What To Do About Unions?

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Martin Hash
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What To Do About Unions?

Post by Martin Hash » Sun Sep 01, 2013 9:54 am

Union membership is dwindling in America for obvious reasons that a union member won’t acknowledge but are true none-the-less: past union actions verge on thuggery & extortion, and many stated union goals are downright populist (read Marxist). However, in a liberty-based society that uses Capitalism as its economic engine, private unions are the counterbalance to a company’s main goal of optimizing profits. (A company’s allegiance is to its stockholders, normally in the form of maximized returns.)

After a lot of intellectual consideration, I can offer a framework to how unions can & should function in the future, and will attract back membership. First, so as not to confuse the issue, PUBLIC unions have no place in society and need to be broken. (This from president Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democratic icon and creator of the “New Deal.”) What I suggest is for PRIVATE unions, which are essential to counteract Capitalist excesses.

1) All employees, as part of their wages, get stock with voting rights in the company they work for and assign the voting rights to the union. A volunteer lawyer/activist attends stockholder meetings and votes/negotiates with other stockholders for “workers” needs and benefits.
2) Union leadership is all elected volunteers - no paid officers or staff. Only appropriate expenses that are closely watched and detailed to membership.
3) Union “dues” go for no other purpose than to buy back stock from members who leave the company and want to cash in. (Also the Expenses fund.)
4) No striking, work stoppages/slowdowns or any other extortionistic tactics that hurt the business and evoke bad press.
5) The union can choose what to do with its company stock as they see fit: pensions, college funds, etc., but always keep in mind that a share sold is one less vote at the table.

These ideals won’t work for sole-proprietorships but those organizations usually don’t need and don’t have union representation anyway. Certainly Big-Board company unions can follow this formula, and privately-held, stock-issuing companies should be encouraged to cooperate.

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Two Man
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Re: What To Do About Unions?

Post by Two Man » Thu Dec 01, 2016 4:49 pm

An issue with the stock voting rights premise is that with some unions (particularly the entertainment industry) you can work for many different companies in a relatively short period of time. Issuing stock for a few weeks or months of work would certainly be ineffective as to the goal you described. A blanket deal with all entertainment companies that recognize unions is how the business currently works. Perhaps that can still be incorporated into your proposal.

Also, the no striking/work stoppages suggestion flies in the face of what unions were created for in the first place. Without the leverage of a potential strike, unions have little power to influence a company to make a better deal for their employees.

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ssu
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Re: What To Do About Unions?

Post by ssu » Fri Dec 02, 2016 6:35 pm

Hi Martin,
4) No striking, work stoppages/slowdowns or any other extortionistic tactics that hurt the business and evoke bad press.
As two man above stated, I agree that the power of unions would be extremely small if not non-existent. They can have part of the share of vote, yes, but likely aren't in any situation to have an effect. And nowdays shareholders don't have much power anyway, as they are represented by a career managers (basically employees) of other companies or various kinds of funds (mutual funds, pension funds etc.), not so much with actual human shareholders.

I think that when you give any entity, be it Company management or the labour unions, power that they can abuse, some asshole will definately abuse that position.

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Martin Hash
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Re: What To Do About Unions?

Post by Martin Hash » Sun Dec 04, 2016 11:25 pm

ssu wrote:I think that when you give any entity, be it Company management or the labour unions, power that they can abuse, some asshole will definately abuse that position.
Strikes are bad, bad press but I am convinced by the argument that they are a powerful weapon.

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Re: What To Do About Unions?

Post by SuburbanFarmer » Mon Dec 05, 2016 7:12 am

Making 'employees' into 'shareholders' is a very attractive idea. It'll never happen, but it's very attractive.

The decline of unions has nothing to do with employee choice. It's a function of governments and corporations colluding to end employee bargaining power. The 'Right To Work' state is a lovely experiment involving bare-skeleton wages, disaffected populations, and governors touting their amazing 'free-market' credentials as the economy burns around them. I'm quite familiar with the joys of not being able to find a slave-wage job to pay for a shit apartment.
SJWs are a natural consequence of corporatism.

Formerly GrumpyCatFace

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Re: What To Do About Unions?

Post by California » Mon Dec 05, 2016 7:26 am

GrumpyCatFace wrote:Making 'employees' into 'shareholders' is a very attractive idea. It'll never happen, but it's very attractive.

The decline of unions has nothing to do with employee choice. It's a function of governments and corporations colluding to end employee bargaining power. The 'Right To Work' state is a lovely experiment involving bare-skeleton wages, disaffected populations, and governors touting their amazing 'free-market' credentials as the economy burns around them. I'm quite familiar with the joys of not being able to find a slave-wage job to pay for a shit apartment.
Don't forget those governors are usually sucking the hardest off the government teat, getting federal welfare from the states that actually make money
Vox populi, vox dei
No man's life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session

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Re: What To Do About Unions?

Post by adwinistrator » Mon Dec 05, 2016 7:44 am

I've always been a fan of the labor union system in Germany.
Employees' representation in Germany has a binary structure: trade unions that set the framework for working conditions, such as collective wage agreements, for whole sectors or single companies, defining wage levels and working time on the one hand - and works councils ("Betriebsräte") that are elected by employees and represent their interests on company level. They shape and supervise the execution of the frameworks set by trade unions and laws in the company.

German industrial relations are characterized by a high degree of employee participation up to co-determination in companies' boards ("Aufsichtsrat"), where trade unionists and works councils elected by employees have full voting rights. Local trade union representants are democratically elected by union members and formally largely autonomous. Central boards of directors ("Vorstand") are elected by delegates.
At this point, I can't see Americans ever putting enough pressure on their representatives for change that would overcome the pressure put on them by business interests that would be against this. Not unless something changes for the worse.
 But how did Germany develop this different perspective on labor relations, which is so contrary to the American stereotype of stern Germanic commanders? Silvia provides the answer: “Because World War II happened.” Never again, the Germans told themselves. “The Nazis were seen as an excess of ideological extremism, and one of the ways to deal with that is to end this nasty class conflict and try to make a society where everyone can participate and everyone is given a share,” he adds. “Capitalism can’t just be brutal. It has to be inclusive, because if it’s not, those people are going to organize themselves in revolutionary or reactionary parties.”
  • Greider, William. "Can Germany Reform American Labor Relations?" The Nation,  March 5th, 2014

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katarn
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Re: What To Do About Unions?

Post by katarn » Thu Dec 22, 2016 2:35 pm

adwinistrator wrote:I've always been a fan of the labor union system in Germany.
Employees' representation in Germany has a binary structure: trade unions that set the framework for working conditions, such as collective wage agreements, for whole sectors or single companies, defining wage levels and working time on the one hand - and works councils ("Betriebsräte") that are elected by employees and represent their interests on company level. They shape and supervise the execution of the frameworks set by trade unions and laws in the company.

German industrial relations are characterized by a high degree of employee participation up to co-determination in companies' boards ("Aufsichtsrat"), where trade unionists and works councils elected by employees have full voting rights. Local trade union representants are democratically elected by union members and formally largely autonomous. Central boards of directors ("Vorstand") are elected by delegates.
At this point, I can't see Americans ever putting enough pressure on their representatives for change that would overcome the pressure put on them by business interests that would be against this. Not unless something changes for the worse.
  • Greider, William. "Can Germany Reform American Labor Relations?" The Nation,  March 5th, 2014
[/quote]

This looks similar to what Hash proposes. I like it. But the issue of whether Americans could actually do it is probably moot. After all, Congress has (Gallup) a 16% approval rating and a reelection rate sitting somewhere around 90%. Americans don't to action too easily these days.
"Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage...
If I have freedom in my love
And in my soul am free,
Angels alone that soar above
Enjoy such Liberty" - Richard Lovelace

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Re: What To Do About Unions?

Post by adwinistrator » Wed Dec 28, 2016 10:57 am

katarn wrote:
adwinistrator wrote:I've always been a fan of the labor union system in Germany.
Employees' representation in Germany has a binary structure: trade unions that set the framework for working conditions, such as collective wage agreements, for whole sectors or single companies, defining wage levels and working time on the one hand - and works councils ("Betriebsräte") that are elected by employees and represent their interests on company level. They shape and supervise the execution of the frameworks set by trade unions and laws in the company.

German industrial relations are characterized by a high degree of employee participation up to co-determination in companies' boards ("Aufsichtsrat"), where trade unionists and works councils elected by employees have full voting rights. Local trade union representants are democratically elected by union members and formally largely autonomous. Central boards of directors ("Vorstand") are elected by delegates.
At this point, I can't see Americans ever putting enough pressure on their representatives for change that would overcome the pressure put on them by business interests that would be against this. Not unless something changes for the worse.
  • Greider, William. "Can Germany Reform American Labor Relations?" The Nation,  March 5th, 2014
This looks similar to what Hash proposes. I like it. But the issue of whether Americans could actually do it is probably moot. After all, Congress has (Gallup) a 16% approval rating and a reelection rate sitting somewhere around 90%. Americans don't to action too easily these days.
I don't hold out much hope for legislative action either.

One of the ways I could see this sort of system develop in America, is if an newer industry were to begin unionizing, software developers for example. Considering the technocratic nature of those who might lead such an effort, I could see such systems being pushed for implementation, whereas the older trade unions are far too entrenched in trying to hold on to their legacy union systems.

In terms of software developer unions, I doubt it would be possible without some additional labor protection via legislation, since everyone on the planet with an internet connection could write code for a company (damn scabs). It might be plausible in the future though, as technology and service becomes an even larger share of our economy, the government might want to take steps to protect the technological labor force, or it might start working remotely for other country's companies if they pay better...

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Martin Hash
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Re: What To Do About Unions?

Post by Martin Hash » Tue Sep 19, 2017 6:03 am

adwinistrator wrote:I've always been a fan of the labor union system in Germany.
Employees' representation in Germany has a binary structure: trade unions that set the framework for working conditions, such as collective wage agreements, for whole sectors or single companies, defining wage levels and working time on the one hand - and works councils ("Betriebsräte") that are elected by employees and represent their interests on company level. They shape and supervise the execution of the frameworks set by trade unions and laws in the company.

German industrial relations are characterized by a high degree of employee participation up to co-determination in companies' boards ("Aufsichtsrat"), where trade unionists and works councils elected by employees have full voting rights. Local trade union representants are democratically elected by union members and formally largely autonomous. Central boards of directors ("Vorstand") are elected by delegates.
At this point, I can't see Americans ever putting enough pressure on their representatives for change that would overcome the pressure put on them by business interests that would be against this. Not unless something changes for the worse.
 But how did Germany develop this different perspective on labor relations, which is so contrary to the American stereotype of stern Germanic commanders? Silvia provides the answer: “Because World War II happened.” Never again, the Germans told themselves. “The Nazis were seen as an excess of ideological extremism, and one of the ways to deal with that is to end this nasty class conflict and try to make a society where everyone can participate and everyone is given a share,” he adds. “Capitalism can’t just be brutal. It has to be inclusive, because if it’s not, those people are going to organize themselves in revolutionary or reactionary parties.”
  • Greider, William. "Can Germany Reform American Labor Relations?" The Nation,  March 5th, 2014
I've been looking into German Labor Unions: for Public companies, they don't conflict with the liberty of the owners, and in many cases, it's Union Pension Fund money invested in these Public Company's stocks, and since minority stockholders have no say in a company's operations, having equal union representation on the Board would protect against leveraging of Stock Rights by private parties in public companies.