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August 22, 2011 – Comments (12)

Averaged across the United States, union employees earned 25% more, $917/week vs non union employees who averaged $717/ week

Averaged across the United States union food service workers earn 25% more weekly than non-union workers according to the bureau of labor statistics.  http://www.bls.gov/news.release/pdf/union2.pdf 

So the question is, if you were a food service worker making $9.00/ hour would you apply to a job in a union kitchen making $11.25, 25% more?

Best wishes,

Steven

12 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On August 22, 2011 at 11:34 PM, JakilaTheHun (99.94) wrote:

So the question is, if you were a food service worker making $9.00/ hour would you apply to a job in a union kitchen making $11.25, 25% more?

Of course you would.  But you'd be much less likely to get that job.

Union workers make more money via monopoly power.  By limiting and controlling the supply of labor, they are able to drive wages above their natural equilibrium.   It's no different than a consortium of businesses agreeing to fix market prices.  Of course, the result is that less people are hired, but the people who are hired get paid more.

So, essentially, you're making one group of workers slightly wealthier at the expense of another group of workers, who are made significantly poorer (since they can't find employment). 

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#2) On August 23, 2011 at 6:47 AM, devoish (98.38) wrote:

The pay of a "naturally equiliberated" job sucks then.  Good pay does not result in less people being hired. Good pay results in more people being hired. As do time and a half rules. Essentially it makes all workers slightly wealthier at the expense of investors and executives.

Best wishes,

Steven

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#3) On August 23, 2011 at 1:06 PM, leohaas (33.21) wrote:

The whole union debate here in the US is totally messed up. And the unions are to blame, because of their black-and-white thinking.

Jobs in the US are either unionized, or they are not. What that means is that employees have no choice. If they take a unionized job, they HAVE TO join the union, whether they like it or not. If they take a non-unionized job, they CANNOT form a union, even if they wanted to. This is the root cause of all union-related problems in the US. Under this paradigm, most companies try to get and keep the unions out of the door! Taxpayers are trying to force the issue in several states for the exact same reason.

In most other countries, including those with strong unions, joining a union is a personal decision. It does not depend on what job you are in. Even managers can join unions, and they do! And often, there is more than just one union, creating competition among the unions. No serious business ignores the unions, even if they only represent a minority of employees.

So here is my question to devo (and the 2 or 3 other union fans here on CAPS): Have you even considered this option? And if so, why have you rejected it?

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#4) On August 23, 2011 at 3:02 PM, truthisntstupid (83.84) wrote:

This is a useless question.  Where I live, there are no unions to join.  And essentially, what I took offense in your last reply to me, Steven, was your attitude that I was being 'reckless' and ireesponsible by working hard to get ahead using the opportunities available to me.

I want you to know one thing.  You really ticked me off, but I do like you.  But we are never going to see eye to eye on this.

Essentially, your last reply to me is calling everyone out there working two jobs reckless, irresponsible, and stupid for taking 'needless' risks working too many hours at a 'dangerous' job.

For one thing, my job isn't 'dangerous.'

For another thing, I still want to know...just how many of you folks reading this and working a second job get time-and-a-half for every hour worked at your second job because you already worked 40 hours at your first job?

Yes, I thank my lucky stars I DON'T have to go looking for a second job because I get enough hours at my first one.  I don't get time-and-a-half but I'm plenty ok with it.  

It's good for my employer, and it's good for me.

Were there a union kitchen around, would I work there?

Let's see... I work at the only restaurant within about 40 miles of here...winters, roads with snow and ice...risking a bad accident for probably less money (over 40 hours in a union kitchen that had to pay time-and-a-half for OT? not likely)

I think I'd better stick to the job that's only 9 miles away.  Sounds like the safe...responsible...thing to do.

Not to mention that I'm allowed to eat pretty much anything I want there and don't have to pay a penny for it...and my boss will order food me from our suppliers too...I get to buy many of my groceries at wholesale...and I live in one of the cheapest places in the country to live.

I spent 3 years in the amy, and 9 years in the navy long ago.  I've been around some.  I live as well here as many people making $25 an hour live elsewhere.  Probably, most likely even, better.

The other part about taking 'unnecessary risks'  working till I'm too tired.  

If many people think that way, that's too bad.  It means there's that many people who simply can't understand what it's like to have a job you enjoy enough that often it doesn't really feel like work.

A 10-hour day leaves me much less tired than 10 hours in a factory drudge job, union or not.  I've had both.

And like it or not, union workers are far outnumbered by nonunion ones.

I will never be convinced that the global economy and the evaporation of high-paying union jobs wasn't inevitable and related.

People in other countries will not pay more for products they can buy cheaper just so some spoiled rotten american union worker can have a job with full medical & dental, a pension plan, and making 5 or 10 times more money.

And I won't either.   If WalMart has it five times cheaper, I'm not about to lower my standard of living by purposely paying more for many products so some other guy can buy HIS kid a brand new car for his 16th birthday, no way, no how.

 

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#5) On August 23, 2011 at 3:33 PM, truthisntstupid (83.84) wrote:

I strayed off your point.  You are asking if I would take an opportunity I don't have.

Yes.  I probably would.  But the fact that I'm happy where I am and able to find happiness and contentment with what I do have really bugs you - doesn't it?

The only place I might find better jobs than I have right here would involve driving for probably at least 3 hours a day.  Yes, there are many places that far from cities of any real size in Missouri and Arkansas and many other states as well.

Many people adapt their attitude to be happy with what they have.  You might disapprove, but it's kind of like how when I was younger I'd watch the weather channel and get ticked off because people living in Alaska seemed to have such better weather in the middle of the winter.  "If they're stupid enough to live in Alaska," I would tell people, "then why the hell do we get all this crappy freezing icy weather while it's 40 degrees there?"

Sound pretty stupid?  Well, looking back on it, I don't really think I sounded very smart...but then, I was mostly just trying to get a laugh with grouchy humor.

I like where I live.  There are very, very, very few jobs here, and my life is here.  I have one of the few jobs there are and to find any other job would involve driving for a minimum of most likely 3 hours a day.  

I choose to be happy with what I have and you choose to berate me for it.

Maybe I've always been wrong about you.

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#6) On August 23, 2011 at 6:39 PM, JakilaTheHun (99.94) wrote:

The pay of a "naturally equiliberated" job sucks then.  

And very little fruit grows in the desert.  The point being, you can't create wealth out of thin air. Your wealth is the result of several factors, including the amount of wealth surrounding you, your skills and their value to other people, and practical realities of the environment you live in.

Good pay does not result in less people being hired.

It does if it's above what consumers can afford.  A "wage hike" is also a "price hike" in the underlying good or service.  If another company makes the same good and does not raise wages, and hence, does not raise prices, then it's likely that the first company will suffer, since its depriving consumers of more wealth.

Challenge yourself to view things on the consumer end.  Everything you buy is price based on the cost of all inputs, including wages.  If everyone raised wages for their lowest level workers, all that would happen is that prices would go, and workers wouldn't really be any better off.

 

Good pay results in more people being hired.

And money grows on trees.

 

Essentially it makes all workers slightly wealthier at the expense of investors and executives.

This, to me, says you don't understand investing.  People don't risk their life savings in order to invest in something where they can't turn a profit, because greedy people working for them think they're entitled to higher wages than the market is willing to pay for them.

Executives do make too much money oftentimes, but that's due to how corporations in America are structured.  There's very little accountability to shareholders.  Many companies have boards filled with 'yes-men' who are there to rubber stamp management's decisions, including pay raises for themselves. 

This is to say, America needs corporate reform that makes companies more accountable to shareholders. 

But the situation with unaccountable corporate governance is very similar to the situation with most unions. 

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#7) On August 23, 2011 at 7:24 PM, truthisntstupid (83.84) wrote:

"Everything you buy is priced based on the cost basis of all inputs, including wages.  If everyone raised wages for their lowest level workers, all that would happen is that prices would go up, and workers wouldn't really be any better off."

 

And at the time I was pursuing a degree around 1992 or 1993, I put in a lot of time researching this topic.  (By the way, for anyone interested, I believe Steven is still chewing on the bone he started on after comment #36 of this blog)

http://caps.fool.com/Blogs/i-agree-with-senator-sanders/621338

 Anyway, from what I found, at the time one of the books I found very helpful to me was published (I believe it was titled Opposing Viewpoints Series - Unions: Good Or Bad?)  unions represented only 16% of the workforce at the time the book was written. 

But because of the disproportionately high wages that minor section of the workforce commanded, I drew the conclusion that they also had a disproportionate effect on the rate at which the cost of living rose (look at Detroit?).  

What angered me, apart from what I witnessed (Comment #36, blog I linked to) was that this minority seemed to drive up the cost of living.  Every time a major union was up for contract renewal at a major company, it alwas resulted in higher wages that would kind of send a ripple effect through the economy driving up prices.

Rising prices, of course, would be offset by the union members'  Cost Of Living Adjustment that was part of their new contract.  Which meant that, when it was all said and done, union members were no better off than they were before their last raise, which had played a part in the rise in prices in the first place.

And the other 84% of the workforce...who weren't represented by unions?

We were all just along for the ride.  Our cost of living went up, too, but we had no part in the precursor of higher wages that drove prices higher in the first place.

Yeah...Hell of a way to move up in the world if you ask me...not really increasing your own purchasing power in the end...just helping to push everyone else's purchasing power down...

16% of the workforce just holding their own, and in the process making the other 84% poorer...

This just might be part of the reason why unions are losing popularity....

 

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#8) On August 25, 2011 at 5:43 PM, Riskysam (75.56) wrote:

Yeah I would take it due to the very perverse nature and protections offered by the union. It is easier to beat the market on 300 consecutive trading days than fire an abusive teacher.

Do not get me started on unions... 

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#9) On August 27, 2011 at 5:11 PM, beadnell (93.96) wrote:

Read "The Grapes of Wrath" and then we can debate collective bargaining.

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#10) On August 27, 2011 at 5:13 PM, beadnell (93.96) wrote:

p.s. Steven : yes.

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#11) On August 27, 2011 at 5:44 PM, truthisntstupid (83.84) wrote:

"The Grapes Of Wrath"  by John Steinbeck was a favorite of mine.

Unions wouldn't have helped those tenant farmers.  

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#12) On August 31, 2011 at 1:13 PM, beadnell (93.96) wrote:

Freedom of speech and freedom of association, would, however, have helped the fruit pickers.

(For me the book wasn't about the dust bowl, but about the migrant experience.)

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