:
    +342 / 1 / -0
    I might well be mixing up guilds and the more labour focused unions - however I also think that some modern unions (at least I think in the USA) are also more akin to a guild or are half and half - which is why I tried to slip the idea of the union into 2 groups in my first post.

    The guild idea certainly does harken back to the concept of the product quality based group - although in the past guilds were also established as much to restrict the number of potential skilled workers as to protect the quality of their product; by limiting the numbers and the social/financial backgrounds of those joining their guild there was a greater degree of control that they had over what many do today (where many barriers are much more open or removed).
     
  11. S.J. Faerlind

    S.J. Faerlind Flashlight Shadowhunter

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Messages:
    5,672
    Likes Received:
    191
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Canada
    Ratings:
    +298 / 2 / -1
    I think there is a distinct difference between a "guild-type" union and one that intervenes between workers and management to gain workers a better employment deal. Over here I think the "guild-type" union is more uncommon though we also have "professional associations" that self-regulate and police their own members for quality. They also have the power to discipline them. Technically, these are not really unions however. When I posted the thread originally, it was more to discover what people thought of the other type.

    I'm not sure that I agree that guilds are needed for quality assurance rather than relying on the market for that OR. If consumers demand a quality product, someone will provide it, whether it is made by a guild or not.