Thursday, March 5, 2009

Employer thuggery and intimidation....

Every 20 minutes in the UNITED STATE OF AMERICA, a worker is fired for trying to organize a union.

Apparently it is no different here in the Burgh.... Where are the elected officials? Where are the concerned citizens? Where are the community leaders?

Someone needs to stand with these workers and tell them that they are NOT alone !!
The HUDDLER says; call Mayor Ravenstahl's office and TELL LUKE to STAND UP for workers rights to organize a union !!!!!!!!!!!

CALL THE MAYOR - (412) 255-2626

READ THE ARTICLE IN THE POST GAZETTE

11 comments:

C of C said...

Huddler, a question (and I really look forward to the answer--no, I'm not being snide): If the workers in the PG article unionize tomorrow (say, via card-check), do you really think that they will immediately get medical coverage, paid time off, etc.? If so, where will the money come to pay for those things?

One of the fundamental problemts that I have with advocates for increased union membership is that there seems to be a perception that, all of the sudden, higher pay, paid time off, health care, and other benefits will magically appear without any corresponding loss in jobs to pay for those benefits. The benefits from last week's article regarding the woman who was hired by US Steel seemed to indicate that unionizing would somehow immediately lead to increased pay, better benefits and improved working conditions. What goes unsaid is that each one of those items was negotiated, one at a time, over the last 80 years through collective bargaining. It is obvious that US Steel accomodated those costs as it went along and factored them into each CBA and annual budget; no business could absorb the shock of immediately hiking employee pay and benefits by 20-25% in one year. By the same token, Port Authority tried to take away 40 years of benefits in one CBA, and was rightly criticized for that approach. I wonder if the value of union membership isn't being overpromised to the crew members in this article.

THE HUDDLER said...

C of C;

Your question is complex. You are not necessarily comparing apples and oranges. I would not compare Block by Block to US Steel. Or these workers to Port Authority employees that enjoy some of the best benefits in the region. (by the way - the HUDDLER is not familiar with the story from last week regarding a women and US Steel)

The Huddler does not have any affiliation with these workers, and has no inside information regarding them. Just what was in the article.

CARD CHECK was NOT the issue here. The ISSUE is EMPLOYER intimidation. Treating employees differently, retaliation from the boss just because they are trying to form a union.

What statistics do show is that union members are more likely than non union members to enjoy employer paid healthcare. The HUDDLER thinks it is great that Block by Block offers some type of health care, but could you afford to be making 8 bucks an hour and pay 500 a month for your healthcare? Right now these workers do not have healthcare, which means when they get sick and go to the E.R. -everyone else pays for it.

If they can pay the cleaners healthcare why not the safety ambassadors?

Would you rather see 24 jobs where only 12 have healthcare OR 19 good paying jobs with healthcare.

Sure you would have less jobs, but if those remaining remaining workers have better wages, conditions, and benefits, their productivity will increase, there will be less turn over, less costs to the employer to hire and train new workers.

How does paying someone for a funeral day or sick day in this case cost the employer more money?

If one of these workers calls off sick tomorrow, and there are still 5 workers on the job, they should be able to cover the worker's area without overtime or any other increased cost to the employer.

Responsible employer's pay for their employee's healthcare. The Walmarts of the world shoulder that cost on the taxpayers. That is wrong. If this Block by Block is funded by the merchants association, they should be a good employer and provide quality, affordable healthcare to these workers.

When you are a member of a union you have a grievance process that allows you to address unfair conditions in the workplace. Without a union - you have no voice in the workplace. You are one person, who the boss can hire and fire at will, without just cause!!

UNIONS HOLD BOSSES ACCOUNTABLE !! And the HUDDLER thinks that BLOCK BY BLOCK should be accountable to their employees, and the taxpayers by providing quality affordable healthcare to these workers.

THE HUDDLER said...

The HUDDLER keeps thinking about your question.....

The HUDDLER doesn't think that anyone who signs a card can expect anything to happen overnight.

This is part of the problem with the current system. Workers vote in NLRB elections all the time to form a union, and the Boss simply refuses to negotiate a contract. Then after a year, the Boss files a petition to hold ANOTHER election. The Boss bets that by that time, alot of the employees who voted for the union have left for better jobs, or have lost faith in the process because they do not have a contract yet.

This is why the Employee FREE CHOICE Act has language to give the authority to an arbitrator to give workers their first contract. Arbitrators would be required to take all facts into consideration, including the financial status of the employer.

No one expects workers who join a union to get the benefits of 30 years of bargaining in a single contract!

Nothing happens overnight and there is NO magic about it. Negotiating is tough. Workers both union and non union make sacrafices every day for the boss's bottom line. Labor knows that without the "BOSS" there is no "JOB".

Contact Me said...

Huddler, do you really believe that it is the function of a union to hold bosses accountable? If so, for what? Profits and losses? For not turning over more revenue to employees? Why can't the employees go elsewhere or form their own companies if their employment is that onerous?

Conversely, if a boss is held to account, why not union members? Can the boss restrict a union member's right to move from company to company seeking better employment or pay? Of course not. Yet, you seem to be implying that an employer can't shed employees that are less productive or simply not as good as other candidates, or employees that are proposing a business model (unionized employees) that the boss believes is bad for the company's business.

Shareholders hold bosses accountable. If the company is privately held, the owners (often the boss himself) hold the boss accountable. If you want to hold a boss accountable, buy some shares or start a company.

Pgh Conservative said...

Huddler, do you really believe that it is the function of a union to hold bosses accountable? If so, for what? Profits and losses? For not turning over more revenue to employees? Why can't the employees go elsewhere or form their own companies if their employment is that onerous?

Conversely, if a boss is held to account, why not union members? Can the boss restrict a union member's right to move from company to company seeking better employment or pay? Of course not. Yet, you seem to be implying that an employer can't shed employees that are less productive or simply not as good as other candidates, or employees that are proposing a business model (unionized employees) that the boss believes is bad for the company's business.

Shareholders hold bosses accountable. If the company is privately held, the owners (often the boss himself) hold the boss accountable. If you want to hold a boss accountable, buy some shares or start a company.

Bram Reichbaum said...

The right to organize is sacrosanct -- it is inalienable. I don't always care for what organized workers do once they get themselves organized, but workers have the right to unite and try to do it.

The City should be behind these guys in every way possible. If SMS Holdings doesn't like it, Pittsburgh should go find some other Holdings.

Crystal Eastman said...

Dear the Huddler,
Haven't had much time to read and comment on your site, but please hang in there!

It's telling that your posts on workers' rights are pulling all of the anti-union blog commenters out of the closet.

Contact me, you're hilarious, have you ever worked a day in your life? Comments like:
"Why can't the employees go elsewhere or form their own companies if their employment is that onerous? "
make me think not.

Bram, think about what you just said.

Pittsburgh Conservative said...

Crystal,
I do have my own business, with at-will employees. By its nature, at-will employees have a right to work or seek a job elsewhere. Likewise, I have a right to terminate their employment. If they seek to alter that arrangement, through collective bargaining or otherwise, I as the business owner have a right to reject it.
Pittsburgh Conservative

Bram Reichbaum said...

PC - I remember something about the right to peaceably assemble. Also rights to free speech, and never forget the right to petition the government.

As a business owner, right now you have the right to do with your employees what you will. I submit that as individuals you have a moral obligation to negotiate with them in good faith. If they should organize, you certainly have the obligation to do the same. Of course, once workers truly organize, you're fundamentally going to have to make some concessions. Ownership is a lovely abstraction but all we are is dust in the wind.

Race to the finish, then?

Vannevar said...

Management exists to get the most profit on the owner's investment; the capitalists have found managers cost-effective.

Unions exist to protect workers from abuse and to improve their lot; the workers have found organizing cost-effective.

I've been a union member. I've been a supervisor and a manager (for a long time) in a union environment. I've been a freelancer on my own.

I imagine the owners who commented above are decent people who strive to do the right thing. It's not always like that everywhere.

Are some unions corrupt or ineffective? Sure. Just like some bosses.

Unions prevent a lot of petty abuses, and improve the wealth of the middle class - who can, in turn, purchase products.

I've seen unions protect bums. I've seen bosses protect bums who were their brother-in-law. In the long run, in my experience, people end up with what they deserve.

The concept that in Pittsburgh (of all places) a company doing contract work for the city would be harassing organizers (if true) simply points out how far away from labor unionism we've fallen.

Isn't this an election year?

Pittsburgh Conservative said...

Bram, I fervently believe in the rights of free speech, assembly and petitioning the government. But those are all rights of individuals relative to the state. For the most part, you have no right of free speech or assembly in the workplace unless you work for a government employer, and even then, it's pretty limited.

I have worked as a union member and managed union employees and non-union employees and there is a huge difference. For example, if you want to move a more productive employee to a new job where you think they will succeed, or a non-productive employee out of a job where they are performing poorly, it simply cannot be done with a unionized workforce. Seniority rules and generally trumps all. The resulting workforce is underutilized and underperforming. As a result, new members have no incentive to maximize their performance, their incentive is to simply continue employment and accrue seniority. This "free riding" problem is almost inherent in any highly unionized workplace because collective employment necessarily dampens individual performance.