February 12, 2009

Union Cause and Effect

Justin Katz

I just heard a report on 630 WPRO in which the public sector unions in New Bedford explicitly rejected a pay cut in full knowledge that the city would have no other option than layoffs. Said one firefighter (approximately):

We're going to have to work harder, and response times are going to be slower. People are just going to have to expect that.

In other words, the unions' vote didn't preference just layoffs over paycuts, but degraded emergency service over paycuts.

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Putting aside what you may or may not feel about unions and union workers, the thing that suprises me here is that someone in a profession that refers to their co-workers as brothers wouldn't sacrifice a little to benefit another. Unless I'm missing something, that doesn't make sense. I don't make a huge amount of money by any means, but if I was presented with the option of full pay but one of the people in my department would be let go or reduced salary and everyone kept their job, I would opt for the reduction because frankly I'd hope that someone would take that option for me.

Posted by: Steve A. at February 12, 2009 8:53 AM

You people really need to reassess your own thinking. Here is one explanation that makes it easy to understand what these union whores are made of: They are a bunch of PIGS! Uncaring, unreasonable, stupid f'n lying PIGS!
It's really very simple. Once you come around to realizing this, it all makes perfect sense, and you'll cease being amazed at what they are capable of.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at February 12, 2009 9:48 AM

As I posted on another thread:

Unions eat their young.

When push comes to shove, the senior union folks would rather see their less senior "union brother and sisters" lose their jobs than give up their above-market pay and benefits.

So too the union bosses, whose own pay is influenced under this regime, and whose positions depend upon being able to convince the "membership" that without them they wouldn't have above market pay and benefits.

Union organizers too want this, for how else to persuade the unorganized but to wave the chimera of above market pay and benefits before them, and singing the siren call of "sign up for the union and you too could have this."

Hence the UAW, which has lost something like 50% of its membership over the years, but whose remaining members have way above market pay and benefits.

As for their children? Well, to the teachers unions they're useful for props and for holding hostage (in effect) during negotiations, but are otherwise expendable.

Posted by: Tom W at February 12, 2009 10:58 AM

Another possibility is the majority of the members see some dead wood on staff and wouldn't mind seeing the slackers get cut loose. We know that not 100% of union members are bad or lazy, just some of them. Maybe the firefighters agree and see this as a way to get leaner and better. I've been in some businesses where a little "addition by subtraction" would have been nice.

Posted by: Patrick at February 12, 2009 11:31 AM

>>Another possibility is the majority of the members see some dead wood on staff and wouldn't mind seeing the slackers get cut loose. We know that not 100% of union members are bad or lazy, just some of them. Maybe the firefighters agree and see this as a way to get leaner and better. I've been in some businesses where a little "addition by subtraction" would have been nice.

In a non-union environment this would be the case.

Presumably their union contract specifies layoffs by seniority, not performance - last hired, first fired.

Note that a couple of years ago Middletown's "teacher of the year" was subsequently laid off due to her relative lack of seniority.

This is one reason why the poor performers tend to be the most zealous advocates for their union.

An example of one of the many ways that unionized environments tend to be marked by mediocre performance / quality.

Posted by: Tom W at February 12, 2009 12:18 PM

Not sure what to think of these guys. Part of union negotiation in this age of layoffs and buyouts should be making sure the people who lose their jobs are taken care of, not just negotiating for the survivors.

Posted by: rhody at February 12, 2009 4:49 PM

Do I have this right Rhody?

You prefer layoffs with parachutes over pay cuts?

Posted by: George at February 12, 2009 10:48 PM

Mike Cappelli:

You fail to acknowledge that they're people, too. It's lamentable, but understandable that they'd be susceptible to the union pitch, and it's apt to ensure an unpredictable showdown to push them away by lumping them all together and swearing over them.

Posted by: Justin Katz at February 12, 2009 10:58 PM

George, pay cuts are not always presented as an option.

Posted by: rhody at February 13, 2009 1:04 AM

Do these pigs ever acknowledge that the taxpayers are people, too? Do they ever acknowledge that their "clients" are children, too?
Dealing with these pigs is like dealing with Hamas, Justin. You just can't do it. You continue to delude yourself into thinking someway, somehow, there is a silver bullet out there to fix this problem, and you just need to find that one way to deal with these pigs.
I don't waste my time on such useless pursuits.

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at February 13, 2009 6:25 AM


The answer to your question is "NO". They do not take anyone else into consideration but themselves. For some unknown reason, these people are incapable of seeing that they are part of society. A society in which people are losing their jobs, homes and benefits everyday. A society in which people are taking paycuts all the time because "something" is better than "nothing". You are 100% right...these people ARE PIGS. I wish they could all be fired. Imagine waking up after having benefit upon benefit conferred upon you only to ask...how am I supposed to pay my mortgage, my healthcare, my bills? Welcome to the real world, where we ask those questions every day. I say again...FIRE them ALL and start over. They are PIGS and they are disgusting!

Posted by: Bill at February 13, 2009 9:13 AM

Rhody, but the subject of this thread is a union's refusal to accept a pay cut in order to save jobs. You seem to imply that if the laid-off workers were taken care of, you prefer the lay-offs over pay cuts.

Bill, good point. Just look at Wednesday morning's top headline in the Projo "1200 apply for 40 positions". We really could afford to fire them all right now. They'd be so easy to replace with people who would probably be much more grateful.

Posted by: George at February 13, 2009 12:14 PM

Without knowing the particulars it is hard to judge. Maybe the firefighters thought that a pay cut was no guarentee of preventing layoffs. But I think your take on this is disinguenous. If the city lays off firefighters or gets to decide on staffing levels daily as is hoped for in republican quarters in RI, Would you care about degraded services? You bring it up here because it appears that the firefighters are choosing it, but you have no problem with reductions forced upon them. Is it only degraded service in the first instance? Minimum staffing levels are important for effective and safer firefighting. Staffing per vehicle and across a city per shift are based on NFPA guidelines. I know some of you childishly think its about overtime and more union members (dues). I hope you enjoy your little fantasy. I don't know the story behind the news item ( WPRO would not be my go to place for news) but I think you, Justin, are just using it to bolster your anti union position. You don't seem to care to dig any deeper.

Posted by: David at February 13, 2009 6:12 PM

Unions are not all-powerful (like some posters here believe they are) and sometimes cannot stop job cuts, particularly when pay cuts are not offered as an alternative. Those who do lose their jobs need to be compensated in some form (be it severance pay, extended health care benefits, etc.).

Posted by: rhody at February 14, 2009 9:33 PM

I agree with Dave, No one wants to look any deeper on this thread. The ProJoke headline about 1200 applicants showing up for 40 positions doesn't elaborate why this happened. The Department that there talking about had a Pre Req. for applicants that you had to have your Medic license to apply, it was dropped for this recruitment drive. The unemployment office sent all there clients there in prospects of a job, theres your over inflated number. Did anyone ask why? Is it possible that like most departments they charge a application fee? 1500 applicants at $50.00 a pop brings in alot of revenue for the city. Who is going to pay for that candidates paramedic school when he gets hired? The Department? There going to take the applicant with the Medic license first. Sounds like a good way to generate some money for the FD not " Theres ton of people to replace those PIG firefighters "

Posted by: Objective at February 14, 2009 11:24 PM
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