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I hate unions(54 posts)

I hate unionsKristin
May 2, 2003 11:39 AM
Okay, now that I've got you all rieled up, please take a deep breath and help me work through this issue. I did not grow up in a union home--though we were blue collar--and I have never worked in a union job. My only expereince with unions are like the following two examples:

1. A friends church had their building expanded, and they usued union contractors to do the labor. But asked several parishiners with IT experience to volunteer time to recable the office once the building was nearly completed. In the middle of the night, union people entered the building and put sand into the conduit. This caused weeks of problems for the church. The union seemed to think it is appropriate to use illegal means to punish a church for using volunteers.

2. A local Chicagoland chain store had problems with a union contractor that did some poor work in one new building. In frustration the chain owner asked several nonunion friends to correct the problems created by the contractor. The union retaliated by damaging some of the plumbing causing the toilets continuously over-flow. They also picketed store patrons in a horrendous fashion. I was called names on occasion for refusing to take their damn flyer.

Please someone help me understand. I thought unions were created to keep unscrupulous company owners from taking advantage of employees. (i.e. getting fair wages and benefits and stopping sweat shops.) But my experiences make the union look like a club for overgrown high school bully's and thugs. What gives? How are the events I described useful for protecting employees from unscrupulous employers?
unions had their place ...sacheson
May 2, 2003 11:56 AM
... back when the workforce was taken advantage of. You had a collection of people that would make the working environment better for the whole.

Unions also found how profitable it was to exist, so when they weren't "needed" any more, they found ways to stay in existance. Those reasons have mostly morphed into getting employees out of work and cornering the market for their own good.

Here's another one for you - General Motors claims they could sell their autos 40% less than they are now, while giving their employees the exact same benefits, if Unions didn't exist. That's a lot of overhead you and I pay for.

You can tell that I agree here ... I'm sick and tired of people perpetuating a "won't do" attitude. I think they've served their purpose and society should move on.
". . .back when the workforce was taken advantage of."czardonic
May 2, 2003 12:04 PM
Thank goodness those days are over!

Curious. What, other than benefits (assuming that includes salary) is GM spending this money on?
I don't believe you know much, if anything about thisNo_sprint
May 2, 2003 12:21 PM
Have you ever heard of union scale wage? Much of their overly inflated wages are such to have union fees built in.
Scroll down. (nm)czardonic
May 2, 2003 12:28 PM
". . .back when the workforce was taken advantage of."sacheson
May 2, 2003 1:42 PM
an inflated salary to subsidize the union dues.
unions had their place ...mohair_chair
May 2, 2003 12:22 PM
GM might be able to sell for 40% less, but I'll guarantee you they won't. Why should they when people will buy plenty of their cars now with a 40% markup?

Of course GM would love to get rid of the union, because that would mean an additional 40% profit on their cars!!!
I agree with thatKristin
May 2, 2003 12:50 PM
And I can see the usefulness in this. Human nature has not evolved over the last 60 years. If the unions go, the sweatshops will return. However, I still don't get where unions think they have a right to commit crimes and hurt others. That's wrong and I think that doing these acts only hurts their cause.

Oh, and I live in a building with a union leader (works for the union itself), who sits on his porch all day and night drinking beer. Literally. Unless he works in the union office from 11pm-7am, he doesn't work at all. Somehow I suspect that from 11-7 he's sleeping it off.
I don't agree that if unions go ....Live Steam
May 3, 2003 2:08 PM
sweat shops will return. We have the ACLU and litigation attorneys :O)
Wow! I thought you were liberal :O)Live Steam
May 3, 2003 2:04 PM
Isn't the union base the core of the Democratic party? Maybe I have you confused with someone else :O)
Then you'll be glad to give up OT, vacations, safety laws...retro
May 2, 2003 11:57 AM
There are abuses on both sides, certainly, but the events you're talking about are crimes that should be punished under existing laws. They don't obviate the need for workers to get fair treatment and pay, and to be protected from abuses. Read "The Jungle" by Upton Sinclair or most of Steinbeck to see what it used to be like. Or for that matter, ask a clerk at WalMart....
Sinclair's booksacheson
May 2, 2003 1:45 PM
cite something written within the last 80 years to make your point.

True, working conditions were horrible in the early 1900s, but I hardly doubt the demise of unions would bring back such conditions.
Only one way to find out. (nm)czardonic
May 2, 2003 2:25 PM
Don't you see?TJeanloz
May 2, 2003 11:58 AM
I predict that this thread goes ugly places - you heard it here first.

But can't you see that the Church was taking advantage of its parishiners by asking them to volunteer labor? This work for no pay is taking money out of the mouths of American workers, and must be stopped at all costs, legal or otherwise.

And the retail case? I think they are mistaken, Union contracters have more skill than anybody else, they did not make any mistakes. The owner then brought in nonunion workers to sabatoge the earlier good work - and paid them less.

Seriously, I don't understand how labor unions are legal.
I think you're right...I wonder who'll have the nerve toRhodyRider
May 2, 2003 12:52 PM
be the first to compare unions to the Republican Party?!?
On that note...I'm tail lights...
Republican party? I think you're a little mixed up :O)Live Steam
May 3, 2003 2:11 PM
It's the Democrats that act like bullies :O)
Bad apples.czardonic
May 2, 2003 12:01 PM
I am very much in favor of unions, but my only experience working with one was very negative. We got absolutely nothing for our money. Or did we? As lousy as the pay and working conditions were, what would they have been like without the union?

Unfortunately, I have come to see unions the same way that I see businesses. There are many who do their best to provide a good service to all concerned. But, there are also many who are out to screw everyone they can for as much as they can. Bottom line, there are unscrupulous people everywhere, from Boards of Directors to Union Halls.
If you're a Democrat would you want Union dues going to achopper
May 2, 2003 12:49 PM
Republican, or vice versa? As I understand it in California you have to be a member of the Teachers Union and you have no say really with what they do with your money that you're forced to contribute. This includes monetary support of a particular party. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

I'm opposed to Unions on the grounds that I'm an individual and I want to negotiate my own terms, my skills and contribution to a company may not be equal to the person working next to me and I want my compensation to reflect that.
Personally, I don't think that unions should be involved. . .czardonic
May 2, 2003 1:05 PM
. . .in politics, other than perhaps recommending candidates to their members. I don't know if you are right about California teachers, but it wouldn't surprise me.

I think the standard Union reply to your objection would be "easier said than done". I think that a significant portion of the workforce is in no position to "negotiate" the terms of their employment. Also, I don't know that it is true that union membership precludes you from making more or less based on your skills or contributions. That was not my experience.
Personally, I don't think that unions should be involved. . .Matno
May 3, 2003 5:23 PM
"A significant portion of the workforce is in no position to 'negotiate' the terms of their employment."

That's exactly why unions are bad for everyone. People are only in "no position to negotiate" if they have no marketable skills, in which case, they're probably in the wrong job. The people who support the unions the most are those who KNOW they wouldn't make as much money without the union's "equalizing" influence. People who have a higher level of skill don't want the union because they realize that they SHOULD be paid more than their less skilled co-workers. With mobilization and information as readily available as it is today (as opposed to 100 years ago), people ought to accept the fact that if they're not the most efficient solution to a job that needs to be done, then they should either do something else, or become more efficient (i.e. through additional education).

Having grown up in the home of an airline pilot who worked when most of his co-workers were on strike, I have seen first hand how incredibly asinine union workers can be. Actually, it was quite entertaining to drop him off at the airport and get called scabs. On the other hand, it was considerably less entertaining when some of our good friends refused to speak to us and when some of his former co-workers were caught with a trunk full of powerful pipe bombs. The bottom line was that they were just plain stupid. They wanted higher salaries at a time when doing so would have put the entire company out of business. They insisted it was their right. Finally, the head of the company (one of my business idols: Frank Lorenzo) gave them a deadline to be back to work or lose their jobs. They figured they would call his bluff and instead they lost their jobs and restarted their careers - many of them losing over 20 years of seniority to start at the bottom of other airlines. When they appealed to Pres. Reagan, he basically said, "what am I supposed to do about it? It's not a political issue." Good for him. The company was basically restarted with all non-union employees, and although they did receive much lower wages for a few years, in the long run it paid off. I think everyone is better off when employees are more concerned about company loyalty than they are about using a union to fight for things they don't really deserve.

As for the GM/40% thing, I'm sure they wouldn't charge 40% less for their cars if they ditched the unions, but they would sure sell them for less than they do now (to outsell the competition). Additionally, the extra profits would enable them to make better cars, maybe even with quality to rival the Germans and the Japanese (we're still way behind in that particular competition).

Funny how simple Adam Smith's principles are, and how they are always applicable, and yet people just seem to ignore the simplest solution. Oh well...

As for the California teachers, there is absolutely NO WAY that forcing employees who receive federal funding to contribute to one political party or another is Constitutional. Of course, there are lots of things that lawmakers get away with that aren't technically legal, yet somehow the powers that be make sure that it happens. Unfortunately, no system of government (not even ours) can last forever if its citizens lack scruples.
I was right above, closer to nothing than a little.No_sprint
May 5, 2003 10:57 AM
That is almost their sole existence, politiking, regardless of their sales pitch and history.
Nope. You've embarassed yourself again.czardonic
May 5, 2003 2:23 PM
I merely opined on what political activity I though unions should limit themselves to.
Wrong. nm.No_sprint
May 6, 2003 8:11 AM
I'm right with you on that one...asphalt assault
May 2, 2003 12:14 PM
I'm a non-union contractor in a union workplace...I won't even get started telling you about some of tha bull**** that I put up with.

They seem to think that if you aren't union, you don't deserve to work. On the other hand, there are some at my place who think that because thay ARE union they don't HAVE to work...just show up is all.

TGIF : )
UnionsNo_sprint
May 2, 2003 12:35 PM
Originally yes, they were organized to stop workers from being taken advantage of, basically during pre-industrial revolution times. That is not the only reason though. Many times they were formed as an association of workers to protest working conditions which often were horrid. Other times, they were formed to standardize the level of knowledge in which their members have. Thus, union scale wage is often increased far beyond non-union because the skills of some union members are *claimed* to be far greater than that on a non-union member. Yes, bullying is always associated with them because those are the tactics used many times.

There are many different types of unions now. From the SAG, a union simply to keep the outrageous business in it's form, and really, thus, an entire industry as well. There are also unions like plumbers whose union levels criteria of it's members which must be met. It's kind of like a certification. For this, they offer typically a higher union scale wage.

Their formation is largely considered the product of a nation growing into industry far faster than anyone's reaction time to govern it well. Thus, it was a freeforall for company's to get things going ASAP. They had no rules and regulations to follow thus, the bar was basically on the ground. The argument against unions now is largely due to the government's Dept. of Labor and other departments like OSHA. Company's often argue that safety and worker rights and concerns are so overly well represented that corporations are strangled into complying to that along with union demands when arguably, union skills are often not greater than non-union.

Did a lot of labor law type stuff in B school and law school. Above is a real nutshell type thing, don't quote me on anything exactly, it's been quite a long time.

As a poster mentioned above, there are rotten apples in every barrel.
I hate unions, toomohair_chair
May 2, 2003 12:37 PM
My brother works on a video processing system from a company called Discreet that has components called smoke*, fire*, flame*, etc. He has to join three separate unions to do his job. One union to work with one component of this software, another union to work with another component, and still another union to work with the rest. These components are all effectively one big piece of software that runs on the same machine.

Imagine if you had to join separate unions to work with Word, Excel, and Project, even though they are all part of Microsoft Office. That's what he has to do.

Two of these unions provide no benefits and really, nothing tangible for the dues he is required to pay. It is absolutely absurd. Here are unions that formed for no other reason than to collect dues.

My union story was way back in 1982 when I was working at a drugstore. It was my first job, and I was forced to join the union and pay them dues. I was accused of stealing one day and fired (and no, I didn't do it). I went to the union, we had a big sitdown, the store manager said "he did it," I said "I didn't," the union said "alright, then." Meeting over. The union guys shook my hand, wished me well, and then, (and this amazes me to this day) said "Don't forget to pay your dues on the way out!" Yeah, right. Talk about throwing good money after bad!
you sure have gutsDougSloan
May 2, 2003 12:40 PM
You do realize that your car will likely be worked on by a union member next time its in for service? Do you like stopping when you put on the brakes?

You ain't seen nothin. Years ago, I worked on a campaign to pass a "right to work" law in Missouri. We were trying to collect signatures to get an issue on the ballot so that voters could decide whether Missouri could go "open shop." Open shop means that you can choose whether or not to be union at any particular company. It potentially would deprive unions of dues unless employees felt they were getting something for their money.

Petitioners were threatened, assaulted, cars blown up, in every conceiveable way, and this was only to get the measure on the ballot.

I'm shutting up.

Doug
Whimp. (nm)53T
May 2, 2003 7:41 PM
Please....4bykn
May 2, 2003 1:17 PM
Don't paint all union workers with the same brush. I agree there are jerks in the unions, but surely there are the same in non-union jobs.
I've been UAW for 14 years, and I appreciate all the union has done for me and my family. Good wages, benefits, a relatively safe work place, etc. Without the UAW many auto workers would likely be considered a replaceable commodity by the auto companies, ie: you get injured on the job, we find someone else to do the job, see you later.
I'd really like to see the facts on the 40% GM quote. How about some quick facts from my workplace:
1)Average annual compensation: approximately $75,000(including cost of benefits for the company)
2)About 2500 UAW workers
3)Average annual production: 240,000 vehicles
Total compensation($75,000*2500)=$187,500,000
Labor cost per vehicle(187,000,000/240,000)=
b $781.25

I don't see how GM's quoted claim of 40% ($8000 for a $20,000 vehicle) is even remotely possible.
numbers correct?DougSloan
May 2, 2003 1:22 PM
"...the number of workers at GM has gone from 520,000 to 223,000 since the 1970s."

http://www.wsws.org/workers/1998/aug1998/gm-a11.shtml

That doesn't say "union" workers, but are you saying that 93% of GM workers are non-union?

Doug
Mine are!4bykn
May 2, 2003 1:37 PM
I used (and stated such) my workplace only as an example. I don't work for GM, and I don't have first-hand knowledge of the facts at GM, but I find it hard to believe that the labor costs are ten times higher there.
thought you were GMDougSloan
May 2, 2003 1:55 PM
I thought you were saying you work at GM (I suppose GM makes far more cars than that per year).

My intuition tells me that around $8000 labor for $20,000 car sounds about right, and that $800 would be far too low. Would that include outside and semi-outside vendors, like Delphi?

Doug
sounds too highmohair_chair
May 2, 2003 2:33 PM
It ain't $800, that's for sure, but $8000 sounds high. In almost any business labor should never be more than 1/3 of your costs. I have no idea what the profit is on a $20K car, but let's say %15, which is $3000. So cost of production/sales is $17K, 1/3 of which is $5666. That seems like a reasonable number.

Labor costs should be lower if robots are in widespread use at GM. I have no idea if they are, and I'm sure the UAW would fight robots tooth and nail because it would take their jobs.

By the way, GM includes lots of divisions, including the former Hughes Aircraft, which is not union. When the aerospace industry dried up, Hughes leveraged their satellite expertise into DirecTV. GM might have sold all these assets off by now.
sounds too high4bykn
May 2, 2003 7:01 PM
Like I said, I don't know about GM's labor costs(just like everyone else here.) However, I stand by my numbers for my plant, and I honestly don't see how GM would be different by a factor of 7(using your guess of $5666.)

Incidentally, the UAW has never fought against the use of robotics at my plant. Often robots are used for jobs that are more safely performed by them, not solely for increased production, ie: heavy lifting/very repetive motions. In my direct work area robots install doors, front and rear glass, several fluids, etc.
I'll tell you why.No_sprint
May 5, 2003 11:05 AM
GM is likely looking at the big picture. In addition to gaining worthy benefits for good employees, the union will get great benefits for a large amount of completely unskilled workers. Secondly, unions are political associations and engage in a tremendous amount of backroom agreements. For example, the UAW likely demands that all it's suppliers be union shops, therefore, they get kicked back from everyone all down the line for gaining them deals. All the way from raw materials to trucking and distribution, boating, etc. If they were all non-union, GM's number might be on the conservative side.

Lastly, you're considering direct assembly costs per vehicle. You're forgetting all union pre-planning hours and years, line re-tooling and creation, spare parts, etc. Similarly, when buying a pharmaceutical, you're not paying for direct production costs, you're paying for all the R&D, as well as all the failed R&D of other never introduced or non profit making products.
MMNA-MD4bykn
May 2, 2003 6:50 PM
Mitsubishi Motors North America-Manufacturing Division. Sorry about the mis-communication, not intended.

The only information I have is for my plant, we get raw rolled steel in one door, a bunch of parts in another door, 2500 people do some work(I have 57 seconds to perform my jobs) and complete cars drive out the other end. I can't speak for outside costs, but I believe most of our suppliers are non-union.

Maybe I should have said there is about $800 in assembly costs at my plant per vehicle. You can go by your intuition or my knowledge, your choice. And by the way, absolutely no offense intended.
I'll retract my figure on price drop ...sacheson
May 2, 2003 1:54 PM
because I can't find anything on the web to support it. I know I read it, but I can't find it.

Also note: the union doesn't just drive up your wage, it drives up the wage of everyone that works for GM.

I'm glad the UAW has helped you and your family. I still argue they do it a) to the benefit of themselves more and b) to the cost of the American consumer.
Why should unions be paragons of selflessness?czardonic
May 2, 2003 2:21 PM
Does GM build cars for the benefit of its employees and consumers? No. It builds for the lowest cost it can acheive and sells them for the highest price that the market will bear.

Seems to me that there is a double standard at work here. Unions are not charities. They have operating costs, must retain skilled employees, have designs on expansion etc., just like any other business. And also just like any other business, individual greed adds a certain degree or inefficiency to the money flow.
union is not a businessDougSloan
May 3, 2003 6:14 AM
They should be held to the standard that they hold themselves out to be. Unions are not businesses, at least for profit, like GM. They are ostensibly organizations for the primary purpose of protecting worker rights. Yes, they should be self-less, charitable, and trustworthy. "We are here to protect you" is generally their sales pitch, isn't it? Contrast that with GM's pitch of "we are here to make money for our shareholders (via selling cars). Not at all the same.

Doug
You know, I thought about that when I posted thisKristin
May 2, 2003 2:22 PM
My friend from the church told me about his experience the other day and it melded in with all my other experiences and I just felt frustrated. But know that you do union work and that you're a great guy. I can't imagine you pouring sand into anyones pipes. And I'd still park my car in your driveway! I didn't mean to sound offensive.

Okay, flipside question. Do you believe that your union officials would encourage and/or participate in illegal behavior were there to be a strike at your plant?
You know, I thought about that when I posted this4bykn
May 2, 2003 6:38 PM
Would the union officials condone illegal activities? Officially they would tell us no, but I suppose they'd look the other way if something of that sort happened. Let me say, before anybody jumps in, that there has never been that type of activity, we've only been on strike once since the plant opened, and that only lasted two days. Would I participate in illegal activities? Absolutely not. Would I look the other way? Probably not. As far as I am concerned wrong is wrong, and the ends don't justify the means.

I think the UAW is not as extreme as the Laborers, Teamsters, and some of the other unions who make union-bashing easy.
What's the point?TJeanloz
May 2, 2003 2:12 PM
I was reading up on the UAW, per posts below, and found the interesting fact that the writing staff of Mother Jones magazine are organized by the UAW.

Is the UAW protecting them from the evils of non-profits?
Benefits purposes (insurance, pension, etc.)? (nm)czardonic
May 2, 2003 2:23 PM
Shouldn't a good corporate citizen like Ma jones provide? (nm)TJeanloz
May 2, 2003 2:31 PM
Perhaps they found that UAW could do it cheaper? (nm)czardonic
May 2, 2003 2:33 PM
Shouldn't a good corporate citizen like Ma jones provide? (nm)TJeanloz
May 2, 2003 2:37 PM
The head of my Father's Teamsters Local just pleaded Guilty...Alpedhuez55
May 2, 2003 2:44 PM
for embezlement and other fraud charges. There is a very close relationship between the Unions and Organized Crime and in Massachusetts, with Republican Governors!!! My father's pension is a fraction of what it should be. They complete screwed him with one of his companies that went out of business. They negotiated a 15% mandatory stock purchase for the employees. He ended up getting about $200 in a settlement for 15% of a year and a half pay.

I think "for overgrown high school bully's and thugs" They use bullying tatics. I have heard plenty of stories about vandalism, arson and sabotage at non union work shops. The Hooter's in Boston comes to mind. They built the location with non union help and were burned down shortly before they were supposed to open. When they rebuilt, they used union help. There was one retail chain who switched to a non-union shop to deliver goods and their trucks started to get robbed. When they switched to a union shop the thefts stopped.

Unions have their place. There are sectors of the employment market that need their representation, but these are mostly in lower paying jobs. Now the government heavily regulates workplaces so most injustices are a thing of the past. There are also some employers that are not exacly ethical but there are other recourses to use against them. Most unions are not needed and just add cost to public and private projects. I think thier costs out weight their benefits.

Mike Y.
And Henry Kissinger walks the streets a free man (nm)retro
May 2, 2003 3:27 PM
My Canadian ExperienceJon Billheimer
May 2, 2003 5:48 PM
I have negotiated collective agreements in four different union jurisdictions here in Canada. The most negative was with the Canadian Union of Postal Workers. The president of the local was an avowed Marxist and when we began collective bargaining he had recently been released from jail after having served six months for assault on the picket line. This man was the most vicious, abusive person I've ever met and because of his attitude deprived his (my) workers of a raise for 15 months. In the end he settled for close to the initial offer, which was just in excess of the rate of inflation at the time.

At the other extreme I have a business unit up in the oilsands area that was certified by another national union, CEP, which so far has been reasonable, responsible, and truly does try to represent the workers without being abusive with management. The bottom line? It depends on the union, and sometimes the local business agent.

When I first arrived in British Columbia 35 years ago I couldn't believe the thrall that unions had--and still do--that province in. It was poetic justice that the first socialist premier (directly sponsored by the unions) of the Province in the seventies had to order striking workers back to work in order to keep the entire provincial economy from imploding. Union power, like any other kind of power, when run amok without any checks and balances is corrupt and corrupting. Purging the union movement of its ties to organized crime, also, has been a major challenge for governments. However, in industries controlled by two or three major corporations I do believe that unions are probably a necessary form of countervailing power, unless the industry leaders have enlightened management. Which does happen in a couple of cases that I know of. My 2 cents!
Alternate recourse - you've hit the nail on the head...Matno
May 3, 2003 5:40 PM
The main alternate recourse, of course, is to make sure you have a decent contract in writing. Unions may take some of the effort out of that, but anybody should be able to negotiate to some extent. Few people are so unskilled that they have absolutely NO bargaining power, and those who fit that category are usually taken care of by the gov't (although most of them shouldn't get that either).

Secondly, as someone briefly mentioned elsewhere in this thread, gov't protections have gotten piled so deep that unions really DON'T serve a purpose any more.

The connection between unions (particularly the larger unions) and organized crime is unmistakable, and the similarities are appalling.
I'm a Teamster.Spoke Wrench
May 3, 2003 5:49 AM
When I had a non-union job, the management people would frequently tell us: "The only things unions can do is negotiate and collect dues." When it came time to close out my department, they fired me first in order to to avoid paying me the reduction in work force benefit which would have amounted to over $100,000 (I had 23 years senority). There wasn't anybody to stand up for me.

Certainly there have been individual union people who have done unscrupulous things. There is no justification for that. Some management folks can be that way too. But if you substitute almost any other group word for "Unions" you can see how prejudicial your statement sounds.

Negotiate and collect dues are two things that an individual worker can't do very well. Managers uniformly hate unions because not having one keeps the balance of power in their favor. If management really thought that all unions could do was to negotiate and to collect dues, they wouldn't care if we had one or not. They must think that we're really dumb not to figure that out.
'Wrench......well stated and I can only hope...cycleaddict
May 3, 2003 11:24 AM
that union-bashers everywhere are enjoying the weekend (weekends are a union-inspired benefit that great numbers of non-union folks seem to take for granted).
Unions are not God!Matno
May 3, 2003 5:43 PM
While they may have had something to do with adding an extra day to the weekend, resting on the seventh day was implemented by a much higher power before any unions existed. Let's give credit where it's properly due...
Thank you for all the thoughtful inputKristin
May 4, 2003 6:03 PM
I'm amazed--especially considering the manner in which I began this conversation--that you remained both calm and civil. Everyone has written excellent and thoughtful responses. Now I have plenty to ponder.

First, let me apologize for the antagonistic manner I began with. I see unions as a thing--not as anything personal--therefore, I don't believe that I am being prejudiced when I say, "I hate unions." However, I should have said, "I hate some of the things that unions seem to encourage," which would better reflect my true sentiments. Since I have not ever benefited from a union, I had nothing to balance my anger.

Do we need unions today? Like everything else, the answer likely lies somewhere between yes and no. As an IT worker, I am not exactly white collar, nor am I blue collar. I do manual work--build servers, create accounts--but do so in a corporate environment. I negotiate my own salary and benefits, and have both succeeded and failed at doing so. I have been unfairly treated at times and had little recourse. I have heard an number of horror stories in corporate world. Here are a few examples:

1. A dear friend's mother--who I've spent nearly every major holiday with for 8 years--became ill with cancer last year. She missed 2 months of work and the small company's health rate increased because of her treatment costs. Two partners took her to lunch one day and explained that they were angry about the increased healthcare costs. She was informed her that her salary would be reduced and her hours increased to compensate for the higher cost of their benefits. She quit her job, sought legal assistance and was told that it would not be worth pursuing—taking into consideration both the financial and emotional costs of suing a business. In the end, she found work elsewhere and put it behind her.

2. One manager of 30 years was laid off from my office only 1 year before retirement. They built a case that he was an ineffective manager. They allowed someone ineffective to work here for 30 years?? I doubt it very much. Very few middle managers in corporate America will ever have a retirement party in their honor.

3. Two years ago, I was pulled into a conference room by my manager and told that I had better watch my attitude because a co-worker quit "because of me." Then he threatened to write me up if I didn't work extra hard. Come to find out, my manager heard this from a co-worker who said that another co-worker told him the employee who quit told him that. (Did you follow?) I went to HR, who basically ignored me. I didn't press it any farther because I didn't want to be "laid off" myself.

So, would there be a benefit from having a union to represent me? Sure. At the same time, it could hinder me in other ways. My mortgage would need to be smaller. I'd face possible strikes and financial hardship. I couldn't negotiate a higher salary on my own--not that I've done a great job at this to begin with. As with everything in life, there are pro's and con's. I just wish people wouldn't bully others and commit crimes. The vandalism of a church for using volunteers is atrocious, completely unnecessary and villainous.

Please know I did not intend to personally attack any individual.