Re: Unions

From: Brian D Williams (
Date: Mon May 01 2000 - 10:17:57 MDT


>Speaking of unions . . . My views on unions have evolved
>considerably over the last few years as I've become more and more
>libertarian in my political philosophy. I don't see why people
>shouldn't be able to band together into collective bargaining
>arrangements or why a union shouldn't be able to make a
>contract with a company that forbids the hiring of non-union
>employees. Of course, state sanctioning shouldn't be tolerated,
>but I can see unions doing a lot of good in a more libertarian
>world, especially in taking over and decentralizing many of the
>functions of the state social welfare function. Many of the things
>that anarcho-capitalist theorists see as being provided by
>privately-produced law agencies would be more effective if coupled
>with social welfare unions that also had some economic functions
>such as collective bargaining. Individuals would have to have
>the freedom to enter and leave unions (with some costs imposed,
>I'm sure). I wonder what others think of such ideas?

My Union has many of the features you mention, but also has taken
some recent political bad moves which I shall also mention.

Anyone can leave the union by taking a "withdrawal" on their card.
This has to be approved by the board, but is typically a rubber
stamp. This is for union people promoted to management jobs. The
card can be regained by paying the equivalent of a quarters dues
along with the current quarters dues. (a quarter runs about $200

We have an independent entity, the "Electrical Insurance trustees"
which manages health and welfare and pensions. Contractors are
required to pay into these funds, but they are independent of them,
union members can switch companies without losing benefits.

From: "Michael S. Lorrey" <>

>Problems with unions are that there is no public oversight, union
>leadership tends to be secretive (and tends toward corruption and
>resorts to violence to get the job done (this is not just a
>characteristic of the Teamsters)), and difficult to push
>alternative leadership candidates over incumbents. I highly oppose
>allowing unions to demand closed shops. This is a very
>anti-competitive thing, as well as refusing to allow more than one
>union to operate in the same shop. If I'm a worker, I want to be
>able to choose not only if I want to belong to a union or not, but
>to have a choice of unions. Unions also foster workplace
>harassment of independent operators in open shops, and the
>worker grievance procedures they mandate tend to foster frivolous

Public oversight? Your kidding right? That would defeat the

I agree with you on the secretiveness. My own union recently
conducted a vote on a contract extension that included a massive
rewrite of the existing contract. None of which was mentioned in
the mailout that included a mail in vote for the contract. Despite
the fact that no one we know voted in favor of it, it passed 4-1.
We consider it invalid, but basically we're F*****. It removes both
shop seniority and the ability to move from shop to shop. All
hiring will now be done through the hall. We can't be fired without
reason, but now we can be "layed Off" for any reason whatsoever.

It benefitted the Union, and some members, but at the expense of

In protest myself and many of the instructors from the apprentice
school (the only federally certified communications apprentice
school in the country) have resigned from the program.

The only reason for an "open shop" is to attempt to get rid of a
union altogether.


>The problem I see with unions is that by encouraging collective
>bargaining, they discourage merit pay and individual initiative.

>The news today is that the actor's union will have a work stoppage
>regarding commercials, due to a dispute over how residuals will be
>paid for cable vs over the air broadcasting. Whichever way it
>comes out, it will be a "one size fits all" scheme. No one can
>negotiate a special deal which is more appropriate to their

>This seems to add an inherent inflexibility which ends up
>increasing costs.

11 Years ago when I took over my current position as Premise
engineer here computer viruses were fairly new. I created some
aliases and used my telephony training to establish myself on the
top hacker boards in the world, with obvious benefits to the
company. This was the first building in Ameritech with anti-viral

As we began building LANS and such I used to take the books home at
night and on weekends and taught myself the trade. I was Novell
certified since version 2.15. I've been installing Cisco routers
and switches (and programming them) ever since.

I'm currently pursuing my CCNA on my own since the company
currently does not support this training for union member.

My point? Your basically right, I have a skill set well beyond the
average, yet the company pays me the same as your basic wire
puller. However I do have some specially negotiated deals that
apply only to me (and those I say) and am constantly pushing the
envelope as to what is Union work.

But it's actually currently costing the company alot less by having
me doing this work. (not for long ;) )


Extropy Institute,
Adler Planetarium
Life Extension Foundation,
National Rifle Association,, 1.800.672.3888
Mars Society,
Ameritech Data Center Chicago, IL, Local 134 I.B.E.W

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