By Ken Tucci, WBZ-TV

I’m curious as to why it took so long for someone in government to stand up to public employee unions (Wisconsin Governor and teachers’ union).  Unions are obsolete.  They no longer serve the purpose for which they were originally organized.  Those of us who pay high real estate taxes are getting the worst deal as our police and fire departments (our safety) suffer while the schools get the bulk of our tax dollars. – Rose, Raynham

  I’m posting Rose’s question/comments, not in an attempt to answer, but as a way for you all to discuss.  It’s a big issue.

There’s no question that union membership is declining.  And there’s no question that public employee unions are under a lot of fire, and not just in Wisconsin.

What do you think?  And please be polite.  Thanks.

Comments (16)
  1. Louise Jenkins says:

    Unions had their place in the private sector way back when. (Note triangle fire.) But they do not belong in the public sector where people who are struggling to just survive may pay taxes for outrageous benefits. People should get merit raises, help pay for medical benefits and retirement benefits just like everyone else. And being able to save up sick day and get paid for them is outrageous. Sick days are just that-for being sick. Before I retired the company policy changed to so many hours paid time not worked and it included holidays, vacations and sick time. When they were gone, they were gone, and if some where left over they were wiped out at the end of the year.

    As for private sector unions, has anybody wondered why so many companies are going overseas. The labor is cheaper and so are the benefits. I watched a program that showed a product made in the US cost $29.95 and the same product made overseas cost $10.00 less. I would like to by US products exclusively, but on Social Security that is impossible and so far what I have bought that was made overseas has been good quality. Not like the poor quality it was years ago. Unions drive prices up and make the union bosses rich.

  2. al says:

    louise jenkins
    If you have a brain that can comprehend this, then read and read good. If it were’nt for the unions you wouldn’t have what you have today for safety and the work force. Why do you think that these companies are going over seas? Because of the cheap labor so they can put MORE MONEY into their pockets and pay less for the health and wealfare of the people that work for them, for the safety that they do not perform so the employee can be almost accident free, for the insurance that they don’t have to pay for the employee. These companies make so much money and it is all because of people like you and me.
    If they had their way they would pay you the least amount per hour and let you starve and sleep in the streets and they would’nt give a damn. Just make sure that you show up for work the next day. Unions have stopped that. Unions have made your life and this countries life liveable. If it was’nt for the union, you would not have the retirement that you have today. the social security that you have today and the safety and security and the freedom that we all have today.
    Unions look out for the workers benifits and not the companies. If you think for one moment that without the union your company would give you what you have today? think again. They would tell you to eat cake while they eat prime rib.So before you start backing the company, think of what they will not do for you, the person that MAKES them all those millions. With-out the union? You mean nothing to them.

  3. emom says:

    If unions are so grand and wonderfull then why do they make you strike and get no pay for weeks or months,,, where is the benifits in that, and dont even tell me its worth it, tell that to those that loose everything like their house, they are selfish when they raise YOUR unions dues for their selfish needs, like a raise for them selfs. yeah getting you a raise and then raise your union dues so you still loose, then negotiate benifits but only to have to pay a higher rate for them and or not get as much as you thought, yeah unions are so wonderfull if you are a higher up that benifits from your pay,,,

  4. StanleyRamon says:

    As long as there are workers, and bosses, and business owners, there will be a need to organize in order to prevent one from taking advantage of others. There is safety and power in numbers. That said, unions today need to be more cognizant of public perception. They need recognize when to give something back; when so many are suffering during a bad economy, the perception is that unions keep asking for more. In my town, they recently awarded raises to the police and fire departments while at the same time laying some of their own members off rather than foregoing the raise thus endangering the public and giving the appearance of greed.

  5. al says:

    ya, you people keep talking like that and you WiLL lose the precious job that you have because you voiced your opinion here. Companies Do not care about you or your welfare. they care only about one thing, MONEY. With a union you can’t lose your job with-out a reason, with-out the union your job safety and welfare go right down the tubes. If you boss does’nt like you you’re fired with-out a union. with a union that does’nt happen. Unions deliver job security.

  6. emom says:

    Yeah like union folks never loose their jobs,, right, like they are always for the families, and the workers, right, like they care if you loose your home, have no money to feed your kids, end up living out of soup kitchens RIGHT, and becaue of all the selfish union leaders, the workers the onews that actually do the jobs, suffer ,, but hey you believe what you want,, but there are way many that suffer and loose so much more thanks to the unions selfishness… But hey carry on.. as useall,,,,,

  7. al says:

    I have only one question to ask of you. Are you a union member?

  8. al says:

    If you ever read this I’ll answer my question for you. Obviously you are not a union member by the way you talk in one of your statements. So you really can not say exactly what the union does. when a union member looses his/her job they go to the next paying job that they held in their seniority group. If they don’t have one then they go to the street, but will be called back. In your case, if you lose your job, that’s it, you’re done go look for another job if you can find one.Unions have job security, something a non union person does’nt have. The union makes sure that you get a decent wage for the wrok that you do. If it were left up to the company, you would eating at soup kitchens and living on the street and still working. Man what a deal they give you for your hard work that you give them every day, and even work overtime to help the company out so they can meet their contract date, and all you get in return is total disrespect.

    Please EMOM, before you start cutting the union down find out all you can about it. Maybe you’ll change you attitude about the union.

  9. Ben says:

    My wife belonged to the SEIU which supposedly represented her in her public sector job. They collected union dues from her for years and literally did nothing to earn them. They were weak at the bargaining table. They were weak when she got layed off due to budget cuts despite her having seniority over almost every worker. When she knew there was a possibility that her job was at risk, she called the SEIU for help to save her job….and they didn’t even bother returning her phone calls. They sat back and watched her and others lose their jobs. The SEIU only wanted her unions dues, they didn’t want to support her.

  10. dan says:

    then you should call the labor board and report them, or call their head office and tell them what happened.

  11. CEO says:

    Unions only represent 7% of the private sector workers. Seems to me the other 93% aren’t any worse off without their “respresentation”, not to mention they bring home bigger paychecks because they don’t have to pay union dues. Union dues that make union bosses millionaires. Union dues that are used for junkets. Union dues blown on lobbyists and political campaigns even if the rank and file don’t support the candidates.

    What exactly have unions done for their members lately? Make them less attractive than non-union workers and foreign workers. Just look at what greedy unions did to Ford, GM and Chrysler. They made them less productive with stupid work rules, made them more costly because of expensive benefits packages, and finally put these companies on the ropes becasue their costs were too high and the productivity and quality uncompetitive. The union contracts for the auto companies put them at a $2,000 per vehicle cost disadvantage over the non-union companies like Toyota and Honda that are building cars here. It took bankruptcy for GM and Chrysler to get out from under the oppressive union contracts.

    That’s where we’re at today with government union workers. Are they going to bankrupt every state and municipality? Or are they just going to keep squeezing more and more and more out of taxpayers? Taxpayers that have longer to work until retirement. Taxpayers that contribute more to their health care costs than unions do. Taxpayers that have already been squeezed enough.

    Time to abolish public sector unions. Taxpayers shouldn’t be held hostage any longer. Time for union members to start sharing the pain rather than getting automatic raises and outrageously generous retirement packages that allow some of them to retire in their 40’s.

    The unions are as greedy as any corporation and twice as corrupt.

  12. emom says:

    AL it must be you that is a Union worker , since you seem to be so passionate about the union, I have had my dealings with them and let me just say , That were there only to TAKE , TAKE TAKE, from all the workers.; They came to where we worked and tried so hard to convince us that we were in jeopardy of loosing so much,. They continued to say that if we PAID them , thru the dues, that they would in turn be there for us, and if THEY deemed it practical they would then fight to gain us better benefits and more rights, AH WHAT IF THEY DEEM IF PRACTICAL….. Sure, I also knew many folks that have had similar problems, I only knew ONE union that actual did work with employees and they sat and talked with all sides but not once did they MAKE THE WORKERS STRIKE, it was a complete win win for them , But I have know way more that had the opposite,, HEY SHAWS COMES TO MIND,,,, yeah how long did that go on for,,,, No I don’t work for the union nor wish to but let me tell you I have seen the ugly side and it is you that works for the union , oh and they deceive the workers, since promises are made to them but only in the end the workers end up loosing more than what they had before the talks,, so try again , besides I think others speak volumes about what you say,, sorry not buying it and so very happy I have nothing to do with the likes of those folks I have a family and rather have a job with an income, besides, I have benefits and good pay,,, so there , in a nut shell but hey carry on as usual and enjoy your selfish life at the expense of the workers since its them that keeps YOU in the pay you currently have, Just hope you can live with the fact that its from those that truly work the hardest.

  13. al says:

    CEO & EMOM
    CEO, when you say that 7% of the private sector is represented by unions you are probably right. But when you say that the unions are the ones that brought GM and Chrysler to bankruptcy I have to disagree with you. They chose to bite off more than they could eat with -out thinking of their customers. All they wanted was money and they did’nt care how they got it. The people took control and said no to their high prices for their vehicles. Unions don’t put companies into bankruptcy, Company GREED does that. As for Toyota and honda? Have you looked at what there prices are and what they pay their employees?

    I agree with you that some unions are not the greatest, and some of them mis lead you into a false sense of security. But when you look at the whole picture, the unions that are looking out for thier people out weight the bad ones. Yes I am a union member and have one of the good unions. If it were up to my company, they would pay us as little as they could and tell us if we did’nt like it then we should go somewhere else. We are the people that make the company. I have always said and will keep saying this. No matter whether you are union or not, the people that are on the floor are the backbone of any company. and if you don’t have those people then you don’t have a company. But the companies don’t see it that way. So they put the fear of firing you in your veins if you complian to them too much . A good union would’nt let that happen. When companies are making billions and they are not sharing with the backbone and the backbone does’nt have a real leg to stand on, then I say bring in a union that will stop that, bring in a union that will get you what you deserve for the hard work that you give everyday to the company. We all deserve RESPECT for what we do, and a good union will make that happen. If it was’nt for my union, my company would be swimming in the money pool 24hrs a day. But they have to share and they have to respect the backbone, because they now know that without the backbone they have nothing.

  14. emom says:

    AL now you get it, I will never join a union for that simple reason, because so many of the unions are only in it for what they can get and how they will take advantage of the workers, If there were as many great unions as there are honest ones we who not have the need for the HIGHER salaries with in the companies. I mean so many make so much money and then cry they want more and so they cry to the unions and then if they cant get what they want they then strike, with an economy like we have is it even practical. We have so many folks out of work , how do you think they can afford those products, I CANTS< as for the car makers, well sorry to say if they stopped raising pay rates so much almost every year then the cars just might not be so stinking expensive, Toyota sorry look at their recall rate , AND YOU CALL THAT GOOD BUSINESS PRACTICE. There is the union at work, have them buy inferior product , but pay the workers great salaries and then the cars are all junk… OH but try and fix them it cost you a small fortune,,, so sorry unions are useless and always will be.. if yours is a great one well KUDOS to you but don’t get selfish cause in the end it just might back fire on you

  15. al says:

    I think that you are a little misled about going on strike. Maybe I can help on that. We don’t strike because we don’t get what we want. We strike because we are not getting what we deserve. When the company makes soooooo much money and give their CEO”s millions for bonuses for not realy doing anything, and then give the workers almost next to nothing. The people that are higher up get the gold and the people that do all the work get nothing. So if the company chooses to take that radical path then there is only one thing to do to wake them up, STRIKE if it is necessary. The company will always say that you the worker and the company are a team. but when it comes time to share what the team should, the worker gets a lot less that what the rest of the team gets. If you take a look at what your company makes and what their CEO”s get for bonuses I really believe that you will feel insulted because of what you get, even at Christmas time when it counts. You work 8hrs a day and sometimes overtime that takes you away from your family for the company, thinking that you will benefit from the overtime and the company will recognize that when the time comes. But they don’t, but they will tell you that you and the company are a team. That’s why unions go on strike. You can kick a dog for only so long before it bites you. Like I said before, if you have a good union that looks out for you then you have a leg to stand on and a voice the will be heard without fear of being fired because the boss does’nt like you. If you have no union then you have no choice but to put up with what they give you and how they treat you, and belive me you are not part of the team, no matter what they say. So it’s not strike because of what we want, it’s strike because we’re not getting what we deserve.

  16. Nab71 says:

    Yes, there are problems with many unions today, especially with leadership that is out of touch. That being said ALL WORKERS benefit from unions. Protections in law such as the 8 hour day, 40 hour week, and overtime pay came about because of unions. Non union businesses give workers benefits that were won in other businesses by unions in order to keep their workers from unionizing. Big Business requires BIG Labor as a balance. Otherwise corporations will use their influence to change laws until you will work under the same conditions as overseas workers.

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