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Labor Unions

September 11, 2013

Dear Editor, It is impossible to overstate the importance of old-fashioned “resistance.” Without resistance things can get out of hand very quickly. Take the schoolyard bully for example....

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promo61

Sep-20-13 12:53 PM

Thanks to you as well. I'm sorry to say it, but hunger and want have been a part of civilized societal evolution for time out of mind, i.e. Vanderbilt, Carnegie and Rockefeller. It's good that you are standing up for those who need representation in the workplace. We may disagree on methods or the application of those resources, but human compassion is critical in all walks of life. I commend you for your passion and commitment. On a different topic we may find ourselves on the same side and I would benefit from a staunch ally as I hope you would too. When politics enter the arena and that's the prism one uses to view all human activity, that's when ridiculous arguments begin. Sometimes I wonder if we all aren't unwittingly carrying out the desires of the political class by allowing ourselves to be divided along those lines.

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oluhjnb

Sep-20-13 5:13 AM

Ben Lofton is clearly the winner, Promo61 was educated, turley, as usual, wallows in the gutter.

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benlofton

Sep-20-13 12:08 AM

Promo61, I have thoroughly enjoyed talking with you, very often these types of conversations between people with different views do not not remain civil. For that I thank you! In closing I would like to say that: There is no justice and can be no peace so long as hunger want are found among millions of working people, while the employing class lives in luxury. Luxury that we as workers have provided to them through our military service, our hard labor and the collective buying power of the working class!

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promo61

Sep-19-13 10:56 PM

Comparing salaries and wages of employers and employees is apples and oranges. Is there a moral code that compels owners of businesses to distribute profits equally to employers? Im having difficulty following your reasoning. A nation of Robin Hoods we are not. The history lesson on wages you present tells the story of the industrial age. Many people made a decent wage with just a high school education in low skill level jobs. That paradigm has shifted toward higher skill level jobs with more education required of employees. Simply saying a company makes huge profits and therefore owes its workers more because of it is just ludicrous. That argument would fall on deaf ears of Americans in early years of self-sufficiency.

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benlofton

Sep-19-13 8:23 PM

Promo61, The suggestion that labor unions are the source of companies going bankrupt. Isn't based on fact, but rather, it is ideological. If you take the lifetime earnings of a union worker and compare it to one year's salary of the CEO of a major corporation and add in the bonuses the CEO received. You'll see that union workers are not to blame for a company closing. CEO pay has skyrocketed from 42 times the average workers pay in 1980 to 343 times in 2010. American corporations have created 2.9 million jobs overseas during the last decade; while they cut 1.1 million American jobs. You say that unions raise wages, but at what cost? Corporations are making larger profits than ever before, the real question is; At who's cost?

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benlofton

Sep-19-13 8:12 PM

(continued) Between 1980 -2004 real wages fell 1 percent, while the richest 1 percent's income rose 275 percent! The largest contributor to this inequality has been the corporate attack on labor unions. The last 30 years shows that the competitive market absent collective bargaining, doesn't allow everyday Americans to share in the fruits of increased productivity or economic growth.

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benlofton

Sep-19-13 8:08 PM

Promo61, When the Great Depression hit, income inequality was rampant. Then the NLRA was passed and workers finally had legal union rights. Between 1929 and 1947 real wages for workers 67 percent, while income for America's richest fell 17 percent, this period marked the birth of the middle class. Then came the postwar boom 1947-1973. Wages for workers rose 81 percent and income for the richest rose 38 percent. From 1973-1980, everyone lost ground, wages fell 3 percent and the richest incomes fell 4 percent. Beginning in 1980, there were big gains at the very top. The anti-worker policies of Reagan magnified income redistribution.

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benlofton

Sep-19-13 7:58 PM

Turley, You seem to thoroughly enjoy seeing and wishing misery upon others. That's sort of creepy.

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promo61

Sep-19-13 5:12 PM

It was not duly enacted, it was passed through a budgetary trick called reconciliation so all they (the Democrats) needed was a majority vote. reconciliation is useful in amending budgetary items after a bill is passed and was not intended to be used the way it was - for a bill affecting 1/6th of the economy. There was no debate.

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BushCrimeFamily

Sep-19-13 4:58 PM

House Republicans have just signed a suicide pact. They agreed yesterday on a plan to use the threat of a government shutdown as leverage to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Boehner caved in to his right-wing fanatics and agreed to attach the repeal to a bill to keep the government funded past Sept. 30. There’s no way the Senate will go along – which means the government will run out of money to keep federal workers on the job and provide basic services as of October 1st.

I was in Bill Clinton’s cabinet when Newt Gingrich and his earlier band of extremists pulled this stunt the first time. It cost Republicans the White House in 1996 and ended Gingrich’s reign. The American public doesn’t want politicians using the government of the United States as a pawn to get what they want. The Affordable Care Act was duly enacted by both houses of Congress and signed by the President. The Supreme Court upheld its constitutionality. - Robert Reich

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promo61

Sep-19-13 1:46 PM

People take risks that others aren't willing to and invest their time, money and sweat equity to build something that didn't exist before they conceived it. Should that employer, once they are successful, have the choice of controlling costs in the form wages for employees? Shouldn't that be their right since they created jobs where none existed? What reasonable excuse is there for a union to form and drive up the cost of producing goods? I've seen you talk about the difference in the living wage of union members vs. nonunion members. My question is, at what cost?

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promo61

Sep-19-13 1:41 PM

As long as sales remained strong everything was covered. Is it fair to say that unions alone harmed the auto industry? No. But it is fair to say that legacy costs and compensation rates 3x foreign competitors was a factor. The debate became more about a company's ability to survive with union employees, instead of improving working conditions in an industrial setting. When unions evolved in the 30's, those workplace standards didn't exist. Kudos to unions for accomplishing that mission. Today however, it has become a zero sum game when the existence of a union can trump the company that permitted it's existence. Employees and unions exist at the behest of the employer. Companies aren't born from a group of unemployed people who decide to form a union and find a company to hire them. Companies are born from ideas that can make a profit in the marketplace.

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promo61

Sep-19-13 1:17 PM

I'm not saying it was the fault of union members. I'm saying the gap was there because the union existed. I am all for workers rights on the job and unions did an effective job in bringing working conditions out of the dark ages in terms of health, safety and a living wage. I also believe however, that there was a tipping point - likely in the late 60's or early 70's - that began to tilt away from unions progress in the workplace. In large part it's because many of the wrongs were righted, but also because the burden of union contracts began to overburden the companies they were contracted with. The auto industry is a good example. Post-war manufacturing of cars headed in one direction - bigger and heavier with more powerful engines. Times were good for workers and their employers because sales were flying high. To keep production up, management gave unions most anything they wanted to avoid a costly strike. And why not?

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promo61

Sep-19-13 12:51 PM

BenLofton, I truly appreciate your willingness to indulge me on this topic. The question you posit is philosophical in nature and beyond my scope of knowledge to provide you an answer. I know that our views differ on this topic but in my opinion it presents the best chance to learn from one another. I think the big picture lesson is that once an entity, be it a labor union or any industry, submits itself to government control for its own benefit it becomes subject to that control even when the outcome is not in that entity's best interest. In other words, the blade cuts both ways. I think unions are finding that out with Obamacare for example. My father was a union member all of his life, but he was also an independent thinker. He benefited from the union I'm sure, but there was also areas he found distasteful. Because he worked between union and management he saw the divide between the two that in large part wouldn't exist between reasonable men.

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turley

Sep-19-13 12:13 PM

Ben and Oluh have me sold.....where do I sign up???....ooops!....cant find anywhere hiring that has a union!!...LOL....guess the greedy corporate capitalists closed them all, eh boys?....ponder this hypothetical scenario....some investor with more cash than brains buys up these closed mills in a few months....or lets say a year. He runs ads on TV and newspapers hiring at $11.00 an hour and basic health coverage and NO Union....lots and lots of folks would be in that line. Big Talk from decades gone by does not pay mortgages and feed children, and obamas welfare is not sustainable for very long---just like his presidency!LOL!

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oluhjnb

Sep-19-13 6:54 AM

People with a birther/bigot mindset will never evolve. Their antebellum, misanthropic, and reactionary hatred of those not like them are the true leftovers from the 1950's.

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benlofton

Sep-18-13 11:22 PM

Turley, Saying that union dues are used to support a political candidate, is an OUTRIGHT LIE! You seem not to understand that political support for candidates does not come from union dues, but separate VOLUNTARY contributions of union members who want to support candidates favorable to their cause. Labor unions under law must establish strict safeguards and procedures for ensuring that dues are not used to support political candidates or ideological activities that are outside the scope of normal collective bargaining activities.

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turley

Sep-18-13 9:59 PM

The REAL question, Ben, is WHY are libbies so determined to bully the 90% who do NOT belong to unions? Indiana is the most recent of 26 States to have Right to Work laws. When you apply for a job, you are asking a company for work....not asking to donate to liberal politicians through extortion...which is exactly what mandatory union dues are these days. There was a time when you got your moneys worth for a dues dollar. That time is long gone. Walter Ruether and I.W. Abel are turning in their graves at the sight of the parasites running Americas unions today.

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benlofton

Sep-18-13 7:45 PM

Promo61, I feel that I have answered your questions; respectfully, thoroughly, and honestly. I would like you to answer a question for me. If labor unions represent only represent 11.3 percent of the workforce (and the Right Wing says: that unions are obsolete and no one wants to join or needs a union.) Then why is the right wing so bent on limiting workers ability to join a union? If unions aren't needed or wanted by workers, why spend so much time fighting against them? Why are conservatives so determined to destroy just 11.3 percent?

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benlofton

Sep-18-13 6:49 PM

Promo61,What I mean by selfishness; is that supporters of so called "right to work" are hoping that workers will quit their union. Figuring, why pay union dues?, when the union has to represent me for free

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benlofton

Sep-18-13 6:45 PM

Promo61, You cannot even compare the money unions have as opposed to corporations. The top fifty companies in the fortune 500, range in market value from $414 Billion (Exxon Mobil) to $51 Billion (Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold). The anti-union website, unionfacts****, reported that the national AFL-CIO has total assets of over $99 Million with a total income of $177 Million in 2010. According to this same website, SEIU, one of the largest unions, with around 2 million members has assets of $209 Million with an income of $318 Million. While for you and me, these numbers seem astronomical, what is important to understand is the difference in scale. SEIU's assets represent a shocking .05 percent of Exxon- mobil's market value! We are not talking about even remotely comparable organizations. Big business, like our friends at Exxon-mobil, are in control of the commanding heights of the economy rather than organizations of workers- unions that simply cannot compare with these corporation

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benlofton

Sep-18-13 6:32 PM

Promo61, If you are referring to the national right to work committee, 84 percent of their budget is financed by corporations. Does any workplace exist in isolation from the political and legislative worlds? Does the choice of this or that political candidate mean nothing? consider this: workplaces are affected by zoning, taxes, existence or lack of safety, infrastructure, whether workers have a right to organize unions, etc. The employer class tends to turn political arenas to: restrict the right of workers to organize a union, seek tax advantages to encourage them to invest or remain in the area, oppose tax increases on the wealthy, create employer-friendly regulations. if you look closely you'll see a pattern: the employers aren't necessarily looking out for the interests of one or two workplaces, but rather, for the employer class as a whole. One way they accomplish this is by forming organizations such as the chamber of commerce.

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benlofton

Sep-18-13 6:18 PM

Promo61, Yes, your statement is incorrect. When workers are covered under a collective bargaining agreement, that agreement costs money to negotiate and enforce. The costs of negotiating and enforcing the contract are shared by the workers covered under the agreement through dues (which on average are $2.00 for every $100 earned. In so called "right to work"n states, workers who do not want to join their union at work, are still covered under the union contract. The union must negotiate and enforce the contract on their behalf, at the cost of dues paying members. This divides the workforce and costs the union more money with less coming in, which is precisely the point of so called "right to work".

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turley

Sep-18-13 1:42 PM

In the near future, we will all see quite a spectacle as the "union leaders" come begging the Republicans to defund obamacare!!....they call it a "back-breaker" for the working class, and now claim they were misled. As we all know, obama promised their unions an exclusion from his bogus socialist healthcare plan, then broke his promise after being re-elected. He simply double-crossed these "leaders" after they delivered votes for him from their gullible members. Looks like the unions trusted a snake!!...LOL....its gonna be interesting!!

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promo61

Sep-18-13 10:07 AM

BenLofton, I'm confused by your first response re; Right to Work. On one hand you're saying it has nothing to do with choice, then you say the law appeals to the "selfishness of the worker". Can you expand on that? Thanks.

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