June 18, 2008

Spinning the Union

Justin Katz

Paul Bovenzi's response to an excellent op-ed by Bill Wilson raises an interesting question. On the one hand:

Also, there are jobs (teaching and otherwise) that are not Union. People have a choice. They can work for a private school if they are completely opposed to being in a Union. Maybe the reason they don't is because Union workers are treated more fairly and compensated better than non-union employees. As I have said before on this blog, the Union members I know are all happy and grateful to be part of a Union.

And yet, union membership is on the decline. Of course, as we know, that decline is mainly in the private sector, so one must wonder why an arena more subject to market forces is more likely to lose members.

Perhaps those "happy and grateful" union employees in the private sector are finding that the perks aren't worth driving their employers out of business, or forcing their jobs overseas. The public sector may have thought itself immune to this dynamic, but at least here in Rhode Island, I've a feeling that they're soon to learn otherwise.

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Plenty of nonunion jobs are being driven overseas, too. And those poor people have nothing in their contracts to get them severence pay, benefits, etc. when their jobs are lost. They don't have the option of buyouts, either.
If a company's that determined to go overseas, they'll do it, union or not.

Posted by: rhody at June 18, 2008 11:31 AM

Sure Rhody. But do you think GM wanted to close 4 domestic plants? It was the UAW's decision that unemployed union workers are better than giving in to reasonable concessions that forced GM's hand.

Well, that and the fact that there hasn't been a well-made American car since the sixties...

Posted by: Greg at June 18, 2008 11:37 AM

Mr. Wilson brings up another important point – whether or not union members can choose to contribute to political action. He admits to being unsure whether or not there are laws prohibiting unions from spending member’s dues on political campaigns. I was under the impression most union members have no choice, most of their mandated dues will go to fund political interests and causes without their permission (certainly one of the most un-democratic processes that exists in our country). Does anyone know exactly what goes on with respect to union dues and political fundraising?

Posted by: Frank at June 18, 2008 12:12 PM

Sorry that should have been Mr. Bovenzi, not Mr. Wilson

Posted by: Frank at June 18, 2008 12:19 PM

What really irks me is why a non-profit labor union is even allowed to enter the political fray. If it was the church, they would be screaming to take away their non-profit status.

Posted by: Bobc at June 18, 2008 12:59 PM

Greg, the auto industry's moguls brought plenty of their trouble upon themselves by putting so much emphasis on building SUVs, Hummers, etc.
I don't believe union folks were at the table when those decisions were made. If the UAW had a voice in that decision and was rah-rah about making fewer fuel-efficient cars and more hulking gas guzzlers, then yes, it bears some responsibility.

Posted by: rhody at June 18, 2008 2:34 PM

"What really irks me is why a non-profit labor union is even allowed to enter the political fray. If it was the church, they would be screaming to take away their non-profit status."

... wait a minute. Unions are not taxed? I suppose they get around that by forming PAC's. But then, why can't a church form a PAC?

Posted by: Monique at June 18, 2008 3:35 PM


It is ILLEGAL for a union to use membership dues for political activism. Some unions form PACs for this purpose, membership donations to which are completely voluntary. Even solicitations by the PAC for donations from union members is limited by law.

Posted by: EMT at June 18, 2008 8:48 PM

Paul Bovenzi's response is typical Union garbage, but at least it reinforces their moronic views that, in turn, reinforces the publics resolve to rid ourselves of them.

On the one hand, Bovenzi writes: “Mr. Wilson apparently has a very low opinion of the members of Unions, and very little faith that they can think for themselves.”

Yet he follows that up with: “My Union lets me know which candidates may have the same viewpoints as me.”

How and the hell does a Union know what the viewpoints of its individual members are, unless of course, the members are like simple-minded sheep that all think alike and move in lockstep, which in fact is the case.

In other words, it is EXACTLY as Mr. Wilson describes.

Bovenzi also writes: “There are jobs (teaching and otherwise) that are not Union. People have a choice.” The bigger issue that he dodges is that the people paying the bills don’t have a choice. We are saddled with Union teachers, unless we want to pay twice (taxes and private school tuition).

Is Mr. Bovenzi and his Union willing to let there be real choice, both through passing Right To Work State legislation and by letting the people paying the bills decide where they want to spend their money via vouchers / school choice? Is he willing to let the Free Market and competition determine his worth?

Bovenzi further writes: “the Union members I know are all happy and grateful to be part of a Union.” Of course they are! They don’t have to compete in the real world. They have ZERO accountability with respect to RESULTS and PERFORMANCE (or more accurately, lack thereof).

The good news is that people across the state are waking up to the fact that the Unions are destroying the state. I almost feel bad for the Bovenzi’s of the world trying to make it on their own when the taxpayers say “game over”.

Posted by: George Elbow at June 18, 2008 9:03 PM


You are right.

Instead of using membership dues for political activism, they use TAXPAYER FUNDS, as was the case with your boy, PFD Union Pwesident Lazy-Ass Pauly "No Show" Doughty, who didn't show up to work for 3+ years while collecting a Taxpayer funded paycheck & benefits and instead spent his time doing Union "work" and political activism (e.g. threatening to "strike" a Hillary Clinton political fundraiser).

Posted by: George Elbow at June 18, 2008 9:23 PM


A quick internet search revealed that RI is one of 34 states that ALLOWS the use of treasury funds (union dues) for political purposes. If you know of any law that makes it illegal for union dues to be used for politics I’d like to know what it is. Thanks.

Posted by: Frank at June 19, 2008 9:59 AM

Frank, sorry it took me so long to reply. I honestly was under the impression that it was a federal law- several national union PAC websites mention the same thing. That's why they had to start PACs in the first place.

Posted by: EMT at June 22, 2008 3:15 PM

No sweat. It isn't the first time you were wrong and it won't be the last.

Blind faith and "unabiding respect" for Unions and their entitlement minded members tends to cloud one's judgement.

My hat's off to you for acknowledging your error. Perhaps you could help your pal Tom "Giving Selflessly" Kenney acknowledge his errors as well.

Posted by: George Elbow at June 22, 2008 10:02 PM
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