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I posted the poll because I'm currently in a Facebook argument with my BIL as to whether collective bargaining is a right or a privilege. :tongue_smilie:

 

Whether or not I agree that unions have too much power and control over politicians and over their own members, or whether or not I agree that state employees benefits as demanded by unions are bankrupting the state coffers, etc., I get a frisson of fear down my spine when I hear the phrase "taking away their right of collective bargaining". I don't know politics well, I never had good civics or history classes in school, and I don't like bad news, so I avoid TV and newspapers, but I do know that we as states and individuals have rights that are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. We have laws governing those rights. So, if someone decides that a right that is currently held by a group of people (e.g. state employees and the right of collective bargaining) should be taken away from that group of people, what is to stop someone from taking away other rights, such as homeschooling?

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I posted the poll because I'm currently in a Facebook argument with my BIL as to whether collective bargaining is a right or a privilege. :tongue_smilie:

 

Whether or not I agree that unions have too much power and control over politicians and over their own members, or whether or not I agree that state employees benefits as demanded by unions are bankrupting the state coffers, etc., I get a frisson of fear down my spine when I hear the phrase "taking away their right of collective bargaining". I don't know politics well, I never had good civics or history classes in school, and I don't like bad news, so I avoid TV and newspapers, but I do know that we as states and individuals have rights that are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. We have laws governing those rights. So, if someone decides that a right that is currently held by a group of people (e.g. state employees and the right of collective bargaining) should be taken away from that group of people, what is to stop someone from taking away other rights, such as homeschooling?

 

Exactly, it becomes a slippery slope.

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Exactly, it becomes a slippery slope.

 

As I understand the situation in WI, rights are not being taken away. The governor wants to give workers a choice whether they will pay union dues or not. It is being spun as the removal of collective bargaining rights.

 

Government workers should not have the opportunity to collectively bargain against me, the tax payer. I agree (form a comment in the other thread) that corporations can also be a problem. I disagree with another comment regarding politicians elected to represent us. In actuality, they don't. Politicians, for the most part, believe the tax payers work for them. They vote any way they want to, NOT how their constituents want them to.

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As I understand the situation in WI, rights are not being taken away. The governor wants to give workers a choice whether they will pay union dues or not. It is being spun as the removal of collective bargaining rights.

 

Government workers should not have the opportunity to collectively bargain against me, the tax payer. I agree (form a comment in the other thread) that corporations can also be a problem. I disagree with another comment regarding politicians elected to represent us. In actuality, they don't. Politicians, for the most part, believe the tax payers work for them. They vote any way they want to, NOT how their constituents want them to.

 

Yes, but in Ohio, they are talking of taking away the rights of collective bargaining. At first, it was for everything but wages, and after protest, they are now only taking away the rights of collective bargaining for health insurance.

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Yes, but in Ohio, they are talking of taking away the rights of collective bargaining. At first, it was for everything but wages, and after protest, they are now only taking away the rights of collective bargaining for health insurance.

 

Yep. I think we got less attention than the issues in WI, but I've been watching the goings-on here in the Buckeye state... and asking myself where we draw the line. I think if we take away the power of unions, we're basically "Walmartizng" our nation. How many of us have heard about (or complained ourselves) how Walmart takes advantage of their employees? And because the company so actively fights the idea of a union, their employees have very little recourse in the matter. It IS a slippery slope, and there will always be people that take advantage of whatever system is in place... but like the Supreme Court in issues of the first amendment (Westboro Baptist comes to my mind...), my instinct will ALWAYS be to err on the side of rights of the individual. (Or organized individuals in this case.)

 

Just my $0.02.

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Yep. I think we got less attention than the issues in WI, but I've been watching the goings-on here in the Buckeye state... and asking myself where we draw the line. I think if we take away the power of unions, we're basically "Walmartizng" our nation. How many of us have heard about (or complained ourselves) how Walmart takes advantage of their employees? And because the company so actively fights the idea of a union, their employees have very little recourse in the matter. It IS a slippery slope, and there will always be people that take advantage of whatever system is in place... but like the Supreme Court in issues of the first amendment (Westboro Baptist comes to my mind...), my instinct will ALWAYS be to err on the side of rights of the individual. (Or organized individuals in this case.)

 

Just my $0.02.

 

:iagree:

 

Phrases I hear often like, "if you don't like your job, quit" "If Walmart is really so bad, why do people work there?" "The beautiful thing about a free market system is that if a business mistreats its employees, the system will correct and it will be beat out by a friendlier business"

 

The fact is, people can't quit when Walmart has come to a town and taken over, closing every other retail establishment that might have offered a better job for a worker. And the free market does not correct when the free market is dominated by one corporation. That is why long ago, we discovered as a nation, that we needed unions. Unions have the power to face an oligarchy. Individuals cannot bargain with an employer.

 

Now back to government unions- which are different than unions in the private sector- people should have a right to join together and talk to their employer. You cannot be marginalized and disregarded when you show up together. Alone, you are an "isolated person with this problem/issue". Case in point: when my kids were in public school, I complained about the fact that children were not allowed to walk to and from the school. Kids literally lived across the street from the school and the schools would not let them walk or ride their bikes- they had to arrive in buses or in cars! It was incredible. First, I emailed and left messages with my school board member. Then, I emailed our superintendent. When I got no response from either, I showed up one day at the superintendent's office and met with her. She said I was the only person who had ever complained about their policy. Ever. So, I walked out, completely deflated. Thinking, 'my goodness, people in this town really don't care about anything'. I took my kids out of school and much later learned that there had been several attempts to mount a campaign to let kids walk to and from school, but everyone had been marginalized and told they were the only ones who had ever complained. Why? I think the reason is that there was no PTA in the school system. NO PTA! So, how were people ever to come together and ask questions, solve problems, create an 'exploratory committee?'

 

Margaret

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Individuals cannot bargain with an employer.

 

I disagree. I have never been a member of any union. I have always negotiated with my employers for salary, raises, etc. I feel I have skills they need and desire. If they weren't willing to meet my needs, I went elsewhere. I got better jobs because of it.

 

I do not support the theory that individuals are victims.

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As an FYI, while federal workers do have unions, they do NOT have collective bargaining. This was an article that was sent to my father (who is a fed employee), that came as a part of this week's employee newsletter...

 

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2011/03/02/union_rights_that_arent/

Edited by LisaK in VA
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I disagree. I have never been a member of any union. I have always negotiated with my employers for salary, raises, etc. I feel I have skills they need and desire. If they weren't willing to meet my needs, I went elsewhere. I got better jobs because of it.

 

I do not support the theory that individuals are victims.

 

:iagree:

Worked for me, too... as a babysitter... when I worked for McDonald's (I have some funny stories about this one, but the point is, even fast food restaurants will work *hard* to keep someone good, rather than toss them aside)... at marketing/advertising firms... and when negotiating contracts with customers when I ran my own firm.

 

But, with any job, there is a limit to what you can earn, based upon the value of that job... which is usually why if you want to earn more, you had to take more training, be more effective, manage more people, etc.

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The fact is, people can't quit when Walmart has come to a town and taken over, closing every other retail establishment that might have offered a better job for a worker. And the free market does not correct when the free market is dominated by one corporation. That is why long ago, we discovered as a nation, that we needed unions. Unions have the power to face an oligarchy. Individuals cannot bargain with an employer.

 

If people choose to buy cheap stuff at WalMart, they also choose to have WalMart jobs as the only ones available. People want to have their cake (cheap stuff at WalMart) and eat it, too (high paying jobs.) Or in this case, they want lower taxes and higher levels of services and higher wages and benefits for government workers. That's just not realistic.

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If people choose to buy cheap stuff at WalMart, they also choose to have WalMart jobs as the only ones available. People want to have their cake (cheap stuff at WalMart) and eat it, too (high paying jobs.) Or in this case, they want lower taxes and higher levels of services and higher wages and benefits for government workers. That's just not realistic.

 

 

Yes, I agree with you. It is true that many states cannot afford to keep paying incredible pensions to public workers -- check out this article about Rhode Island:

 

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/video/blog/2011/03/in_rhode_island_a_massive_publ.html

 

"In Rhode Island, as elsewhere, the root cause is plain and simple: Governments gave workers benefits instead of raises without a specific plan to pay for the extra benefits."

 

I just think we are throwing the baby out with the bath water when we demonize teachers unions. The problem isn't unions, it's spineless lawmakers and the citizens who perpetually vote them in with promises of low taxes/ huge government services.

 

Margaret

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I posted the poll because I'm currently in a Facebook argument with my BIL as to whether collective bargaining is a right or a privilege. :tongue_smilie:

 

Whether or not I agree that unions have too much power and control over politicians and over their own members, or whether or not I agree that state employees benefits as demanded by unions are bankrupting the state coffers, etc., I get a frisson of fear down my spine when I hear the phrase "taking away their right of collective bargaining". I don't know politics well, I never had good civics or history classes in school, and I don't like bad news, so I avoid TV and newspapers, but I do know that we as states and individuals have rights that are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. We have laws governing those rights. So, if someone decides that a right that is currently held by a group of people (e.g. state employees and the right of collective bargaining) should be taken away from that group of people, what is to stop someone from taking away other rights, such as homeschooling?

 

Never argue with family or anyone on facebook.

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:iagree:

 

Phrases I hear often like, "if you don't like your job, quit" "If Walmart is really so bad, why do people work there?" "The beautiful thing about a free market system is that if a business mistreats its employees, the system will correct and it will be beat out by a friendlier business"

 

The fact is, people can't quit when Walmart has come to a town and taken over, closing every other retail establishment that might have offered a better job for a worker. And the free market does not correct when the free market is dominated by one corporation. That is why long ago, we discovered as a nation, that we needed unions. Unions have the power to face an oligarchy. Individuals cannot bargain with an employer.

 

Now back to government unions- which are different than unions in the private sector- people should have a right to join together and talk to their employer. You cannot be marginalized and disregarded when you show up together. Alone, you are an "isolated person with this problem/issue". Case in point: when my kids were in public school, I complained about the fact that children were not allowed to walk to and from the school. Kids literally lived across the street from the school and the schools would not let them walk or ride their bikes- they had to arrive in buses or in cars! It was incredible. First, I emailed and left messages with my school board member. Then, I emailed our superintendent. When I got no response from either, I showed up one day at the superintendent's office and met with her. She said I was the only person who had ever complained about their policy. Ever. So, I walked out, completely deflated. Thinking, 'my goodness, people in this town really don't care about anything'. I took my kids out of school and much later learned that there had been several attempts to mount a campaign to let kids walk to and from school, but everyone had been marginalized and told they were the only ones who had ever complained. Why? I think the reason is that there was no PTA in the school system. NO PTA! So, how were people ever to come together and ask questions, solve problems, create an 'exploratory committee?'

 

Margaret

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

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Yes, I agree with you. It is true that many states cannot afford to keep paying incredible pensions to public workers -- check out this article about Rhode Island:

 

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/extra/video/blog/2011/03/in_rhode_island_a_massive_publ.html

 

"In Rhode Island, as elsewhere, the root cause is plain and simple: Governments gave workers benefits instead of raises without a specific plan to pay for the extra benefits."

 

I just think we are throwing the baby out with the bath water when we demonize teachers unions. The problem isn't unions, it's spineless lawmakers and the citizens who perpetually vote them in with promises of low taxes/ huge government services.

 

Margaret

 

No kidding. Like when they want to do a referendum instead of taking a decision and accepting the consequences for it.

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There is no right to collective bargaining in the constitution. It's in labor law, and that can be changed by the government.

 

I have very mixed feelings about this.

 

I have the impression that Governor Walker is being opportunistic in going after the unions in the way that he has. He would like to do that anyway, and this argument in favor of it is only a convenient excuse.

 

I think, though, that when teachers unionize, they lose some of their professional status and respect. And the NEA is totally out of control. OTOH, teaching is so hard to evaluate and very political. So the unions are important; otherwise adminstrators can throw their weight around in ways that are unfair.

 

I hope that in Wisconsin the unions prevail. I also hope that over time we can dismantle the nightmarish bureaucracy in education.

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There is no right to collective bargaining in the constitution. It's in labor law, and that can be changed by the government.

 

I have very mixed feelings about this.

 

I have the impression that Governor Walker is being opportunistic in going after the unions in the way that he has. He would like to do that anyway, and this argument in favor of it is only a convenient excuse.

 

I think, though, that when teachers unionize, they lose some of their professional status and respect. And the NEA is totally out of control. OTOH, teaching is so hard to evaluate and very political. So the unions are important; otherwise adminstrators can throw their weight around in ways that are unfair.

 

I hope that in Wisconsin the unions prevail. I also hope that over time we can dismantle the nightmarish bureaucracy in education.

 

I agree with the people who say the basic issue is the destruction of the middle class. I read a poll recently that said that more people now in WI would vote for Tom Barrett over Scott Walker, if the election were being held today, by a significant margin (over 10%). Sometimes people get side-tracked by smaller, divisive issues (how effective are schools, anyway? isn't abortion a disgusting act? do you really want to see two men kissing? etc.) instead of focusing on the main ones, like the fact that the rise of the middle class improved life for almost everyone in this country, lower, middle, and upper class alike, and that we are in danger of losing what made this possible.

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I live in a non-Union state (SC) so I really have no experience with Unions, and quite honestly have the usual perception of many folks (in SC) that they are generally not a good thing, that they drive up prices eventually. As I understand things, my problem with them is this: if a certain percentage of people at the job want to join a union, then everyone has to, and if a union wants to come in, then the company has to let them come in, onto private property. When unions began, as I understand things, it was to protest against unsafe working conditions and poor wages. Well we have OSHA and the minimum wage and a host of other things to take care of that now. We don't have teacher's unions down here, and I am glad of it: the bus system or the schools can't be shut down for a month because they are protesting something. SC is a "right to work" state, which basically means, if you are a screw-up, your employer can fire you for no reason or for any reason, which is the way it should be. And if you are really unjustly fired, you can seek legal action. But you need to do a good job and not whine to your union to cover your behind. And if you don't like your job, find another one.

 

 

Oklahoma is a right to work state too but, even in those states, unions can and do exist. The difference is that the union can not force everyone at the company to join, regardless of whether or not they want to. I think it is very disingenuous to fight for the rights of the people to unionize and then not allow those who do not want to be in a union to opt out. I have heard of teachers who were paying close to $1,000 per year to their union and they did not want to be in it, did not agree with most actions the union took and certainly did not agree with the union using their dues to buy political ads that were completely contrary to the teacher's beliefs. These dues were taken from the teacher's paycheck and the teacher has no choice in the matter. Where is the freedom in that? Where is the protection of the people in that? Now that is just not right.

 

I think it is fine for people to unionize but it should be voluntary. In the strong union states, this is not the case.

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Oklahoma is a right to work state too but, even in those states, unions can and do exist. The difference is that the union can not force everyone at the company to join, regardless of whether or not they want to. I think it is very disingenuous to fight for the rights of the people to unionize and then not allow those who do not want to be in a union to opt out. I have heard of teachers who were paying close to $1,000 per year to their union and they did not want to be in it, did not agree with most actions the union took and certainly did not agree with the union using their dues to buy political ads that were completely contrary to the teacher's beliefs. These dues were taken from the teacher's paycheck and the teacher has no choice in the matter. Where is the freedom in that? Where is the protection of the people in that? Now that is just not right.

 

I think it is fine for people to unionize but it should be voluntary. In the strong union states, this is not the case.

 

Hmm. I'm thinking of the American Revolution in relation to this. Tories didn't support the cause, and many went to Canada. I'm guessing some stayed, though, and enjoyed the benefits of freedom after the war. Was this fair?

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Oklahoma is a right to work state too but, even in those states, unions can and do exist. The difference is that the union can not force everyone at the company to join, regardless of whether or not they want to. I think it is very disingenuous to fight for the rights of the people to unionize and then not allow those who do not want to be in a union to opt out. I have heard of teachers who were paying close to $1,000 per year to their union and they did not want to be in it, did not agree with most actions the union took and certainly did not agree with the union using their dues to buy political ads that were completely contrary to the teacher's beliefs. These dues were taken from the teacher's paycheck and the teacher has no choice in the matter. Where is the freedom in that? Where is the protection of the people in that? Now that is just not right.

 

I think it is fine for people to unionize but it should be voluntary. In the strong union states, this is not the case.

 

:iagree::iagree::iagree:

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Hmm. I'm thinking of the American Revolution in relation to this. Tories didn't support the cause, and many went to Canada. I'm guessing some stayed, though, and enjoyed the benefits of freedom after the war. Was this fair?

 

I'm not sure I understand your analogy and question. Those Tories who did not support the Revolution had the choice to stay or go, especially at war's end/nation's founding. (We'll leave aside for the moment those who were forced to leave their homes during the war.) Many workers in heavily unionized states don't have a choice and don't have the freedom to say no. It's either union or no job.

 

Not to get into a Founder's Intentions debate, but I feel fairly safe in writing that many of the FF wouldn't understand why freedom (which they fought long and hard for) was being stripped from people, i.e. the freedom to associate with whomever they want without coersion or fear of reprisal.

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IMO this is one of the key issues in Wisconsin. Even though I acknowledge the many problems with teacher's unions, there is also the alternative to consider-what public education would look like without them. I personally don't have a great deal of admiration of school administrators, because in so many of my past contacts, they have been unresponsive to the needs of both teachers and students-how much worse would that be without teachers unions? There really is some truth to the adage that someone who can't teach becomes an administrator. To think that the petty, self-important woman who was principal of my kids' elementary school would have a huge increase in decision making power without unionized teachers----shudder.

 

I DO think that what's at stake in Wisconsin relates to the fate of the American middle class. Whether unionizing is a right or not doesn't even matter, IMO. The question should be what is best for the people.

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IMO this is one of the key issues in Wisconsin. Even though I acknowledge the many problems with teacher's unions, there is also the alternative to consider-what public education would look like without them. I personally don't have a great deal of admiration of school administrators, because in so many of my past contacts, they have been unresponsive to the needs of both teachers and students-how much worse would that be without teachers unions? There really is some truth to the adage that someone who can't teach becomes an administrator. To think that the petty, self-important woman who was principal of my kids' elementary school would have a huge increase in decision making power without unionized teachers----shudder.

 

I DO think that what's at stake in Wisconsin relates to the fate of the American middle class. Whether unionizing is a right or not doesn't even matter, IMO. The question should be what is best for the people.

 

:iagree:

Truer words were never written. They keep cutting things in our school system like aides and nurses ... meanwhile our administrative staff is huge. They make three or four times the amount of an aid and at least twice the amount of a first year teacher. So, they keep throwing their hard-working teachers under the bus (so to speak), and keep their cushy jobs. It's disgusting. That's what's wrong with schools IMHO. Administrators don't fire themselves :glare:

 

Margaret

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I'm not sure I understand your analogy and question. Those Tories who did not support the Revolution had the choice to stay or go, especially at war's end/nation's founding. (We'll leave aside for the moment those who were forced to leave their homes during the war.) Many workers in heavily unionized states don't have a choice and don't have the freedom to say no. It's either union or no job.

 

Not to get into a Founder's Intentions debate, but I feel fairly safe in writing that many of the FF wouldn't understand why freedom (which they fought long and hard for) was being stripped from people, i.e. the freedom to associate with whomever they want without coersion or fear of reprisal.

 

It's not that well thought out, lol! What I mean is that people who supported the American Revolution and people who didn't both benefitted from being independent from Britain. If a teacher doesn't belong to a union, but has to pay fair share dues, it's because she's getting the benefits the union has negotiated, as I understand it.

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I really don't know much about the Wisconsin situation, but Ohio is an At Will employment state. According to my dh, who is an attorney who deals with employers and employees all the time, an employee who is not in a union can be fired if he is injured on the job. An employee who is part of a union cannot be fired for being injured on the job. There really aren't that many safeguards protecting employees. The minimum wage is not a living wage. OSHA is inept at enforcing regulations. If employees are in an unsafe work environment, like my brother who lost one and half fingers in a machine that was missing its safety equipment, and not part of a union, there is not much they can do to protect themselves, except quit and try to find a different job.

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I really don't know much about the Wisconsin situation, but Ohio is an At Will employment state. According to my dh, who is an attorney who deals with employers and employees all the time, an employee who is not in a union can be fired if he is injured on the job. An employee who is part of a union cannot be fired for being injured on the job. There really aren't that many safeguards protecting employees. The minimum wage is not a living wage. OSHA is inept at enforcing regulations. If employees are in an unsafe work environment, like my brother who lost one and half fingers in a machine that was missing its safety equipment, and not part of a union, there is not much they can do to protect themselves, except quit and try to find a different job.

 

Do you think most Ohioans are aware of this?

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Do you think most Ohioans are aware of this?

 

No. I don't think they are aware of it until they learn the hard way. My dh makes a living representing injured workers. That is how he knows how egregious the OSHA violations are and how much better protected a union employee is. However, we both feel unions have gotten a little out of control and just as with politicians, limits need to be placed on their power. IMO, just because union bosses have abused their power doesn't mean the workers no longer need the protections provided by the unions. I feel that goes for public sector employees as well. Corporations have lots of money working on their behalf in the government. I don't see how the unions doing the same thing is any more reprehensible.

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Do you think most Ohioans are aware of this?

 

I know I was always aware of it, but I work in an area where some places are pretty union-heavy. A lot of people in my area work for Kroger, for example, in the stores or distribution center. IIRC, you're allowed to opt out of the Kroger union, but you still pay dues, because you benefit from their negotiations. The school employee union as well.

 

But another huge employer in my area, also with several stores and a couple of distribution centers, is Walmart. I can't count the number of people that I personally know who have worked at Walmart when they couldn't find another job. Mostly young single mothers, actually. Imagine, if you will, trying to support a family on 7.40 per hour. Then imagine that you're working for a company that routinely schedules you for 31 hours a week so that you don't qualify for any benefits (except Walmart stock purchase-- that works out well for the company, doesn't it?). They are strongly anti-union, and they make that clear from the first day of training. They're also quick to cut hours & terminate jobs for little to no reason.

 

The beauty:glare: of the state of Ohio is that the employer or the employee can terminate the employment contract at any time, for any or no reason at all. I think unions and collective bargaining are an important part of the working world here.

 

All this to say that it is entirely possible that most Ohioans do not know the ins & outs of employment law in our state, and are often caught off guard when theory becomes personal reality.

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There is no right to collective bargaining in the constitution. It's in labor law, and that can be changed by the government.

 

 

But we have rights that aren't in the constitution. People won the right to organize unions, therefore the right to collective bargaining.

 

Women's suffrage wasn't in the constitution, either. It was a right won by fight, just like the right to bargain.

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No. I don't think they are aware of it until they learn the hard way. My dh makes a living representing injured workers. That is how he knows how egregious the OSHA violations are and how much better protected a union employee is. However, we both feel unions have gotten a little out of control and just as with politicians, limits need to be placed on their power. IMO, just because union bosses have abused their power doesn't mean the workers no longer need the protections provided by the unions. I feel that goes for public sector employees as well. Corporations have lots of money working on their behalf in the government. I don't see how the unions doing the same thing is any more reprehensible.

 

No joke. I wish the same people railing against unions knew about this (I really don't think they do).

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I know I was always aware of it, but I work in an area where some places are pretty union-heavy. A lot of people in my area work for Kroger, for example, in the stores or distribution center. IIRC, you're allowed to opt out of the Kroger union, but you still pay dues, because you benefit from their negotiations. The school employee union as well.

 

But another huge employer in my area, also with several stores and a couple of distribution centers, is Walmart. I can't count the number of people that I personally know who have worked at Walmart when they couldn't find another job. Mostly young single mothers, actually. Imagine, if you will, trying to support a family on 7.40 per hour. Then imagine that you're working for a company that routinely schedules you for 31 hours a week so that you don't qualify for any benefits (except Walmart stock purchase-- that works out well for the company, doesn't it?). They are strongly anti-union, and they make that clear from the first day of training. They're also quick to cut hours & terminate jobs for little to no reason.

 

The beauty:glare: of the state of Ohio is that the employer or the employee can terminate the employment contract at any time, for any or no reason at all. I think unions and collective bargaining are an important part of the working world here.

 

All this to say that it is entirely possible that most Ohioans do not know the ins & outs of employment law in our state, and are often caught off guard when theory becomes personal reality.

 

I think this is what happened in WI. About 13% of voters (not sure if all union) say they would now vote for Tom Barrett instead of Scott Walker if the election were held over today. These voters either didn't understand what they were voting for, or let other issues (social issues? talk show propaganda?) guide their voting in Nov. Now they're waking up. It will be interesting to see how future elections go in WI.

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But we have rights that aren't in the constitution. People won the right to organize unions, therefore the right to collective bargaining.

 

Women's suffrage wasn't in the constitution, either. It was a right won by fight, just like the right to bargain.

 

Such an important point.

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I didn't mean to imply that NO unions exist here, because I know they do. There just aren't many. I remember that there was a company called Georgetown Steel that closed because when the company told the workers, who were in the steelworkers union, that they had to make cuts or close, they refused to accept cuts, so the plant closed. I guess they workers thought money grew on trees or something.

 

The company that bought Georgetown Steel laid off 42% of it's workforce world wide because of a decline in the demand for steel. It's not like it was just Georgetown's workers being greedy. They had been laid off several times for a month here, a month there. They had made concessions. I am not saying they should have made more or less or that the union votes were right or wrong. It's always complicated. But your representation that those people, many of whom worked very very hard for a number of years at that mill "Just thought money grew on trees" is really narrow in vision and seems unfair. They knew where money came from. They worked for it on the clock. The unemployment in Georgetown is well above the national or state average.

 

Anyway, the mill is reopening. Some concessions were made - others were refused.

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But we have rights that aren't in the constitution. People won the right to organize unions, therefore the right to collective bargaining.

 

Women's suffrage wasn't in the constitution, either. It was a right won by fight, just like the right to bargain.

 

Of course we have rights that are not in the constitution. Women's sufferage, however, is in the constitution, by amendment. Hello.

 

And, yes, people did win the right to organize unions, but it's not by constitutional amendment, so it can be changed by lawmakers. I'm not arguing that it SHOULD be, just that it CAN be. It's good to know the rules so you work within them--that was pretty much my point.

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As I understand the situation in WI, rights are not being taken away. The governor wants to give workers a choice whether they will pay union dues or not. It is being spun as the removal of collective bargaining rights.

 

Since I haven't seen this refuted I just wanted to say this is untrue for Wisconsin (I think the poster has us mixed up with another Midwestern state--probably Indiana). The original law asked for a decrease in benefits (asking public workers to pay for more themselves) AND the removal of all collective bargaining rights for public workers except those of police and firefighters.

 

I think most of us assumed it was a little political strong-arming to convince public employees to accept the 2nd or 3rd decrease in their pay/benefits (in the last few years). In response public employee unions agreed to accept the benefits loss and keep the bargaining rights.

 

I am the granddaughter of union men and the daughter of a very conservative man. I can see that both sides are worried about the future, but in my opinion no one should be able to legislate an easier political future for themselves by taking away peoples' voices (which is what it feels like the governor is doing), a traditional right used to balance the power of corporations and individuals.

 

I can't say for the entire state, but I have rarely seen public employees strike here and I've lived here (almost) my entire life. I had to move to Illinois for that. This seems heavy-handed and opportunistic.

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In response to the original question about whether collective bargaining is a right or not, here are some thoughts.

 

You have to look at the source of the rights, and you also have to determine whether or not it is actually a right.

 

We have rights guaranteed by the Constitution. This includes the Bill of Rights and amendments. The Constitution is the authority that limits the government from removing these rights from Americans. A right listed in this document is difficult to remove from the people. This applies to state Constitutions also.

 

Other abilities are given by the government, and are not necessarily rights. Something that has been made legal or possible is not necessarily a right. The ability to drive a car would be an example. This is a privilege that comes with government created limitations, requirements and penalties. It can be removed. It is not a right, but is a legally allowed activity.

 

The source or giver of the right or privilege has the ability to remove it. The Constitution is very explicit about rights and removal of rights. Other abilities or freedoms are given and allowed by law by the government, either state, federal or both.

 

This is why it is very important to know one's Constitutional rights. The giver of the rights or abilities can remove those rights or abilities. People need to be aware that the government may give something now and take it away later if it is not a Constitutional right.

 

Collective bargaining is not a right (unless it is included in an individual state's Constitution), but has been allowed by the government, either by law or by agreement. So who gives the ability or allowance to collective bargaining? The government. If the government gives people the ability, it can also take it away. Is there a law allowing collective bargaining? (I am sincerely asking. Is there a law in WI that says unions and government will or must use collective bargaining, or that they can use collective bargaining?) Even so, laws can be changed. In this situation, collective bargaining is probably not even a law, but is most likely an agreement between the union and government, and agreements can be changed by either party as long as they follow procedures. The government in WI appears to be following procedures to remove collective bargaining from some unions dealing with the government. As one of the parties to the agreement, it can change the terms of what it agrees to.

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IMO this is one of the key issues in Wisconsin. Even though I acknowledge the many problems with teacher's unions, there is also the alternative to consider-what public education would look like without them. I personally don't have a great deal of admiration of school administrators, because in so many of my past contacts, they have been unresponsive to the needs of both teachers and students-how much worse would that be without teachers unions? There really is some truth to the adage that someone who can't teach becomes an administrator. To think that the petty, self-important woman who was principal of my kids' elementary school would have a huge increase in decision making power without unionized teachers----shudder.

 

I DO think that what's at stake in Wisconsin relates to the fate of the American middle class. Whether unionizing is a right or not doesn't even matter, IMO. The question should be what is best for the people.

 

Yikes! My dh is an adminsitrator because he was an incredible (award winning) teacher. He is only there because he loves the families in his district. He could get the same type of job in the private sector and make a lot more moneywith less headaches (and I have begged him to, especially lately,) but he wants to stay. He and the other administrators have taken cuts and more cuts over the past few years, and the teachers have gotten a raise each time.

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No doubt your dh is one of the honorable and hard working school administrators out there. But I too stand by my personal, anecdotal experience: more than one (more than 5) school administrators of my own personal knowledge was dishonest, careless, vindictive, petty, and self-promoting. Our current system is built around some checks on their influence and power, one big one of which is the teacher's union. Suddenly removing that check would open the floodgates. Over time, the system would adjust, but meanwhile, we'd have to put up with some unpleasantness (if I still had kids in school, which I don't-I'm speaking hypothetically).

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a traditional right used to balance the power of corporations and individuals.

 

The problem is that unions are now out of control, especially in IL. I have personal experience with their strong-arm tactics (beating people up to force them to join and stay in a union), committing illegal acts (throwing nails in front of the vehicles of non-union workers during a strike), so I am no friend of unions. I have never seen a positive experience with them.

 

How is this balancing the power of corporation and individuals?

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Your own anecdotal experience is between individuals and individuals or (if you'd prefer) group (unions) and individuals.

 

Traditionally, unions work as a balance against the power of a corporation or owner to push down worker costs in order to gain more money for themselves.

 

Obviously this hasn't been your experience. It might help to read The Jungle or How Green Was My Valley to get an idea of what life was like before unions.

 

Moving up to more modern times, the book Packinghouse Daughter combined with the documentary American Dream about the labor dispute in the 1980s with Hormel. I think the film does a good job of showing the complexity of the issue, how some people are so hardline they can't see the whole picture, how cruel people can be to each other (conceding workers vs. non-conceding), how a company can use a situation to not only confront company difficulties but to take it beyond that and toss out older workers who cost more.

 

My FIL was working for Hormel at the time in Iowa (not the site of the strike but the same company). Watching the video and talking with him was extremely enlightening. How easy it is for a company to make bad financial decisions then instigate a strike and dump an 'expensive' workforce and start with younger, cheaper, even non-national workers (much easier to hire illegal aliens). Even though FILs plant wasn't in the MN strike, he was told to stay home a day or two because they would close the plant to eliminate the spread of a solidarity strike and protect vital workers. Then he was fired for striking (ie not attending work).

 

It took 2 years in the court system for him to get his job back (not everyone did). The union funded the court case. Dh's family lived in poverty during that time. No one could afford to sell out and go (without declaring bankruptcy). The plant was the whole town. No admission of wrongdoing was ever made, it was settled out of court.

 

FIL is not a union nut. His father was an office worker who ran machines (ie a scab) during multiple other strikes in the meat packing industry, but the entire situation shook him deeply. My own grandfather lost his entire pension (20+ years) in a non-union job where the company went under and the owners stole the money. No one could afford to take it to court.

 

Me, my own experiences have been different. I was a teacher in Illinois who didn't really like the union. Most of the union reps of my acquaintance are obnoxious. Most of the money went to causes I didn't believe in.

 

But that was my experience. I can't discount the other people in my life who have been helped through injustice by their unions. I can see how unhealthy unions don't help their constituents and cause frustration and change, but unions can create a safety net, especially for workers who traditionally don't have a lot of other resources to achieve justice.

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