Reform for Unions

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As they currently stand, I am anti-union. I don't believe they should be abolished because everyone has a right of association, but they severely need reformed. I am reading a book that briefly went over the problems with them, and I want your opinion on what it said.

1. Every state needs right to work laws. These laws essentially state that if a company has a union, not everyone has to join. That is, when union representatives negotiate contracts, you aren't forced to join and pay dues to the union just because you may benefit from it. Losing your job for not wanting to join a union is coercion and unduly gives unions extra funding and power from people who may not support them.

2. Unions should not be involved in politics. Union members are forced to pay dues, and billions of dollars of these are spent on political efforts. Some unions also help people get out to the polls, or say they support a certain candidate. As far as I know, union members don't get a vote as to who gets this money, so people may be supporting a candidate that they don't like just because they joined the union. The concentration of power in these few top union leaders to manipulate politics should not be allowed. 

3. Unions should be company-wide, not industry wide. Companies often operate in different states from one another and there are different costs of living, corporate cultures, and lifestyles. This will cause inefficiencies, as not all companies can afford the same things. Additionally, this again gives too much power to unions. Unions are not a government, meaning they should not be able to force an entire industry to either comply with union demands or go bankrupt. In the same way it is illegal for corporations to collude and price fix, it should also be illegal for a large union to wage fix for multiple companies.

If all of these regulations were placed on unions, I might see myself supporting them. If you know of any additional regulations or have any criticisms, let me know.

:D
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I'll admit that unions are not something I am an expert in. But I will give my opinion. 

Every state needs right to work laws. These laws essentially state that if a company has a union, not everyone has to join.
These laws are usually fine on paper. But the impression I have gotten is that they are usually an attempt by companies and governments to limit the power of a union. You are incentivizing people to undermine the union. You can get all the benefits of membership without paying anything. Thus significantly less people will join which. This greatly increases management's power over their employees. For example, if only half the employees are unionized, then a strike has much less impact on the company. They would be able to continue to operate, albeit in a reduced capacity. This would almost guarantee that companies could beat unions in a labor dispute. 

So to me, it looks like these types of laws are designed to weaken and break up unions. 

Unions should not be involved in politics.
I somewhat agree with this point. But I would say that we need to get all large dollar contributions out of politics. This isn't just a problem of unions. Companies make billions off the work of their employees. But those employees have no say in which politicians those profits go to supporting. Often, corporations will support politicians who want to undermine the rights of those workers. So I would say this is a much larger issue than just unions. 

Unions should be company-wide, not industry wide.
I can see the logic in this one. Keeping unions limited to one company seems reasonable to me. But if a union is small it is much easier for a company to try to push around. If we were to have a rule like this I would argue we also need much stronger protections for unions at the same time to make sure that they have a solid bargaining position against management. 
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--> @HistoryBuff
Thanks for responding. I'm no expert myself, just looking for some community feedback.

Yes free loaders can be an issue. However, forced unionizing as a term of employment is also a problem. You have a freedom of association. That also means you cannot be forced to join a group. It will have an effect on the power of a union. Also, this is partially related to the next point, they can support activities than you don't support. When you donate money to them, they do things other than just negotiate contracts with that money and you can be morally opposed to those. Overall, it seems better economically for businesses in states without the right to work laws. There is higher productivity, employment, etc. 

I agree, corporations shouldn't be able to donate to political campaigns, either. I think that unions should overall be treated like a business(related to my point 3 as in they shouldn't have large "market shares" over labor in an industry).

I'm glad we can agree on this final one. I do see some potential problems for small companies, and perhaps there should be some protections there for them. I'm not sure what they would be or if they should be applied to large unions as well, though. 

Another point is that I don't think government unions are a particularly good idea. Conflicts of interest and differences in balances of power make it a bit sketchy.

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I am absolutely for reform #1 and against #2 and #3


The reason why I am against 2 and 3 is because people have a right to assemble and lobby for changes, even at the workplace.

The reason why I am for #1 is because anti-right to work laws essentially creates labor monopolies. When there is no competition for labor, the quality of labor drops dramatically. You can observe the effect of labor monopolies where businesses end up producing shoddier and more expensive products than businesses that have a competitive workforce based on merit, not union membership status.
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If you are against labor monopolies, I am surprised you are against number 3. As I explained to history buff, it creates an essential monopoly on labor. They can go on strike and hold entire industries hostage. Kind of what we are seeing with GM now. Also, I think that this is very similar to corporate collusion with price fixing. Instead it is labor unions colluding on wage fixing. 

I can understand why you would be against number 2. I'm a bit conflicted on it myself, but I generally believe in reducing concentrations of power (especially in the federal government, but in other other places as well). Freedom of expression is protected by the constitution, but sometimes different exceptions are placed on businesses vs individuals. For example commercial speech.
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I agree
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Nah, 3 isnt possible without #1
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Regarding #2 I have a question I want to ask to sort of get an idea of things of where you stand on the issue

You argue that "Union members don't get a vote as to who gets this money, so people may be supporting a candidate that they don't like just because they joined the union. The concentration of power in these few top union leaders to manipulate politics should not be allowed. "

Since you dont support unions making political donations to candidates because their views and goals may differ from that of their own employees, are you also against corporations themselves making political donations as well since their views and goals may differ from that of their own employees too?
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I am just learning more about the "issue" of money in politics. If I were to ban unions from donating to political campaigns, I would obviously have to ban it for corporations. I would be hypocritical af if I didn't do that. It would also give corporations way too much leverage. 

I'm trying to find a good balance of power between unions and corporations so that the companies stay efficient but the people can have decent working conditions and at the minimum cost of living adjustments. As it stands now, some unions have a huge power advantage, as we can see from the GM strike. That is why I am against industry-wide unions like the United Auto Workers.

I have recently read Barry Goldwater's The Conscience of a Conservative, and he made a lot of good points about unions and how they should be reformed. I want them to work so that they can be a substitute for federal regulations and wage laws.
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If I were to ban unions from donating to political campaigns, I would obviously have to ban it for corporations. I would be hypocritical af if I didn't do that.
Just wanted to make sure you were held a consistent non-bias on the matter. A lot of people are unaware of that hypocrisy and fall right into it, not realizing things until after someone has pointed it out. 

Unionization is perhaps the one issue I am the most neutral and apathetic on in terms of issues in politics. The golden age for unions was when they were fighting for an 8 hour workday, 5 day work week, wages that could support families, and other achievements during the Gilded Age/Dark Age of American society where the middle class flat out did not exist while a few wealthy tycoons had unacceptably large amounts of power over everyone else.... Now that things have balanced out where the biggest issues are in-company pension plans, health insurance options, and other misc benefits, that are society wide concerns that the national government tends to address rather than handled within corporations, I don't see the need to continue to arbitrarily hold unions higher than corporations like other democrats do....

Granted, the greed of corporations can have far more devastating effects on the general population than the greed of unions, but the desires of both need to be kept in balance for the good of everyone at this point, not tipped in favor of one over the other for arbitrary reasons. 



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--> @HistoryBuff
For example, if only half the employees are unionized, then a strike has much less impact on the company. They would be able to continue to operate, albeit in a reduced capacity. This would almost guarantee that companies could beat unions in a labor dispute.

If only half of the workers feel the need to strike then forcing the other half to strike as well seems kinda crappy.

I tend to be pro-union in most cases, depending on the union in question, but nothing is perfect and I am just throwing my two cents in.
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If I were to ban unions from donating to political campaigns, I would obviously have to ban it for corporations.

I like this... Not sure the politicians currently having unions and corporations giving them money would like it though and they are the ones that decide so... =/

As for the OP number one and two seem nice to me, though there are some legitimate concerns about number one that others have raised. Number three I don't think I like so much. There is no reason that a company and industry-wide union can't get around the issues you brought up (such as cost-of-living etc.) during contract negotiations.
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You're saying that there couldn't be industry-wide unions if we had right to work laws?
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I have historically been rather lukewarm on the union issue as well. But if I could relate it to deregulation, minimum wage laws, etc it becomes rather important in my opinion. 

Generally I hold the same opinion in that unions' time of relevance was mainly in the past. But I find they are likely the most efficient way to get good wages without federal coercion.
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Yes, the conflict of interest that inherently lies in lobbying and political donations is rather concerning.

Well, for number three, let me provide a hypothetical. I believe that if an entire industry is a connected union, it gives them too much power. Let us say that steel manufacturing workers go on strike. Essentially, they are not just putting pressure on their employer and his bottom line, they are putting pressure on the American public. We aren't getting any steel, which means we cannot make cars or other products, and that threatens others with unemployment and high prices of steel products. I don't think that is fair. This issue is between the company and the employer.  
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I totally agree with your post. There should be no special favors for Unions as in #1 and no special restrictions as in #2 and #3.
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You're saying that there couldn't be industry-wide unions if we had right to work laws?

I am saying if a union wants to form a powerful block against a corporate employer, they are going to need a compelling reason to recruit members if they have to compete with non-union workers. Since most corporations are mostly held in check by tort lawyers, it's very hard for unions to justify the dues, especially to competent people who want to negotiate a wage on the merit of their ability and not on the status of a membership of a club.
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I see, so you don't believe that a large industry-wide union would form very often. I will say that right to work laws would definitely make it much less common and more difficult to create. I just believe that all work-related issues could be solved by bargaining with your employer. I can't think of any good reason for an industry-wide union to be an option. Allowing unions to gain that level of power could be quite dangerous if it were to form.