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Unions and our un/certain future


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#1 Sasha Riu

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 12:12 PM

How do you see union/s to help their members in a times ahead of us, which doesn't seem so bright right now?

Now it would be time when they have to prove the meaning of their existence and offer benefit to their members isn't it?

I already asked this as a post in one of the other threads here but after several weeks, it didn't generated not a one single answer or opinion!

Please take this as an chance to express your opinion that might influence and guide the moves and actions of unions (let the leader hears the voice of its followers), rather than malicious critique and bringing the proofs of how bad and evil union are...
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#2 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 12:35 PM

How do you see union/s to help their members in a times ahead of us, which doesn't seem so bright right now?

Now it would be time when they have to prove the meaning of their existence and offer benefit to their members isn't it?

I already asked this as a post in one of the other threads here but after several weeks, it didn't generated not a one single answer or opinion!

Please take this as an chance to express your opinion that might influence and guide the moves and actions of unions (let the leader hears the voice of its followers), rather than malicious critique and bringing the proofs of how bad and evil union are...



Well, if we look at the point of a union, the idea is that by "organizing" the workers into one "voice," that "management" won't be able to exploit them in terms of unsafe working conditions, hours, and pay.

It worked out fairly well, give or take abuses here and there, but in general, unions in the US did their job and helped build a thriving Middle Class. Of course the Milton Friedmanists got a hold of our government about the time of Reagan and began their campaign to destroy workers rights, and unions, and ultimately the Middle Class in favor of giving the majority of the wealth back to the top 1%.

Part of the way they managed to do this was to engage in the destructive campaign of globalization. The "escape hatch" that allowed US Corporations of all kinds to ship millions of jobs overseas to exploit cheap labor without penalty pretty much did in the entire notion of putting pressure on a Corporation to do the right thing for the most people.

So... given this factual state of affairs, if globalization is here to stay, the ONLY answer is a worldwide union wherein everybody who is hired by media conglomerates is represented by a single bargaining unit so that wages are equal across the globe, constantly adjusting for exchange rates of course (until we have a single world currency)... and other little things like equal safety requirements and so forth.

The Milton Friedmanists are inherently evil and are using the inequality of the planet to divide and conquer so that they can hoard more money at the detriment of everyone else. If workers want to keep a living wage and safe conditions, they will have to gather together in a much larger way than ever considered before.

The only other answer would be to significantly penalize (via massive tariffs) companies that "manufacture" their products over a home border then try to reimport it back in as if it was a domestic product. "Isolationism" has proven to be the only tool to recover economies that have been destroyed by the Milton Friedmanists in the past. Simply shut off the "free trade" provisions so that a nation can rebuild from the damage and bring back the Middle Classes which are the backbone of any economy. Naturally the wealthy and politically powerful will fight back in devious ways (as we see them here in the US fighting vehemently with lies about "socialized" medicine)... which is why it will take actual workers ... not the established unions... to form new "unions" to bypass the already ineffective (and sometimes corrupt) organizations which aren't equipped to handle the scope of the problem we have today.
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#3 K Borowski

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 03:39 PM

But Clinton's whole-hearted endorsement of NAFTA and free trade with China had nothing to do with outsorucing?

Come on Brian, you can do better! :P


I can't believe how many people simply believe that one party is good and the other party is bad, be they Democrats or Republicans. Sorry gents, but life is not that simple
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#4 K Borowski

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 03:43 PM

One other complete contradiction you have, Brian, is this: Destroying workers rights, as you put it, would have eliminated the need for outsourcing by leveling the playing field with low-wage countries.

You can't have it both ways.

How are the Republicans going to destroy this country, by destroying workers rights or by outsourcing (due to workers' "too good" rights)?

Now, how are the Democrats going to save us? Oh wait, they say that they need the support of the Republicans to pass this bill. . .

Most of the Republicans I have voted for are/would have been in favor of this healthcare bill in some form. They have reservations for business owners because that is a party base. Does considering that most businesses aren't big corporations, but are small businesses with low owner income perhaps make the party more human to you?
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 05:24 PM

I think that unions tend to thrive when the economy is booming and there is a lot of work for all, but they have a limited ability to improve or alter the economy when times are bad.

I think that salaries probably do have to be tied to the economy, up when things are good, down when things are bad, unions can't become a roadblock to changes in technology or flexibility to weather serious changes (i.e. downsize) in income for the management.

Which means that when money is tight, unions have to go back to their core principles, which is protection of the workforce from dangerous conditions, excessive hours, and to provide some of the benefits that all workers should have in terms of access to healthcare, a pension or some other retirement plan - plus training, etc. At the low point in the economy, it's harder to justify job protectionism or raising rates. On the other hand, it's proper for the unions to protest unlevel playing fields, i.e. sending skilled work to countries where people are underpaid and underprotected.

The main point of the existence of unions is collective bargaining, the notion that it takes workers uniting behind certain demands to offset the natural position of power that those who run things, have. As a single person, I have no real power to argue against a Sony or General Electric, but as part of an organization numbering thousands of workers, there is some chance to be taken seriously. But with that power comes the responsibility of making reasonable demands, not "find us a raise, protect our jobs, and how you manage to stay profitable is your own problem..." But that goes both ways -- it becomes incumbent on management to also be reasonable and not say "how you manage to stay afloat financially on the low rates we are offering and keep your health care is your own problem..." There has to be a recognition of each others' reasonable needs.

As far as the Democrat / Republican issue, I don't think it's black and white, but historically the Democrats have been more pro-union and the Republicans more pro-big business (not as pro-small business as you'd think though....) But let's admit that both sides are well-funded by major corporations (and unions) seeking to gain favor and protection.

I think the shift towards more international corporate ownership has been detrimental to workers because the management doesn't even live in the same city as the workers, let alone come to work everyday to the same building. It becomes a lot easier then for corporations to take a bottom-line approach that is completely devoid of any human considerations when the humans involved are thousands of miles away, sometimes in other countries.

Just like with direct democracies, there is probably an optimal size for unions, but in this day and age, everything is outsized beyond any human scale. Unions that are too big are dealing with corporations that are really too big and working through government entities that are too big, all dealing with sums that are too big -- on a worldwide rather than local level.
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#6 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 07:50 PM

One other complete contradiction you have, Brian, is this: Destroying workers rights, as you put it, would have eliminated the need for outsourcing by leveling the playing field with low-wage countries.

I don't think that's a contradiction at all. There is such a drastic difference between the average wages/standard of living in this country and those same standards (or lack of them) in India or China that American workers could lose their homes, their credit, their assets, and be on the street while STILL making more money at their job than their Indian or Chinese counterparts. What you're suggesting is not an either/or proposition, Karl. Both the systematic purging of workers rights and the wholesale outsourcing of jobs work together to achieve a single aim: the gradual erosion of the standard of living of the American workforce for the benefit of large corporations, their executives, their shareholders, their lobbyists, and the politicians who take their money to fund their reelection campaigns.

How are the Republicans going to destroy this country, by destroying workers rights or by outsourcing (due to workers' "too good" rights)?

Replace the word "Republicans" with "large corporations whose only legal responsibility is to make a profit for their shareholders," and I would answer "both." I think David answered this pretty well. We need to strike a comfortable balance between helping workers maintain a certain level of quality of life, and at the same time allowing businesses to make a profit and compete successfully in the global marketplace. But I think it's pretty clear that while Democrats fall on both sides of the debate, largely depending on how liberal or conservative they are, the Republicans are nearly all on the side of big business. Draw your own conclusions...

Now, how are the Democrats going to save us? Oh wait, they say that they need the support of the Republicans to pass this bill. . .

Actually, since Democrats have a filibuster proof majority in the Senate and an overwhelming majority in the House, they wouldn't technically need Republican support at all if the conservative Blue Dog Democrats weren't so heavily influenced by the pharmaceutical/drug/financial lobby. The liberal Democrats who would like to see a strong public option or even a national single payer heath care system are caving in to demands, not from the Republican side, but from the conservative caucus within their own party.

Most of the Republicans I have voted for are/would have been in favor of this healthcare bill in some form.

Like who? And what kind of health care bill do they specifically support? I doubt any Republican now serving in Congress would be in favor of a single payer system, for example.

They have reservations for business owners because that is a party base.

That's all well and reasonable if it doesn't come at the expense of the public interest. I agree for example that voting for raising the minimum earnings mandate from $250k to $500k on small businesses to provide health care to their employees is in line with these principles. However, I think that voting to eliminate a strong public heath care option from the bill that would essentially force these massive insurance companies to compete with the government run program and lower premiums (which they would never do voluntarily despite their claims otherwise), is not in line with the Republicans' claim that they actually represent the interests of all their constituents. They are representing the top 1% of their constituents very well.

The only entities that would benefit from this proposal are:
1. The insurance companies themselves and their shareholders.
2. The drug companies who want to sell their products at the highest possible price and their shareholders.
3. The insurance executives who get compensated for increasing profits by any means necessary (which means providing health care to as few truly sick people as possible).
4. The lobbying and marketing firms whose main clients are the insurance and drug companies.
5. The politicians who accept campaign contributions from these companies, and who are threatened with ads run against them in their home districts and contributions to their election opponents if they do not accept.

The entities who lose are:
1. The American public. They will continue paying increasing health care premiums and deductibles individually, or through deductions in their paycheck if they get health care through their employer. They will continue paying into a business model whose aim is not first and foremost to provide care, but to deny care whenever possible and thus turn a profit.
2. Small businesses who cannot afford to pay for health care costs for their employees. I believe costs started at around 3% and have been going steadily up since.

Now, which side are you on?

I guess what it finally comes down to is whether or not you believe that health care is a right or a privilege. If it is a privilege, then we only deserve whatever care we can afford to pay for. This may be a reasonable attitude for other industries whose services are not essential to our quality of life. But I would argue that some services should not be for-profit. They are too important to be reduced to the buying and selling of little numbers scrolling across a ticker. We are talking about people's lives, after all.

If anyone is interested, please check out Bill Moyer's interview with Wendell Potter, a former VP of marketing at Cigna Health Corp. It's eye opening stuff: http://www.pbs.org/m...2009/watch.html.

Also, on Friday, Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY) introduced an amendment to eliminate Medicare, the existing government-run single payer health care system that covers all Americans 65 and older, calling the Republicans' bluff on whether they would vote against an overwhelmingly popular system that they claim is inherently inefficient, dangerous, and "a step on the slippery slope to socialism." :lol:

The interview starts @ 3:30 into the clip, check it out: http://www.msnbc.msn...15908/#32229379.
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#7 Paul Bruening

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 10:31 PM

Hello Brian,

Regardless of whether I agree with you or not, I do find that your presentations have strength, insight and clarity. I look forward to more.
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#8 Paul Bruening

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Posted 02 August 2009 - 10:35 PM

... Satsuki, too.

Recently, I've been grouping the fight into two categories. 1) Those who trust corporations and mistrust the government. 2) Those who trust the government and mistrust corporations. Does that work?
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#9 Scott Fritzshall

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 12:18 AM

I think that you'll find there are people who either trust or distrust both ;)
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#10 Satsuki Murashige

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 01:01 AM

Recently, I've been grouping the fight into two categories. 1) Those who trust corporations and mistrust the government. 2) Those who trust the government and mistrust corporations. Does that work?

I'm with Scott on this one. The only reason I trust my government slightly more is because at least I have a vote and can influence my local congresswoman. In my case, that would be Nancy Pelosi. It's not like any of us sit in on corporate board meetings...

But if I'd trust anyone with power, then I choose to trust an informed and active public.
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#11 Tom Jensen

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Posted 03 August 2009 - 06:01 AM

You're either for the war in Iraq or you are an evil doer. See, it is that simple. ;-)

The film business is not an easy business. It is rarely fair. The hours can be horrific and very often the people are not very nice or honest. Producers have a budget and a schedule. That is their main concern. Producers will push you for as long as they can and as hard as they can until their film is done with very little regard for you as a person. They don't really care if you eat or you sleep. SAG is their most formidable foe. That is the strongest of all the unions. They show up on every show just about. The need for the union will always be there as long as there are producers. But by the same token, they must remain flexible enough to keep their members working and to entice new members.
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#12 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 04 August 2009 - 06:42 AM

... Satsuki, too.

Recently, I've been grouping the fight into two categories. 1) Those who trust corporations and mistrust the government. 2) Those who trust the government and mistrust corporations. Does that work?



I honestly don't think it's about trust/distrust at all. Certainly those elements exist within the whole of the issue, but at the heart of all of these discussions about unions, governments, safety, health care, etc is ideology. On one side are a group of relatively selfish self-serving people who are against policies that tend to help others. On the other side are a group of people who recognize that as much as we all would like absolute freedom to do what we want and keep all of our money, they are wise enough to know that we all live here on an island and it is important to work for a culture and society that is inherently fair and equitable for all.

At the extremes, it isn't really "trust vs distrust" so much as "selfish vs altruistic." Of course very few people fall entirely into one group or another. Most of us have elements of both running through our blood, but many trend toward one or the other and that shapes the ideology we choose to live by and as a result, the types of policies we support and how we perceive the role of government.

You'll notice that in my initial post, at no point did I use the label "Republican." I said "Milton Friedmanists" yet it was ASSUMED that I was referring ONLY to Republicans. I was quite careful in my choice of language, but as you can see, that particular economic ideology is most often identified with the US Republican Party which overwhelmingly favors allowing the wealthy to prosper at the detriment of the Middle Class, the Poor, and to the detriment of civilized society itself. Profit for a few takes priority over the "General Welfare" of the many. That is the core philosophy of Milton Friedmanism. Basically it says, "I got mine, you get yours and if you can't, then F*** off, go die in a corner and stop bothering me." Then the rhetoric ramps up to invent all kinds of reasons for why "they" think poor people can't succeed (lazy, unmotivated, stupid, etc) and use those reasons to justify their own self-serving selfishness while completely ignoring the policies that stack the deck against so many people so that the "unsuccessful" have a very difficult time climbing out of the hole they were just unlucky enough to be born into.

If you agree with that basic ideology, then you're a Milton Friedmanist regardless of what political Party affiliation you tell others you belong to. It's Greed vs Not Greed not Trust vs. Mistrust.
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#13 Mark Bonnington

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 01:35 AM

I view movies as art, and as such, I feel the unions infringe on our artistic freedoms. Besides, there are better alternatives to unions when it comes to taking care of workers. A change in the taxation structure of the country (taxing the rich), for example, would provide better distribution of wealth than unionization. Public health care would negate the need to demand health care from an employer. Working hour limits could be enforced by law, so that nobody has to work beyond what is healthy. If the government wanted to help the people, it could. For now, it seems to be content in helping only the rich.

Edited by Mark Bonnington, 26 August 2009 - 01:37 AM.

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#14 Brian Dzyak

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Posted 26 August 2009 - 09:27 PM

I view movies as art, and as such, I feel the unions infringe on our artistic freedoms. Besides, there are better alternatives to unions when it comes to taking care of workers. A change in the taxation structure of the country (taxing the rich), for example, would provide better distribution of wealth than unionization. Public health care would negate the need to demand health care from an employer. Working hour limits could be enforced by law, so that nobody has to work beyond what is healthy. If the government wanted to help the people, it could. For now, it seems to be content in helping only the rich.


Correct.

But I'm curious how a union could possibly infringe on artistic freedoms? :unsure: All a union exists to do is ensure that workers aren't abused and are treated like human-beings. How do fair wages and safe working conditions POSSIBLY infringe on anyone's artistic freedoms? :unsure:
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#15 Mark Bonnington

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Posted 27 August 2009 - 12:45 AM

Correct.

But I'm curious how a union could possibly infringe on artistic freedoms? :unsure: All a union exists to do is ensure that workers aren't abused and are treated like human-beings. How do fair wages and safe working conditions POSSIBLY infringe on anyone's artistic freedoms? :unsure:

If you want to make a movie, but you can't meet the union's financial costs, then you won't have access to a huge chunk of acting talent. As an analogy, it would be like an impoverished painter not being allowed to use the color blue, simply because the color is owned by the union. Even if SAG actors want to work on your film, for free, the unions will not let them.

Additionally, some unions require that their union be praised in the film credits (check out item #17 in the SAG Ultra Low Budget Agreement, http://www.sagindie.....sample2009.pdf). Forcing the artist to add a statement into their art, especially one that the filmmaker might disagree with, is an infringement of the artist's freedom of speech.

Edited by Mark Bonnington, 27 August 2009 - 12:47 AM.

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