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Big labor's last stand in the U.S.

61 Comments
By David Paul Kuhn

The term "big labor" is becoming a vestige of a bygone era. Union ranks in the United States have not been this thin for 75 years, when the Wagner Act catalyzed the modern labor movement. Labor is today defending its last bulwark, civil service unions. Napoleon once said that an army marches on its stomach. Today's union battle ultimately concerns how unions feed, or fund, their army--that is, what remains of it. Labor is standing before the breach.

American unionization is a tale of two storylines, one public and one private. More than a third of private sector workers were members of a union in the mid-20th century. One quarter were still unionized by the late 1970s. Only about 7% of the private sector workforce is a member of a union today.

Public sector unions exist in another world. About one quarter of governmental employees were unionized by the early 1960s. That share surged to more than a third of government workers by the 1980s. In 1983, 36.7% of public employees were in a union. In 2010, the share was 36.2%. Over that same period, the rate of private sector unionization fell from 16.8 to 6.9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2009, for the first time, the number of union members working for government exceeded the number of union members working for companies.

Government unions have escaped the forces that sundered their private sector counterparts: the deindustrialization of America, globalization, weakening union protections and increasing employer opposition. It's like viewing two Oldsmobile cars fresh off the line in 1983. Nearly three decades later, one is rusty and run down. The other runs today as if it is 1983. But that may soon change.

The economic forces that helped sunder private unions are now, in a different sense, looming over their public counterparts. Governors are attempting to balance state books. Wisconsin faces a $137 million shortfall this year and a $3.6 billion deficit over the next two years. But this executive (the Wisconsin governor) is targeting more than the budget gap (unions agreed to concessions). Wisconsin's management is targeting the ability, at least in part, of public sector workers to effectively unionize.

Republicans argue that only structural union reform will sustain budget reform. Labor says this is union busting of the old fashioned sort--Republicans siding against labor because labor sides with Democrats.

This is why tens of thousands of union members have protested in Madison, Wisconsin, for two weeks. It's why Democratic lawmakers fled their state to filibuster the legislation. Wisconsin Republican Governor Scott Walker seeks to end collective bargaining for benefits and limit wages to the rate of inflation, among other measures. More states, like Ohio and Iowa, are considering similar legislation.

Collective bargaining amounts to negotiations between employers and union representatives. Its prohibition would undercut unions' leverage and organizational structure. Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels prohibited collective bargaining for state employees six years ago. Daniels himself notes that state union membership subsequently declined by 90%. Members saved the cash that once went to their union dues. Unions lost the muscle that made it worth those dues.

There were public sector unions before they were given collective bargaining rights. But, as it did in the private sector three decades earlier, collective bargaining spurred public sector union growth in the 1960s. The loss of that power within public unions would accelerate unions' broad decline. Indeed, labor's last secure base would be breached.

"It's a very crucial moment for unions' fight," said Ileen DeVault, a Cornell professor of labor relations and history. "If what happened to the private sector and manufacturing unions happens to the public sector, there won't be anything left."

The Political Stakes

Union workers consistently earn about $200 dollars more a week than non-union workers, according to BLS data, to say nothing of pensions and benefits that are vanishing among comparable non-union jobs. This is a personal fight to the families involved. But labor battles are also, as they always have been, a political fight.

Labor is not the political machine it once was. Union households have seen their share of the electorate halved between the 1976 and 2008 presidential election, from 34% to 17%. Only about one in 10 voters were members of a union in 2008, according to exit polls. But Democrats remain deeply dependent on what power unions still hold.

Democrats rely on unions to help turn out the minority vote. Labor remains Democrats' only institutional bridge into the white middle and working class, men in particular. But economic and political change has lessened unions' influence over their members since the 1960s.

By the 1980 election, Ronald Reagan's strategic team sought to fracture the FDR coalition. Union members were one of the prime targets. Reagan's confidential 1980 campaign plan aimed "specific" media messages for "blue collar and labor union members" utilizing "principal themes" that "project a realization that these voters are no longer solely motivated by economic concerns but by larger social issues as well."

It was the right target. The AFL-CIO polled 104 unions in October 1980. Among its membership: 72% opposed cuts in defense spending, 65% favored a constitutional amendment mandating a balanced federal budget, and 60% agreed with Reagan's opposition to the Panama Canal treaties. The AFL-CIO never published the poll.

Jimmy Carter won white union households in 1976. Reagan won the plurality of white union households in 1980 by comfortably winning white union men and narrowly losing white union women. Still, Reagan performed even better with white non-union households.

Today, unions are smaller factors in the blue-collar vote. Modern unions have far fewer working class white members than decades past. The shift in labor's membership from the private to the public sector also shifted it from majority blue collar to majority white collar. Between 1983 and 2010, the share of union members who worked in white-collar jobs, as defined by BLS, increased from 38% to 54%. The most likely member of a union is no longer a factory worker but a schoolteacher.

Private sector unions are also less working class. In the past two decades, the share of private sector union members who are blue collar fell from two thirds to half. About seven in 10 public sector union members are white collar today, a share as stable as the jobs themselves. Teachers alone constitute nearly a third of public sector union jobs.

Unions still shift votes. In 2004, George W Bush easily won gun owners but John Kerry won gun owners who were also union members.

Labor remains most influential for its fundraising. But unions are not the fiscal counterweight to big business they once were. Democrats first earned more contributions from corporations than labor in the mid 1980s. Business political action committees alone contributed $159 million to Democrats during the 2010 cycle. Union PACs contributed $67 million to Democrats by comparison, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics (CRP). That comparison also underestimates the weight of business through soft money and private donations. "On the whole, business has a substantial advantage in campaign finance over labor," said Doug Weber, a senior researcher at CRP.

Republicans' opposition to unions, while also philosophical, is inextricably tied to unions' fidelity to Democrats. Corporations hedge their political investments. Business PACs only slightly favored Republicans in 2010. Union PACs donate almost exclusively to Democrats.

Government and municipal unions are today the dominant fundraisers of organized labor. Their acronyms are now familiar political players--AFSCME or SEIU. This is another reason that, as both parties realize, the loss of collective bargaining for public unions would prove a great Democratic loss.

Americans' View of Unions

Labor has a harder time convincing Americans that the decline of unions is their loss. Labor is instead seen as a partisan issue. Gallup recently asked Americans whether unions for state workers are generally more helpful or more harmful to their states. Two-thirds of Democrats said helpful. Two-thirds of Republicans said harmful. Independents split.

There is no longer a union mandate. Gallup regularly asks Americans about their confidence in more than a dozen institutions. Labor unions rank near the bottom, though still above big business.

The public's view of unions, like their membership size, is at a low point since the Great Depression. Half of the public still approves of unions but that's because Democrats largely approve and independents remain divided.

It's a painful full circle for organized labor. The Great Depression created the climate that began the modern labor movement. The Great Recession has created the climate that could end what little remains big about labor. Tens of thousand of union members march in Wisconsin. But most Americans are not watching. More Americans were aware of the assault on CBS News correspondent Lara Logan than Wisconsin's labor fight, the Pew Research Center reported last week. Americans are not deeply engaged in this fight because far fewer Americans have a stake in that fight. Labor is fighting to turn the tide. But, in so many respects, the water is already over the dam.

© RealClearPolitics.com

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

61 Comments
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this is a long article to read and remember. U.S. media is covering different domestic issues from the government's budget deficit to states' labor union rights and benefits in Wisconsin and other states. Theoretically, workers pay a monthly fee as a membership to his or her union that is in turn to represent its members for new negotiation or employment benefits. Auto industry union is one of the strongest labor unions in U.S. to keep a wage high for most of workers in three big car makers - Chrysler, Ford and GM. European countries like Sweden, Norway and Denmark have maintained high budgets of social programs to provide high living standards to their people. American workers may have different views about labor unions that other European counterparts. But so soon involved parties can find a solution.

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Unions did not cause the financial disaster of ’08 and ’09, but neither do Unions help the recovery process. Politicians will ultimately negotiate and compromise. Everybody will get something, nobody will get what they really want.

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Poeple of Wisconsin are now starting a process of recalling Gov. Scott Walker. I agree with the people of Wisconsin . There are clear violations of law (facts) against the people of Wisconsin, initiated by Gov. Walker. He has been acting like a dictator in the Middle East. He is just a "political prostitute" working for the Koch Brothers and other riches. Let's change it.

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Not sure why my post was taken down there, was just agreeing with the writer. The writer in the last paragraph gave an example of how the unions are also fighting against general apathy among the American public towards their cause. I gave examples of a couple of American celebrities and the media attention paid to their problems that back up what he was saying. No doubt the same applies to them in terms of awareness as to the example the writer gave of Lara Logan, probably more so.

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"Politicians will ultimately negotiate and compromise."

apple: That isn't the case now at all. Gov. Walker says he WON'T negotiate or compromise, and that's the feeling of many conservatives. I think many Americans have anti-union sentiments simply because of disdain, ignorance, jealousy, etc. (by the way, I don't belong to a union)

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One of the great tragedies of the 20th century was how unionized labor played out in the US.

Labor in the 19th and early 20th century saw many people essentially enslaved by their employers. The IWW, Wobblies and other early labor movements sacrificed a great deal to change these conditions. Sadly only to have the larger unions corrupted by power and money.

Workers need organization to protect their rights, their jobs, their benefits and their futures. But organization must be honest and driven by the workers. Something that has had a difficult time happening.

Now workers in America are becoming powerless again. Employers hold all the cards and the lack of unity between laborers means we have no collective power for our own protection.

Sadly the idea of Unions has been ruined by the mistakes of the past. I can only hope that a new IWW or other labor movement can come forward to help workers reunite for the betterment of workers.

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The time for big unions have come and gone. The parasite has been killing the host for years.

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Well said tkoind2, that pretty much sums it up. Unions were victims of both corruption and their own success. People thought I don't need to be in a union, since "I am middle class guy, not working class", without any idea of why they didn't need to be in a union in the first place. Hey, I am as guilty as anybody, I am upper middle-class, at least thought I was until the last few years. Now I see things are not that simple.

As for parasites killing hosts, I will just point out that a corporation is also a union. It is an owner's union which brings them limited personal liability. That limited liability then leads to passive ownership, which allows management to run wild lining their pockets. Parasites killing the host at a far greater level than any unions ever have.

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Kwaabish. While I agree with you about big labor I would borrow your quote and apply it to Industry "The parasite has been killing the host for years" and its exploitation of labor.

Workers still need protection. Many people around the world and in the US work excessive hours for low pay in poor conditions. Many others are subject to restrictive policies and exploitation.

We cannot abandon organized labor because of the mistakes of the AFL and other large groups. Grass roots labor movement is still a very necessary force to assure that labor standards improve and that the rights of working people (The global majority) are protected.

It is naive to believe that industry has the interests of the worker in mind. They do not. They export jobs to cheaper labor markets, overwork people, pay them very little and devalue their labor.

We need people to organize and work with industry to make working life better.

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"Republicans argue that only structural union reform will sustain budget reform. Labor says this is union busting of the old fashioned sort—Republicans siding against labor because labor sides with Democrats."

Democrats controlling Rhode Island will be laying off thousands of teachers in an attempt to cut their deficit and control runaway benefit costs. Democrat controlled New York City is laying off thousands of teachers to cut expenses and control costs. BarackObama dot com hasn't bused protestors to these Democrat bastions. Hmmmm. I'm told that the protest in Wisconsin is to protect union teacher jobs? They must only be worth saving in Republican controlled States.

"Government and municipal unions are today the dominant fundraisers of organized labor. Their acronyms are now familiar political players—AFSCME or SEIU. This is another reason that, as both parties realize, the loss of collective bargaining for public unions would prove a great Democratic loss."

"There is NO LONGER A UNION MANDATE. Gallup regularly asks Americans about their confidence in more than a dozen institutions. Labor unions rank near the bottom, though still above big business."

It seems that the majority of the taxpaying voters don't trust the labor union leadership which explains why the taxpaying voters kicked the labor-selected Democrats out of power.

"The Great Depression created the climate that began the modern labor movement. The Great Recession has created the climate that could end what little remains big about labor. Tens of thousand of union members march in Wisconsin. But most Americans are not watching. More Americans were aware of the assault on CBS News correspondent Lara Logan than Wisconsin’s labor fight, the Pew Research Center reported last week. Americans are not deeply engaged in this fight BECAUSE FAR FEWER AMERICANS HAVE A STAKE IN THAT FIGHT. Labor is fighting to turn the tide. But, in so many respects, the water is already over the dam.

The taxpaying voters are taking THEIR State government back from government union influence.

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And the disparity between the lowest paid employees and the highest paid managers in corporations is at it's highest level in history in the US and many western countries. So saying that the rank and file workers are "killing the host" is just plain silly. Those poor executives(and politicians) are really suffering, multi-million bonuses being reduced, not to mention the royal retirement plans they recieve(funny how you don't hear much vilification of that)

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Arrestpaul. If you really think that either party are labor friendly, then you are suffering under the influence of very effective propaganda. In the end both parties pay favor to industry and the wealthy. Workers, lacking any real means of power or organization, are divided and subject to the will of both government and industry.

It does not matter one cent which party is in power in this regard. To think so plays into an artificial battle between the illusion of left and right in American politics.

And if you wish to see an example of why labor needs to be stronger, just look at the gap between the average corporate salary and that of the corporate leaders. And look at the 2008 crisis for why such greed is a bad idea. And futher, who pays for it when things go wrong for industry.

Answer? Labor. Working people pay for the bail outs. Working people lose their jobs, have their homes taken away and see the dream of sending the kids to college disappear.

America, Japan and nearly every other place I can think of needs organized labor. I would love to see a modern version of the IWW rise that puts off the rule of corruption in favor of working class people working together to protect the interests of the majority of people in any given economy.

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The taxpaying voters are taking THEIR State government back from government union influence.......by Lora Logan? If this is pulled from her writing, then she only knows how to lose her weight.

arrestpaul, I do not know where you live. I am in the US, and this is a big issue that has been discussed every day.

Americans are not deeply engaged in this fight? arrestpaul, I would like to tell you that my state alone (right to work), over 50,000, people showed up to the state capital last Saturday and Sunday showing a solidarity for union members of Wisconsin.

2 out of 3 ( that's more than majority) taxpayers are with Wisconsin union members. This surprising outcome was politically miscalculated by the Republican and Tea Party.

Americans see Gov.Walker is not willing to negotiate in GOOD FAITH, while the union members are willing to give up everything (except collective bargain right) as Gov. Walker originally proposed.

Please do not underestimate a power of American public. Americans are very level headed and fair minded when it comes to a "right" issue. They are not afraid to show their morale courage and support. Americans know what is right and just. These rights are a core value of Americans that is hard wired in our soul and spirit.

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@Kwaabish Union is a parasite? Do you want to work in a manufacturing plant in China? Chinese workers have NO right of collective bargain. They are oppressed people (slaves) who are not entitled to fair wages and safety. Sounds like that what you want.

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"Republicans argue that only structural union reform will sustain budget reform. Labor says this is union busting of the old fashioned sort—Republicans siding against labor because labor sides with Democrats."

This GOP strategy shifting a focus to budget reform is no longer working and appealing to the Middle Class Americans. The Middle Class Americans have been squeezed for years and they are now fighting back by saying "Enough is enough". Now, Republican and Tea Party politicians just do not know what to do with Gov. Walker. He is a hot potato to them.

I see no republican governors solidarity for him as they are already thinking about their next election. Too bad Gov. Walker needs to fight alone. (By the way, I am already retired). I am telling you what's going on here.

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This whole "The unions are ruining this country." argument is a joke, an absolute myth that some of you are swallowing hook, line and sinker. As the article states the percentage of people in unions have plummeted. And in the current climate certain politicians(ideological and also doing the bidding of big business) want to deal a death blow. Unions will and must compromise to survive. But enough of this phony posturing that busting unions will somehow save the country from ruin, it's only one piece of a greater problem.

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One worker is powerless. A million workers are unstoppable. Workers must unite to support each other across all fields, across state and city lines, across national lines when required.

Neither ruling party in the US are friends to grass roots unionism. And their propaganda has been out to push workers away from unions for decades.

We have to remember our past when workers had no protection and no unity. We have to remember the many people who died to make unions possible. And we have to remember what the working world was and is like without union protection.

If we do these things, it becomes very clear that we need unions and that we need more workers to form, join and support unions. From the laborer to the office worker, organized labor is one of the few means of protection ordinary people have.

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One more note. If we want to "save" the country. The busting needs to be directed at corporations, lobbys and government who choose the interests of business over the priorities of the people.

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Now unions, next pensions and social security --> and with the devaluation of the dollar now is not the best time to be on a pension.

To get rid of the slave labor (union busters) you need tariffs. --> Globalists do not want this and want "free trade"

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tkoind2 - And if you wish to see an example of why labor needs to be stronger, just look at the gap between the average corporate salary and that of the corporate leaders. And look at the 2008 crisis for why such greed is a bad idea. And futher, who pays for it when things go wrong for industry.

The New York Post just reported that 1,500 top paid ($100,049 per year) New York city teachers, who are members of the United Federation of Teachers, aren't actually teaching NYC students but are working at the teachers union and being paid an additional $50,461 per year from the taxpayers for doing so. The NYC taxpayers then have to pay for an additional 1,500 substitute instructors, at the cost of 9 million USD per year, to actually teach the students.

Wow, one teacher for the price of two. What a bargain.

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globalwatcher - The taxpaying voters are taking THEIR State government back from government union influence.......by Lora Logan? If this is pulled from her writing, then she only knows how to lose her weight.

I think you should re-read the JapanToday article titled "Big labor's last stand in the U.S.". Lara Logan didn't write that sentence, I did.

"Labor is not the political machine it once was. Union households have seen their share of the electorate halved between the 1976 and 2008 presidential election, from 34% to 17%. Only about one in 10 voters were members of a union in 2008, according to exit polls. But Democrats remain deeply dependent on what power unions still hold."

Unions still have the power to negotiate with business. However, the Federal government doesn't allow government unions. They can't afford to risk union leaders dictating to the Feds how the federal government should be run.

Several States have created statues that permit State government employee unions. Many of those State goverments have now realized, with the help of angry taxpayers, that State governments can't afford the ever increasing costs to the taxpaying voter. 9 out of 10 taxpaying voters who voted, don't belong to any union. Government union members may represent the majority of the union members but they only represent a small minority of the taxpaying voters who vote.

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tkoind2, great comments! we must never forget the big picture here, the relation between labor and big business, its historical development and international consequences. even if this or that particular union may be corrupt, it can only reflect on that organization and its leaders, and in no way can mean that workers shouldn't get organized at all. it's probably the time for a new mass rank-n-file organizations that will sweep aside disfunctional and sold-out unions of today and by corageously standing up for the rights of the majority will unite both private and public, blue and white collar, "minority" and "mainstream" workers in defending our basic rights to job and living wages!

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The NYC taxpayers then have to pay for an additional 1,500 substitute instructors, at the cost of 9 million USD per year, to actually teach the students.

Even if everything the anti-union types said was and is true, this is also true. The American government, through the treasury, federal reserve, and the FDIC have spent over 13 trillion dollars to "fix" the banking system, with more on the way apparently. Still no solution in sight either. I am not even going to bother figuring out what percent of 13 trillion that 9 million works out to, but if people want to worry about 9 MILLION dollars, hey go ahead.

Just don't expect me to take any of the anti-union stuff seriously. Or see it as anything other than either a diversionary tactic to keep alive the myth that what is going on is a left vs. right issue, or the actions of people who don't have any idea what they are talking about or doing. Freaking out about a pimple (imaginary or real) when you have a possibly fatal disease, and shouting "this pimple is killing me" basically.

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Arrestpaul. I understand that you see unions negatively. There have been horrid examples of corruption, crime and graft. But these facts indict the unions who exhibit that behavior and does not indict the validity of the principle of organized labor.

We need wide spread organized labor now more than ever. Perhaps that means rethinking how it works to avoid corruption. Perhaps unions should only be run by elected workers for fixed and finite terms. I don't claim to have all the answers.

But I do know this with absolute certainty. When unions go, there is nothing to stop a regression to the imbalances of the past where workers were at the mercy of owners. And we cannot have that.

We need to restore confidence in labor organization and leverage it to stop the wanton corruption that brought us to 2008. Workers must also become greater stake holders in the means of production. And our political power must work to put an end to government serving business and not the people.

Idealistic? Absolutely! Realistic? I believe so if people are willing to put down the remote, get out and work within their communities, across industries to rally people in support of all working people. Not a revolution. Something far more simple. Grass roots activism by people who care about their jobs, their communities, the welfare of their state and the future of the country.

It all starts by putting the story straight and dispelling the propaganda and lies of people who wish to crush organized labor for their own greed and interests.

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Bottom line folks is the scum at the top of corporations have been skimming massive amounts from the global economy to the detriment of EVERYONE else, its unsustainable & has to stop. Yeah sure some unions have cut sweet deals, teachers, auto workers, govt workers, some of their perks need adjusted but they dont need to be busted.

The ones that need busting are the theives at the top who mistakenly think they EARN those mega $$ when in reality they are just skimming for their own selfish needs, its beyond obscene, these are the true parasites that need to be dealt with clearly!

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GW made an excellent though sometimes neglected point, a far bigger parasite is preying on the society and throwing some leftover crumbs to the union bureacracy. While millions of Americans confront the daily miseries of unemployment, home foreclosure and poverty as a result of the economic crisis, corporate profits are soaring. Walmart, the world’s largest retail chain, announced last week that its profits grew by 27 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010, while sales at US stores have declined for the second year in a row. The company made $6 billion in profits in the fourth quarter, up from $4.8 billion a year before and $3.5 billion in the third quarter of 2010. Home Depot posted a 72 percent increase in profits, after sales increased by 3.8 percent in the fourth quarter. Profits reached $587 million, up from $342 million a year earlier. Hundreds of companies have posted similar figures. The story is the same: sales and revenues have fallen or ticked up slightly, while profits have grown by double digits. The discrepancy between revenues and profits is due to the fact that the“recovery” in corporate balance sheets is built on layoffs and speedups. “A lot of the recent profits are based on the revenue from cost-cutting,” said James L. Butkeiwiz, professor of economics at the University of Delaware, in a telephone interview. Walmart, for instance, cut over 11,000 jobs at its Sam’s Club warehouse stores in January 2010, about 10 percent of the subsidiary’s workforce. Home Depot cut 7,000 jobs in 2009 and shuttered 34 of its Expo home design stores in 2009. Corporate profits reached an annual rate of $1.659 trillion in the third quarter of 2010, and it is possible that fourth quarter profits, which have not yet been aggregated, were even higher. As a result of these record profits, companies have found themselves with huge stockpiles of cash. US corporations had a record $1.93 trillion in cash and similar assets in December, the last time figures were released. Instead of investing, companies have used this cash to buy back their own stocks, enriching executives and shareholders without creating jobs. In January 2011, stock buybacks reached their highest level since the start of the economic downturn. That month, companies bought back $57 billion in shares, compared to $357 billion for all of last year, according to Trimtabs, the finance data company.

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LOL. Apparently some people have only recently figured out that labor relations have changed almost as much as the economy has. How many "jobs" has your effin smartphone eliminated???

think about it.

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1 out every 5 dollars in donations Democrat party candidates receive is from the unions. And of course, by making public sector employees members of unions it means Dems can force the entire electorate to help finance the campaigns of their candidates. There is a reason why the young Obama went to Chicago to learn how to "organize."

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Just until a little while ago, cities such as Chicago were suffering due to the negative images of unions striking against the hotel industry and industries avoiding Chicago due to outrageous union requirements for use of the McCormick Place, while cities with in right-to-work states such as Orlando were gaining popularity. Certainly, many people saw that without reform to union requirements at McCormick, Chicago was on its way to being Detroit.

It's probably a good thing that they fired the director at McCormick who entered into the union sweetheart deals and forced the union to withdraw some of the more ridiculous requirements, such as the need to have a union electrician to do medial tasks as simply plugging in appliances...

Either way, union fat-heads do not have any better images in the public eye compared to big business. And, the union image comes off way worse for mid-size businesses...

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@Badsey,next pensions and social security? You are talking about Japan, right? Japan is already talking about this and it may happen over night by snapping fingers. Good luck!

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Unions had their place in the 20th century, but then the reason for the unions shifted from making the lives of the members better to making the unions more powerful. In modern times, union administration is concerned about only one thing - getting a larger share of the workforce to pay the union's dues.

In the 80's and early 90's, I worked for General Electric as a "Field Service Engineer" - a position that was "exempt" from the State of New York's normal labor laws regarding overtime and was a non-union position. We had a manufacturing facility on-site and the facility was unionized by the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers). The union REQUIRED that there be unionized positions such as "material handlers" whose job was it to move things around the plant. For some of the equipment we manufactured, this made perfect sense as the movement would require special equipment. But when equipment was NOT being moved (which was the majority of the day), the "material handlers" sat and drank coffee while still on the clock.

I had to get a HAND-HELD multimeter calibrated once and the calibration lab was a room off the factory floor. I brought the multimeter down to the lab and dropped it off. The next day I get called into my boss's office and was told that a union grievance had been filed against me because I didn't have a union material handler bring the multimeter to the lab! The union was looking for any reason to justify their ranks by creating the appearance of more work than had really needed to be done.

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GJDailleult - Even if everything the anti-union types said was and is true, this is also true. The American government, through the treasury, federal reserve, and the FDIC have spent over 13 trillion dollars to "fix" the banking system, with more on the way apparently. Still no solution in sight either. I am not even going to bother figuring out what percent of 13 trillion that 9 million works out to, but if people want to worry about 9 MILLION dollars, hey go ahead.

You first have to figure out the difference between 9 million USD for ONE CITY budget and 13 trillion USD for the ENTIRE U.S..

According to the results of the last mid-term election, the majority of taxpaying voters don't approve of the bank bailout either. Elected representatives are being "told" to rein in spending, cut the deficits of city, State and the Federal government and create an evironment where private businesses will create jobs or the taxpaying voters will find someone who can.

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tkoind2 - I understand that you see unions negatively. There have been horrid examples of corruption, crime and graft. But these facts indict the unions who exhibit that behavior and does not indict the validity of the principle of organized labor.

No, what you don't seem to understand is that while I support unions in gerneral, I don't support GOVERNMENT employee unions. The State GOVERNMENT employee unions should not be a position to override the concerns of the TAXPAYERS. Taxpayers are taking back control of their governments.

GOVERNMENT unions are using taxpayer money to elect representatives who return that favor by increasing salaries and benefits, at the taxpayers expense, of the GOVERNMENT union members. Taxpayers be damned.

We need wide spread organized labor now more than ever. Perhaps that means rethinking how it works to avoid corruption. Perhaps unions should only be run by elected workers for fixed and finite terms. I don't claim to have all the answers.

If you want to improve the percieved image of government unions or unions in general, I suggest you take it up with the unions themselves. It's not the governments job or the taxpayers job to make unions seem more acceptable.

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According to the results of the last mid-term election, the majority of taxpaying voters don't approve of the bank bailout either. Elected representatives are being "told" to rein in spending, cut the deficits of city, State and the Federal government and create an evironment where private businesses will create jobs or the taxpaying voters will find someone who can.

And all that being said, they don't agree with what Walker proposes to do in Wisconsin. What a conundrum for the GOP. I almost feel bad for them...

The really funny part is this: the government isn't even getting in the way of business right now. Private sector just isn't hiring and that's due to lack of demand. Nothing we do with the public sector will make that any better.

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Junnama - The really funny part is this: the government isn't even getting in the way of business right now. Private sector just isn't hiring and that's due to lack of demand. Nothing we do with the public sector will make that any better.

Lack of demand based on lack of money and decreased spending power. Increased taxes, increased fuel cost, increased food cost, increased healthcare costs, etc continue to suck money out of the pockets of the taxpayers. Taxpayer investments such as home prices and 401k have tanked and the previous elected representatives weren't been able to effectively deal with the problems. Problems that their policies and actions/inactions caused. They were in-charge of the regulations and should have been looking out for the best interest of the taxpayers - NOT the banks or the government unions.

Government union benefits and pensions are a large part of the State governments budget. Increasing government loans and the interest on those loans make up another large part of State government budgets. Attempting to control costs without actually contolling cost is ludicris.

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i agree unions particularly in chicago out of control ,however this is all a smokescreen.the kochs are pushing this thru their pupper governor as part of the bill (unnoticed) gives gov right to sell powerplants to anyone he wants-guess who that will be. of course this thing about cost savings is all smoke and mirrors. nothing will be done about the big companies not paying tax

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arrestpaul. You are missing the forest for the tree mate. You are blaming tax problems on Unions? Really?

If you want to find out why people are really bleeding money to taxes you need to look at the rest of the forest friend. Starting with the pointless war in Iraq. How much US money has gone to that war that had nothing to do with 911?

Then there was the huge public funds bailout for corporations who still paid their bonuses in many cases. Why was there so much money for that and not for the benefit of the people?

Government prioritizes business over people. And business prioritizes profits over everything else including labor. Without Unions, workers have no protection against the rampant greed and corruption of both government and industry.

A lot of state money is wasted in poorly thought out programs. One the partisan bickering that makes it impossible for governments to be effective. And on the interest groups that drive spending. Why are you not attacking these things instead.

Industry has lobbyists, interest groups, legal teams and paid for politicians to serve their interests. Who serves the interests of the people? Many unions out there are not corrupt or wasteful. They support labor and assure that people are compensated properly and have proper work protections. This benefits the ordinary Joe and Jane who have no teams of interest groups or lawyers watching their backs. Unions are one of the few options they have.

If you doubt the world without organized labor, spend some time in the labor markets of China or the 3rd world and you can see what power and protections labor has.

Step back from the tree and view the entire forest, your battle arrestpaul is with the wrong enemy. Like defending one gate to the death of the castle while tossing open all the others to unrecongized enemies. Your position is untennable.

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It's time to finally put an end to union racketeering. There is no place for the disproportionate power over employment and employees that unions have.

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But other than the large industrial unions, how many unions really have disproportionate power? I think we are condemning the concept for the exception.

A better approach would be to call for Union reform. Change how unions work, how they provide representation and increase their accountability to the workers they represent. This is the answer.

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The state capitol is still closed. This is a violation of Wisconsin state law. The capitol belongs to everyone.

Wall Street corporations and Koch brothers are sending campaign buses to Wisconsin to buy out taxpayers. Well, sounds like this is aground zero Corporate fat cats vs people of Wisconsin.

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tkoind2 - You are missing the forest for the tree mate. You are blaming tax problems on Unions? Really?

-Step back from the tree and view the entire forest, your battle arrestpaul is with the wrong enemy. Like defending one gate to the death of the castle while tossing open all the others to unrecongized enemies. Your position is untennable.

You need to properly identify who the U.S. players are in this issue. First, there is the Federal government. It doesn't allow government unions and it doesn't control the 50 State governments. Some State governments allow government unions, some do not. It's the State governments choice. You also have County, Parish and City governments.

Now you come to the most valuable part of the whole democratic republic. The very people who make this form of government work - the VOTER. It's the "voter" who selects their elected representatives. It's the angry, extremely disappointed voter who is now demanding fiscal responsibility from their government(s) and will continue to replace politicians who can't get the job done to the "voters" satisfaction.

"American unionization is a tale of two storylines, one public and one private. More than a third of private sector workers were members of a union in the mid-20th century. One quarter were still unionized by the late 1970s. Only about 7% of the PRIVATE sector workforce is a member of a union today.

"PUBLIC sector unions exist in another world. About one quarter of governmental employees were unionized by the early 1960s. That share surged to more than a third of government workers by the 1980s. In 1983, 36.7% of public employees were in a union. In 2010, the share was 36.2%. Over that same period, the rate of private sector unionization fell from 16.8 to 6.9%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2009, for the first time, the number of union members working for government exceeded the number of union members working for companies.

I STILL don't have a problem with PRIVATE unions or their bargaining with private companies.

I'm not blaming ALL tax problems on GOVERNMENT (State and City) unions either. However, GOVERNMENT union benefits have increased and they make up a sizeable portion of State government debt. Taxpayers have been expected to just pay the bill and accept tax increases without question. Government borrowing has also increased to cover the increasing deficits, so the taxpayers are tapped twice to cover the government union member increased benefits.

Taxpaying voters are telling their elected representatives to cut the deficits, cut spending and cut taxes. Create an environment that attracts new businesses with new jobs and keeps established businesses and established jobs in their State. State legislators who hide out in other States rather than do the job that their constituants elected them to do will be looking for honest work after the next election.

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tkoind2 - A better approach would be to call for Union reform. Change how unions work, how they provide representation and increase their accountability to the workers they represent. This is the answer.

That would be up to the union membership. Do the union leaders actually listen to their members or do they just take their dues and then do whatever they want?

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It is misleading to compare unions in the private sector and "public service" unions. The latter are a completely different concept, and one that represents an inherent cartel problem.

Since public service unions can vote their own candidates into power and thus can help themselves to ever more taxpayers money, they are not "union" in the way we understand the concept, but more akin to a Mafia extortion racket.

In most countries I know, government employees do not have unions. Why should they? They already have the government behind them.

To mix this up with private sector unions is misleading.

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"Why should they? They already have the government behind them."

Not true. Government views labor with the same eye to cost as business. While in the past GOVT. jobs may have been inherently more secure, that is no longer the case.

Workers of any kind in any field for any employer should have equal rights to labor representation. Again I say that just because there have been issues, you don't do away with unions. You sort out the problems with solutions that retain the protection of unions for labor while eliminating the corruption.

The misleading point WilliB, is the assertion that any worker should be denied the right to unionize. This is not the answer and it is just the kind of Tea Party propaganda that illustrates how anti-worker these people are.

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I am totally pro union, except when they fight and succeed to keep dead wood from being fired.

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It's long past due for those unions who aren't pullin' their weight to start kickin' into the 'benefits' packages as their non-union fellow citizens.

(Sheesh... Has anyone see those union slobs in Wisconsin? Thugs...)

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USARonin. Are they any worst that their opposing corrupt Tea Party politicians? Or the state leadership? Or the fat cats that run companies that influence the state?

Fix the unions, don't condemn them. Workers need organized labor. Let's work to make it honest and effective and stand up against politicians and companies who want to crush the protections of organized labor.

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Yes, they're much worse than tea party events.

If you want 'honest' union workers, then demand they contribute to their health and retirements plans as non-union workers who've been payin' it for them.

Nowhere did I 'condemn' unions although their thuggery is a tactic too often employed.

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Americans are paying more attentions to Wisconsin than to the Middle East. This is getting crazy here.

63% American public are with Wisconsin union. Only 33% are with Gov. Walker. 14 Democrats are very firm staying out of Wisconsin as the Gov. does not take call from them for negotiations. The capitol still remain closed. Still circuit breaker is a collective bargain right.

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There are no slobs there. There are at least 50 protesters inside the capitol. They are lawyers, teachers, nurses, customer service rep, firefighters and students. They look very polite protesters to me. It was very rude one republican senator call them a slob over and over and over again during interview.

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gb, then you just haven't been watchin' the news.

I suggest you try checkin' out both what you consider a liberal source and a conservative source of TV news.

How would you live to've been that Wisconsin who tried to make his way to his office? -Scared for your life by that descending move maybe?

Thugs aside, today a Wisconsin Democrat senator told a female Republican senator on the floor of the senate that she was "f** dead". The quote is accurate.

Even MSNBC - a leftwing whackjob tool - showed polls today that Americans are against the protesters and overwhelmingly support three of four bargaining points demanded by the unions. The only one the nation poll supported them on was keepin' 'collective bargaining'. The more these greedy crybabies keep it up, they'll lose national support for that one, too.

The more they keep up that behavior, the better it is for those of us who oppose these self-centered, greedy slobs.

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Correction: "...over whelmingly don't support..."

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Big Labor's last stand was in the 60s.

Not suprisingly, the clearest source on this whole issue is a newspaper that is itself relatively unchanged since that era - the WSJ:

" In 1960, 31.9% of the private work force belonged to a union, compared to only 10.8% of government workers. By 2010, the numbers had more than reversed, with 36.2% of public workers in unions but only 6.9% in the private economy"

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@USAronin, I've been scanning all major news media including business friendly WSJ. (I am retired). The polls are pretty much the same; 2/3 are with the union and 1/3 are with Gov.Walker. Fox News has just admitted they inversed (flip flop)the poll results couple times. I have been aware of the fact that Fox is a political propaganda machine for redneck loonies instead focusing on true Journalism as well as CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC. Palin and Hackabee are still on Fox payroll. Gingrich is being SUSPENDED (?) to be on their payroll? The lie from Hackabee spreading Obama grew up in Kenya is beyond me. That's a streight lie. What about 10 commandments in bible? He may have forgotten. Hakabee used be a Baptist minister. I think he needs to go to his bedroom starting a confession to God he lied instead of covering that up in public again . Then he made himself look even worse to add more lies. He will not get my vote for sure.

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Correction: "...over whelmingly don't support..."

hmmm, you need to tell it loud to all political strategists to see what they say.

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Since public service unions can vote their own candidates into power and thus can help themselves to ever more taxpayers money, they are not "union" in the way we understand the concept, but more akin to a Mafia extortion racket.

Sounds like corporations or any special interest to me...

I have been thinking... there are many examples of corruption and abuse at corporations. We should do away with those...

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Americans are paying more attentions to Wisconsin than to the Middle East. This is getting crazy here.

Why is it getting crazy? I'm sure Egyptians are paying more attention to what's happening in Egypt than they are to what's happening in Wisconsin.

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@SolidariTea1, out every 5 dollars in donations Democrat party candidates receive is from the unions,........

Well, I wanna tell you your friends Koch Brothers and other oil billionnaires including FOX news are celebrating their victory over "Oil Subsidaries Bill" this week. These riches successfully bought out "Energy Commission" in congress and successfully kept this bill to stay alive. The money does not go to susidaries, instead it goes to political campaign for politicians (R and TP). I am sure you have been aware the fact our tax money over Trillion has been going out to these corrupt billionnaires who want to control little guys like us.

They are trying to bust unions as the Politicians (D) are with little guys and unions. The money from these poor teachers, policemen, firefighters, nurses and private corporate union workers have given very little to their political representatives, compared to the billionnaires . It is just a penny in a bucket.

I wanna ask you if you have a moral courage and concience to do it right and fair for us underdogs who have very little while we are a law abiding citizen in society; sending kids to school, doing our jobs in our profession, being a bread earner and paying tax.

Is it a time for you to see what you are really fighting for?

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GO UNIONS! There is a direct correlation between the decline of unions in the States and the standard of living for the middle class. For those who damn unions, you damn America--you unpatriotic gits.

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I have been thinking... there are many examples of corruption and abuse at corporations. We should do away with those...

IOW - do away with the democratic tradition of free association. The totalitarian bent in "progressives" can rarely be succesfully masked.

tokyoapple:

GO UNIONS! There is a direct correlation between the decline of unions in the States and the standard of living for the middle class. For those who damn unions, you damn America--you unpatriotic gits.

Maybe you can explain the correlation to this American, former member of 3 different unions.

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The fact that “More Americans were aware of the assault on CBS News correspondent Lara Logan than Wisconsin’s labor fight” tells more about the state of news reporting in the US than it does anything else. The coverage by major TV news networks has been scant. While nearly every drug-induced rant of Charlie Sheen seems to merit a headline, the voices of tens of thousands of ordinary working people who have peacefully occupied a US state capitol for the last month have been largely ignored. While the political battle in Wisconsin has broader implications for the US as a whole it is still basically a Wisconsin story and if Kuhn cited a reputable Wisconsin state poll, rather than cherry picking some nationwide figures to give you the numbers that support his thesis, we might get a much different picture. Recent ABC coverage of the Wisconsin labor protests focused three quarters of the story on a lone counter protester identified as part of the tea party movement and never once mentioned that the legion of pro union protesters in the capitol had already given in to the fiscal demands of the state’s governor. A couple of weeks ago about a hundred thousand people out of a state with a population of approximately five-and-a-half million marched on Madison Wisconsin to preserve their democratic rights. While those numbers are telling, the media brushes over them with talking points from Wisconsin’s union-busting republican governor, Scott Walker. In a US Supreme Court aiming to stem a tide of assaults on freedom of the press, Justice Powell noted, “No individual can obtain for himself the information needed for the intelligent discharge of his public responsibilities…By enabling the public to assert meaningful control over the political process, the press performs a crucial function in effecting the societal purpose of the First Amendment.” US citizens need a media that will help them make informed decisions but when it comes to stemming the tides that have eroded the integrity of American media “in so many respects, the water is already over the dam.”

On Wisconsin!

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