Why this Republican Thinks Unions Are Still Relevant

Record profits that companies won't share

As I write this in the early autumn of 2012, the economy in the United States is still struggling. Maybe it would be more correct to say the poor and middle class are struggling. . Most companies have rebounded and are making record profits but very little of the profits are trickling down to the person on the assembly line or the secretary in the office.

Case in point was how the Caterpillar strike ended after 3 ½ months. The company was coming off of record profits, with a $1.7 billion profit in just one quarter. Again $1.7 BILLION PROFIT in one quarter. The union buckled to the demands of the company. I read stories about union members coming out of the voting crying when the results were announced. They knew this was a game changer and realized how much they lost and would never regain. Here is a excellent story on the results of the strike.

This may be surprising. I consider myself a pretty strong republican. I must admit I work in a Union shop, almost 24 years to be exact. At times, I have often wondered if being in a Union was worth it. Five years ago we were sold to another company. My doubts about being in a union evaporated under this new management.

Besides the arrogant attitude they exhibited toward employees ( union and salary), They have dragged us through a bankruptcy and after emerging from the bankruptcy a very few individuals at the senior managenment levels split millions of dollars while people in the union have had wages frozen for years. After taking wage freezes for years they have announced we are being closed.

Here is what bothers me. When this was put on the news, people wrote comments on this story that was posted on the web. Most of the comments were very negative towards the union and blamed the union for the closure. Comments such as “I wish I could make $60 dollars an hour sweeping with a broom”.

I often think about the fictional Upton Sinclair book “The Jungle” about the inhumane conditions in the Chicago meat packing plants which spurned unions to fight for better working conditions.

People believe that over the years, the power has tilted towards the unions disproportionally in regards to relations with management. I'm not disputing that. At one time that may have been the case. That's far from the case today. Unions are a shadow of what they once were. People have this idea that if your in a Union your set for life and can't be fired. I belong to a major union and nothing can be farther from the truth.

People that have never worked in a manufacturing field can never relate to how hard and monotonous the work is and how production numbers are king. In the process corners on safety are cut. Unrealistic production rates are established and many times the workers themselves, will cut corners on safety to meet those rates. Their jobs in most cases depend on making those rates.

Right now we have a republican presidential candidate worth hundreds of millions of dollars who when asked "how“would you fix social security?” answered “I would raise the age on when social security could be collected”.

After working 20+ years in a factory I look at the people that have been there as long as myself and longer. The environment of the work they do has aged them in ways where very few would be able to work past 64 or 65.

Experts have noted that the economy will never recover unless the record profits of big business trickle down to their rank and file employees who then can put money into the economy.

The top senior management though haven’t suffered at all. In fact their pay has increased not only through their base pay but also through stock options and sweetheart deals like putting their company in bankruptcy with dates prearranged in conjunction with investment firms that then give them millions when they “pull” out their company from bankruptcy by those prearranged dates.

Almost makes me want to vote democrat.

Is there still a valid reason for Unions today?

  • Yes
  • No
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Comments 15 comments

Billy Hicks profile image

Billy Hicks 4 years ago

While I completely and utterly disagree with you about Unions (I myself believing that the damage they've caused far outweighs any good they used to do), I can see that you are passionate about it, and I respect that.

While I don't want to hijack the discussion, I would like to point out that the U.S. Department of Labor, OSHA, and the Federal Minimum Wage all make the Upton Sinclair argument invalid, as none of these existed in turn of the century Chicago.


redwhiskeypete profile image

redwhiskeypete 4 years ago from Indiana Author

I also respect your opinion and agree you should have your say. When I made my augment I didn't want to go into details for a purpose. I have a girlfriend that has a high powered job and makes $$$ and she has a hard time believing the true tales I have to tell from work. This is not 1950 0r 1960 where the unions ruled. Again its difficult to describe the working conditions unless you have been there.


Charles James profile image

Charles James 4 years ago from Yorkshire, UK

A very good hub.

My obvious question is why with this set of experiences you generally favour the Republicans? Another hub here?


redwhiskeypete profile image

redwhiskeypete 4 years ago from Indiana Author

Because Im a Republican that is moderate I guess. Im so sick of the far right and the far left. As I said I wasn't pro union too much until this company took us over and a light bulb went off in my head and I understood why unions are needed. Maybe in another hub I will explain what I mean, starting with coming home and blowing your nose and black junk comes out of it and getting paid much less then what people think we get paid.


Charles James profile image

Charles James 4 years ago from Yorkshire, UK

Go for it!

I am now following you!


redwhiskeypete profile image

redwhiskeypete 4 years ago from Indiana Author

Thank you for your encouragement Charles. Actually politics and world affairs are my passion, I just didn't think those type of articles were well read on here.


Charles James profile image

Charles James 4 years ago from Yorkshire, UK

If you do not write them they cannot be read.

There are a number of people on HubPages who write good articles around politics from all kinds of perspectives. If you read the politics forums you will see people talking both sense and nonsense. Then look at their hubs. And write more hubs of your own.


junko profile image

junko 4 years ago

I think you should vote Democrat if that is in Your best interest. Party Loyality don't make sense if the party is not loyal to you as an individual. I vote Democrat because the Republican Party do not operate or intent to operate in my best interest. I wish I had another option, other than not voting.


redwhiskeypete profile image

redwhiskeypete 4 years ago from Indiana Author

Out of 350 million Americans all I can think of, are these the two best people we have to choose from?


junko profile image

junko 4 years ago

Maybe not the two best people, but surely the only two people. It is what it is and we have to choose between the best idealogy offered. In that case the choice is obvious since one candidate has no personal idealogy.


redwhiskeypete profile image

redwhiskeypete 4 years ago from Indiana Author

I agree but isn't there a protest vote even though I know I know it's the illogical choice?


junko profile image

junko 4 years ago

Whatever we do, I hope we don't have regrets for not doing what we know is the right thing to do. Thanks for being flexible.


HSchneider 4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

Excellent Hub, Redwhiskeypete. Unions have conducted abuses but by and large have kept managements in check. Now as their ranks diminish, these companies are at it again. Maximize profits and abuse employees have become a rule. We need stronger unions to keep our middle class strong and thus our economy. Trickle down economics has been discredited.


JohnfrmCleveland profile image

JohnfrmCleveland 4 years ago from Cleveland, OH

Great article, Redwhiskeypete. I have been tooting the same horn (on other sites). Between automation and outsourcing, I believe the balance between labor and ownership has been permanently tilted in favor of the owners now. When the pool of unemployed is so big, what leverage does labor have anymore to pry more dollars out of management?


redwhiskeypete profile image

redwhiskeypete 4 years ago from Indiana Author

Yes John and the other problem is people that don't belong to unions seem to be anti-union. They don't relize this isn't 1950. Unions these days are just are not making demands but instead are just trying to hold onto some of the benefits their members have gained over the years.

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