About Rationally Speaking

Rationally Speaking is a blog maintained by Prof. Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York. The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome. Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Strike is a protected right in civilized countries

But the US barely qualifies as civilized by many standards. The current strike called by the TWU Local 100 to improve the conditions and contract of public transit workers in New York City is a typical example.

A judge has already slapped a $1 million fine per day to the union, and has now called for union leaders to show up in court and face the "distinct possibility" of jail time, because apparently public workers cannot legally strike in New York! The city's so-called moderate major, Michael Bloomberg, has called the strike "illegal and selfish," and two conservative NY papers, the Daily News and the NY Post have featured titles like "Mad as Hell" and "You Rats," referring respectively to the alleged reaction of commuters (who, on the other hand, seem to be taking the strike rather philosophically) and to the union workers themselves.

Ah, the unions, those centers of liberal political power so hated by Republicans and rich people in general. The unions, the very same people that brought you the weekend, the abolishment of child labor, and pension plans. How wicked.

Yes, I understand that these matters aren't black and white. Unions in the US, as elsewhere, have much to apologize for, including past collusion with organized crime and current corruption or inept leadership. Then again, those same charges can be leveled to some politicians and captains of industry, so let's not get all worked up against strawmen.

The fact of the matter is that workers in this country are already treated much worse than in most other Western nations (beginning with Wal-Mart employees, despite that company's slick advertisement campaigns to the contrary), precisely because their unions are currently weak and ostracized by both the media and the political establishment. But striking is a fundamental right of workers, pretty much the last resort they have to force their employers into reasonable bargains.

Fine and jail time are an uncivilized way to force union workers to stand down, more what one would expect in the Soviet Union than the enlightened US of A. Let's not forget that striking workers already personally pay for every day of strike in lost wages, and nobody likes to picket in a cold New York day, regardless of how much free coffee is handed out. Yes, of course the city is losing money, local businesses are suffering, and people have to walk if they want to get around. That's the point, if the strike didn't affect anybody it wouldn't be effective leverage to resume negotiations.

For Major Bloomberg, judges, and part of the NY press to attack the strikers is apparently not unlawful, but it sure as hell is unconscionable and unethical.


  1. I cordially agree with the sentiment, Gunner, tho' I would have used less incendiary rhetoric. As Presidents Coolidge and Cleveland both said, there is not never has been and never shall be a right to strike against the publice safety. Gunner's RIGHT; these people are BUS DRIVERS. 60 grand a year is a king's ransom for that type of work. Bloomberg should give them 48 hours to return to work then make NY a right to work state by executive order. Unions are, after all, unconstitutional in that they impair the fundamental liberty of freedom of contract. Work, like so many other things, is (or at least should be) an open-ended arrangement that can be terminated by either party at whatever time they see fit. You might easily make the argument that organized labor is little more than a legalized form of chattel slavery, where employers are held to the caprice of employees.

  2. Cato,

    I've got my copy of the Constitution sitting in front of me right now. Exactly where does it say that workers don't have a right to strike.

    I see the part that says people have a right to free assembly.

    I see the part that says rights not mentioned specifically in the Constitution are the providence of the people.

    I also see the part that says powers not denied to the states are the providence of the states respectively and to the people.

    I seem to be missing the page that makes Unions unconstitutional.

    Can you help me out?


  3. Article 1, Sect. 10, paragraph 1. Laws protecting unions are without a doubt impairing the obligation of contracts, as are "closed shop" laws.

  4. Cato, once again you have let your mouth (or fingers) prove how totally out of touch with reality you are. Having spent the better part of my life driving trucks (and for a short while busses) I can tell you that it is not easy work. Plus it requires the acceptance of a heck of a lot of responsibility. For years I haul 10,500 gallons loads of methyl alcohol, and I took that responsibility VERY seriously.

    Sixty thousand is not all that much money to live on in NYC. I have never made that much but have come close and have never considered myself overpaid considering the hours and the responsibility had to assume.

    Your characterization of employees holding big business hostage is so inane that I really shouldn't dignify it with a reply. However I would bet that you would be wholly in favor of business associations and manufacturers associations. What are they but unions for big business.

    No matter how mundane a job may seem to you, if that work is performed properly it deserves a living wage and in NYC I would not consider $60,000 as being out of reason.

    Another point; the period after WWII up until about 1980 (the beginning of the Republican debacle) was the heyday of organized labor in this country. It was also a period of great profitability and growth in industry. It was a period when the a working man's dream to own his own home was attainable. A great deal of this prosperity can be credited to organized labor.

    I have belonged to three unions over the years with 28 years in the Teamsters and I am damn proud of it. Here on the West Coast our Teamsters Pension Trust (a multi-employer pension plan) is overseen by a board of trustees consisting of management and labor people. No company can fritter away our pensions.

    When we apply for retirement our administrators work very hard to see that we get the maximum benefit. The past four or five years (the Bush years) have been really tough on all pension funds but our Teamsters pension keeps paying our benefits with money to spare. Every contract is negotiated with a pension "contribution" which is part of each employees negotiated wage.We often gave up current wages to gain pensions benefits. It is not a gift from the company - those benes are earned.

    Without union representation the individual worker is nothing more than a commodity to be used by management. Organized labor gives the little guy a voice and some control of his destiny.

    Three cheers for the NYC transportation workers!!!

    By the way cato, what do you do for a living and how much do you make. It must be an exalted position from where you can look down on those plebian BUS DRIVERS.

  5. The absured thing is that the city will lose more in one day of the strike than settling with the union would cost over the life of the contract. (Can't remember the numbers, sorry)

    There is a knee-jerk reaction against organized labor since the Alzheimer President fired the air traffic controlers. I am still in the same job I was in then, which is a union job, such as it is. We haven't had a cost of living adjustment since 1981, and my wage adjusted for inflation is _half_ what it was then.

    I loved it when Regan was making a big deal about how "they took an oath." ( I thought an oath taken under duress wasn't binding...) Someone in the audience reminded him that he took an oath when he married his first wife. I guess sactimonious BS isn't any more constrained by reason than "In telligent" design.

    If Americans could do arithmetic, there would be a revolution.

  6. Try again Cato,

    Article I, Sect. 10, Para. 1 deals solely with limits of power on the States, nowhere does it say that workers don't have a right to unionize in order to renegotiate contracts.

    Of course I guess you can interpret it anyway you want, therefor I now interpret the first amendment to mean that I am now king of the US.

    You see, one should have a reasonable iterpretaion of the Constitution.


  7. Well, there's still the fact that legal protection for union members is unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment as well. "For cause" employment relationships are illegal because they give unequal protection to those so protected.

    Moving on, I see the case made for the 'responsibility" of the job. You never see the military go on strike, and one of these BUS DRIVERS makes *twice* what an E-4 or E-5 makes, and nearly 3 times what a police officer makes here in some areas of the good old Volunteer State.

    Living wage? That is such an acsinine idea as to almost bugger the imagination. Whatever happened to free market economics? For the purposes of this thread, we sum up:

    Company A pays more than Company B. Prospective employees cannot afford to live on Company B's wages, so Company B is forced, through market conditions to offer more competitive pay.

    The 'Republican debacle' someone refers to I would call the Renaissance of Free Markets in America. I am not convinced the damage done to heavy industry by the legally protected idleness of workers in the Republic can be fixed. How are American automakers to be competitive when they have to pay workers almost absurdly inflated wages, and when said workers refuse to WORK for these war pension wages the employer can't terminate them and hire employees that WILL?

    FWIW, I work in Prescription Drug Benefit Management, and am VERY well paid for this area and for what I do without outsiders meddling in my company, thank you very much.

    Bottom line: Organized labor, while it may have been a good idea at some point in the past, has done little more than institutionalize indolence and destroy heavy industry in These States. Workers already have a voice in their future in open shop states; if I don't like an employer, I can quit at any time and can apply for work in any field I please in this great State and I will be hired, as long as I am qualified for the job.

    I have never belonged to a union, and never will. I will not devote my time, talent, and treasures to a cause I am philosophically opposed to. As to manufacturer associations, as long as they do not impair the obligation of contract, they would be fine.

  8. Unions are also responsible for saddling US automobile companies with high pension and healthcare liabilities, severely threatening their viability.

    It's good to honour contracts, of course, but when honouring it bankrupts the entire company (thus making everyone worse off), you have to wonder.

    There's a reason why membership in US unions has been declining over the years - labour laws and the power of the free market (and information flow) have reduced the power of employers to exploit.

    $60,000 to drive a bus sounds ridiculous. Striking is a way for unions to prevent exploitation by money grubbing employers, but consider too that it might also be an attempt to secure a ridiculously high wage for employees. Among other things, the costs are passed on to consumers in higher prices.

  9. Cato, this *is* free market economics. It's happening right now in front of us. Workers are making their decision, management will make theirs. Both parties are acting independently and in their own perceived best interests. Neither side can *force* the other to do anything. If the workers lose then maybe other unions and individual workers will think twice before striking or holding out. In other words, other unions and individual workers will gather all the available information and make a decision on what the best course of action is. If the MTA workers lose that will be a good data point for other workers. That's using information to make an informed decision. That's the free market.

    You are correct that if a worker doesn't like the deal they're given they can ask for more money or leave to go to another firm. What's the difference if workers make this choice individually or collectively? You obviously feel that you're best doing it individually and it sounds like you've done well. Congrats. If other workers think they're better off bargaining collectively let them do it. They'll either succeed or fail but it will ultimately be the *free market* that decides. In a free market, each individual should try to get as much money as they possibly can. You pooh pooh the concept of a "living wage" yet you turn around and say that $60k is "too much"? Who are you to decide what the right wage is, I thought we were relying on the free market here.

    If workers think that a union will give them the highest wages then that's what they should do. Maybe some will succeed, maybe some will fail. The bottom line is that in the free market system each worker should do whatever they think will yield the highest wage. Different workers will take different approaches to this problem. But for you to say what "too much" is reeks of hypocrisy and violates the free market principles that you claim to espouse. Does Bill Gates make "too much"? How about Jack Welch, or Steve Jobs? You seem good at making arbitrary determinations on these matters.

    It's very fashionable to blame the union for anything bad that happens to a company, but let's not be so quick to forget that it's management who signs off on the deal. It takes two to tango. How smart is a manager that signs a deal which bankrupts his company? How many Harvard MBAs did it take to sign the deals that drove GM into the ground?


  10. mjrmjr wrote: "Neither side can *force* the other to do anything."

    This is not precisely true. In "union" states it may be illegal for employers to hire replacements for the striking workers. This puts the employer at a decided disadvantage. Bargaining units are one thing, and should be allowed, but forcing an employer to hire "union" or not hire at all is another matter.
    We had best face it: We are living in a global economy. We cannot opt out. Much like water seeking its level, world-wide wages will seek a common level. The level is currently unbalanced which is why we have a Niagra Falls of jobs going to the lower level. Third World wages *will* rise and Industrialized Nations wages *will* fall. It cannot be otherwise. Strikes by NY transportation workers are a temporary stem to the tide but will only exacerbate the fall when it happens.

  11. I never said $60K was "too much". There is a great difference between "plenty" and "too much". What I said was that $60K ($42k worth of buying power here in East TN) is a very extravagant salary for a bus driver. I'll put it in even simpler terms:

    $60,000 per year, is in my opinion an exceptionally fair pay scale for the kind of work these people do. Both police and military require over 15 years' service for that kind of money, yet you never hear our armed forces or Law Enforcement going on strike. The bus drivers get plenty of money for their work, and therefore don't have grounds to ask for more. They knew the pay scale on Day One. If they didn't like it, they should have gone to work somewhere else.

  12. Cato,

    Considering that the 14th amendment was intended to adress racial inequality, I think it is quite a stretch to aply it to unions. Most of those laws you find unconstitutional were intended to balance (read equal) the playing field between the workers and the buisineses that had much grander resourses at their disposal.

    But that's not the point, here is what you said:

    "Unions are, after all, unconstitutional in that they impair the fundamental liberty of freedom of contract."

    I'm just asking that you prove this statment, and you haven't.

    Strike two Cato.


  13. Cato struck out long ago. He is one of those "I got mine, screw you" types. Those bus drivers he decries so vehemently could live very well on far less than $60,000 in E. Tennessee, but they live in NYC - a whole different story.

    Furthermore his comments comparing law enforcement jobs or the military with the jobs in question, taking many years to work up to good pay are misleading. Cato do you really think a bus driver starts out making $60,000/yr. I would bet that they start out earning half of that, plus having to work split shifts and probably not working full time. In our city, drivers start out at about $9/hr with top pay of about $18/hr coming after many years a good many years of service.

    If your police officers make only $20,000 in the good old Volunteer State that is evidence that the good ol Volunteer State is populated by a lot of folks like Cato. Maybe I'll come down there as a Teamster organizer and see if we can get those guys some decent wages.

    Not every one can be an MD, a lawyer, an engineer or a "well paid" prescription drug benefits administrator, but if they work they deserve pay that will allow for a decent standard of living. But Cato would deny that to any one whose job doesn't meet his personal approval for importance or difficulty. I actually can't see that sitting at a desk shuffling papers around is worth worth very much money. How about the federal minimum wage, what is that $5.15 or $5.35/ hour; sounds about right for a paper shuffler.

    Then again Cato's industry (health insurance, and the drug industry) were handed a plum (Medicare Part D) that insures that it will be rolling in windfall profits for years to come, at the expense of the elderly and the poor. Cato's got his.

    In closing I'm going to guess that his favorite pols and gov't officials are Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld Stennsenbrenner, Delay, Frist, Ahhnold and Hastert. Every one a devious, power hungry "I got mine, screw you" type. Oh damn, I forgot the Scoot and Turd Blossom.

  14. For the uninitiated, Freedom of contract in this context is "at will" employment that can be terminated at any time by either party that is contract to said employment. It was said well upthread: one of the reasons that the auto industry is in such dire straits is all these pension plans and stuff they are giving to retirees.

    For the record: Once you don't work for a company any more, they don't *owe* you anything but your last paycheck. Grievance procedures that impair the "at will" nature of employment are grossly unconstitutional.

    Unions are fine and well, but deserve the same legal status as the Masonic Lodge, Odd Fellows, Daughters of the American Revolution, or any other freely joined organization.

  15. Just some quick thoughts about this, as a former UT student then later Columbia medical student.

    I found it interesting that Dr. Pigliucci was so quick to rush to the defense of the unions.

    Considering now, in retrospect, voting to strike was a very bad idea as it hurt the rank and file more than the fat cats (right before Xmas time too! If you want to try to build resentment, make sure people can't get home to their familes! It works GREAT), I couldn't help but wonder how union leadership could hold their OWN workers hostage by, in effect, forcing them to strike and thereby forfeiting pay under Taylor's Law, then later make them have to pay more fines to cover the 1 million dollar per day additional fine.
    Ultimately, however, I have a sneaking suspicion that as with all things human, this had to do with more of issues of class and race, power and ego rather than any true business savvy on either side.

    Someone mentioned it costs the city more money than it costs to settle with the workers, but surprisingly, the Gov. of NY has more power over MTA than NYC itself. Mayor Bloomberg could only watch as it went down. Chalk that one up for bureaucracy.

    Take a memo from this story, especially the part about pensions and health care, as it's likely to be repeated Is health care a right of workers? Especially when no one seems to take their own health seriously.

  16. I disagree strongly with Cato's statement that once you leave the employ of a company they owe you nothing. If you have an employment agreement, whether it be as an individual or as a result of collective bargaining, and part of your wage package specifies a certain sum to be put aside as your pension benefit, I believe that the company owes you that amount of money. I'm sure Cato would agree that if an executive agrees to deferred compensation he is entitled to those moneys even if he leaves the company. Why should it be any different for an hourly worker. Those pension funds are nothing more than deferred compensation.

    His statement that grievance procedures are unconstutional is ludicrous. It seems to be Cato's philosophy that working folks are virtual slaves of their employers. It appears to be his contention that an employee must put up with any condition regardless of how unjust or unsafe, work any and all hours the employer desires, for any palty wage an employer wishes to impose.

    The only difference between Cato's idea of the working place now, and what it was before the Civil War is that prior to that conflict is that back then almost all the slaves were black. Cato would now not only like to re-establish that condition on people of color but extend it to everyone regardless of color (except for a few lairds of the realm of which he, of course, is one). Then he would tell us we have no cause for complaint as the playing field has been leveled.

    Companies like GM and others will agree to any pension language because unlike current wages that must be paid as you go, pension funds can be shown on paper while the actual money is used for any purpose they see fit. I content that that many big companies squander pension funds knowing full well that if they get in trouble they can and will bail out and they will possibly be covered, at least in part, by the government insurers. I rather doubt that these companies ever sign these contracts with the intention of making good on them. It is just too easy to say what sounds good and bail out later at taxpayer expense.

  17. Dennis, you, like so many Liberals, hear what you want to hear. My statement that grievance procedures are unconstutional is ludicrous only if you never read the Framers, John C. Calhoun, or the Constitution itself.

    It seems to be Cato's philosophy that working folks are virtual slaves of their employers. It appears to be his contention that an employee must put up with any condition regardless of how unjust or unsafe, work any and all hours the employer desires, for any palty wage an employer wishes to impose.

    When you accept employment at a firm, you are generally advised of the pay structure, benefits (if applicable), working conditions, and other pertinent information. If you didn't pick it up in the interview process, you'll figure it out pretty quick once you get on the job and start doing what you're paid to. Here is the great advantage of an open shop or right to work state like TN over a closed shop state. Here, I can apply for any job I desire, and don't have to join any union as a condition of employment. If I don't like one employer, I can easily go to work somewhere else. In a closed shop state, many higher paying jobs are closed except to those that are willing to become vassals to the mobsters that call themselves "Organized Labor". It's all about liberty, and closed shop states fundamentally and substantively impair the obligation of contract, as well as provide unequal protection to union members. Therefore, closed shop laws and grievance procedures that impair "at will" employment are grossly unconstitutional.

  18. Cato,

    I've actually lived in Tennessee for nine years, and I've seen the results of your "open shop" policy. Since workers have to bargain individually, they get crappy pay, little or no health benefits, and can be thrown in the streets at a moment's notice.

    No wonder TN ranks close to the bottom in the US in any sensible measure of education and citizen welfare.

  19. Dr. P:

    "I've actually lived in Tennessee for nine years, and I've seen the results of your "open shop" policy."

    I have lived here for all but 4 of my years, and my people were here and crossed the mountain with John Sevier in the Revolution.

    " Since workers have to bargain individually, they get crappy pay...."

    Depends on how you define that. I can afford a house and student loans on $11/hour.

    ", little or no health benefits..."

    I have very good benefits, and the people that don't knew what their employer offered when they went to work there. As we are a right to work state, if a person doesn't like their benefits, they can always work somewhere else.

    " and can be thrown in the streets at a moment's notice."

    Again, due to the right to work laws here, they can also find other employment without becoming a vassal to the gangsters that run unions.

    "No wonder TN ranks close to the bottom in the US in any sensible measure of education and citizen welfare."

    Define 'sensible'. If you mean the Government don't wait on us hand and foot, no they don't and I wouldn't have it any other way. In case you missed it, the government that governs LEAST governs best. I have only seen one service that government can approach the quality of the private sector and that is the armed services. Besides that, I defy this board to show ONE THING that government can provide with better quality, more efficiently, and at lower cost than the private sector. ONE.

  20. The last comment I made was released prematurely.

    Here, I can apply for any job I desire, and don't have to join any union as a condition of employment. If I don't like one employer, I can easily go to work somewhere else. In a closed shop state, many higher paying jobs are closed except to those that are willing to become vassals to the mobsters that call themselves "Organized Labor". It's all about liberty, and closed shop states fundamentally and substantively impair the obligation of contract, as well as provide unequal protection to union members.

    These workers are not part of a "closed shop". That does not exist any longer. They are in what's called an "agency" shop. No MTA bus driver is forced to join the union. They do however, pay a fee for the representation they receive even if they don't belong.

    Cato: Again, due to the right to work laws here, they can also find other employment without becoming a vassal to the gangsters that run unions.

    Your ignorance regarding labor unions is truly astounding. The majority of unions are not corrupt or run by gangsters. Those that were, were quickly put into trusteeship or monitored by the federal gov't. Unforutnately, companies like Enron have no monitoring until they leave their employees with no pensions (which they agreed to) and no jobs.

    As for making $11 an hour, well I guess you're doing ok in Tn. But how about all those employers who pay the minimum wage? Where can someone live on that?? Many people who have not received the benefit of an education because they can't afford one will be stuck in those jobs.

    Cato: Define 'sensible'. If you mean the Government don't wait on us hand and foot, no they don't and I wouldn't have it any other way. In case you missed it, the government that governs LEAST governs best.

    What do you base that on?

    Cato: I have only seen one service that government can approach the quality of the private sector and that is the armed services. Besides that, I defy this board to show ONE THING that government can provide with better quality, more efficiently, and at lower cost than the private sector. ONE.

    Heres two: Medicare and Social Security. The mess of our health care system is somewhat due to companies making huge profits to stuff the pockets of their CEO's and obscenely increasing health insurance premiums while they pride themselves in denying care.

    Labor unions are the only power employees have to come togther and collectively "bargain" - that means negotiate with the Employer.

    The bottom line is that Dr. P is correct - strikes are a protected right in civilized countries. Do you know that in the U.S., though you may technically have the right to strike, you can be permanently replaced? But I guess you think that's a good thing.

    Why don't you live in a country where labor unions ARE banned? Your mean-spiritedness will fit right in. I'm sure you'll do fine.

  21. It's strange that no one cited the god of conservative economics, Adam Smith, and his principle of "laissez faire" which is always touted as the driving force of "market economics." Perhaps word has gotten around. Adam Smith's laissez faire was introduced to keep the government from intrfering with the organization of unions. He said the power of the unions would keep the industries in tow, and that would benefit the economy.

  22. Cato - You're arguments are so out of touch with reality and so absurd that I have come to the conclusion that your are scamming us - yanking our collective chains. At least that is how I am going to consider your outrageous posts from now on. I find it difficult to believe that anyone could actually be as blatantly mean-spirited as you sound.

    Eleven dollars an hour here in Oregon and you would be living in a cardboard box and standing in a soup kitchen line, all the while begging for some government assistance.

    I'm so glad my mother's family left the TN/KY area in 1914 and came to the Pacific Northwest. You just stay in you right-to-starve state and I'll stay here in Oregon, collecting my Teamster pension and Social Security (I'm 67), both of which I worked for - they are not gifts from anyone.

  23. Let's see....

    1) The minimum wage was designed as a STARTING wage; it was never designed to support families. The fact that some companies refuse to pay more is yet another evidence in favor of the abolishment of this anti-employment device. The short answer to this is pretty simple; if you don't like getting paid minimum wage, you either need more marketable skills or another place to work.

    2) As to goober-ment services, Medicare at last mention was 10 times over budget, and Social Security has been on the verge of insolvency as long as I can remember. Someone that retired today and is depending on a 401k instead of Social Insecurity would have at least twice the baseline retirement income they would have otherwise. Try again, RPOC.

    3) Dennis, thank you. You are a perfect example of the vassaldom I refer to. You have been fed the company line so long you can't recognize Liberty when it crosses your path. Think how much more money you'd have if you hadn't supported Jimmy Hoffa and the Mobsters (aka Teamsters) during your working career.

    4) Finally, I never said unions should be banned. One may join the Masons, SCV, Odd Fellows, Sons of the Revolution, or any other organization and IMHO a labor union should be just the same as the Lodge. As long as union membership entitles the member to no special consideration in the workplace, I have no issue with unions. Where the legal issues come in is that arbitration and grievance procedures, as they provide unequal consideration to union members over their non-affiliated co-workers, are blatantly unconstitutional under the "obligation of contract" clause and the 14th Amendment of the Constitution.

  24. Almost forgot...

    5) There is no good reason why anyone should NOT have a college education in this day and age. Between scholarships and private endowments, it is entirely possibly for a person to attain a bachelor's degree without going on the public dole, as long as you are willing to move to a college that has such things. With my bacherlor's degree, I have roughly doubled my earning power, and that without pledging fealty to a bunch of Democrat Party shills.

  25. Cato, your Bachelors degree doubled your earning power and yet you make $11/hour? Kind of lame! I did better that that in the 70" and 80's. But a lot of my gyppo (non-Teamster) acquaintances didn't. I made $8/hr in the early 70's and was making $18/hr when I retired. This is not counting my bene's, which included the best medical, dental, and vision health care plus a generous contribution to toward my pension (which I am enjoying today). All this put to- gether was in excess of $22/hr in 1995. And I worked my ass of for it, the company demanded it and the union demanded it. Sloth, and dangerous operation was not tolerated by either the company or the union.

    The most I ever paid in union dues was 2 hours of pay/qtr. Since truck drivers (even card carriers) work well over the standard 40 hour week, that amounted to a very small percentage of our total pay. My last 8 years I averaged between 55 and 60 hour/week and was considered to have a gravy bid. Teamster membership insured that I rec'd good pay, I couldn't be fired due to personality conflicts, I had good working conditions, I was provided with good equipment to do my job, and when my equipment needed maintainence it got done. Whenver the company balked at doing any of these things (and they did from time to time) the union stood behind us 100%. Consequently we had one of the lowest turnover rates in the trucking industry, not to mentiaion an enviable safety record. I have far in excess of 2 million accident free miles all of which is in 18 wheelers or larger plus several hundred thousand in dump trucks. My last 8 years I ran a 26 wheel maxi rig 78', a gross weight of 104,000 lbs loaded with 10,500 gallons of methanol. A job with considerable responsibility attached.

    If anyone can get a college education by just finding a school with a lot of scholarships and grants that's great. However if you go that route you are still on the dole from someone. And the someone who provides that money does it in large part because there are big tax write-offs. So the student it STILL on the gov't dole.

    Further more there are a lot of people who are just not cut out for higher education. They have other talents and are hard workers and they deserve a good job that pays well as long as they are willing to work. I have one son in that category - he's smart enough but school bored him. He is a carpenter, and struggles to make ends meet. His older brother put nine years in the Army, then worked for four years as a computer tech, and is now going to school on the GI Bill (I know, he's a leech on society, but he is an honor roll leech). But if he wasn't living at home with us he absolutely couldn't make it financially and academically.

    I was a Republican for 24 years until such time as I saw the light and bailed out. I am not a Democrat and have never been one. I vote for the candidate not the party, and although I have voted for a lot of Republicans in the 46 years since my majority, I will have a harder and harder time voting Republican. The Republican party has become the party of crass corruption and the Democrats are the party of wimpyness. As bad as Nixon became (Ivoted for him), he was a saint compared to the mental defective sitting in the White House today. If the Republican party can rid themselves of the likes of the Bushes, Cheneys, Delays, etc and the other scum too numerous and too abhorant to mention, and put up some intelligent, thoughtful, and truly compassionate conservatives, and fiscal conservatives, I can see myself voting for a Republican candidate. But not until.

  26. I'm pretty much with Cato on most of this. Organized labor unions are pretty much only advantageous to less-qualified workers and to labor management (is that an oxymoron?) I have worked in organized shops and although I was better than average I received exactly the same pay and benefits as the least qualified. The union saw to that. I could not go to management and bargain for myself. The law allowed neither me to do it nor them. The one thing that I could do was quit and go elsewhere, which I did.

    One aspect of the labor vs. management dispute that I have never quite understood is why the labor unions don't spend their billions buying the companies and becoming the owners? If they think current management is doing such a bad job - - don't gripe, don't negotiate, don't strike, don't lobby, don't support PACs... use all that money to just buy the damn place. Run it yourselves. Pay as much as you want. Problem solved!

  27. That's exactly what Harley-Davidson did about 20 years ago. They went from being an ailing maker of second-rate motorcycles (for the bikers, remember the later Shovelheads; the bikes the dealers had to finish QA on?) to making possibly the highest quality product on 2 wheels available today with serious backlogs on nearly every model. I sometimes think Chrysler should have done the same thing. If they didn't have UAW to fool with, 1980 wouldn't have been anywhere nearly as hard for them to overcome, and a privately owned ChryCo could easily become the Harley-Davidson of 4 wheeled transpo.

  28. Die Anyway: If you agree with Cato, why didn't you change jobs for a better one?

  29. Manny,

    Did you miss this sentence: "The one thing that I could do was quit and go elsewhere, which I did."?

    Fortunately Florida is a right-to-work state. You can have unions but you can't be forced to join as a condition of employement.


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