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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Union V Non-Union

This should spark alot of debate. Union versus non-union. Living in Florida, a right to work state, allows us to have both union and non-union employers. There are pros and cons to both sides of this coin.

Lets start with the union side. Better wages, retirement packages, health care insurance, sick days, vacation days, and apprenticeship programs all fall into the plus column. That's alot of pluses. However, some of the negatives weigh more than most of the pluses. Everyone makes the same wage. There is no competition on the jobsite. If one electrician can install 800' of conduit per day and the other electrician only runs 400' per day, what is going to happen? Will the slower man try to speed up so he is installing 800' or will the faster electrician slow down to the 400' per day pace? Doing better than the guy next to you puts a target on your back. You become a troublemaker. Employees are not allowed to bring in personal tools that will make them more valuable than the next man either. When it's time for lay-offs, it is last hired - first fired. Job stability relies on seniority, not skill level. While union employees may not see this as a bad thing, the employer definitely does. Another negative is paying dues. It doesn't seem like much, just a few dollars per paycheck. These dues go to pay the high salaries of union officials, to grease the pockets of government employees, to support political campaigns. Union employees must strike when told to strike, sometimes coming out on the short end of the stick.

Non-union employment doesn't have many pluses. Hmmmm, you can work for whichever contractor gives you a job. If you are a talented electrician you can earn more than the lesser electricians. Some employers do offer apprenticeship programs, some don't. Some offer health insurance or retirement or vacations, most don't. There does tend to be more job stability in the non-union sector. With lower wages, the contractor can be more competitive in the bidding process. Layoffs generally target deadwood, not longevity on the job.

On paper the union job looks so much better, but is it better for America? We don't manufacture many products anymore. We simply can't compete with countries like China It all boils down to this.... there has to be a better system. Unions were effective in procuring worker's rights, no one is doubting that.  But it seems they have gone too far now, more so with government employee unions than with private sector unions. They extort the government into paying much more than what is fair and equitable for services rendered. Retirement packages paid for by taxpayers, 4 weeks of vacation per year, and on and on. It sure is nice to have if you are the one receiving it, but if you are just a taxpayer footing the bill it hits a raw nerve. Maybe higher tariffs on imported products. Then what would Walmart sell? Can all working class Americans afford to pay $150 for work boots? Sure they can if we raise their salaries and give them benefit packages. But now, who can afford to build a new house, it will cost twice as much as it did before just for the wage difference in the actual workers building it. But there's more, now we have to pay the deliveryman more to do his job, and the lumber mill worker more to do his job, plus the benefit packages for them and so on and so on. See the dilemma?

So what is the answer?