03-20-2014 Homefront Article
"All Workers, Even Non-Union Workers, Enjoy the Benefits that Unions Have Fought For"
Union workers have fought for decades to make the benefits listed below, a realty for all workers. If you are working, you are benefiting from the sacrifice and risks union workers have taken.
Primary Corporate Objective
Corporations have one primary objective. That objective is to optimize the profits for investors. What they do to get those profits, sell products and services to consumers or other businesses, is just a vehicle to create and maximize profits. Corporations have no moral responsibilities to workers or consumers according to the late Milton Friedman, pro capitalism economist.
Fighting for Investor Profits
Because of the primary Corporate objection of optimizing or maximizing their profits for investors, any regulation, any benefits, any work condition improvements, and wage levels are all obstacles to maximizing profits. Corporations fight hard to eliminate these obstacles and to control legislation that forces them to comply with socially responsible behavior that would cost them money.
Cause Marketing for Image & Profits
When corporations do provide any kind of socially responsible benefits, it is called "cause marketing." Cause Marketing is a strategy to provide the public with a positive image of the corporation in order to increase its sales. The publicize social cause must have a postive ROI, return on investment, for the corporation to continue the effort. It's all about profit.
Benefits You Probably Have because of Unions and Union Workers
- minimum work age of 16 (with a few exceptions)
- the 40 hour work week
- overtime pay
- minimum wage
- pensions (fewer and fewer companies provide pensions)
- safe work conditions
(some safety issues are part of the job as in police or firemen jobs)
- health insurance for full time workers (depending on size of company)
- full time is 32 hours a week or more
- FMLA - Family Medical Leave Act (If worker, worker's child, or dependent parent is sick for more than three days, and worker must be off from work because of the illness, the company cannot hold the absence against the worker or his work record. Company does not have to pay worker on FMLA time off. Worker will have to provide medical proof from a doctor using FMLA form provided by the company. Companies fight back by demanding strict adherence to rules of filling out the form. Doctors do not like the strict form rules that are used by companies to deny FMLA benefits even when the doctor provides proof but the proof is not written on the form properly. Not all companies demand this strict adherence.)
- sick time is a benefit for many union workers and some non-union companies provide sick time to compete for workers in union jobs and to prevent their own workers from deciding to unionize
Union Only Benefits
Union workers enjoy some benefits that other workers do not usually have.
Union workers usually enjoy wages about 10% to 20% more than non-union workers. They do lose money if they have to strike for wage levels and benefits.
Wage Level Standards: Wage levels that Union Workers have fought for impact the Industrial Wage Level Standards. These standards are considered when other companies hire and pay their workers, so if you are a non-union worker, your wage level would not be as high as it is if union workers did not fight for their wage levels.
Fired or Suspended: When a union worker is suspended or fired, they must have documented reasons for suspending or firing a worker and this action against a worker must be reviewed between a company representative and the workers union representative. Workers are often brought back to the job with full pay restored if the documentation of the firing or suspension reason was not adequate. Union reps can escalate the action up to higher levels in the company and even to the Federal Government Department of Labor if the company does not handle the grievance according to labor rules. Workers often get the benefit of a compromise by getting a second chance even if the documentation is adequate.
Non-Union Companies & Union Avoidance
A few non-union companies have created their own version of allowing the worker to ask for a review of any suspension or firing offense. This is meant more to prevent unionization by the workers than it is as an act of fairness. Non-union companies also attempt to pay closer to union wage levels in order to avoid worker's desire for unionization.
Business View & Workplace Control
It may be that business owners and corporate managers want full control of their working environment. That is understandable. However, anytime their is an interaction with the public, that interaction is subject to government rules or laws to protect the public from abuse.
Companies scream that the worker has the right to work somewhere else if they don't like it. That is the same as saying, "we are going to polute the ground and drinking water. If you don't like it, move somewhere else, because we are providing work for the community."
Worker Supply & Demand - Desperate Workers
Workers are at the mercy of those providing work. When work and income becomes scarce, workers become desperate. This allows businesses to treat workers with less respect, pay them less and provide less or no benefits for their work. There needs to be some line that companies should not be allowed to cross. Companies fight hard against these boundaries. Remember that profit is the name of their game.
Trade Deals Bust Unions & Create Desperate Workers
Unfortunately, every trade deal made, has allowed companies to bring parts from overseas or to move much of their work offshore to countries with less or no regulations and with extremely low wages. The living conditions and cost of living is also much lower in these countries. U.S. workers cannot compete against these workers because of the cost of living in the U.S. Tariffs are supposed to equalize this condition but a great deal of legislation is controlled by corporate connections in the U.S. congress and senate. Legislators no longer work for the benefit of the people but do find a way to verbalize their actions as though the legislation they submit or vote for will be good for U.S. workers and citizens.
The focus on NAFTA, North American Free Trade Agreement, was that products would be provided to consumers at a lower price and that we would also gain jobs by exporting goods to South America.
How to Sell a Trade Deal to the Public
What they did not verbalize to the public in seeking public support, was that it would cost U.S. workers a great number of jobs because of outsourcing jobs to South America. What good is lower prices if you don't have a job or if trade agreements drive U.S. worker wages down. the more workers we have that are unemployed or underemployed means we have an over supply of ready workers competing for jobs. This creates desperate workers who will work for less and less to get a desired job.
Degrading Worker Wages & Benefits
This is one way that companies have degraded benefits to workers that Unions had fought very hard for. Union workers were the target of corporation in driving new trade deals. If corporations could break up their unions by offshoring their jobs to lower wage countries, then there would not only be more profits for investors, but less unification by workers in fighting for more benefits and existing benefits.
Less Unions Means Less Worker Unification & Less Citizen Power
The number of union workers has been cut by about 70%. That is many less workers that also can unify in voting for legislators that support the workers. Currently, even the labor department employees has been cut, labor department managers often now back companies instead of union workers, and legislators have even brought up the idea of eliminating the labor department altogether. If this is accomplished, labor regulations including wage levels, the 40 hour work week and more will definitely be at risk. Workers could lose all benefits that unions have fought for.
Lessons from the History of U.S. Workers
History should teach us something if each generation actually knew of the history of the worker, worker treatment and labor unions. Companies spend a great deal of money trying to get people to remember some of the bad things union leaders have done. These bad things were not in keeping with proper union behavior just like some of our legislators themselves have broken the law. Workers, all citizens, need to pay attention. Companies would love for workers and the public to forget their workplace history.
Dangers of Forgetting Worker History
If history is forgotten, workers and citizens will not realize the importance of their unification, whether is be company unions or unification via organizations that seek to unite the public to a cause of protection themselves from over greedy corporations and investors.
Corporations and any company gets its strength from unification of their workers to their purpose and goals. There is nothing wrong with unification. It is one of the great sources of power. Unification of workers is an obstacle to a companies goal of maximizing profits for investors. There is no other reason why comapnies could not share and distribute their earning more fairly between workers and investors.
We the People Must Remember This
One thing workers all need to remember is that slave like working conditions and wages were a reality in late 1800's and even early 1900's. The only way worker rights evolved was due to unification of workers called Labor Unions. We the People need to unify to a purpose in order to be treated more fairly by companies and our legislators. The more we work together to a unified voice, the more power we have in legislation, as it was meant to be. When we are strategically disunified by news that gets us agry with each other, the other side has "divided and conquered."
For "We the People"
### MCV Editor
"Think it Through"
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