Beyond Wisconsin, This Could Be the End of Labor Unions

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Antiunion protest in WisconsinWith the efforts in Wisconsin and some other states to eliminate or severely limit collective bargaining for public employees, the entire labor union movement in the U.S. is threatened with a potential starvation of funds and a sharp drop in membership. That could have a big impact on labor's voice on everything from the value of China's currency to new laws dealing with worker protections.

"This is a direct assault on the institutional viability of labor unions," says Marick F. Masters, director of the Douglas A. Fraser Center for Workplace Issues and Labor at Wayne State University in Detroit. "This isn't an effort to legislate changes in benefits. This is an effort to rewrite the collective-bargaining laws."

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has proposed a plan that would end collective bargaining for a number of state and municipal workers on retirement pay and on health-care benefits. He also wants to limit the "agency shop" -- where workers covered by union contracts pay either union dues or a fee even if they aren't union members -- and require public sector unions to be recertified on an annual basis.

Ohio is also holding hearings on a bill that would eliminate all collective bargaining for state workers. And New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie has introduced measures to require teachers to pay more for retirement and health benefits and has proposed ending their tenure.

A Threat to Democrats

"They have lit a spark that I think is going to spread," Masters says. "There is a lot of public antipathy toward the public sector because they are perceived as being overpaid and underworked." Many public sector workers, for example, receive taxpayer-financed defined-benefit pensions, which have all but disappeared in the private sector as defined-contribution plans such as 401(k)s have taken their place.

The anti-union rhetoric has become so heated in Wisconsin that President Obama on Friday intervened publicly.

"Some of what I've heard coming out of Wisconsin, where you're just making it harder for public employees to collectively bargain generally, seems like more of an assault on unions,'" Obama told a local TV station. Obama is right to worry -- an attack on union membership could weaken labor's financial and political support for the Democratic party.

Many Cops Are Teamsters

If there's a general attack on public unions, it could be a huge setback for the entire labor movement. Since the 1950s, union membership has declined in the U.S. from about 35% of the workforce to about 12% today.

Most of that drop was due to automation in factories or jobs being sent offshore to places like China. At the same time, unions covering public employees grew substantially beginning in the 1960s and now constitute 48.9% of the unionized workforce, according to Amaya Tune, a spokeswoman for the AFL-CIO in Washington.

Not only are public service unions such as the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees largely financed by dues paid by covered workers who are not in the union, but some other large unions, such as the Teamsters, also have a large public service membership. The Teamsters is the country's largest police union, and about 300,000 of the Teamsters' estimated 1 million members are in public sector jobs.

Undermining Union Finances

Walker's proposal to end deductions of union dues from state paychecks especially threatens the unions' existence, according to academic experts.

"I think you would see union coffers go down dramatically if they weren't able to keep the agency shop," says Masters. He notes that in the federal government, which is an open shop that can't require payment of dues for covered employees, 70% of the workers don't pay any dues to the unions. If such a change is widely adopted at the state level, it could undermine the finances of many big unions, not just public sector unions.

Organized labor spends some of that money on lobbying efforts in Washington to influence legislation on workplace issues. But unions also lobby Congress and the president on trade issues like the value of the Chinese currency and offshoring of jobs.

Daniel Cornfield, a professor at Vanderbilt University and the editor of the journal Work and Occupation, says another consequence of clampdown on public sector unions would be a widening of the gap in wages between women and men and between racial minorities and whites. That's because women and minorities are disproportionately represented in state and local work forces nationally.

Nonunion Workers Could Also Suffer

"The public sector unions played a significant role in narrowing any wage gaps that exist between races and genders because of who they represent," Cornfield says. "The dismantling of collective bargaining in the public sector could exacerbate the gender gap and the race gap on pay." Cornfield says. He notes that the rise of public sector unions in the 1960s was closely associated with two other trends: the burgeoning women's movement and civil rights movement.

Cornfield also points out that weakening of organized labor could also hurt the wages for the bulk of workers who are now employed in companies that don't have unions. That's because nonunionized companies often will match union benefits in an effort to keep union representation out of their firms. Without that model, Cornfield says, the "wages of the 90% of the labor force that's not unionized" could be threatened.

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tempgirl007

I can see this issue two different ways, the first is now they can do what every other worker in the private sector does. Work and take the pay level and benefits that the company gives you. It's really not a new concept and most Americans have worked under this premise forever. They will just have to get used to doing what we've always done. The catch with this, is most workers' get screwed over by their employers on a daily basis. Some are fired for no reason or singled out, labeled, etc. and if your boss doesn't like you he can walk in and fire your AZZ whenever he feels like it. So there are many negatives that they are now going to have to live with. It sux. There's discrimination and all sorts of things going on out there. Whew it's bad. but it's reality, and reality for most Americans. Just gotta keep your head down, pretend to smile, keep your mouth shut, work hard, show up on time and do good work. and if your a minority, just hope that someone doesn't get tired of looking at you or dealing with you, or else ur azz will be outta there. Now the other way, this bothers me, is the Union has been around for many years, and who are we to dismantle it! Fine, if they wanted to make changes like, no forced pay increases during a recession, or increase their medical insurance rates to what all Americans typically pay, no problem but the union has helped protect the worker for many, many years and without them there will probably be more employee abuse cases by employers. That's a fact. I've seen it and it's happened to me more than once in my lifetime. On another note, if I hear another IDIOT, complain about how they were TRICKED or LIED to by the person they voted for, I will scream!!! You're an adult do your friggin research!! I know more than one local teacher and several fire fighters and officers, who now regret their vote. I asked one of them, if they did any research on their candidate? They said, no? SHOCKER! You brought this on yourself. and now ruined it for all of your other fellow workers out there. Unreal. Republicans are always for big business/corporation, less gov, and making money. Nothing wrong with that. but what part of UNION, means that the UNION makes money for corporations? HELLO! Unions don't make money for corporations, they COST THEM MONEY! It's not rocket science. The unions drain the company's and force them doing things that cost them money and not make them money! It's a liability! So what part of that, made you think that a REPUBLICAN, would be PRO-UNION? I don't get it? It doesn't matter that you didn't know about it, it's not as if they were going to tell you, but it was your responsibility to research and do your homework! so you have no one to blame but yourself. and i feel sorry for your fellow teachers, police officers and firefighters who now have to suffer for your stupidity.

April 09 2011 at 4:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
bab523

please do away with unions they are thives, thugs and would ruin the country and could care less. look at the signs they carry to incite people to violence the teachers and others should be glad they have a job as far as teaching sure not very impressive results

February 28 2011 at 11:18 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Russ

I find it so Infuriating that the only ones who ever mention the fact that
obama is black are paranoid blacks. It doesn't matter to me what color the man is, that he is a communist does.

February 27 2011 at 11:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
stalb427

As a former teamster i can honestly say that a union can tramp on a workers rights just as throughly and easily as a corporation. Only difference is you dont pay your corporate boss to do it. The workers representation is only as good as their union steward and most of them are jokes who always side with management. Its highly aggravating to see the unions carry themselves as though they are protecting the middle class when all they actually care about is keeping the gravy train rolling. Even if its at the expense of the middle class, im tired of paying taxes for state union members to enjoy pension/insurance benefits that i cant afford for myself. PAY YOUR SHARE!

February 27 2011 at 8:43 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
mulaniff90

Public employee union members get every penny of pay, benefits and pension from private sector taxpayers. Yes, they do pay taxes also, BUT WITH OTHER PEOPLES MONEY. These members are greedy and selfish,no two ways about that. What are these people going to do when the people paying their way refuse to keep paying? Maybe they can riot in the streets to try to hold on to their "entitlements". Public employees are just that, PUBLIC employees. Taxpayers are their bosses, not the other way around. Most of these people probably could not hold down a private sector job because of the amount of work they would actually have to do without all the paid time off, paid breaks, etc. Work done in the public sector needs 3 or 4 more workers, supervisors and bosses per job than in the private sector. Laziness and incompetence is rampant in the public sector, with the unions protecting the worst of the lot. Instead of professional unions, you get protected sub-par workers who only have to show up and not commit any felonies while on the clock to maintain their jobs. It does not matter how many people the DMV employee helps on any given day. Producing 1 document or 100 pays the same. No incentive to be more efficient, quite the opposit as a matter of fact, so more union members can be hired. Public employee unions are one of the biggest rip-offs of the taxpayers, right up there with the politicians who are bought off by these unions.

February 27 2011 at 11:51 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
zekentoby

It's been entertaining seeing all the union propaganda in which they attempt to portray themselves as heroes of the middle class, when in fact their extortionate demands are scr#wing the middle class. Remember, it's the taxpayers who are having to pick up the tab for these excessive union benefit/wages.

February 27 2011 at 10:35 AM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
Jim Anderson

Dear MoonWolf: Try howling, your old crap has been seen by millions, written by a unionist terrorist. You cannot even spell chicken... If you actually read the facts, you would see more is spent on welfare for illegals than defending the USA. The rich dudes crap has played out long ago, except for the break Prez Oz gave to all the billionaies for his billionaire buddy who paid to get him elected... The actual issue is a Union Shop, nothing more than a bunch of goons adding a tax for you to work. MY pension died in 1995, the Unions still have theirs 15 years later, on my dime... and free medical, that is legalized theft.

February 26 2011 at 1:07 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jim Anderson's comment
hduplease

your pension died, what if you were union you would still have a pension, to bad most non union working class citizens cannot see beyond the end of their nose. if the job i did didnt pay a pension, and the union job doing the same task did, i would join the union. a no brainer. unfortunately a lot of non union working class people have been so brainwashed by the so called leaders of a company that they dont see it. open your eyes

February 27 2011 at 6:39 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Dear MoonWolf

NEWS FLASH: America is BROKE because the Bush and The Dick LIED and got YOUR sons and daughters CRIPPLED and MURDERED to go to war in countries w greasy sand that hate us. They borrowed BILLIONS from Daddy Bush's commie Chinese buds from his ambassador days. Your children and the country are in debt up to your eyeballs for the people who inspired Ronnie Raygun to take the solar panels off the White House - like Halliburton and Blackwater, war-profiteers who were so disgraced they had to change the co. name. So, this gov. sold the Little Guy up the river for DINNER w Rich Dude Koch. First thing the repubs do is give Rich Dudes TAX BREAKS, then break the backs of the Little Guy. This is what all you whiz-bangs voted the repubs in for? Mostly to go against the Uppity Black Man in the White House? (Yeah, I figured that out.) Now I get to reap what you propaganda eaters sewed. Thanks a crap load for crapping on ME.
MEANWHILE, they ALL stil reward CRIMINALS for running across our border at midnight w medical benefits they just TOOK AWAY from law-abiding citizens again. THEY ARE RUNNING the ASYLUM and YOU HANDED THEM the KEYS.

February 25 2011 at 10:42 AM Report abuse -8 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Dear MoonWolf's comment
waterfowljones

Ah! The Iraq Lie Theory again. Let's take a look see:

The Bush Administration was relying, and acting upon information from many sources throughout the free world, as to just what was going on with Saddam behind the scenes, and that is the very same information that not only 'fooled" he and The Dick (as you referred to him) but also, "fooled" a majority of The U.S. Congress---and lest you forget, those are the people who stood behind Bush's decision to hit Iraq.

But all the while with sanctions, and warnings, and going along with The U.N.'s "kid gloves" approach towards Iraq, Bush slowly built what coalition he could, outside The U.N.'s "***** footing" influence. And of course those 17 months of The U.N. half-stepping, afforded Saddam the opportunity to "clean up", and move "items of interest" to friendlier environs....like oh, ahhhhh...Syria for instance.

In short, Bush didn't act alone, and Bush didn't act on a "hunch", and he also didn't act on the advise of a Czar that he had recently appointed to circumvent the Congress...nor did he split hairs, crumple up The U.S. Constitution, and move ahead in a war without The Congress's blessing, and without support from the majority of the U.S. Citizenship.

So far as who broke who, and what, and why goes...best as I recollect (because I was there), it all started on a downward trend during The Johnson Administration, and was kicked off with his grand plan, for...his "Great Society". And that was one that was slowly, but surely going to take care of everyone, cradle to grave (sound familiar?)---but of course starting with the poorest of the poor, who by the way, are STILL the poorest of the poor after damn near 50 years of "government help".

Obama is just the icing on the Marxist, Socialist, Statist Cake, and the guy who has moved to a much higher level of manipulation over We The People.

Today it is all about lies from The Left and their propaganda machine, The Mainstream Media, and the compounding of lies from this Administration, breaking the banks (personal and institutional) , and breaking private business's, all the while insuring that We The People HURT, across the board...and as they lose their jobs, their home, sometimes their partner/spouse (due to financial stress), We The People WILL get angry, and lash out in many forms, but with patience on the side of the manipulator's, and adept footwork at "splitting the country", We The People will come to a point whereas they lose all hope....and at that point? Well at that point they will go along with most anything TO survive...hence the morphing into brain numbed automatons, or zombies like so many people who can't see the forest for the trees in the case of this President.

And so far as the folks from "the greasy sand countries" go, not to worry, Mr. Obama has an open door policy for all of them (the more radical the better though), and is pushing hard to get 'em the toe hold they need in The United States to bring their dream of Islamic Religious Domination, and Sharia Law into the mainstream of America.

And The Messiah is almost successful with all of his plan, but right at this juncture, my unhappy friend, quite franky, it is a coin toss as to just what happens next.

Jones

February 25 2011 at 12:10 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
tempgirl007

Funny, but i have to agree with u. Period. and if I hear another IDIOT, complain about how they were TRICKED or LIED to by the person they voted for, I will scream!!! You're an adult do your friggin research!! I know more than one local teacher and several fire fighters and officers, who now regret their vote. I asked one of them, if they did any research on their candidate? They said, no? SHOCKER! You brought this on yourself. and now ruined it for all of your other fellow workers out there. Unreal. Republicans are always for big business/corporation, less gov, and making money. Nothing wrong with that. but what part of UNION, means that the UNION makes money for corporations? HELLO! Unions don't make money for corporations, they COST THEM MONEY! It's not rocket science. The unions drain the company's and force them doing things that cost them money and not make them money! It's a liability! So what part of that, made you think that a REPUBLICAN, would be PRO-UNION? I don't get it? It doesn't matter that you didn't know about it, it's not as if they were going to tell you, but it was your responsibility to research and do your homework! so you have no one to blame but yourself. and i feel sorry for your fellow teachers, police officers and firefighters who now have to suffer for your stupidity. and one local teacher told me he just wanted to vote against President Obama because he didn't like him and how he was running the country. WELL LOOK AT YOU NOW, MR. TEACHER.... he told me he wished he could take his vote back. sorry brodah, doesn't work that way...

April 09 2011 at 5:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ecn7833

This would not break my heart any. Between the Unions and Obama they have ruined this country. My husband was forced to be in a union with the airline industry in order to keep his job. He is now deceased. I will bae so happy as a senior to have Obama out of our White House, and someone in there that cares about this country and its people.

February 24 2011 at 9:49 AM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
triggsclan

Only the Repukian's, and othe corrupt politicians and the REAL PROBLEM GREEDY CORPORATIONS and the totally uneducated are fearful of unions who are the reason the average workers a decent wage you can live on safe working conditions and benefits along with protection for harassment and medical benefits for them and their family's. All major company's use unions employees costs the major reason they can not compete. The reason the can not compete is that they do not care for anything but making billions more dollars for themselves. Look at the American car company's went down the proverbial toilet making cars that are cheaply made and their warranties are useless when you bring them back to repairs. The were too busy flying around the world in billion dollar customized jets,getting million dollar bonuses, along wit the the banking industry's , which both had to be bailed out by tax's payers and were given billions of dollars and during this period the are still getting paid millions of dollars and still getting millions of dollars in bonuses while the majority of non union and Union employees have lost their jobs, their houses, cars, and families due to the nothing by CORPORATE GREED , and the want to take away your unemployment, your social security benefits they do not car if you have a job, or food or medical care, which they still have mansions, vacation houses all over the world while you are losing your houses, open your eyes and stop listening the Repukians who are after even more millions for themselves who only represent CORPORATE AMERICA !!!!!!!!
Walmart and other non union stores ar forced to pay you more than what the would ever pay if it were not for UNIONS and the owners of those types of stores are some of the richest people in the world for one reason they make billions of dollars of their cheap employee's backs and sweat,and have a life long recored of screwing their employees !!!!! It's Time To Replace Any Politician Who Are Only There To Line Their Pockets From Corporate America, and Screw You Doing So, VOTE THEM OUT !!!! Read & Follow The News The Third World Countrys Like Libya Rebellions That Is What The United States Will End Up Soon....

February 24 2011 at 9:40 AM Report abuse -6 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to triggsclan's comment
waterfowljones

You bet!!! Hate be the one to burst your bubble, BUT, the marketplace WILL dictate the wage if governemnbt gets out of the way. Workers will then be paid for their skills, and what they offer the employer, and the more skills they have, and the more they offer the employer, the higher the wage will be---THAT is simple market dynamics at work. And unions throw that whole dynamic out of whack, whereas they DEMAND that a member is to be paid a set wage, and that is pretty much regardless how much of a drain that member are on the company coffer's...Membership has it's perks, and merit is of little rfegard when it comes to handing out the perks---argue it all you want, but that is what makes the private sector workers run circles around union based workers...perhaps not so much within the private sector union signed companies that still demand quality, and effort put forth, but in the union scaled public sector, "JOKE" doesn't even come close to describing what gets done in a very unorderly fashion.

Teachers? They are nothing more, by and large, then propaganda merchants indoctrinating the school kids with Leftist BS forced upon them by "Progressives", to then force it upon the kiddies...So I say fire 'em all, kick out the union (and The Left), and start over.

DISCLAIMER: Not all teacher's are Parrot's for The Left mind you, but it is a simple fact that the highest percentage of teacher's vote Democrat, and that pretty much out of loyalty to those who grease their palms, while forcing them to carry their banner in the schools.

Jones

February 25 2011 at 12:39 AM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply
Jim Anderson

Yeah man, pay the Union Bosses their billions... Just another tax to work. Go on Google and look at the homes of YOUR union bosses!!! NICE pools, Mercedes, BIG homes while you live in a hovel.... Only an idiot would vote to give away their wages and elect an idiot for a fearless leader whom could not get hired to teach kindergarten....

February 26 2011 at 1:15 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply