Unions Are Bad News

In light of the ongoing problems with the dispute between the NFLPA and the owners squabbling over the almighty dollar and jeopardizing the game we love, I felt this was a perfect time to address the issue of unionized labor. Keep in mind (an open mind preferably) this is not just about the union and the owners, but unions as an entity / philosophy.

The subjects of unionized labor and contract negotiations are matters close to my heart and ones that I am intimately familiar with. By the way, for a good read concerning negotiations (unionization and negotiation go together), I suggest Winning With Integrity: Getting What You’re Worth Without Selling Your Soul by Leigh Steinberg. Steinberg is a high profile Sports Agent and the person who inspired the movie Jerry Maguire, starring Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr.

Now, back to unions.

I have been around unionized labor my entire working life. While employed at Kennedy Space Center for over 25 years, I worked side by side with members of two different unions. While pursuing a Bachelors degree in business / psychology, I did a thesis on the origination of unions and what, if any economical effect they have on society. While working on my MBA, I continued my research on the subject and did my Graduate Research Project (GRP) on unionized labor, with an emphasis on “public unionization”. Simply put, public unions include any type of profession that is paid by the taxpayer (you & I). Private unions (while they are fewer) are paid by companies in the private sector (the guys who pay the taxes for public unions).

Not only did I have daily interaction with union employees and hundreds if not thousands of hours of research, but my best friend was a loyal union member when he worked for GM (he called them Generous Motors) in Kalamazoo, MI. He would call and gloat how much money he was making for so little work, and that he could get any prescription for $2.00 and zero co-pay for office visits. I had good benefits too, but not that good. Worse yet, I ended up marrying a lady whose father was a VP for the Doll & Toy union in NY., NY. I distinctly remember when she told me what her dad (my soon to be Father – In – Law) did for a living (yes, it was a FT job). We were having dinner and I damn near choked. Conversations around the dinner table changed drastically after that day. Ha Did we dislike each other because of our polar views on a subject so close to our hearts? No, of course not. I loved Bill and he was as likeable as they come. He was in the perfect job for his personality. The man could sell an ice cube to an Eskimo on the coldest Anchorage winter day. Meticulous? Bill would routinely spend 40 minutes trimming his mustache, and never went out of the house without wearing an expensive suit. RIP Bill.

It wasn’t all bad. In the end we just agreed to disagree, just like I will with those staunch proponents or members of the union that are reading this article. There were great times. I want to thank the union for paying for more than one of my family vacations. Every six months the union would have a “hmmmm, Executive Conference”. The families were included at no cost to them in these conferences, and we went to a few. The most memorable was a 5 day stay in Disney World’s most expensive hotel called The Contemporary, which is actually located INSIDE the theme park itself. I remember fresh squeezed FL. orange juice costing $5.00 for a glass and it was being ordered by the pitchers. I can only imagine what the total bill of that conference set the union members back. Thanks again Bill; union members. Keep those dues coming!

Without going into a tremendous amount of detail, I will explain why I am so adamantly opposed to unions in all but the most extreme circumstances.

They Are Inflationary: Simply bad, bad, bad. This reason is the elephant in the room and is responsible for an incalculable cost of who knows how many jobs, dollars and even industries. This lone rationale has had a dramatic economic effect on our country and has greatly increased our national debt.
Compensation packages (salary plus benefits) continue to sky rocket over the rate of inflation and commonly outpace the labor rates and associated costs of similar entities, making the company / organization non competitive. One of my previous directors who shared my view of unions had an interesting business philosophy. He used to say, “If I hire a toilet bowl flusher and keep giving him more money on a periodical basis for doing the same job, the time is going to come when he is overpaid. Flushing the toilet is only worth so much to my business.”

Unions Reward Longevity: Do you believe that an employee should get a pay raise (no, it isn’t a merit increase, you need to EARN that) just for hanging around for a long time and turning oxygen into carbon dioxide? Unions do. This in turn creates ill feelings with new employees coming in doing the same job as someone who has been in the job for say, 20 years for half of the salary. General Motors is going through this as we speak after the union was forced to relent after the federal bailout.

Unions do not promote innovative or exceptional work habits: It doesn’t matter if you out work or out produce a co-worker. Your pay and raises are set in contractual stone. There is no motivation to “do better”. In fact, if you do out produce a co-worker, the union might have to sit you down and have a talk with you. I have seen it happen several times, even to the extent of physical threats. Pathetic!

Unions Promote Self Entitlement: This is probably the one that bothers me the most. The psychology of a long term union member changes. Things that were once considered a benefit for services somehow becomes a God given birthright. Have you ever tried taking a bone away from an angry dog? The current case with the teachers in Wisconsin is a perfect example of this. The teachers union is dead against making the teachers pay a small portion of their medical insurance. Why? Because it has always been given to them. It is now a right, not a benefit.

Not My Job Mentality: Make no mistake, union management and representatives are extremely detailed in creating job descriptions for its members. Workers are told to never deviate from these duties, and don’t worry, they don’t. In fact, a co-worker can be “turned in” to the union and reprimanded for going “above and beyond” for the common cause. So much for teamwork.

I could go into further detail as I have not touched upon how difficult it is for an employer to terminate a non preformer without legal preceedings or how hard it is to keep good workers over a  poor worker in times of downsizing due to “seniority” rules.  However, I have covered the main reasons why unions are not in the best interest of a private company, public agency or the United States of America in general. I am sure there are those who disagree, and that is well within your right. However, I do hope that I have given you something to think about.


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Tags: NFL NFLPA Unions

  • Eat It

    I love this site. You guys are really good at what you do, the level of professionalism and attention to detail here is off the charts. I think, as a sports blog, it’s about time you started imitating the bigger entities out there, specifically ESPN, and with this article you’ve finally nailed it. I’ve always said one of the things I admire most about The Worldwide Leader is how they can be discussing March Madness or the Miami Heat and then suddenly break to talk about hot, divisive political issues.

    Oh, wait. They don’t do that. Stick to covering the Dolphins. Edited…by site editor (watch the language)

  • thomas loy

    I worked Cape Canaveral Air Force station, and during a launch, the union would make double and triple time for
    sitting around a lot. At one time unions had a purpose,
    but that is long past.

  • http://www.thebottlenose.com Dan Ewen

    There is a magical place without organized labor. It’s called the Third World.

    • uawphinfan

      Amen brother

  • shaggy

    Totally agree with you. Unions hurt the bottom line an protect lazy people. i worked for two, and airline and a fr
    freight company. the new guys made a third of what the old timers did and we did most of the work while they played cards. I also saw the shipyard workers operate while in the navy. they would leave open holes in the deck and not bother to rope them off or post a sign….(not their job) never mind if someone fell to their death. Unions are garbage, and are ruining this country.

    • uawphinfan

      No what has ruined this country is near minded people like yourself

  • Dre’

    Tru unions arent perfect but they often make sure workers earn a decent wage for their work. Once unions are out of the way these large (even small) corporations will be free to usher in near slave labor. Lower wages with a skyrocketing cost of living. Yeah thats a great combination. R.I.P middle class.

    • onole1

      Dre I have to disagree. At one time in the country unions were a necessity, but IMO they have become outdated. There are enough laws and regulations in place now that the worker shouldn’t need a third party to negotiate for them. I understand many people feel differently, but I just feel they are no longer needed.

      • Mike

        I understand and respect your position. I am a union worker (construction), love my job, have great benefits, and I have never complained about doing an honest day’s work but the so called laws and regulations are still favored toward the businesses. For instance, if I’m unlawfully fired it would be much more feasible for the company or business owner to afford legal representation, while I would be jobless and declined my unemployment benefits.

        Furthermore, you could walk onto many construction sites around the country and simply shout,”INS!” Watch how many workers go running. I’m simply saying that in my scope of work (and I’m sure many others) the competition is not always playing by the same rules and probably does not have the same training to do the job right.

      • uawphinfan

        Good point; but the laws are in place because of the unions. If the unions were to leave so would the laws that protect all workers; union and non-union.

  • Ray

    Sadly you profess to be someone who is highly educated but commit a simpleton’s mistake by generalizing all labor as “bad news”. Not all unions are the way you describe and likewise not all management is fat cat money grubbers. Shame on you for generalizing. Labor/management is like a row boat, you won’t get any where if one oar is more dominant than the other.

  • Mike

    Maybe you will have a more open mind when a fresh, young college kid from India with his MBA and doctorate agree to do your job for your salary minus $4 and no health care.

  • BDN

    Your article is so generalized its ridiculous. You make statements about management and labor that have no actual facts to back your argument up. I understand that this is an “editorial style” argument/debate/rant but at least have some figures to back up your thoughts. And to the admins of this site, shame on you for allowing this garbage on your “sports site”. I thought this site was a Phins site? Then talk about the Phins or at least football. And get rid of fins4ever1!

  • Bert Smith

    Unions cannot work properly in this function when they bargain with government representatives who are elected. This is because they essentially can bribe the official to give them greater benefits and pay. But that’s only when the issue is concerning government-type unions.

    Unions and collective bargaining are essential protections for a worker in the private sector. Without that leverage, the worker historically has always been exploited. Even medical coverages and care have been improved because of the NFLPA and looking after former great players who may be having hard times later. Problems at Automotive companies with unions stem from the government intrusions into the bargaining process and have not allowed the normal ebb and flow of business and economics to occur.

  • http://www.thebottlenose.com Dan Ewen

    As far as unions influencing public officials, the Supreme Court has now made it possible for a single CEO to run $500 million (or more) in political ads for a candidate.

    At least unions represent thousands of people. Their money will be a drop in the bucket now. Democracy is done. Put a fork in it.

  • uawphinfan

    Yes unions are so bad; let me ask did you enjoy a day off for Christmas, New Years? If you did thank the unions, before the unions if you had a day off no pay. Do us all a favor and stick to writing about football; not politics.