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There will always be people who abuse the support the union offered, like your dad, who gives unions a bad rep - most members work with pride and want to do the best job they can.

Time allotted work is intended to ensure jobs are done safely; not everyone will take that long, but it ensures slower workers aren't going to cut corners just to keep schedule. Without a union, your dad would have been expected to take 30min every single time, and lose your job if you don't.




> There will always be people who abuse the support the union offered, like your dad, who gives unions a bad rep

That's a bit harsh and I think it misjudges human nature.

> Without a union, your dad would have been expected to take 30min every single time, and lose your job if you don't.

I had a summer job in a paper mill when I was 18. One of my earliest tasks was to "sweep the mill." The entire mill, which was HUGE.

I started sweeping at 7AM and by about 9AM I had completed the first floor. I was on my way to floor # 2 when an old-timer pulled me aside and said, "Hey. Don't work yourself out of a job." Then he and various other old-timers showed me places where they hid and took naps throughout the day. I decided I did not want to be the goody-goody college interloper, so I took a few naps myself that summer.

The kicker? This was a NON-union mill.

My point is that many of those jobs are shitty and unpleasant, and people do what they can to alleviate the unpleasantness of it all--with or without the union.


To your first point, the guy says his dad bragged about hiding and doing work on his own house, he is clearly abusing the situation, and proud of it too. He even took groceries offered by the union (a lot of times its your fellow members actually helping you out) despite knowing he was suspended for actually doing something wrong. At minimum, its an affront to your union brothers & sisters.

As far as not working your self out of a job, its true, there will always be a balance between working your ass off, and spreading out the work, but its also heavily dependent on whats expected of you: if you're only expected to complete one specific task in a period of time, there is no gain in getting it done as fast as physically possible.

Believe me, your bosses knew the oldtimers were taking naps, and it clearly wasn't a big deal for that employer.


IMHO, in this kind of a case it's not the employee who gives union a bad rep - it's the union. Why do they actually support this kind of behaviour?

(FWIW, it sounds this is actually worse in the US, where the unions are supposedly "weak", than in my country which has social democrats in government and "strong unions".)


No, its absolutely giving the union a bad rep by abusing its support. Keep in mind union officials rarely are physically present for the complaint at hand, so it is nearly always he-said, she-said. Likely the employee put up a fight, claimed a different take on the thing they got caught for, or it simply wasn't provable -- you absolutely can be fired for not doing your job, even if you are a union member!

The protection the union gives is that you aren't fired on the spot without good reason or a fair shake. It forces the company to actually back up their reasons; not just Joe the manager didn't like you, or someone saw you take a 30 second break once.

The fact that the guy was paid by AT&T to go away tells me he was good at playing the game, and good at not getting caught.


Unions usually have an obligation to defend everyone as part of their contract.

Like anything, the douchiest people are usually best at working the system, and it takes strong and competent management to get rid of the bad eggs.


And how did that "obligation" get into their contract? You can bet the company didn't ask for it.

This sounds like a problem of their (union officials) own making.


If you don’t do that, how can you claim to represent the workers?

Unions are fundamentally democratic organizations, and without an obligation to represent, you can easily find yourself in a position where your politics within the organization matter more than your circumstances.

All of this stuff is mostly a distraction. AT&T wireless is a union shop, and is very competitive in the marketplace. When you have companies that are fat and poorly managed, with the ability to dump costs on the customer, like Boeing or GM in the old days and you get shitty, poorly negotiated contracts,

In a case like this, AT&T has unlimited leverage. Much of their area are in labor-unfriendly states, and they have a pliant FCC who would take action if AT&T decided to start killing kittens. So they’re acting while the Fox is still in the hen house.


Unions are (supposedly) fundamentally democratic organisations also here (Nordics), but they are not obligated by their contracts to defend frivolous cases.

(They still do, sometimes, and then they take the flak in the eyes of the public, deservedly).


That "obligation" is the core tenet of union representation, has nothing to do with contract, and it's also spelled out in a union's constitution. We are a collective of workers, and we defend each other.

And who cares what the company asks for? If it were up to them you'd still be making $3 an hour on 14 hour days, 7 days a week, with no benefits, while they reap $10 billion in profit


No it isn't. There is no core tenant of unions that say they have to protect you from consequences when you commit reprehensible actions.

A union that did literally nothing but negotiate salary would be a perfectly valid form of union. The appropriate balance is somewhere in between.

And who said anything about the company asking for stuff. I've worked union jobs where we were overly protected. I wished we were less protected because it would have meant not having to clean up after the (rare, but especially noticeable) coworkers who don't give a fuck.


"You can bet the company didn't ask for it." is your quote, thus my, "who cares what they ask for".

And core tenet is that they defend and represent you, not that they protect you from the consequences of reprehensible actions; representation is the whole point of unions! As I said in another post, you absolutely can be fired from a union job; union just makes sure you got a fair shake and got fired for a real reason, other wise you could get fired for sneezing too loud and you'd be shit out of luck.


> "You can bet the company didn't ask for it." is your quote, thus my, "who cares what they ask for".

Wow, that's a complete misunderstanding of what I'm saying.

This was in reply to someone trying to shift the blame of a unions bad actions onto a "contract", the contract here is an agreement between the union and the company, so if it wasn't the unions fault it was in the contract it had to be the companies. I don't care about what companies do ask for (in this context), I do care about what companies didn't ask for so you can't blame them for it.

Unions should just make sure you get a fair shake, in reality my experience with them has been they make it virtually impossible to fire you no matter what you do.


In reverse order to your post, I will concede that some unions have become too entrenched, but employers have rights too, and if they have an actual documented case against an employee, they can fire them.

Jumping back; They weren't trying to shift blame onto a contract, they were nearly stating a fact: Unions usually have an obligation to defend everyone as part of their contract. although were mistaken in saying that it was in a contract, when it is actually part of founding principals of unions -- As the NLRA defines a labor organization as a group "[...]in which employees participate and which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours of employment, or conditions of work."

dealing with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes -- it is the entire purpose unions were formed. You replied with a remark to the effect that companies had no say.

Maybe I read your tone wrong, but I read negative, and decided to go with a snotty reply, "who cares what they ask for", which could have been thought out better -- but is the whole point of this in the first place: Unions don't support bad behavior, or reprehensible actions as you say, unions protect you through the process of being accused or actioned upon, despite the reason. They exist to handle disputes. Simply that.

I am curious which union you belonged to


> Unions usually have an obligation to defend everyone as part of their [founding princples/constitution]

This too is not the case, there is a difference between hearing grievances and defending legitimate ones, and defending people with illegitimate grievances. If their constitution requires the second it is again the unions fault for putting that in their constitution, and the comment that started this chain is still a illegitimate shifting of blame.

> Maybe I read your tone wrong, but I read negative

I am negative on this aspect of unions, I'm very positive on others, my original comment was mainly being negative about attempting to shift blame to a document of their own creation and not about addressing the pros or cons of unions.

CUPE 3902 is the only one I've been in that affected me in any noticeable way.


Then it's the founding principles which earn the bad reputation for unions.

(I presume you mean principles, not principals.)


There's a collective bargaining agreement between the union and the company that governs the relationship. The union has a constitution and bylaws that govern the services that it provides to employees. As an employee in a union shop, you're not an at-will employee, your employment is subject to a contract.

Issues of employee performance aren't inherent because you have a contract. If you work for a public company, your VP probably has an employment contract that protects him from many types of arbitrary actions. A baseball player is a unionized employee with a collective bargaining agreement -- and teams obviously have tools to incentivize performance.

Managed well, a union is a tool for compliance as well. Companies and governments have done things like push healthcare administration to the union or pool sick leave to let employees police leave abuse. I've worked and managed in union shops, and have hired and fired people. The issues you talk about usually reflect immature process on the employer side. If you follow your rules, you can fire employees for misconduct.


Union is bad.

Just put into perspective.

In the Garden State Parkway in NJ, the Union Toll Plaza has 4 lanes that accept exact change. No people involved. Then few months ago, they "upgraded" the exact change lanes and put people to collect tolls, 24/7. Not to mention, it takes longer to pass the lane now if you need to pay cash.

That means, at 40hr/week per person, 168hr per week, they need 16 people to run this 4 lanes. Then another 2 to 3 people to cover for time off. Assume a low $50k per person/year, that's almost $1m per year.

What values do these toll collectors provide to society? The only reason why these jobs were created in the first place is because of the union. Don't you think money and manpower can spend on something better to serve the customers? Like repairing the road.


They do that because of the incompetence of New Jersey. Pretty sure those parkway tolls are run by counties, so it’s probably a patronage mill.

Massachusetts implemented E-ZPass/LPR billing in a couple of months. It’s hard to even tell that tollbooths existed.


The fact we have toll roads at all is concerning, considering this is a common argument against privatization. Toll stops are also pretty dangerous, especially the ones on the West Virginia Turnpike, which recently doubled in price. What can we really do, though?


The fact that you're using toll booths to collect tolls is the concerning part to me. Here in Toronto we have a toll highway where everything is automated. Via cameras/license plate if you only drive on it occasionally, or via a transponder if you drive on it often enough it's worth the discount (I assume the discount exists because the cameras are unreliable, sometimes miss people, and they want to minimize errors).


Plate recognition has a fallthrough rate, and mailing out toll bills followed by processing incoming checks is a costly PITA that a transponder enabled vehicle mostly eliminates.


So what makes you think the union was responsible for this change?

The exact change lanes were removed because the change collection hardware is old and parts are becoming scarce:

https://www.nj.com/traffic/2018/10/a_tisket_a_tasket_you_can...

Another reason for replacing exact change lanes on the busy Parkway mainline is the machines that actually count the change, coin by coin, are old, cranky and hard to get parts for, Feeney said.

“Most are from the 1990’s. The manufacturers have not made parts for them for some time,” Feeney said. “Even the secondary market is difficult.”

It doesn’t help when drivers throw other stuff in the basket like slugs, foreign coins, garbage, a fish and used kitty litter


There are still plenty of companies making exact change machines, they just put brand new ones in on my local toll road ~3 years ago.


Maybe installing new machines from new vendors wasn't considered worthwhile given that most people use the electronic passes and they want to encourage more of that.


>Assume a low $50k per person/year,

That's a very low number to assume!

The last time I checked, base compensation for toll takers in New York was well over $120K/year.

In unionized NJ, I am sure compensation is about the same.


Where are you getting those numbers from? Here is data that suggest NY toll collectors make less than $20/hour, https://www.indeed.com/salaries/Toll-Collector-Salaries,-New...


https://nypost.com/2011/12/11/pa-workers-raking-in-big-bucks...

On top of $60K year in base pay, you have to consider maybe $50K a year in pension benefits, then maybe $20K a year for health insurance.

And those numbers were from 8 years ago.


Those are bridge/tunnel tolls, which are a lot higher than Garden State Parkway tolls, which might mean higher pay. (No, it isn't very logical, but I can certainly see toll collectors at a $1 toll booth making less than toll collectors at a $15 toll booth if only because the higher price toll can more easily support a higher wage.)


> The only reason why these jobs were created in the first place is because of the union.

Citation please?

And sure, I'll admit there are some unions well entrenched, who also abuse their situation, although you can likely blame the Mafia for that in NJ


Most jobs don't actually provide value to society.


And frankly, I'm fine with that.




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