Quantcast

Why do we need labor unions?

connie (in name only) BN-0 2011/04/11 16:52:51
You!
Add Photos & Videos
Ikea's U.S. factory churns out unhappy workers

A union-organizing battle hangs over the Ikea plant in Virginia. Workers complain of eliminated raises, a frenzied pace, mandatory overtime and racial discrimination.

By Nathaniel Popper, Los Angeles Times

April 10, 2011

Reporting from Danville, Va.—

When home furnishing giant Ikea selected this fraying blue-collar city to build its first U.S. factory, residents couldn't believe their good fortune.

Beloved by consumers worldwide for its stylish and affordable furniture, the Swedish firm had also constructed a reputation as a good employer and solid corporate citizen. State and local officials offered $12 million in incentives. Residents thrilled at the prospect of a respected foreign company bringing jobs to this former textile region after watching so many flee overseas.

But three years after the massive facility opened here, excitement has waned. Ikea is the target of racial discrimination complaints, a heated union-organizing battle and turnover from disgruntled employees.

Workers complain of eliminated raises, a frenzied pace and mandatory overtime. Several said it's common to find out on Friday evening that they'll have to pull a weekend shift, with disciplinary action for those who can't or don't show up.

Kylette Duncan, among the plant's first hires, quit after six months to take a lower-paying retail job. "I need money as bad as anybody, but I also need a life," said Duncan, 52. She recalled having to cancel medical appointments for her ailing husband because she had to work overtime at the last minute.

Some of the Virginia plant's 335 workers are trying to form a union. The International Assn. of Machinists and Aerospace Workers said a majority of eligible employees had signed cards expressing interest.

In response, the factory — part of Ikea's manufacturing subsidiary, Swedwood — hired the law firm Jackson Lewis, which has made its reputation keeping unions out of companies. Workers said Swedwood officials required employees to attend meetings at which management discouraged union membership.

Plant officials didn't return calls and declined to meet with a Times reporter who visited the Virginia facility. Swedwood spokeswoman Ingrid Steen in Sweden called the situation in Danville "sad" but said she could not discuss the complaints of specific employees. She said she had heard "rumors" about anti-union meetings at the plant but added that "this wouldn't be anything that would be approved by the group management in Sweden."

The dust-up has garnered little attention in the U.S. But it's front-page news in Sweden, where much of the labor force is unionized and Ikea is a cherished institution. Per-Olaf Sjoo, the head of the Swedish union in Swedwood factories, said he was baffled by the friction in Danville. Ikea's code of conduct, known as IWAY, guarantees workers the right to organize and stipulates that all overtime be voluntary.

"Ikea is a very strong brand and they lean on some kind of good Swedishness in their business profile. That becomes a complication when they act like they do in the United States," said Sjoo. "For us, it's a huge problem."

Laborers in Swedwood plants in Sweden produce bookcases and tables similar to those manufactured in Danville. The big difference is that the Europeans enjoy a minimum wage of about $19 an hour and a government-mandated five weeks of paid vacation. Full-time employees in Danville start at $8 an hour with 12 vacation days — eight of them on dates determined by the company.

What's more, as many as one-third of the workers at the Danville plant have been drawn from local temporary-staffing agencies. These workers receive even lower wages and no benefits, employees said.

Swedwood's Steen said the company is reducing the number of temps, but she acknowledged the pay gap between factories in Europe and the U.S. "That is related to the standard of living and general conditions in the different countries," Steen said.

Bill Street, who has tried to organize the Danville workers for the machinists union, said Ikea was taking advantage of the weaker protections afforded to U.S. workers.

"It's ironic that Ikea looks on the U.S. and Danville the way that most people in the U.S. look at Mexico," Street said.

The Swedwood factory is situated on the outskirts of Danville, in the midst of rolling tobacco country, just north of the North Carolina border.

For most of the last century the town of 45,000 relied on textiles and tobacco for jobs. Today the riverfront is lined with empty red brick warehouses and crumbling mills. With the unemployment rate high — currently at 10.1% — the city has put muscle behind attracting new companies, including Ikea.

"They've definitely given jobs to people that desperately needed them here," city manager Joe King said.

Swedwood says it chose Danville to cut shipping costs to its U.S. stores. The plant has been run mostly by American managers, along with some from Sweden.

The facility looks like a series of interlocking, windowless white boxes — as neat as an Ikea store — with a blue-and-yellow Swedish flag flying out front. Employees inside produce Expedit bookshelves, which start at $69.99 in Ikea stores, and Lack coffee tables, which retail for as little as $19.99.

Low prices have helped Ikea weather the economic downturn. The company made 2.7 billion euros in profit last year, up 6.1% from 2009, according to its most recent financial statements.

Still, last fall, Swedwood eliminated regularly scheduled raises and made cuts to some pay packages in Danville. Starting pay in the packing department, for example, was reduced to $8 an hour from $9.75. Steen said the changes were made to free up more money to pay incentive bonuses to top performers.

The median hourly wage in the Danville area is $15.48, according to the Virginia Employment Commission.

Current and former plant employees said they resented the unpredictable work hours and high-pressure atmosphere. The plant assesses penalty points for violations of work rules; workers who accumulate nine of them can be fired.

"It's the most strict place I have ever worked," said Janis Wilborne, 63, who worked at the plant for two years and quit last year.

Six African American employees have filed discrimination complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming that black workers at Swedwood's U.S. factory are assigned to the lowest-paying departments and to the least desirable third shift, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.

"If we put in for a better job, we wouldn't get it — it would always go to a white person," said Jackie Maubin, who worked the night shift in the packing department until last year, when she was fired on her birthday.

Swedwood has been trying to settle four of the discrimination complaints through mediation. The company initially offered Maubin $1,000. She settled for $2,000. She said she needed the money to keep her car from being repossessed.

Global competition has motivated all manner of companies to seek out low-cost sources of production, said Ellen Ruppel Shell, the author of the book "Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture." Ikea is no exception. What's different, she said, is that the company has done such a good job of burnishing its own corporate image.

"There's a mythology around the company," Shell said. "That's why these kinds of revelations surprise a lot of folks."

Read More: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-ikea-union-2...

Add a comment above

Top Opinion

Sort By
  • Most Raves
  • Least Raves
  • Oldest
  • Newest
Opinions

  • Queen B 2011/05/18 02:24:27
    We need labor unions because.....
    Queen B
    +2
    No one wants to work for minimum wage and have no rights as an employee. Get rid of unions and ALL workers' rights go down the tubes.
    minimum wage rights employee rid unions workers rights tubes thank a union for 40 hour work week
  • Lady Wh... Queen B 2011/07/20 00:20:00
  • Freedom4 2011/04/15 20:40:36
    We don't need labor unions because.....
    Freedom4
    All we can thank the unions for is destroying manufacturing, the education system, and bankrupting cities, states, municipalities, and the country.

    When the corrupt union goons use their power to elect the peple that negotiate the contracts with them as with the public sector unions the ones that lose big are the tax payes and the children these horrible teachers educate.

    I used to go out of my way to buy union goods and use union labor for everything that I do. Now, I go out of my way to avoid them. The union leaders are corrupt goons and political hacks and I do not want any of my money going to support that. After the Unions helped push through the Heath Care law against the will of the people and then got themselves exempt from it, and now teachers calling off abandoning students and some even using them as pawns, I am disgusted.

    People in unions should realize that they are ticking off everyone and soon will find themselves to be the brunt of backlash from all those they are abusing. I encourage everyone to buy non union American made products.
    I thought teachers taught because they were passionate about helping children. instead they are asked to contribute, still less than the average American, and they are calling in sick and using their children as pawns.

    No won...








    All we can thank the unions for is destroying manufacturing, the education system, and bankrupting cities, states, municipalities, and the country.

    When the corrupt union goons use their power to elect the peple that negotiate the contracts with them as with the public sector unions the ones that lose big are the tax payes and the children these horrible teachers educate.

    I used to go out of my way to buy union goods and use union labor for everything that I do. Now, I go out of my way to avoid them. The union leaders are corrupt goons and political hacks and I do not want any of my money going to support that. After the Unions helped push through the Heath Care law against the will of the people and then got themselves exempt from it, and now teachers calling off abandoning students and some even using them as pawns, I am disgusted.

    People in unions should realize that they are ticking off everyone and soon will find themselves to be the brunt of backlash from all those they are abusing. I encourage everyone to buy non union American made products.
    I thought teachers taught because they were passionate about helping children. instead they are asked to contribute, still less than the average American, and they are calling in sick and using their children as pawns.

    No wonder Wisconsin has:

    - The lowest rate of African American graduates
    - 20% of the population that is 16 and up that is not in HS and does not have a HS diploma
    - Only 39% of the students are proficient in Math
    - Less than 50% of them are proficient in science.

    It sure is a good thing the unions make it impossible to fire horrible teachers.

    In New York they have a teacher that was hitting on middle schoolers in a 'rubber room" because they can't fire him, but see him as a threat to students. This is great for their education and out tax money.
    (more)
  • Stix 2011/04/14 18:41:53
    We don't need labor unions because.....
    Stix
    Unions have out lived their value...we now have major laws on the books that protect workers. Today, unions are all about ripping off the private sector for as much money and benifits as they can get the democrat party to give them. Here in Washington St. where we have a 4 billion dollar budget deficit we recently had the SEIU show up at our capital and rush the govenors office demanding that their wages and benifits not be cut rather to raise taxes on the working class. They are already paid far more then the average wage and receive much better benifits and can not be fired. My ex mother in law was a school teacher who did such a lousy job with the kids that the parents demanded that she be fired...they made her a libraian for 25 years until she could retire at age 57 with 90% of her pay plus benifits for the rest of her life. Unions are a joke and should all be taken down for the betterment of our kids.
  • wombat 2011/04/13 15:20:05
    We need labor unions because.....
    wombat
    +3
    we have greedy business owners, corporations aso...
  • WankerBait 2011/04/12 17:07:14
    We need labor unions because.....
    WankerBait
    +3
    CEO pay in corporate America rose 12 percent last year to a median of $9.6 million. Corporate profits were up nearly 30 percent in the fourth quarter, the fastest growth in more than 60 years. While CEOs were giving themselves pay raises, wages for U.S. workers were stagnant as rising gas and food prices eat into paychecks.

    The huge CEO pay increases are hard to swallow for the American middle class, which has watched wages stagnate for a generation. In the last five months, wages for U.S. hourly workers haven’t increased one penny, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While U.S. workers who still have jobs aren’t getting raises, employers in developing nations are hiring new consumers who are pushing up demand and prices for food, oil, cotton and other commodities. Since the start of the year, U.S. wages and prices have been moving in opposite directions. Gas prices alone eat up more than half the average worker’s wage increase. The average U.S. commuter buys 12 gallons of gas a week. Filling the tank costs about $40 a month more than in 2010. Meanwhile, the average weekly wage is up just $18 from last year.

    http://www.favstocks.com/ceo-...


    Here are the relevant parts:

    - Corporate profits were up nearly 30 percent in the fourth quarter, the fastest growth in more ...





    CEO pay in corporate America rose 12 percent last year to a median of $9.6 million. Corporate profits were up nearly 30 percent in the fourth quarter, the fastest growth in more than 60 years. While CEOs were giving themselves pay raises, wages for U.S. workers were stagnant as rising gas and food prices eat into paychecks.

    The huge CEO pay increases are hard to swallow for the American middle class, which has watched wages stagnate for a generation. In the last five months, wages for U.S. hourly workers haven’t increased one penny, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While U.S. workers who still have jobs aren’t getting raises, employers in developing nations are hiring new consumers who are pushing up demand and prices for food, oil, cotton and other commodities. Since the start of the year, U.S. wages and prices have been moving in opposite directions. Gas prices alone eat up more than half the average worker’s wage increase. The average U.S. commuter buys 12 gallons of gas a week. Filling the tank costs about $40 a month more than in 2010. Meanwhile, the average weekly wage is up just $18 from last year.

    http://www.favstocks.com/ceo-...


    Here are the relevant parts:

    - Corporate profits were up nearly 30 percent in the fourth quarter, the fastest growth in more than 60 years.

    - ...the average weekly wage is up just $18 from last year.

    Collective bargaining can level the wage/income gap for workers...

    - Peace
    (more)
  • Idiot repubs 2011/04/11 19:49:22
    We need labor unions because.....
    Idiot repubs
    +2
    Any gain won will be eagerly taken away as Wisconsin has shown.
  • Meatwad Idiot r... 2011/04/11 21:00:59 (edited)
    Meatwad
    I am going to assume that from your ignorant post that you don't understand the difference between a public worker union and a private worker union. Let me use the words of one of your "progressive" traitors to explain why public union collective bargaining doesn't work.

    August 16, 1937

    On the Resolution of Federation of Federal Employees Against Strikes in Federal Service

    My dear Mr. Steward:

    As I am unable to accept your kind invitation to be present on the occasion of the Twentieth Jubilee Convention of the National Federation of Federal Employees, I am taking this method of sending greetings and a message.

    Reading your letter of July 14, 1937, I was especially interested in the timeliness of your remark that the manner in which the activities of your organization have been carried on during the past two decades "has been in complete consonance with the best traditions of public employee relationships." Organizations of Government employees have a logical place in Government affairs.

    The desire of Government employees for fair and adequate pay, reasonable hours of work, safe and suitable working conditions, development of opportunities for advancement, facilities for fair and impartial consideration and review of grievances, and other objectives of a proper employee relatio...









    I am going to assume that from your ignorant post that you don't understand the difference between a public worker union and a private worker union. Let me use the words of one of your "progressive" traitors to explain why public union collective bargaining doesn't work.

    August 16, 1937

    On the Resolution of Federation of Federal Employees Against Strikes in Federal Service

    My dear Mr. Steward:

    As I am unable to accept your kind invitation to be present on the occasion of the Twentieth Jubilee Convention of the National Federation of Federal Employees, I am taking this method of sending greetings and a message.

    Reading your letter of July 14, 1937, I was especially interested in the timeliness of your remark that the manner in which the activities of your organization have been carried on during the past two decades "has been in complete consonance with the best traditions of public employee relationships." Organizations of Government employees have a logical place in Government affairs.

    The desire of Government employees for fair and adequate pay, reasonable hours of work, safe and suitable working conditions, development of opportunities for advancement, facilities for fair and impartial consideration and review of grievances, and other objectives of a proper employee relations policy, is basically no different from that of employees in private industry. Organization on their part to present their views on such matters is both natural and logical, but meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government.

    All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.

    Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that "under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government." successful.

    I congratulate the National Federation of Federal Employees the twentieth anniversary of its founding and trust that the convention will, in every way, be successful.

    Very Sincerely Yours,

    (FDR)
    (more)
  • Idiot r... Meatwad 2011/04/11 21:14:02
    Idiot repubs
    +3
    You don't need to assume anything and your right wing BS won't fly, If you don't want americans to have good jobs that's fine, don't tell me I can't have a good job or negotiate as a union for such.
  • Meatwad Idiot r... 2011/04/11 21:32:36
    Meatwad
    So what you are telling me is that you missed the WHOLE concept of the public versus private? All you see is what the other brain dead morons like you see, "If I don't bully my employer with the rest of my thug friends, life won't be fair". Public sector unions CAN'T collective bargain, because WE THE PEOPLE are their employer. So who represents our interest against the union? What stops the unions from abusing their power to gain concessions from us? The Fed doesn't need to care, they don't profit, only collect taxes. The politicians don't need to care because it's not their money. You the public union can become the very parasite they were supposed to balance. By the way what I posted was from FDR, NOT a conservative. But you stick your fingers in your ears and hum like all the rest of you brain dead collectivists that feel we need unions. Because you don't.
  • WankerBait Meatwad 2011/04/12 16:56:41
    WankerBait
    +1
    You forgot to distinguish between federal employees and state employees. The letter you used as evidence only applies to federal workers...
  • Meatwad WankerBait 2011/04/12 17:02:23
    Meatwad
    Kind of a dumb question.

    How exactly are State workers different than Federal workers again? Both are employed by government. Collective bargaining effect both the SAME. One just takes money from the Fed, the other takes it from the State.
  • WankerBait Meatwad 2011/04/12 17:11:34
    WankerBait
    +1
    Not all states prohibit collective bargaining...
  • Meatwad WankerBait 2011/04/12 17:13:41
    Meatwad
    Point is THEY SHOULD. Collective bargaining DOESN'T work for the public sector. Why don't you get that? Not to mention what do public sector employees need a union FOR? They are protected by law from exploitation. In the end, all We the People do is get screwed.
  • WankerBait Meatwad 2011/04/12 17:53:18
    WankerBait
    +2
    1st, I misspoke. Federal worker do have collective bargaining rights, just not for wage and benefits and they cannot strike. All understandable in the public sector.

    Your assertion that collective bargaining doesn't work for the public sector is IMO a misnomer. All labor should have a seat at the table whether in the private of the public sector. Beyond the political rhetoric, public unions are not to blame for states or federal deficits. The fault lies squarely on the shoulder on ineffectual legislators and poor legislation.

    As we've seen recently, legislators can at will eliminate or change the working conditions for public sector workers based on the prevailing political winds and/or ideology. Not a good situation for workers who do not have the ability to collective dispute the assertions or proposals made by politicians who are attempting to cover their asses.

    Labor laws vary from state to state and federal labor laws do not protect all workers from exploitation. Have you ever been classified as a salaried worker?

    If the public gets screwed, it's by their elected officials, not the citizens who show up every day for a paycheck and do the hard work of running the government.
  • Meatwad WankerBait 2011/04/12 18:32:31
    Meatwad
    In the public sector, who represents the employer? Government. Who is government? We the People. So how do you bind We the People, and who protects us from exploitation? In a traditional model An employer is a business, thus there is a defined entity. There interests are the most profit with the least expenditure of resources. The other party is Labor. There also, a defined entity. Their interests are the most benefits for the least amount of effort. Collective bargaining allows labor and employer to come to an understanding that is beneficial to both. If not, labor strikes to deprive employer of profit, although if the union receives too much compensation they drive their employer out of business.

    In the public sector the employer is the government, which is ultimately We the People, but what interests do they represent as they aren't worried about profitability? Who do you bind in that circumstance? What interest does the politician hold? It's not the politicians profit that is impacted, only tax revenue. What prevents the government from simply giving into the demands of the union because it costs them nothing? Yet the public union also has the ability to strike which in effects cripples government. In effect the more that the public sector is given, the more is taken from ...



    In the public sector, who represents the employer? Government. Who is government? We the People. So how do you bind We the People, and who protects us from exploitation? In a traditional model An employer is a business, thus there is a defined entity. There interests are the most profit with the least expenditure of resources. The other party is Labor. There also, a defined entity. Their interests are the most benefits for the least amount of effort. Collective bargaining allows labor and employer to come to an understanding that is beneficial to both. If not, labor strikes to deprive employer of profit, although if the union receives too much compensation they drive their employer out of business.

    In the public sector the employer is the government, which is ultimately We the People, but what interests do they represent as they aren't worried about profitability? Who do you bind in that circumstance? What interest does the politician hold? It's not the politicians profit that is impacted, only tax revenue. What prevents the government from simply giving into the demands of the union because it costs them nothing? Yet the public union also has the ability to strike which in effects cripples government. In effect the more that the public sector is given, the more is taken from We the People. So I can be exploited without recourse. So We the People are the losers because nothing protects us from the politicians AND the public union.

    And yes, I am salaried.

    So in the end, the public sector are given benefits and pay that are greater than their private sector counterparts as a result. Which is what one of Wisconsins issues is about. Because the roles of Public and Private unions are not parallel.
    (more)
  • WankerBait Meatwad 2011/04/12 20:23:12
    WankerBait
    +2
    Actually I think the roles of public and private unions are in parallel. They both negotiate for the best deal they can get for themselves.
    As you stated: "Collective bargaining allows labor and employer to come to an understanding that is beneficial to both."

    Government as an employer has the same interests in productivity, efficiencies, and cost as any private sector company. IMO, your analogy is way off and the us (the people) against them (public unions) scenario is nothing more than ideological drivel.

    The reality is that public sector worker may have a slightly better benefits package (purchasing power of the government), but actually earn less than private sector counterparts.

    Excerpt:
    "As emphasized by earlier research focused on the national-level data and on a handful of large states (Bender and Heywood (2010), Schmitt (2010), and Keene (2010)), the depiction of public sector workers as “overpaid” ignores that state and local government workers have much higher levels of formal education and are older (and therefore generally more experienced) than workers in the private sector. When state and local government workers are matched with private-sector workers of the same age and the same level of education, the public employees actual...





    Actually I think the roles of public and private unions are in parallel. They both negotiate for the best deal they can get for themselves.
    As you stated: "Collective bargaining allows labor and employer to come to an understanding that is beneficial to both."

    Government as an employer has the same interests in productivity, efficiencies, and cost as any private sector company. IMO, your analogy is way off and the us (the people) against them (public unions) scenario is nothing more than ideological drivel.

    The reality is that public sector worker may have a slightly better benefits package (purchasing power of the government), but actually earn less than private sector counterparts.

    Excerpt:
    "As emphasized by earlier research focused on the national-level data and on a handful of large states (Bender and Heywood (2010), Schmitt (2010), and Keene (2010)), the depiction of public sector workers as “overpaid” ignores that state and local government workers have much higher levels of formal education and are older (and therefore generally more experienced) than workers in the private sector. When state and local government workers are matched with private-sector workers of the same age and the same level of education, the public employees actually earn less than their private-sector counterparts. The pay penalty for public-sector workers is particularly large for the most educated and most experienced workers. "

    http://www.peri.umass.edu/fil...

    Apples to Apples comparisons generally come closer to reality...

    - Peace
    (more)
  • Meatwad WankerBait 2011/04/12 21:50:45
    Meatwad
    Government as an employer has the same interests in productivity, efficiencies, and cost as any private sector company.

    BS!!! And THEN SOME. Government doesn't have to worry about spending, sustainability, or profit. They don't have to worry about budget. See in a private company, they sell a good or service for profit. That profit us used to pay labor and costs. If a company makes less then it spends, it goes out of business. With the government, they don't sell a good or service, they are funded through taxes. They don't run out of money, they don't go out of business. They either borrow more, or they tax more. Otherwise explain to me how medicare has 500 million worth of fraud. Because there is no "bottom line", there are no shareholders to report to. Why do you think we are in 14 TRILLION worth of debt. Hell we just avoided a government shut down. So your statement is grossly ignorant of the role of government and how government actually functions.

    Maybe if I use collectivist words your brain might actually comprehend instead of your ideological "us against them"

    FDR - All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when...







































































































    Government as an employer has the same interests in productivity, efficiencies, and cost as any private sector company.

    BS!!! And THEN SOME. Government doesn't have to worry about spending, sustainability, or profit. They don't have to worry about budget. See in a private company, they sell a good or service for profit. That profit us used to pay labor and costs. If a company makes less then it spends, it goes out of business. With the government, they don't sell a good or service, they are funded through taxes. They don't run out of money, they don't go out of business. They either borrow more, or they tax more. Otherwise explain to me how medicare has 500 million worth of fraud. Because there is no "bottom line", there are no shareholders to report to. Why do you think we are in 14 TRILLION worth of debt. Hell we just avoided a government shut down. So your statement is grossly ignorant of the role of government and how government actually functions.

    Maybe if I use collectivist words your brain might actually comprehend instead of your ideological "us against them"

    FDR - All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.

    As you stated: "Collective bargaining allows labor and employer to come to an understanding that is beneficial to both."
    Because you didn't comprehend what I wrote, in a private union the employer is a defined entity. Labor is a defined entity. Both represent their best interests. In a public union, labor is a defined entity, But the employer IS NOT. The employer is politiicans that speak for we the people. THEY DO NOT REPRESENT A BUSINESS INTEREST. Who do you bind during arbitration? Your local representative? Your Senator? The President? The public union will get it's demands met because there is no reason for the politicians to say no, especially when saying yes buys them votes.

    Why should public workers get better health care then I do? Why should they get more time off? Why should they get their retirement paid for?

    WE pay for that. When you give them those things, you do so by STEALING my money. Where in a private union, the members get paid by the PROFIT of the employer.


    Wisconsin one of 41 states where public workers earn more
    By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY

    Updated 3/2/2011 10:56:18 AM

    Wisconsin is one of 41 states where public employees earn higher average pay and benefits than private workers in the same state, a USA TODAY analysis finds. Still, the compensation of Wisconsin's government workers ranks below the national average for non-federal public employees and has increased only slightly since 2000.

    The finding comes as the Midwestern state remains in the center of efforts by several governors to reduce budget shortfalls in part by requiring state and local government workers to pay more for health and retirement benefits.

    The standoff reaches a crucial point today when Republican Gov. Scott Walker presents a proposed budget for the year beginning July 1. He says layoffs of state workers may begin if the Legislature does not adopt his proposal to curb collective-bargaining rights of public workers and require them to pay a higher share of the cost of benefits.

    The analysis of government data found that public employees' compensation has grown faster than the earnings of private workers since 2000. Primary cause: the rising value of benefits.

    Wisconsin is typical. State, city and school district workers earned an average of $50,774 in wages and benefits in 2009, about $1,800 more than in the private sector. The state ranked 33rd in public employee compensation among the states and Washington, D.C. It had ranked 20th in 2000.

    In contrast, California's public employees enjoyed soaring compensation throughout that state's decade-long budget crisis.

    The analysis included full and part-time workers and did not adjust for specific jobs, age, education or experience. In an earlier job-to-job comparison, USA TODAY found that state and local government workers make about the same salary as those in the private sector but get more generous benefits.

    Economist Jeffrey Keefe of the liberal Economic Policy Institute says the analysis is misleading because it doesn't reflect factors such as education that result in higher pay for public employees.

    Key state-by-state findings:

    •California. Public employee compensation rose 28% above the inflation rate from 2000 to 2009 to an average of $71,385 in 2009.

    •Nevada. Government employees earned an average of $17,815 more — or 35% — than private workers, the nation's biggest pay gap. The state's low-paying private jobs in tourism were the cause, says Bob Potts of the Center for Business and Economic Research at University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

    • Texas. The state ranked last in benefits for public employees. The state hasn't granted cost-of-living increases to most retirees since 2001.

    Some states that limit the right of public employees to unionize — such as Texas, Georgia and Virginia — pay less in compensation than the private sector. Massachusetts and New Hampshire generally permit unions but pay less than the private sector in those high-income states.
    Compensation gap by state for public, private workers

    State and local government workers earn more than private-sector workers in 41 states. Average compensation (including salaries and benefits) in 2009 and difference with private-sector workers:
    Rank State Compensation Difference
    1 District of Columbia $82,607 +$457
    2 Connecticut $77,697 +$7,687
    3 New Jersey $72,007 +$6,681
    4 California $71,385 +$7,977
    5 New York $71,282 +$1,699
    6 Rhode Island $69,284 +$17,603
    7 Nevada $68,785 +$17,815
    8 Maryland $65,947 +$6,931
    9 Massachusetts $62,562 —$4,688
    10 Alaska $60,882 +$2,764
    11 Illinois $60,274 +$485
    12 Delaware $60,077 +$2,911
    13 Hawaii $59,595 +$12,243
    14 Washington $59,288 +$532
    15 Michigan $58,801 +$6,436
    16 Florida $58,749 +$9,099
    17 Arizona $56,321 +$4,310
    18 Minnesota $55,826 +$1,259
    19 Virginia $55,705 —$2,328
    20 Oregon $55,682 +$5,607
    21 Pennsylvania $55,137 +$1,567
    22 Colorado $54,184 —$3,391
    23 Wyoming $53,460 +$3,116
    24 South Carolina $52,591 +$7,590
    25 Ohio $52,473 +$2,392
    26 Louisiana $52,412 +$2,473
    27 New Hampshire $52,181 —$1,876
    28 Vermont $51,503 +$5,811
    29 New Mexico $51,428 +$5,715
    30 Texas $51,310 —$3,580
    31 Alabama $50,999 +$5,001
    32 North Carolina $50,902 +$1,857
    33 Wisconsin $50,774 +$1,802
    34 Iowa $50,394 +$6,178
    35 Utah $50,149 +$2,611
    36 Maine $49,850 +$4,912
    37 Georgia $49,600 —$3,875
    38 Indiana $49,157 +$1,183
    39 Missouri $49,092 —$1,075
    40 Nebraska $48,953 +$3,130
    41 Kentucky $48,046 +$2,313
    42 Arkansas $48,033 +$4,196
    43 West Virginia $47,899 +$3,655
    44 Tennessee $47,891 —$756
    45 Montana $47,596 +$7,396
    46 Oklahoma $47,258 +$1,667
    47 Mississippi $46,375 +$4,713
    48 Idaho $45,280 +$2,855
    49 Kansas $44,803 —$3,229
    50 North Dakota $43,619 +$389
    51 South Dakota $41,684 +$1,909

    Total United States $57,775 +$2,511


    Importantly:

    You - public employees actually earn less than their private-sector counterparts. The pay penalty for public-sector workers is particularly large for the most educated and most experienced workers. "

    Me -
    Economist Jeffrey Keefe of the liberal Economic Policy Institute says the analysis is misleading because it doesn't reflect factors such as education that result in higher pay for public employees.
    (more)
  • WankerBait Meatwad 2011/04/12 23:13:57
    WankerBait
    +2
    Get off the FDR letter, we get it ...

    From your post:

    You - The analysis included full and part-time workers and did not adjust for specific jobs, age, education or experience.

    Me - When state and local government workers are matched with private-sector workers of the same age and the same level of education, the public employees actually earn less than their private-sector counterparts.

    Supports my assertion - USA TODAY found that state and local government workers make about the same salary as those in the private sector but get more generous benefits.

    Supports my assertion - Economist Jeffrey Keefe of the liberal Economic Policy Institute says the analysis is misleading because it doesn't reflect factors such as education that result in higher pay for public employees.

    All of these support my assertion, not yours ... Geez!


    You - Why should public workers get better health care then I do? Why should they get more time off? Why should they get their retirement paid for?

    Me - They shouldn't, but don't blame government or the public employee because government treats their employees (fellow citizens) better than private sector Capitalists. Here's your enemy:

    - Corporate profits were up nearly 30 percent in the fourth quarter, the fastest growth in more than 60 years.

    - CEO pay in corpo...








    Get off the FDR letter, we get it ...

    From your post:

    You - The analysis included full and part-time workers and did not adjust for specific jobs, age, education or experience.

    Me - When state and local government workers are matched with private-sector workers of the same age and the same level of education, the public employees actually earn less than their private-sector counterparts.

    Supports my assertion - USA TODAY found that state and local government workers make about the same salary as those in the private sector but get more generous benefits.

    Supports my assertion - Economist Jeffrey Keefe of the liberal Economic Policy Institute says the analysis is misleading because it doesn't reflect factors such as education that result in higher pay for public employees.

    All of these support my assertion, not yours ... Geez!


    You - Why should public workers get better health care then I do? Why should they get more time off? Why should they get their retirement paid for?

    Me - They shouldn't, but don't blame government or the public employee because government treats their employees (fellow citizens) better than private sector Capitalists. Here's your enemy:

    - Corporate profits were up nearly 30 percent in the fourth quarter, the fastest growth in more than 60 years.

    - CEO pay in corporate America rose 12 percent last year to a median of $9.6 million.

    - In the last five months, wages for U.S. hourly workers haven’t increased one penny, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    - ...the average weekly wage is up just $18 from last year. (mostly from government tax credits and holidays)

    - While U.S. workers who still have jobs aren’t getting raises, employers in developing nations are hiring new consumers who are pushing up demand and prices for food, oil, cotton and other commodities. Since the start of the year, U.S. wages and prices have been moving in opposite directions. Gas prices alone eat up more than half the average worker’s wage increase. The average U.S. commuter buys 12 gallons of gas a week. Filling the tank costs about $40 a month more than in 2010.


    Get the picture? Unionize, it does a body (of workers) good...
    (more)
  • Meatwad WankerBait 2011/04/13 14:16:20
    Meatwad
    Me - They shouldn't, but don't blame government or the public employee because government treats their employees (fellow citizens) better than private sector Capitalists.

    They DON'T treat their employees better by choice!! Jesus can't you think? They get the benefits they do because they have a union that forces the government to give them things, because the government, which is the employer, has no personal interest in NOT giving them things. Basically there is no balance like there is in a private union scenario. THIS IS WHAT FDR SAID, and you seem too dense to understand. The government doesn't worry about profit, or loss, or bankruptcy. There is no negative consequence to NOT meeting the union demands. There IS a negative action by a union in the form of a strike if they DO NOT meet demands. So as far as a union does a body of workers good, it can, but you seemingly AREN'T smart enough to understand that the better a public union gets it, the more the are taking DIRECTLY FROM US, and we have no ability to prevent it. Because the only place the gov gets it's money is TAXES. So that gov worker may as well come directly to my house and ask me for my wallet, and take whatever they wish, because that is what a public union allows them to do, with no opposition.

    Why doesn't that ...



    Me - They shouldn't, but don't blame government or the public employee because government treats their employees (fellow citizens) better than private sector Capitalists.

    They DON'T treat their employees better by choice!! Jesus can't you think? They get the benefits they do because they have a union that forces the government to give them things, because the government, which is the employer, has no personal interest in NOT giving them things. Basically there is no balance like there is in a private union scenario. THIS IS WHAT FDR SAID, and you seem too dense to understand. The government doesn't worry about profit, or loss, or bankruptcy. There is no negative consequence to NOT meeting the union demands. There IS a negative action by a union in the form of a strike if they DO NOT meet demands. So as far as a union does a body of workers good, it can, but you seemingly AREN'T smart enough to understand that the better a public union gets it, the more the are taking DIRECTLY FROM US, and we have no ability to prevent it. Because the only place the gov gets it's money is TAXES. So that gov worker may as well come directly to my house and ask me for my wallet, and take whatever they wish, because that is what a public union allows them to do, with no opposition.

    Why doesn't that penetrate into your brain?

    And you blame the faceless and meaningless "corporation". You do realize that corporations are an invention of the government, and are actually an extension OF government? You blame the corporation for private sector not being as well off as the public sector, when you don't seem to realize that the public sector gets what they do UNFAIRLY. Lets put their compensation packages, and salaries to a public vote. If I am their employer, I should have say in what they get.

    Public unions have an UNFAIR advantage. I just don't understand how you advocate your won screwing by supporting the public union.
    (more)
  • WankerBait Meatwad 2011/04/13 16:01:24
    WankerBait
    +3
    Listen Meatwad, I absolutely understand your position - I get it.

    I however disagree with your ideology and your mis-fortunate, self-indulgence of me, me, me ... I don't care whether it's in the private or public sector, workers must have the ability to collectively bargain and represent their interests.

    There are no public workers getting rich on the backs of tax payers (outside of elected officials) and the results of their current status is because government actually treats the citizenry more fair than capitalists in the private sector. Pubic workers provide vital goods and services to the nation and deserve to be represented and have the ability to protect themselves from ideologues and the legislative whims of elected officials.

    You appear to be jealous! Is that it? I mean really, is that it, are you just jealous? Those mean ol' public workers are getting better benefits than me and there's nothing I can do cause I work at the pleasure of benevolent capitalists. They're smarter than I am and surely know what's best for me... More please sir, I'm still 'ungry.

    Capitalist have somehow won the debate on unions and have infused neo-liberal ideology into the working-class psyche with the results being a weak working class unable to effectively represent their own interests. You...



    Listen Meatwad, I absolutely understand your position - I get it.

    I however disagree with your ideology and your mis-fortunate, self-indulgence of me, me, me ... I don't care whether it's in the private or public sector, workers must have the ability to collectively bargain and represent their interests.

    There are no public workers getting rich on the backs of tax payers (outside of elected officials) and the results of their current status is because government actually treats the citizenry more fair than capitalists in the private sector. Pubic workers provide vital goods and services to the nation and deserve to be represented and have the ability to protect themselves from ideologues and the legislative whims of elected officials.

    You appear to be jealous! Is that it? I mean really, is that it, are you just jealous? Those mean ol' public workers are getting better benefits than me and there's nothing I can do cause I work at the pleasure of benevolent capitalists. They're smarter than I am and surely know what's best for me... More please sir, I'm still 'ungry.

    Capitalist have somehow won the debate on unions and have infused neo-liberal ideology into the working-class psyche with the results being a weak working class unable to effectively represent their own interests. You must admit the private sector has been screwing their workers for 30 years now with stagnant wages, fewer and fewer vacation days, required productivity gains with fewer resources, the loss of pension plans, outsourcing, etc. ...

    Are you just too much of an ideological ass to realize when your on the wrong side of an issue?

    -Peace
    (more)
  • Meatwad WankerBait 2011/04/13 17:08:07
    Meatwad
    You should just change your name to BLOCKHEAD. SO all of a sudden I am JEALOUS that public workers have the ability to steal from me and I can't prevent it? You collectivist are the f'ing dumbest people I have EVER MET!! No wonder this country is failing. Because of the walking STUPID like you. You don't even understand how you are getting hosed. You realize the first three months of every year you work for FREE so that the government can take your 33% and WASTE IT? And what's worse is you are stupid standing there jumping up and down because you WANT to give them your money. And you blame the corporation. You do realize the corporation doesn't take money from you for nothing, but the government DOES. And you are happy
    about it.

    "Capitalist have somehow won the debate on unions and have infused neo-liberal ideology into the working-class psyche"

    Keep talking like you actually have a clue. YOU DON'T! Neo-liberal? What the hell do you even mean with that? Capitalism and liberalism are based on two TOTALLY different philosophies that are in DIRECT opposition. You preach ideology to me when you don't even understand the philosophy that creates the ideology.

    And you say I am on the wrong side of the issue? Yeah I am if I am against big government, and unfair advantage being taken by...



    You should just change your name to BLOCKHEAD. SO all of a sudden I am JEALOUS that public workers have the ability to steal from me and I can't prevent it? You collectivist are the f'ing dumbest people I have EVER MET!! No wonder this country is failing. Because of the walking STUPID like you. You don't even understand how you are getting hosed. You realize the first three months of every year you work for FREE so that the government can take your 33% and WASTE IT? And what's worse is you are stupid standing there jumping up and down because you WANT to give them your money. And you blame the corporation. You do realize the corporation doesn't take money from you for nothing, but the government DOES. And you are happy
    about it.

    "Capitalist have somehow won the debate on unions and have infused neo-liberal ideology into the working-class psyche"

    Keep talking like you actually have a clue. YOU DON'T! Neo-liberal? What the hell do you even mean with that? Capitalism and liberalism are based on two TOTALLY different philosophies that are in DIRECT opposition. You preach ideology to me when you don't even understand the philosophy that creates the ideology.

    And you say I am on the wrong side of the issue? Yeah I am if I am against big government, and unfair advantage being taken by those that work within a system that doesn't prevent abuse, like public unions. I guess I am wrong for wanting to keep my own money to spend on ME instead of giving it away to others.

    I see you. You are a thief and a looter. You advocate theft of what doesn't belong to you. You are a lazy and STUPID person.

    Peace? With someone like you? You seek to enslave me with your stupid ideas and I should just take it? Take your peace and your immorality and shove it.
    (more)
  • WankerBait Meatwad 2011/04/13 17:59:28 (edited)
    WankerBait
    +2
    Poor little libertard (as in libertarian contard) gotz himz feewingz hurt and now must lash out in protest with gibberish and regurgitated talking points gleaned off talk radio or overheard while tea-baggin'.

    Your actual and real ignorance is now on full display for all to see (really) with your assertion that "Capitalism and liberalism are based on two TOTALLY different philosophies that are in DIRECT opposition." and your admittance you haven't a clue of even what neo-liberalism is - "Neo-liberal? What the hell do you even mean with that?."

    Haven't been out in the real world much, have you.

    Please don't change your name, Meatwad is a perfect descriptor...

    And yes, I do wish peace upon you.
  • Tiny 2011/04/11 18:08:42
    We need labor unions because.....
    Tiny
    to provide funding to democrat's campaigns - its sure not for the workers.
  • Karen E 2011/04/11 17:53:44
    Other comment.......
    Karen E
    i see ikea going somewhere else.
  • Meatwad 2011/04/11 17:37:36
    Other comment.......
    Meatwad
    +1
    Last time I looked it is still your right whether or not you want to be employed by a corporation. If the corporation you are working for sucks, DON'T WORK FOR THEM. Simple. A corporation has the right to run their business however they see fit.

    And to the people that say we need unions, only 9% of the American workforce is union, and look at he UAW. They are a union out of control. Unions can be JUST AS BAD as the employers they work for.
  • Lady Whitewolf 2011/04/11 17:21:09
    We need labor unions because.....
    Lady Whitewolf
    +4
    And you wonder why I'm for unions?
  • connie ... Lady Wh... 2011/04/11 17:25:51
    connie (in name only) BN-0
    +4
    Thanks for your reply. Too many people are trying to say that we have no need for unions anymore, but this article proves that they are mistaken.
  • Meatwad connie ... 2011/04/11 21:04:06
    Meatwad
    At their HEIGHT union membership was only 40% of the workers in this country. Now there are laws that protect workers, and union membership has declined to 9% of the working population. Because unions aren't necessary, unless you like having your money taken from you and donated to the Democrats for favoritism.
  • Idiot r... Meatwad 2011/04/11 21:14:55
    Idiot repubs
    +2
    and 100% benefited for their efforts.
  • Meatwad Idiot r... 2011/04/11 21:36:28
    Meatwad
    They had a place in the world. In the 30's and 40's. Your just another of the sheep that try to make us believe that the union has given us all the benefits, not employers that want to treat their employees well or attract a higher quality worker. I have never been in a union in my ENTIRE LIFE. Mostly because I don't have a menial labor job that I have to band together with other thugs to bully my employer because I actually have little use to them as labor. My work gives me what they do because if they don't, their competition will.

    Ask GM how they benefited 100% from union labor.

    If unions were really awesome like you say they are, wouldn't the membership in them have GROWN? Not SHRUNK?
  • Idiot r... Meatwad 2011/04/11 23:18:32
    Idiot repubs
    +3
    Ask the workers of GM. Their management's mismanagement isn't the unions fault.
  • Meatwad Idiot r... 2011/04/12 17:05:32 (edited)
    Meatwad
    No, I am sure that none of the cost associated with an automobile comes from the ridiculous compensation of the union based on the threat of strike. I do agree that mismanagement is partially to blame, but so is the union.

    KEVIN HASSETT: President Obama has a huge political debt to the unions and that's why he's avoiding the obvious solution to the auto crisis.

    Historically, failing American companies like GM have entered bankruptcy. In bankruptcy, they either liquidate or, if the firm is worth saving, reorganize.

    Bankruptcy reorganizations are painful for stakeholders. Hard-nosed judges give workers, managers and debtors severe haircuts in order to reshape a firm into a new organism that can thrive again. But bankruptcy can work. Most everyone has flown on an airline that has emerged from a successful bankruptcy.

    This economic crisis is unique in history in that troubled firms have sought protection from politicians, rather than bankruptcy courts. Why? Because if you're politically connected, you can expect a much better deal from politicians than you would ever get from a worldly and experienced bankruptcy judge.

    GM is in deep trouble mostly because the United Auto Workers have festooned the company with rigid work rules and extravagant costs. The 2007 collective-bargaining agree...








    No, I am sure that none of the cost associated with an automobile comes from the ridiculous compensation of the union based on the threat of strike. I do agree that mismanagement is partially to blame, but so is the union.

    KEVIN HASSETT: President Obama has a huge political debt to the unions and that's why he's avoiding the obvious solution to the auto crisis.

    Historically, failing American companies like GM have entered bankruptcy. In bankruptcy, they either liquidate or, if the firm is worth saving, reorganize.

    Bankruptcy reorganizations are painful for stakeholders. Hard-nosed judges give workers, managers and debtors severe haircuts in order to reshape a firm into a new organism that can thrive again. But bankruptcy can work. Most everyone has flown on an airline that has emerged from a successful bankruptcy.

    This economic crisis is unique in history in that troubled firms have sought protection from politicians, rather than bankruptcy courts. Why? Because if you're politically connected, you can expect a much better deal from politicians than you would ever get from a worldly and experienced bankruptcy judge.

    GM is in deep trouble mostly because the United Auto Workers have festooned the company with rigid work rules and extravagant costs. The 2007 collective-bargaining agreement, for example, required the automaker to pay up to $140,000 in severance to a worker whose position was eliminated. And that is nothing compared to the enormous health-care costs these companies are laden with. The average cost of employing a worker at the Big Three, including benefits, was nearly twice that of Japanese automakers. No wonder the automakers are hemorrhaging cash.

    A bankruptcy judge would bring some reason to labor costs and create a GM that could emerge stronger. But the unions have a better idea. They plan to use taxpayer money to fund their juicy compensation. And they know they can count on Obama and the Democrats to help them. All told, organized labor contributed over $74 million in the 2008 campaign cycle, 92 percent of that went to Democrats.

    History will tell a simple story about GM: Union bosses successfully negotiated sweetheart packages that destroyed GM's competitiveness. If Obama was serious about creating an enterprise that can thrive in the future, he would have demanded that the union bosses resign along with Wagoner. Instead, it's payback time.

    VIGELAND: Kevin Hassett is the director of economic studies at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.


    Unions fund the Democrats in order to receive favorable legislation and preferential treatment. Lets ask all the bond holders of GM how they liked having the company stolen from them and given to the union. Seems to have worked GREAT fro the unions in this circumstance. And left you looking like an idiot. You should take off whatever is after Idiot in your name. Then it would be completely accurate.
    (more)
  • Lady Wh... connie ... 2011/04/12 00:18:33
    Lady Whitewolf
    +3
    so true!
  • Lady Wh... connie ... 2011/07/20 00:20:58
    Lady Whitewolf
    thankies!

See Votes by State

The map above displays the winning answer by region.

News & Politics

2014/12/20 11:33:30

Hot Questions on SodaHead
More Hot Questions

More Community More Originals