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Are you a member of your union?

Discussion in 'The Pub' at netrider.net.au started by FatBoy_T, Oct 20, 2015.

  1. I haven't been a union member since I was a student. However, I'm reconsidering this as the company appears to be taking an agressive approach to negotiations for our next enterprise agreement.

    I'm generally in favour of the idea of uniting to get good conditions. However, it seems a lot of money to pay an organisation that is basically invisible at our workplace, who seem to have overlooked some disadvantages to penalties in past negotiations and anecdotally haven't been helpful advocates for some of my colleagues in decades gone by.

    Where do you stand?


     
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  2. #2 titus, Oct 20, 2015
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2015
    My wife has adopted the approach that you might as well exploit them (unions) the way that they exploit you. Hers was the HSU.
     
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  3. I don't think there is a one size fits all answer to your question. If you've got an honest/above board boss/manager in a profitable business then you're probably ok without being a member.

    OTOH If you've got an arsehole/dishonest prick for a boss/manager and/or the company is struggling then I reckon it'd be safer to be a member.
     
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  4. I've only ever had negative experiences when in a union. Was once a part of the printing industry union (can't remember the name it was long time ago). They forced employees to strike several times.....a decision I certainly didn't agree with.

    The other times I've seen unions fail is with a recent EBA negotiation with a major mine plant support company. The EBA has been knocked back numerous times to the detrimental effect to the business and subsequently its employees.

    By all means negotiate a fair agreement, but we all live in reality where a business needs to remain profitable in order to hire the employees let alone pay them what they want. Couple that with the what seems uncountable times union reps have been outed as ripping off their members and yeah.....you can start to paint a picture of my opinion.
     
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  5. Unions are a good idea in theory. Unfortunately most are full of overpaid reps more interested in their own wealth and that of their friends and familes, than those they represent. The most high profile ones are full of downright corruption. I haven't been a union member since Uni days. I always figure I'll get paid what I'm worth. If my company thinks someone can do the same job to the same standard for less coin, good luck to them
     
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  6. The one time I needed my union (AOPA) they pointed to the 'fine print' and claimed it absolved them from financial support because I was able to claim from Work Care. Never renewed my membership from that day on, and saved a lot of money. They imploded in 1989 when they (dis) organised the airline pilots dispute and Bob Hawke used the military to break them.

    As for the carrying on of the likes of the MWU, CFMEU, HSU, etc. Would you really trust them?
     
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  7. Fewer than twelve percent of workers in the private sector belong to unions. In the public sector it's around forty two percent (2014 figures). You might be better off getting another job rather than being in a workplace where the union purports to help you but exists only for itself and to fund the Labor Party...
     
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  8. image.
     
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  9. I'm a member of a union. We are small (presently between 30 and 40 people in Aus), but we are active, and that is what is important. So, when Dominos arbitrarily cut the wages of their pizza delivery drivers by 17% back in 2012 (and they are some of the lowest paid people in Australia) we took it on, fought it, AND WON!, getting the original rate reinstated and $590'000 in back pay returned to more than 2'000 present and former Dominos employees Australia wide. Proof that being small is no impediment to being effective.

    Nor does being unregistered with a fully volunteer organisation stop us. Our governance structure is direct democratic, with local sections federated nationally, and the national organisation federated internationally. There are no paid office bearers, in our union, nor in any of our sister unions. All roles are limited and subject to rotation. There is no permanent secretariat either nationally or internationally, with the local branch acting as national secretariat rotating every 2 years , and the incumbency of the international secretariat being limited to a maximum of two 3-year terms.

    Fees are AU$50 per person per year, with US$12 per person funding the activities international association. When we fought Domino's the international association assisted us with with an international day of action, with 49 pickets outside Domino's stores and offices in 15 countries across 4 continents. Last year we, here in Melbourne, participated in solidarity actions to assist our sister unions take on BMW (through their subsidiary, Truck and Wheel) in Spain, Dominos, again in Spain, and Citibank in Poland. All of these were cases of unfair dismissal, with two employees returning to work and one receiving a severance package their otherwise would not have received.

    The problem with you mob who complain about unionism is that you think of your relationship with the unions as a client--vendor relationship, and that's what causes the rot in the first place. If you approach unionism with the "What's in it for me?" spirit of capitalism, you will end up with the swishy tail, toothless, corrupt institutions you deserve. Unions are meant to be about mutual aid, members standing shoulder to shoulder as equals. They are only as healthy as the people who comprise them are interested and active, and that means being just as willing to hold the office bearers to account as it does militating against the those parasites who can pay you only because they live off the sweat of your labour.
     
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  10. tell me if im wrong
    but are not the fees tax deductible?
    if it wasn't for unions most of us would still be working in coal mines or textile factories
    under extremely unsafe conditions
    oh
    and your children would be working beside you
     
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  11. Rubbish!

    I'd be working on a farm under extremely unsafe conditions (with the children working beside me) :)

    (country boy remember)
     
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  12. Aye. :-( My wife is a member of the HSU, too.

    She hasn't taken me on any flash European trips lately, then again, nobody is asking her to pay back over a million dollars.
     
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  13. Actually, this thread reminded me of, many years ago, my membership of the National Union of Journalists, when I was still in Scotland.

    I was a junior reporter on a wee local newspaper, with one other, even more junior reporter.

    As the senior of the two NUJ members, I was officially named Father of Chapel...... a posy name for shop steward.
     
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  14. I'm a union member. I also question the value of it fairly regularly. I guess for me there are two reasons I stay in it.

    Firstly, I see it as an insurance against getting a boss who wants to be a tool. As a teacher we are reasonably secure in employment, so it is about conditions and backup mare than anything.

    Secondly, if the union dwindles away to nothing, there will be little incentive for the employer to bother negotiating pay deals in the future. The collective force is useful here.
     
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  15. I think unions exploit employers, businesses, and members. They impede companies and employees ability to thrive and advance. Union contracts ensure lack of agility and flexibility to respond to market changes, and union-member employees are unable to be individually flexible due to their union contracts. If a union negotiates higher wages for workers at a company, it may lead the company to charge higher prices for its offerings, which can make it less competitive with rivals, and shortly the company is having to lay-off workers.
    Employers have trouble weeding out ineffective employees if they belong to unions. And there's a strong argument that unionised workers become so comfortable and protected that they lose the incentive to work hard for their employer. In many union settings, workers can't advance much or at all on their merits, but rather they must generally progress within the limits defined by union contracts (where advances might be based on seniority, for example)

    If Monopolies are Bad, Why are Unions Good? Think about that for a minute - I've never heard a compelling argument that explains this one.

    Aussie car manufacturing is a perfect example of where unionism doesn't work. For years, these unions fended off technology and automation, whilst demanding higher wages and benefits for their workers. And, of course, they could no longer compete and are now non-existent. So many workers, left until the last minute, with single-purpose and non-transferable skills because of their unions inflexibility and hard lined practices. Had they allowed progression and kept up with international market practices, perhaps it would be different today.
     
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  16. yupp, a member of my union with the wife called MARRIAGE! I must say the membership is hefty, 50% of everything I own.

    kidding aside, the concept of a union is good, but like everything else it can be good or bad for you, the question is what benefits you get out of it?
    I find most these days just swallow money, from both members and employers and employ somewhat questionable work ethics. I used to be a member once, but seeing that lazy workers who should have been sacked had used it as protection, I gracefully decided not to support their arses anymore.

    So the concept is good, but you'll find that these days these "clubs" perform as good as our politicians...
     
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  17. You're making the assumption that all Monopolies are bad when that's actually not the case.

    In some circumstances delivery of essential services is most effective (note effective not efficient) when it's regulated and delivered by government departments or at the very least government controlled bodies.

    I've never seen a convincing argument for privatized Police Forces for example (although they do exist they almost universally have worse reputations than their government alternatives). Privatized medicine versus Publicly funded health care is another example (compare the US health system to Australia's).

    So now that we've established that only some but not all Monopolies are bad but we need to address the issue of unions. I put it to you that unions are not universally good but also that they are not universally bad. Rather that they fall across a curve ranging from pretty good right down to pretty bad.

    Hence choices about membership should be made on a case by case basis by each person, otherwise you're just over simplifying the issues.
     
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  18. It's a generalisation that applies equally to unions. Most are bad, few are not.
     
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  19. without being too rude, this sounds like a load of right wing twaddle. It is imperative for both the union and the company that employees can be paid fairly, and that they remain employed. A lack of employees kills a union pretty quickly. Most unions do not behave in the old '70s model of unionism, bringing a company to it's knees. Most employees also see the need for the company to remain profitable. Some employers would happily exploit their workers if unions were not part of our industrial relations system.

    In the '80s there was not a monopoly of unions. In fact, there was often turf wars between unions. A construction company would have to negotiate with up to 20 different unions on a major project. Larger, monopolised unions removed this issue.

    No, car manufacturing in Australia was killed off by our small market, lack of tariffs, and a government unwilling to put in place non-tariff protection barriers like other countries have. We tried the "level playing field" when everyone else did not. We lost.
     
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  20. Otherwise known as racketeering
     
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