Open Thread

Singing Again

Artist - Dave Granlund

In other news, the Indiana House passed "Right-to-Work" legislation today by a margin of 54 - 44.

  • eljefejeff

    I need someone to enlighten me.

    We have the opposite thing here in California. I was a public employee and was offered the chance to join the public employee union when I was hired 11 years ago. I was told that the benefits of joining the union were legal representation if needed and a better health care plan than the basic one offered to employees. Being on my wife’s insurance plan, and not planning on doing anything to get myself fired or reprimanded, I opted not to join. I saw no point. They negotiated our wages and benefits, which I appreciated, but I saw no need to fund them with $18 out of every paycheck. Then Gov Davis, who I voted for and voted against recalling, signed a bill which allowed employees to hold a vote, which if passed, would require all employees to pay union dues even if they aren’t members.

    The rules for holding the vote were only that the notice had to be posted somewhere on the premises. My friends in the union told me later that they all knew the vote was coming and were urged not to tell anyone about it so that they could vote without the rest of us participating. They apparently posted a flier which was hidden behind some other notices on a bulletin board, and the vote ended up passing by 6 votes(almost 10,000 employees, this is a major CA city).

    Naturally I was pissed. I literally could not afford to spend $40 a month. I looked into reversing the decision, but built into the law was a requirement that to roll back the vote, MORE THAN HALF of the 10,000 employees would have to sign a petition. This is a large city with many facilities and little old me with my newborn baby had no extra time to wage such a campaign, so I was screwed.

    In the meantime, their tactics got nasty, sending out mailings blackballing certain employees who were opposed. The union raked in $400,000 a month off this vote, and the services we were provided did not come close to approaching that value. Soon after, scandals rocked the union and city hall, our rights were stripped, we were forced to pay 5x more into our pension, and the employees there(I’ve long since quit) have not received raises in years.

    So even though I’m definitely pro-union especially for certain industries, this right to work stuff doesn’t really bother me.

    • schemata

      This particular RTW bill (and in many states with RTW laws) unions are banned and are no longer an option for those wishing to join one.

      It removes the bargaining power of employees re: wages, benefits, etc.

      Like most Conservative legislation, the naming of the bill is contrary to what it actually does, ie: right-to-work really means right-to-work for shit wages and shit benefits, an there’s nothing you can do about it.

      Also, it is designed to kill a large Democratic contributing base, making Koch brothers money go that much farther.

    • mrbrink

      This right to work stuff is a race to the bottom. It’s a right to work for less and those dues you chose not to pay go to the legal fees it takes to keep you in a minimal standard of employment, as well as accounting, administrative overhead, pensions, lobbying and elections that are trying to hold the line against corporate influence which seeks to do things like implement “Right to Work” legislation all across the country.

      The saying goes, “with Unions you bargain, without them you beg.”

      And if unions have no power, corporations have it all.

      If every state becomes a “Right To Work” state, the choice whether to join a union or not will be made for you anyway and it won’t involve preserving your rights. That’s what democracy in the workplace is all about– rights that have been procured with blood and sweat and so it’s something to think real hard about next time it’s time for you to kick in your dues. Unions file reports with the Department of Labor outlining their expenses, so at least you know how much they “raked in” at any given time, which still, even at $400,000, buys a lot less influence and government protections than the firing squad of corporations can, and do, afford. And if your union was doing something illegal, that is illegal, but if you’re paying more into your pension, it’s probably because Wall street keeps having its way with public unions, like California’s, which have been victims investing and losing billions in swaps and derivatives in over their heads trying to afford a decent retirement for their members. California’s union members, like all unions everywhere, who represent firefighters, cops, and teachers, are always vilified and scapegoated, or weakened through indifference and a short term memory.

      Unions are the only way to push back.

      • nicole

        “Unions are the only way to push back. ”

        Exactly right, and if you look at history, the middle class NEVER existed prior to the beginning of unions. Without unions, it still wouldn’t exist, and this becomes more evident with time.

        We see that right-to-work laws have increasingly diminished the number of families who can call themselves middle class.

        If you’re concerned about income inequality, you had better begin to support unions.

        • mrbrink

          People better wise up to this Right to Work the Plantation bullshit.

          This is what you get when you allow Confederates to make laws having to do with worker rights. You implement this fascist hillbilly horseshit and you will immediately be much closer to slavery than freedom on the grand scale of civil rights.

          Mitch Daniels and his brothers in arms sound so convincing in their attack on workers’ rights, “won’t have those unions holding you back from all that prosperity anymore!”

          But I’m still not picking that silly motherfucker’s cotton.

          • nicole

            They all make me sick. They’re trying to turn this country into a previous version of itself, a version that people fought and died to upgrade.

            Completely without honor asswipes.

          • mrbrink

            And z’now, vevil honor and pay tribute to Fräulein Amy Vinehousen(2007-2009)

            now, z’dancing monkeys!

      • eljefejeff

        Maybe I’m missing something, but it’s my understanding that these bills only make it so that people can opt out of joining a union if they don’t want the benefits that go with it, which is different that Gov Walker’s nullifying the bargaining rights of workers, for example.

        The main reason I never joined my union(even though I was forced to pay) is that on the day I was hired, as a condition of employment, I had to sign an agreement to forfeit my job if I ever choose to strike. Immediately after, I was asked if I wanted to join a union. WTF is that garbage? No thanks. And unfortunately, the legal work of this union was mostly used to defend the actions of lazy employees caught using porn at work, not doing their jobs, insubordination, etc. Many, not all, of these people have no business earning taxpayer dollars for no production. It was a sad thing for me to see, especially as a young liberal right out of college, seeing firsthand how ineffectual unions and government are run.

        That’s just my experience though, I obviously can’t speak for all of them.

        • mrbrink

          Stripped of your right to challenge your employer when he/it fires you for “being lazy” or “insubordinate” or for striking is why god made labor unions.

          We are the salt of the earth.

          • eljefejeff

            ok wait now, I just want to make sure I’m not misunderstanding, because I enjoy your posts a lot and respect your views.

            Do you not think that an employer should be able to fire an employee who refuses to do the work they’re being paid good money to perform? I’m not saying that employee shouldn’t have the right to legal representation, but what I’ve seen mostly is that those people are simply shuffled around to another department until they piss off everyone there and then they get moved somewhere else because it’s almost impossible to fire anyone, meanwhile the cost to the taxpayer is $100,000 or so a year(when salaries, benefits, utilities, etc are figured in).

          • mrbrink

            There’s always someone willing to do what you do for less and less and less.

            And, no I don’t believe employers are the final arbiters of democracy in the workplace.

            Was Lilly Ledbetter out of line?

            Your idea of “good money” in the low end service sector might startle me.

            Who do you think is winning the war on the working class?

          • eljefejeff

            My aunt and uncle are both labor attorneys and run their own firm. I’ve heard countless shocking stories about wrongful termination and mistreatment of employees. But when it comes to people who feel entitled to a paycheck for doing little more than surfing the internet, wandering around the floor chatting for hours on end and taking 45 minute breaks at the Starbucks across the street, they obviously have no respect for the job or for the public whom they’re serving. And as far as I know, it’s customary in public agencies to have an established pay range, so there’s already a minimum that someone could get paid anyway. As I said, if they’re fired, they have the right to legal representation. I’ll leave it at that. Now I’m off to my very low paying job, which thankfully I enjoy very much.

    • Robert Scalzi

      you sure you’re on our side ??

      • eljefejeff

        Really? Even though I’m a liberal I’m not allowed to feel screwed by a law which allows a union to hold an unadvertised vote to take $40 from every paycheck in return for no services? I gladly pay taxes because I actually get something out of it, like roads, fire protection, and education. But because we hold differing viewpoints on one of hundreds of political positions, you question what side I’m on? I’ve donated and campaigned for each of the last two democratic candidates for president and donated to the democrats running for senate and congress, more than I’d like to admit. I’ve also donated to moveon and to this site.

        Now if I remember correctly, you called me a fucktard once when I didn’t agree with you. Didn’t appreciate that. You might want to rethink your approach. I don’t even call republicans fucktard even when they act like it. All I’ve seen from your discourse is rudeness and insults. I kinda hope we’re not on the same side.

        • Robert Scalzi

          Let me recall….. yup I sure did , might again… let me see, 1st it was a defense of ron paul and now Right to work ??? I repeat are you sure your on our side ??

          • eljefejeff

            Excuse me, since when are you the spokesperson for “our side”? I’m not allowed to oppose Mr. Robert Scalzi on anything or else risk name calling?

            I’m through with you sir, except to request that you please tone down the name calling and baseless insinuations, regardless of to whom your talking, but especially toward someone on “your side”.