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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.

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