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Caramel1  (Level: 126.0 - Posts: 21556)
Sat, 22nd Nov '08 11:14 AM


I preface this by saying I was a union member all of my working life and really doubt I would have the retirement benefits I do now if that had not been the case. Have been listening to folks many among them strongly in favor of the auto "bailout" call it that or not, saying that card check is just strong-arming by the unions. Reading back over previous threads believe it was Tuzilla who pointed out that auto unions had made concessions in the past 2 bargaining sessions-these do not go into effect ntil 2010. The auto exes did nothing to furthur their case by arriving in their private jets to plead with government. It seems to be clear, however, that the primary cause of Detroit auto companies not being able to compete is the legacy costs as well as a thing called "Job Bank' which, I confess yet have to do in depth research My kids nd grands live in Michigan as well as any extended family I have so I have great interest in what happens there. None of my family has ever been directly invoved with the auto idustry either. Heard one commentator say that if the UAW is unable to get a bailout for the BIG 3, it will be the beginning of the end for unions. Realize this is a contentious topic-Linda Please don't use the bailout of the financial industry to make the case of what is good for them is good for labor. In hindight tat is starting to look like a blunder too-Linda

Smokydevil  (Level: 163.0 - Posts: 5381)
Sat, 22nd Nov '08 12:30 PM

I'm not particularly fond of the loss of unions either at this point, but not sure why the auto situation would be the begining of the end for unions. I've worked in other industries where they still seem to be semi-strong. They seem relatively strong in the public sector at any rate. Can you clarify this "commentators" opinion for me Linda? Certainly, from my own perspective, if that were the case it would be something to worry about, but I'm not sure he's right. I do believe the bailout would wound the unions politically...but they've been hurting politically for quite some time now, this is nothing new for them.

Tsk9653  (Level: 113.2 - Posts: 1466)
Sat, 22nd Nov '08 12:38 PM

I'm certainly torn about the situation with the domestic auto industry. Michigan's economy has been predominantly crappy -- certainly compared to the rest of the country -- for at least 30 years. Used to tell my kids when they were young to get out of Michigan when they were adults -- and I was thinking primarily of the economy. (Neither of them did, and I like having them around, but one of my kids is not fully employed because of the economic circumstances.) Anyway, my thoughts on the proposed bailout:

1. Unless there is some achievable plan in place to save the industry, it seems pointless to make the investment as just delaying the inevitable. Nor do I think it is an option to "save" the industry by crushing the UAW. The hourly workers who are union bashers would themselves be much worse off economically, but for the Labor movement and organized labor which they dismiss so contemptuously.

2. I get tired of hearing Labor get blamed for the domestic industry's woes. To the extent labor costs are higher for the US industry, this has more to do with factors other than organized labor. The US industry shoulders health care costs for its workforce, elsewhere in the world, health coverage is a government benefit. A "legacy" cost is promised pensions for retired workers. Again, in other countries, such as Japan, the pension system is not a private benefit and burden on the industry. Still, pension planning was grossly mismanaged by the industry. It didn't adequately fund for future retirement costs. Now, the right wingers are making outrageous claims about an auto worker's salary and benefits by including the costs of payments to retirees, which are being paid for currently because the idiots running the companies didn't use sound actuarial methods to ensure funding of pension benefits.

3. As a Michigan resident, I hate to think of what this state becomes with the death of the domestic auto industry. I had already taken to calling Michigan "the Mississippi of the North" for a few years now due to the devastation of the State's once admirable social services programs and relatively progressive policies, and things will be far worse if the domestic auto industry goes under. I would not be surprised by official unemployment figures at that point being in the 20% range -- not to mention underemployed folk and the downward impact this will have on wages in the state.

4. I support card-check unionization because I as an attorney for businesses, I've seen them get away with egregious violations of the Labor laws to crush unionization by thwarting successful union elections. I also would like to see the end of "right to work laws", which keep unions weak and permit freeloaders to benefit from the union efforts where unions have managed the rare success in right to work states. (This latter point is not an issue in Michigan; union contracts can require people who don't want to join the Union to pay virtually the same fee for the benefit of the union's services.)

5. I know you didn't want to hear this Linda, but I do find it more than a little ironic that Paulsen had no problem with bailing out his semi-legitimate rich Wall Street buddies, but opposes doing anything for the auto industry. Yes, I do believe Paulsen prefers industry bankruptcy so the UAW can be smashed -- which was not a factor when it came to his overpaid Wall Street buddies.

Caramel1  (Level: 126.0 - Posts: 21556)
Sat, 22nd Nov '08 1:22 PM

TSK, as usual you use logic to support your views and I appreciate that. Curiously, the Obama pick for Paulson's replacement worked on the financial bailout and the modification. Now I have heard that Citigroup will be next in line for money. This is somehow different by government intervention which I will most likely never understand. TSK or STOUT, or some please explain "Job Bank" to me in terms I have a chance of understanding. I certainly have benefited from belonging to a union while I worked and am still benefitting, but just cannot figure out how the Detroit automakers can get out of this without bankruptcy. Have to say this-Nancy Pelosi was pitiful-don't believe she understands this any better than I do. If GM is pushed to go "green" it will raise the cost of their product too. I have been listening to Fox News or as TSK would say "Fox Noise" as well as their business channel. Stout, the commentator on Fox did make that statement about if the UAW cannot save he auto industry it will be the beginning of the end of unions. Perhaps he was ust referencing auto workers, Detroit, or Mi. though or perhaps it was simply because he works for Fox News. I have tried watching MSNBC but their bas is even more blatant tan Fox-thanks in advace for anyone who clarifies nyhing for me as to what the answer might be-Linda.

Caramel1  (Level: 126.0 - Posts: 21556)
Sat, 22nd Nov '08 2:11 PM

Been doing a bit of reading on "job bank" As I understand things it was originnaly created as a way tio prevent outsourcing and layoffs by the auto industry because it would force the companies to pay folks to do nothing. The original principle might have been sound but it goes against everything I have ever been taught about working hard and receiving the rewards. Could better understand a taining program to help people qualify to do something else. Sorry, but clocking in and then reading the newspaper or doing crosswords just doesn't cut it. Please explain to me anything I have misunderstood-thanks-Linda

Tsk9653  (Level: 113.2 - Posts: 1466)
Sat, 22nd Nov '08 2:13 PM

1. I understand the "Job Bank" programs to be the product of negotiations under which the UAW supported controversial productivity increases through technological automation, eliminating many jobs. In exchange, the "Job Banks" were started for workers who lost their jobs due to out-sourcing and job losses caused by technological changes. As I understand, workers in these programs actually show up at some physical plant as available for work, but mostly soicalize, watch TV, etc., because, of course, there really is no job for them to do. These programs have definitely resulte in increased labor costs for the industry.

2. At least what it sounds like the Fox guy is saying is that if the UAW doesn't make more concessions so that the domestic industry survives, the perception among workers will be that unions kill jobs so they won't join them -- meaning the end of unions. If the domestic industry fails to survive, I think it will be unfair to blame the UAW, but I'm sure many will. Don't know that it will be the end of unions, but membership has been declining in them for years, and the Reagan, Bush, and Bush administrations were all successful in weakening unions.

Papermanbill  (Level: 41.3 - Posts: 1313)
Sat, 22nd Nov '08 2:32 PM

It's 1:30 PM here and I just started to look at the chatrooms and my mail came. I got an actuarian report on the status of my Local and was happy to hear that my Local profited of $37 million for the past year. This was after paying out over $200 million to the membership. Bash it all you want, God Bless Jimmy Hoffa and his family. Not bad since the double-crossing bastard Ronald Reagan screwed us in the early 80's.

Caramel1  (Level: 126.0 - Posts: 21556)
Sat, 22nd Nov '08 2:51 PM

Sorry, Bill, if you thought I was "BASHING" unions. I was a union member all my working life and am still reaping the benefits now. In paracticality though because the northern states (east) are highly unionized and most of the southern states are not, they seem to be making whatever they produce noncompetitive. I am making no moral judgment just using Detroit's auto industry as a sort of example. Detroit and Michigan will always be where I call home. Incidentally, at one time taught VERY near to the modest home where Jimmy Hoffa stated he lived right up until about the time he dsappeared from a then"classy" restaurant in Bloomfield Hills-go figure

Papermanbill  (Level: 41.3 - Posts: 1313)
Sat, 22nd Nov '08 6:11 PM

Linda, I didn't say anyone here bashed the Teamsters, I was talking about all the people who detracted against my affiliation for thirty years. How many high school drop outs do you know get a pension of over $950.00 per week "clear". BTW my ex-boss will tell you, I was his best driver and company rep.

Felix  (Level: 109.3 - Posts: 2500)
Sun, 23rd Nov '08 1:47 PM

I'm a member of UCMW (United Clown and Mime Workers). As a part time clown it's required. I think it has helped, but as in all unions unless a bunch of clowns ban together they can rarely keep a job on their own merit. So I guess I am pro union.

Tsk9653  (Level: 113.2 - Posts: 1466)
Sun, 23rd Nov '08 3:37 PM

Indeed. Yes, before the good old UCMW, we were literally working for peanuts -- those the elephants left behind. We were also subject to arbitrary dismissal and forced to clean-up the animal droppings around the big tent. Prior to the union, our Health Plan was a visit to the Circus vet. The bosses tried to keep the Union out by telling us the good clowns would be well compensated and it was all just a matter of hardwork, personal excellence, and being worthy. Looked like this line of BS might have worked too, except we than noticed that the clowns running our Circus into the ground were making more money in a day than we were in a year. And while they still were scary to little children, they didn't make anybody laugh -- just cry.

Alvandy  (Level: 225.6 - Posts: 7525)
Sun, 23rd Nov '08 3:44 PM

Marcel Marceau was a card carrying member too.

He was very committed to his UCMW union and he often took the floor at union meetings and said this pro-union saying.

" "

Marcel Marceau

Oldcougar  (Level: 217.3 - Posts: 1935)
Sun, 23rd Nov '08 3:45 PM


Salzypat  (Level: 154.4 - Posts: 5295)
Sun, 23rd Nov '08 4:21 PM

What a bunch of clowns this afternoon!

Caramel1  (Level: 126.0 - Posts: 21556)
Sun, 23rd Nov '08 4:40 PM

It would be very hypocrital of me to be anti-union at this stage in my life. I am depending on the benefits the union ngotiated for me to support me in my old age. In Detroit and Michigan almost every working person not in an office an including some of those were/are unionized. Was it unfair of us as public employees to illegally strike a broke school system-most likely it was not, but we were under no illusions that the school board would give us anything even if they had it As teachers, although we received tacit support from uther unions in general public opinion ran against us because it meant we were not in the classroom taking care of anyone's kid-those supported by the government, represented by unions, or nonunion white collar workers. When the Detroit Federation of Teachers won over another educational organization-MEA, DEA., we were obliged to pay to the Federation whether we had joined it or not. The suburban areas and other areas of the state were primarily represented by the MEA which did nt agree with the idea of public employees striking. It kind of boiled down to when some of those systems became large enough similar to Detroit where it was not feasible to fire all of he teachers,, they too struck MEA or not.

I do have a point in all of this. When somethng doesn't affect us personally the habit is to believe they should look out for themselves. I certainly have developed that attitude with the financial bailout mostly because I don't fully understand it and because I don't see how it will help me pay my mortgage unless I default or any of the rest of my bills. There is no doubt that unionization is making unrealistic demands on the auto companies based in Detroit. My mind says don't bail them out. When I think deeper realize my pension is funded by Michigan Public Schools Employees and Judges and the shoe starts to get a bit tight when I envsion the State of Michigan in Bankruptcy. To say I am confused is an understatement. People like Nancy Pelosi do not instill any confidence in me either-Linda

Caramel1  (Level: 126.0 - Posts: 21556)
Sun, 23rd Nov '08 4:56 PM

Geez my typos again-meant to say it was most likely unfair of us to illegaly strike a school system that had been nroe for years-reasons for that a whole other issue.

Would just like to add that I now live in a nonunion state. Florida does not really represent the South though as most folks are transplants. One thing that is striking is the highways are excellent. Know that is partly due to the asence of freeze and thaw which creates the potholes. Folorida like just about every other state makes people pay to use the highways-toll booths everywhere. Cannot understand why Michigan doesn't do that. There are no city or state taxes. Had both in Mi Neither of these 2 things have anything to do with unions but find them interesting. Linda

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