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I want to open a discussion on Unions.. A discussion....

I want to open a discussion on unions -- specifically Public Employee Unions.

If you make the discussion all stupid and angry... I will send a plague of toads down on your house.

I think I have an opinion in my mind, but, I feel severely ignorant on the issue.


Here's my questions...

1. Why do we in 2011 need public employees unions? It's an honest question, if you can take it as honest and give me an honest answer... click here.

2. Why is Collective Bargaining better than Individual Bargaining ... again in 2011?

3. Why are the Kansas Public Employee Unions upset at all about the bill passed by the Kansas House today? From what I understand it just says the state will no longer direct withdraw Money from paycheck and send to PACs? Is that right?

4. What are the differences between public employee pensions (i.e. KPERS) and private 401k type retirement plans? Again, I think I know the difference, but not confident in my knowledge!?!?!

5. Any other actual discussion?


  1. 99% of people in this country work and live without the need of the Union, so why do 1% deserve more pay and rights then those that don't. I am from Pa. A huge Union State, I grew up thinking you had to join a union, most the men and woman in my family are union, Teamsters..I have to tell you, they make way more money then those who are not. Is it right? Well I do not be-grudge someone a good wage but in this economy, with most Americans hurting, the unions want to skate, even be exempt from Obamacare the rest of us will have shoved down our throats. I am of the frame of mind that Unions cost too much and protect sub-par performers. Just my opinion.

  2. I think some of the Unions have priced themselves out of a job i.e. auto unions. I understand that they have made some concessions. It would be the unions goal to preserve there profession and cut wages if need be or not to adapt and die out. I don't necissarily agree with unions but many points I do. People who are not in unions don't like them. I get it. We want what you have. That would be like me hating small business owners because I feel like they make too much money. Most probably make more then union workers especially public employees.
    In Wisconsin we are wanting public employees to concede rights to bargain. I don't agree with that. In my experience state and local government will take everything they can. I don't think that any one govt entity should be paid more then local competitors of the same profession should around the state. In my experience it seems that the govt entity pays you as little as they can. They would use the excuse well we have bad times so lets cut this and that. 5 yrs down the road when times were good they wouldn't want to give it back. It seems like even in good times public unions have to fight for every penney they get.
    State of Ks employees were supposedly going to take a % pay cut. I might even go along with that except 10% to a guy that makes 35k per year would hurt worse then a guy that makes 135k per year. A fair way would be cutting an employee 1% per every 10k of salary. For example if you make 100k per year you get cut 10%. If you make 50k per year you get cut 5%. Make it fair. Not really big on cutting the wages because it will be hell to ever get it back.

  3. I have worked for a few Unions in my days and currently still do. I am a member of the IBEW local 661 here in Hutch.
    Unions like mine do not keep you employed we are pretty much a labor pool that the contractors can pull from and send you back to as they need. We come up with an contract that says we will work for X amount of benefit. It has many benefits for contractors as well. They can keep their core group of leaders and get any number of extras for how ever big a job. That allows them to increase and decrease in size depending on current work needs. Unions don't generally like Obama care cause most unions have insurance. One point to think about if both unions and nonunions bid the same job but Union workers generally get paid more why does a union contractor ever get work... Cause the non union contractor charges the same he just keeps more for himself.

    Working at a company that is not a labor pool union was VERY different. At Morton salt they are union but the company has set employees so all they do is fight back and forth. its is not like the IBEW.

    I don't like Unions for teachers it lets the lower end of teacher keep jobs. I do not think that we need to protect teacher who don't do a good job. I would be 100% in favor to have a teachers union like the IBEW where a school could call for X amount of teachers and let them as the School felt it needed to. The teachers that are not worth keeping would find themselves sitting waiting for a call out and sooner or later get the hint

    pensions I feel ruin companies and people. I think it should all be personal 401K so things like Enron don't happen.

  4. First let me clarify...I've traditionally been in management positions but am familiar with unions. I truly believe in Unions and the right for individuals to organize for a common effort. Is this any different than a "tea party"?, Pro-life?, Companies joining a group, the chamber? and so on? We have many great workers in the U.S.-Union and Non-Union. I've seen both. I've seen not so good workers Union and I don't think we can label the quality of worker with a Union or Non-Union label. If there is a poor worker still on a job it generally isn't the Unions fault but that of a supervisor for not following procedure or doing the proper documentation etc...Bottom line I feel all employees union or non-union benefit from the ability to "organize". I don't think Unions are what have created our economic issues but instead wouldn't it be a lack of sales? Have we forgotten Wall Street? Bottom line if you develop fair policies and procedures in your company and treat your employees well you don't have to worry about a Union. If not...

  5. Public employee unions are important because they provide necessary protections from the employer. Just because the government is the employer does not mean that they turn into some benevolent entity. The government is beholden to the people, and as the old saying goes: "The squeaky wheel gets the grease". When politicians get phone calls from constituents their immediate reaction is to reverse their action, or at least attempt to reverse their action. Many times that reversal is to the detriment of the employees working for that politician.

    I am a firefighter for, lets call it, Gotham. Gotham has paid for numerous wage scale studies over the years that show that the firefighters in that particular community are underpaid significantly compared to like cities in the state. Plans are then suggested to get the employees back on track, those TAXPAYER PAID FOR plans are then filed away and the City goes with their own plan that does not resolve the discrepancy. It is the employee unions that (try to) hold the government's feet to the fire and give the employees a fare shake. Normally the employee's are regarded as greedy, overpaid whiners even though there is actual evidence to the contrary.

    Collective Bargaining allows the City to negotiate with a single group instead of as 100 individuals. Can you imagine the time and energy it would take to negotiate with 100 firemen? Now Gotham does not normally "bargain" wages with employees, but instead put out a wage scale that is "what the City can afford". From experience that wage scale is neither fair nor commensurate with industry standard wage scale adjustments (COLAs). The Union attempts to get the best deal for their members, there is no doubt of that; but it is the agreement of the members of that local to abide by what the negotiating team decides. This agreement to agree reduces animosity within the department. Animosity is something that is not tolerable within a fire department; it is important for the members to be able to trust and rely on the guy next to him.

    I am foggy on the details of question 3 and how it will actually be implemented.

    KPERS is considered a defined benefit, as are all pension programs. Retired employees receive a percentage of their final average salary based on their years of service. Policemen and Firefighters are not members of KPERS, but instead are members of KP&F that uses a philosophically similar program but with different numerical values. The employee is then entitled to this monthly pension for the remainder of his or her life. Defined Contribution programs, on the other hand, include 401(k) and similar programs, where the employee contributes money to a tax deferred account that (hopefully) grows. Whether or not the City contributes to the plan is dependent upon IRS guidelines and/or whatever the collective bargaining agreement has in it. Upon retirement this money is then taxed at the current tax rate and dispersed to the retiree to do with what they will. There are benefits and detriments to both systems.

    Public employee collective bargaining protects the rights of the workers, saves time and money for the City, and provides a unified voice for the employees of the City. Why should City employees receive less protection than their private counterparts?

  6. Lotsa great discussion here...

    Lotsa really good points...

    I hope it kinda keeps going, I am a little upset with myself still for on not feeling like I have the knowledge to really contribute.

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I love the discussion in the comments.. so... GO FOR IT!

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