Managers may notice a change in the language of employees because it becomes more formal and legal in nature. Employees may start using union words like “grievance,” “arbitration,” “job security,” “employee rights,” “prevailing wage” and “unfair labor practices.” They may also start asking their immediate supervisor or manager questions around these topics, so be sure you have a system in place for your front-line managers to report a change in employee behavior that could be an indication of organizing activity.
"Union Proof Certification" is a thing.
The Communications Workers of America describes typical employer tactics from the labor side.
Historically, neither side is very creative, so once you know what the standard moves are, you know what to expect.
Few people know how unions work any more. They vary as much as companies do. Some are top down, some are bottom up. Some run their own insurance and pension plans. Some are craft oriented, like the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and some cover everyone in a plant, like the United Auto Workers.
For the "tech" industry, the Hollywood unions are worth looking at as a model. Most are under the umbrella of IATSE, The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. The Animation Guild represents most of the animators at the major studios. IATSE has grown over the last decade, which is unusual for unions today. They've picked up many people in Hollywood effects houses. They have not, however, been able to organize the game industry, despite trying.
IATSE figured out the "gig economy" long ago. Their contracts cover things like "minimum call time" (if you're called into work for an emergency, that's not only paid time, there's a minimum number of hours, usually 4), and overtime (not just paid, but time and a half and double time during crunches). This is why, as I've pointed out before, film scheduling is an organized discipline but software development scheduling is a joke.
There are advantages to working at a company with a partly unionized workforce even if you're not in a unionized job. There's less being jerked around. Management is aware that their authority is not unlimited. Hours also tend to be more reasonable.
My main concern for the tech industry is that a union is fundamentally exclusionary. It's survival depends on preventing competition- any other activity it undertakes is only to serve that goal, or to justify it.
Unions prevent competition by demanding exclusivity in a company's labor supply, they prevent competition from new entrants by being outright hostile to young tradespeople (in most trade unions, it's basically impossible to join without sponsorship form an existing member), and they prevent competition among members by fixing wages, suppressing the earning potential of the most valuable employees.
Once a union has succeeded in restraining trade, it can extract monopoly rents from the flow of labor. At best, this looks like an ever-growing university-style administration that exists to justify its own existence. Unions can never exist to create net value, only to capture it, and that by necessity means that value is destroyed by their existence. They're antithetical to the principles of fairness, openness and inclusiveness that we claim to value.
Moreover, why would we even want a union, on an individual level? We (American citizens with a BSCS or similar) each already hold a golden ticket directly to the gentry class. We are, by pure luck of nationality, already privileged beneficiaries of the American coastal tech boom cities, of American currency and political dominance of the past seven decades, and of our restrictive immigration policies that artificially inflate wages for computer professionals across the country above their global equilibrium price. A CS graduate today can reasonably expect to be a millionaire by midlife, if they choose to save accordingly.
And if you don't like having to work late sometimes, you have the option to take a job that doesn't require it. If you don't want to live the Senior SRE lifestyle, you don't have to.
Teen Vogue (which has better content than the name would suggest) has a good article.
Companies view everything as a cost whether it is infrastructure, health care or rights. They lobby broadly to minimize those costs and to keep their own position. And that is unlikely to change. If there is any argument against unions it is that it is already too late. Unions ultimately work by having a war chest for strikes. The company, or the employer organization, then have their own war chest. Tech companies have so much cash, and the cost of living is so high, that a strike wouldn't even be thinkable for many many years. Making an effective union impossible.
What I do see is that a $350-400M settlement was seen by insiders as being short an order of magnitude, meaning that the 65,000 tech workers affected by this wage-fixing crime left a lot on the table. Class actions lawsuits, it seems, aren’t the correct tool for this kind of negotiation and unions are a viable alternative.
I don’t disagree that companies will fight unionization in the industry but that describes the history of unions and ironically workers are better protected these days by the NLRA and the low likelihood that business will hire armed goons to attack striking workers violently than in the days where large strides were made by the labor movement in the US.
But, like all big and complex organizations they become corrupted and rather than having the interest of workers and society as foremost goals, self perpetuation and preservation become the goals.
Except for Bernie no other candidate explicitly and implicitly supports unions. All the others support policies which would undermine unions, except for where it’s politically expedient.
But this is natural. Even in the proletarian era of Mao, unions/workers suffered descent too. Often a most favored group would be pitted against another when necessary, for example the Hong Wei Bings [紅衛兵]
What does "up to a point" mean? Like these videos, this makes it sound as if the progress of workers' rights is over, and we've got all we'll ever need.
What about, say, "a living wage", which the government's minimum wage law is unable to provide? This isn't done. It will probably never be done.
Governments need to pursue policies to ensure there are a surplus of jobs paying living wages for the number of workers that need to live off work. This is not the same as pursuing policies to ensure every job pays a minimum wage.
Now, I’m somewhere in the middle. I think shipping jobs overseas has had a catastrophic impact on wages and jobs (unions can’t protect against this in any meaningful way). Also unions will milk a company dry regardless of consequences. But they occasionally protect against some abuse. On the other hand they stifle innovation in very counterproductive ways.
On the flip side this is also what has contributed so much to global progress in terms of increased wages globally, increased standard of living, life expectancy, literacy levels, and every other measurable positive progress indicator. I'm conflicted as well.
The same can be said of corporations too.
So fighting against unions is the same as fighting against people's right to associate since any group can have the same shortcomings unions do.
That point being when capitalists convinced the government to limit the power of unions and stifle their use of union pension funds to finance things that would be beneficial union.
Taft Hartley Act of 1947
I agree with this from both perspectives. Companies and business-owners should also be allowed to espouse anti-union arguments without automatically being tagged as "evil" or subjected to extra scrutiny.
That said, you're certainly not going to find a nuanced debate in a ... training video. The purpose of this video is literally for the company to train their employees, not to serve as a forum for debating the pros and cons of unions.
As long as the union gets to speak to the employees on company time and gets to add pro-union arguments to the training videos, I see no problem with the boss doing so as well.
I honestly believe the Internet, specifically places like Twitter have destroyed civil discussion and consideration of alternate viewpoints.
Also, I don't think the video is absurd at all. What advantage would Amazon have by being pro-union or pretending to be pro-union? And what advantage would they have by not addressing it at all?
(Edit: This was meant to sound hopeful.)
- US is/was about 100 years behind european labor movement (germany, sweden, etc. started mid 19th century; US not until 1935 Wagner Act)
- ghent system - in scandanavian countries, unions provide most unemployment benefits, not .gov. you can imagine this leads to large union membership
- americans lost manufacturing/blue collar ("union" jobs) en masse as white collar jobs rose, whereas trade skills are still a thing in countries like Germany with their sort of parallel university system for trades
- there is probably a relationship between strong social welfare and union membership, though directionality isn't clear - perhaps large % of union membership enables more tolerance towards social welfare, or perhaps social welfare allows people to not worry about retaliation from attempting unionization, or ..
It's not that this state or that state is corrupt. It's that democracy is vulnerable to corruption, so we should have systems in place to guard against that.
Union wages are consistently higher than non-union wages, so we have evidence that unions are an improvement compared to direct relationships with employers.
Source: literally every long-term economic comparison of wages done for the last 50 years.
Activists always want to take credit, but it's the engineers and scientists who actually did the thing that changed the pattern that had lasted for 10,000 years. Unions are just one particular way of structuring one side of a human conflict that is as old as civilization and as inherent as gravity.
For thousands of years those bad conditions reigned. For thousands of years, 'organized labor' changed nothing. Then technology changed, and suddenly 'organized labor' became able to offer all these wonderful things. Does it sounds like 'organized labor' can take credit for all that? That they just happened to succeed in the decades after industrial technology took off?
The timeline clearly indicates technology, which increased productivity across the board, as the root cause.
If unions raised wages enough to offshore jobs those jobs would no longer exist, that union would not exist, and those wages would not contribute to the total average wage breakdowns that show an 18% increase in wages for union members.
Yet, today, union members make 18% more than non union members. The only thing the data actually suggests is that if you want an 18% raise you should join or start a union.
This statement is so vague that it is not worth debating. What does "better" mean?
As for particular criticisms of any particular org (unions, corporations, government, whomever), the evergreen all purpose prescription is to increase transparency, responsibility, and accountability. What's going on, how are decisions made, who gets the blame.
Everything else is just rhetoric (partisan squabbling).
This is largely a legacy of the police Red squads funded by the capitalists all over the USA starting in the 1930's. To get the radicals and other effective organizers and voices of the working classes out of the unions, local politicians and the police looked the other way as organized crime gained influence over many unions, thus simultaneously corrupting local governments, law enforcement, and organized labor.
I would be VERY interested in a reading list of any kind, as I have lived near Chicago, which has an interesting history with both police officers and unions.
- Valuing innovation while saying that nothing should ever change in their relationships with employees
- Using the words "vulnerability to organizing" and "dangers of organizing" as if it's a terrible disease
- Saying that unionizing employees aren't displaying "normal behavior"
- Calling the phrase "living wage" a warning sign
- Refusing to explain why it is that employees might want to unionize
What really struck me is how much they remind me of the cringey anti-drug videos we used to watch in like middle school, “If you see a suspicious person smoking something that looks like a cigarette but smells funny, cross the street to get away. They may offer you a joint for free to get you hooked. If you smoke that joint, before you know it they’ll be giving you free crack. Cool kids just say no.”
I mean, obviously, just like everything, unions have pros and cons, but does this kind of cheesy fear mongering actually work? If we could see through it and make fun of it as children, surely a grown adult would find it as off putting as kids do?
These anti-union videos are indeed reminiscent of the anti-drug videos. Drugs are unhealthy, expensive, and illegal -- so DARE should be shooting fish in a barrel, and yet they still have zero demonstrated effectiveness. Hearing an adult in a position of power tell you not to do something only makes it seem more attractive.
I'd tend towards it being a fake, if it didn't seem reasonable these are the kinds of ends Amazon HR goes to in order to keep their labor pools un-unionized.
Amazon commented on the video saying Gizmodo "“cherry-picked soundbites” from the video". If it was fake, Amazon wouldn't say something like that, Amazon would say it's fake.
> notices another worker says "grievance"
> i was trained for this
> i run to the hrm
> i twist my ankle jumping over my piss bottles
> i struggle to limp through the warehouse as the other
workers have to push me over so the make their times.
> i fall over from heat exhaustion because the hvac has
> finally at the hrm
> i get fired before i can report the red scourge
Why did Jeff Bezos get divorced?
Because his marriage... was a union!!
1970 to 2020 is 50 years. Consider how long feudalism lasted before it was discarded.
Yeah, gotta feed that customer obsession at all costs.
Unions, by definition, are strictly about the collective over the individual. You must acquiesce that you have no individual value and qualities that raise you above the minimal employee in order to benefit.
Decisions like Janus are supremely on-point: let unions justify their existence to their own members. Forcing one to join the union as a prerequisite for employment is undeniably immoral and robs employees of free choice.
The new dealers ( FDR, Truman ) gave organized labor tremendous power because without it the USA would probably have had a big communist party.
They also knew the deflationary period of the 1930s lead to the rise of fascism and nationalism in Europe. So the petty greed of capital was scarified at the altar to maintain peace. They were also willing to sacrifice growth to maintain peace.
We are going through a similar period of deflationary shock, so it's going to be interesting to see how it plays out and ends.
Most likely the source of unrest may not be US but China.
> They were also willing to sacrifice growth to maintain peace.
Who would do such a thing! We should get back to my grandfather times, he was happy because he was a child, and children did not only get a few potatoes to eat per day, but also a little bit of oil with it. Also I suppose it's kind of romantic to have sex with a stranger on the barricades before being shot to death and having your body join the decomposing pile of bodies in the streets.
One huge difference is there can only be a single union at an American company, while with the European style an employee can pick which to chose from.
The real problem with American unions is its bloody fight against suppression in the late 19th century. American labor relations with management are war compared to Europe and Asia.
The US will see yet another major driver of innovation and production growth, this time the tech industry, succumb to social activists and their rent-seeking-motivated ideological narratives.
A century of pro-union-monopoly advocacy will not change the fact that unions as generally conceived are anti-market interventions and thus economically unsound.
These are blatant anti-market interventions that give any group of workers that unionize an effective state-backed monopoly over their employer's labor force.
The conspiratorial narratives about opposition to such state-backed monopolies being nothing more than Big Business trying to mislead and exploit the little guy, and such monopolies being in the public interest, is nothing more than economic quackery, on par with anti-vaxxer conspiracy theories about vaccination being a harmful practice that is only widely promoted because of the nefarious influence of Big Pharma.
The economic reality is that these rules create rent-seeking and reduce economic efficiency. They will destroy Amazon's dynamism.
Giving a select group of workers a temporary wage boost at the expense of the industry that sustains them is the same short-sighted policy implemented in the post-war era, which saw workers see large wage gains, and then saw the industries that employed them suffer massive bankruptcies and contractions.
There was an exception for corporations serving the public interest. Initially for building canals and railroads. But in the late 1800s, a series of Supreme Court opinions removed those limitations. Eventually, they got some protection under the 1st, 5th and 14th Amendments. And recently, wider protection under the 1st Amendment.
As long as we're going to allow collective action by business owners, it's only fair that we allow collective action by workers.
The “corporate” form of a business (as supposed to a partnership or other structure) is mostly a matter of taxes, legal liability, and the manner of raising capital and distributing profits.
Powerful unions are typically larger than the workforce of any one single company.
I do agree that both corporations and unions ought to be regulated by antitrust law.
Ultimately that results in the wages offered being determined by the underlying market forces of supply and demand that are far larger and more powerful than the efforts of any single party. And it is in society's best interest for wages to be determined by supply and demand and not some social agenda.
The only policy which provide zero sum benefits to corporations at the expense of workers is immigration. And that can be addressed by workers through political coordination. The primary purpose of unions is to give select groups of workers the ability to engage in rent-seeking at the expense of the wider economy. We can get political coordination between workers without resorting to unions and all the harm that comes along with them.
If the market consists of few actors, you get collusion to depress wages and opportunity (in tech you had https://pando.com/2014/03/22/revealed-apple-and-googles-wage...) but it exists across a number of industries. Your assertion assumes only good actors, which is not commensurate with reality.
This sort of collusion can also be addressed in a much more targeted way than creating laws that give workers who unionize control over major hiring decisions of their employer.
Unions in the private sector became much weaker over the last 40 years, but that was not due to the labor laws that empower unions being eased. It was due to the type of industries that unions are prone to form in (e.g. labor-intensive, high volume manufacturing) contracting in the US.
The laws that empower unions make the US inhospitable to key industries.
What's going to happen to the US electric car manufacturing industry if Tesla's workers unionize?
What's going to happen to Amazon's business units if they see massive unionization?
The consequences for a US-based operation when their work force unionizes is a major disincentive for investing in production in the US, and a major impediment to existing US-centred companies from expanding.
It's a prisoners' dilemma thing. Businesses that can move production to low-wage countries are leeching off businesses that can't move. Also, it rather destroys the concept of a nation, where workers and businesses depend on each other.
It's possible to have both high wages and competitive production facilities. That happens when the skill-set of the workforce and the infrastructure and supply-chain of the nation improve enough to compensate for the higher wages.
Forcing companies to pay wages that are above the level that they would be at if left to market forces results in parties in the US less effectively utilizing labor and capital to raise productivity. Less productivity growth ultimately means less wage growth.
The wage boost that comes from a law mandating companies pay higher wages is a one time event, that results from an increase in labor's share of total income, and comes at the expense of lower recurring boosts to wages, because the disruption to the economy caused by such a law reduces the rate of economic growth.
So laws that force companies to pay higher wages mean, in the long run, people being poorer than they would otherwise be.
It's an extreme disruption in the economy, with all predictable consequences for productivity.
As for corporations and common law, that's a relatively minor deviation from the free market that would be almost entirely ameliorated by removing limited liability from tort cases.
>>As long as we're going to allow collective action by business owners, it's only fair that we allow collective action by workers.
Collective action is not the problem. Laws prohibiting employers from exercising their right to contract liberty and free association, to fire workers who unionize or strike, or to negotiate with workers not in a union, when a union has voted to collectively bargain, are the problem.
Like I said, the state gives unions a monopoly over any workforce in which they form. Giving a party a monopoly by restricting the contract rights of other parties is entirely different than "allowing" a monopoly to exist.
That's not how all unions work. That is how the worst ones are implemented in the US, imo. eg govt unions, teacher's union, police union, NRLCA vs UFCW or Airline unions (eg https://www.swamedia.com/pages/contracts)
Similarly, you cannot fire and replace unionized workers who strike, which again means the union is controlling your company and determining who you can employ.
Now if it is reasonable that a designed in "disagree" button is also used for automatic moderation (greying/hiding/easier flagging/etc) I'll leave up to the opinions of the reader.
Multiple sites have implemented some form of upvote/downvote. That within itself is a great proxy for agree/disagree. The problem sites have is when they take a downvote to mean both disagree and low quality/bad/de-modded. HK technically has flag to solve this, but that isn't how the site is implemented.
PS - I didn't vote on the post above at all.
PPS - You should downvote this very post per (last line): https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html
Of course, when asking whether or not I think a downvote should be a disagree button, my answer is a resounding "NO!".
Every single benefit comes at a cost. Companies do not have an infinite amount of resources to spend on benefits. The optimal mix of benefits should be determined through bottom up organic processes, not by state fiat based on simplistic assumptions.
The process by which the market develops and quality of life improves is much more complex than these cookie cutter rules assume.
I'd argue it's only because the nature of film making - with many short-lived independent productions - doesn't give unionized work units the monopoly control they would have in large stable production facilities, like factories, and moreover, due to being cultural work, is very difficult to outsource.
For a time all major industrial sectors were dominated by unions. It resulted in America losing its manufacturing edge and seeing most manufacturing migrate to Asia. The entire passenger rail service also went bankrupt due to the demands of the Brotherhoods, which had a stranglehold on the industry.
Today, besides a few notable exceptions like Hollywood and the screen actors guild, unions are only growing in the public sector, and that's because taxpayers are forced to subsidize their inefficiency.
As a general rule, industries lose their dynamism when they come under the domination of unions, which is exactly what standard economic theories on free markets and efficiency predict.
Germany seems to have strong unions and a strong auto industry, but the German economy as a whole has suffered decades of wage stagnation. One outperforming industry alone doesn't negate the broader correlation between restrictive labor laws, and degraded economic performance.
Also, Germany has many advantages in manufacturing that are independent of its labor laws, like a strong work ethic and tradition of engineering, good trade schools, etc. So an argument can be made that it has a strong tendency to be a manufacturing power that is capable of counter-acting the harmful effects of bad policies.
One possible indication that unionization has had a harmful impact on German economic development is if you look at Germany's past compared to its present you see that it developed more rapidly relative to its contemporaries before embracing the social-democratic/unionized-workforce model.