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Will Someone Please Think of the Unions?

I’ve been out of Eugene for most of the summer and, unfortunately, haven’t had much chance to read the ODE’s commentary pages. Most people wouldn’t consider this a bad thing, but last year the tenor of my week was primarily determined by the amount of pleasure I took from reading Ailee Slater’s Monday column. A carnivalesque column could set the tone for the rest of my week– or hell, my month.

Anyway, today’s been particularly long and annoying so I figured I’d at least try and find myself some cheap laughs. No such luck. “Republicans are unified, but around crazy ideas” had potential. After all, how could one say no to such an inventive and surprising headline? But I liked “Rod Adams” better when he was comparing Frohnmayer to Bush and the sale of the Westmoreland apartments to the Iraq War. Good stuff. (Side note: if this comparison holds, does that mean Bean Complex is Israel and Pizanos is Tel Aviv?)

Not the Unions!And speaking of supposed neo-conservatives, the Emerald printed what amounted to a Kulongoski campaign press release as a commentary piece a few weeks ago. I’ll quote a big chunk so you can taste the flavor of the language:

Oregon SEIU Local 503 (Service Employees International Union) Board of Directors voted July 29 to endorse Governor Ted Kulongoski’s re-election. This was followed on July 31 with an endorsement by SEIU Local 49. Locals 503 and 49 represent about 45,000 public and private sector employees in Oregon, including state employees, home care, child care and nursing home workers, as well as janitors and health care workers.

The SEIU locals join in a solid front of organized labor support for Kulongoski, including Oregon AFL-CIO, Oregon Education Association, several trade unions, fire fighters, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

After the 503 Board meeting, one member leader emphasized that “working families will be better off if Ted Kulongoski is re-elected.” Kate Pingo, a Local 49 member leader explained that the Governor is “committed to standing up for working people and to addressing the crisis in our health care system.” Joe Di Nicola, a corporate tax auditor who serves as President of SEIU 503, said, “Ron Saxton is too extreme for Oregon. If elected, Saxton will dismantle the services Oregonians rely on.”


The race for Oregon Governor may be close, especially with the candidacy of Independent Ben Westlund. Westlund is more likely to draw votes from estranged Democrats than from the Republican ranks. It’s in the state’s best interest if Westlund would come to his senses and understand that he may be the disaster factor that helps the neo-con Saxton. Mr. Westlund: Will you please drop out of the campaign and endorse Kulongoski?

We know from the past three and some years that Ted Kulongoski will at least listen and consider the appeals of working people, progressives, environmentalists, free- choice voters and civil rights advocates. We can work with our current governor, and he’s proven that he will work with us. That’s what really matters in the art of possible politics

Anyone who’s ever had to read press releases for their job can recognize this prose. Of course, getting endorsed by the AFL-CIO (and to a lesser extent the SEIU) essentially acts as a confirmation that a candidate will have regressive and foolish economic policies. But while I suppose that “working families” of union lobbyists may be better off if Kulongoski is reelected, actual working families will, unfortunately, be losing jobs thanks to contribution whoring on the part of state Democrats. As points out, Unions spend nearly eight times more on Democrats than Republicans. This is the inherent nature of politics in Oregon: most Democrats are indebted to unions and most Republicans are indebted to timber interests.

(Incidentally, the Union Facts site has a new television ad that’s airing which promotes the site. I suppose the ad will be effective, but personally I think it would’ve been infinitely more interesting if they’d gotten, say, Mary Kay LeTourneau to have a cameo as the teacher’s union boss.)

Anyway, enough rambling. The point of this was to get a damn post up since apparantly noone with the OC in Eugene has Internet anymore. Continue all conspiracy theory, intern, and horse porn website talk below….

  1. Andy says:

    The power of unions to demand higher wages/benefits comes from a monopoly power to restict production. How do they do this? They create artificial barriers to entry for workers such as dues, certifications, education, etc.. What this does is limit the labor poor so that there is an artifical shortage created above the market price. What happens to the wages is that the wages that would have been paid to all workers is siphoned off to pay those who are only employed by the union – thereby causing artifical unemployment. So basically unions are saying “you can’t stand with us because if there were more people we wouldn’t be paid as much.” All of this is of course very inefficient and I’m positive I will see the death of all unions (besides government) in the next few decades.

    Sure the labor movement is to thank for a new law, which only makes employment harder and less lucrative to find. Money that would have been going to productive uses is now paid to enforcement equipment and personnel. It’s evident that in my job the labor movement hasn’t helped at all because I am paid over the legal limits and (would full-time) receive more benefits/sick time/vacation/etc.. than what the law prescribes. What about salaried personnel?

    What you fail to acknoledge Ms. Blaser is the very fact that people flocked by thousands for those new and high paying jobs in the past. They chose that employment voluntarily over what they were previously doing. When you “stand together” in the workplace for higher wages, if you are average or above average in marginal production, you lose more than if you were to bargian on an individual basis! If unions are really for the lowest wage earners, then why are there no unions for minimum wage jobs?

    I could go on graphically, mathmatically, therotically, empirically, and common-seniscally all day long about why unions are ineffcient just a bad deal for workers, but I hope I have addressed most of your arguments.

  2. Blaser says:

    Good point Andy. If anyone else were to strike for an extra day off and whined about having to pay a couple grand to insure their whole family for the year when they make $100,000, they wouldn’t get the time of day. But you could also say that they may deserve those extra things if they are important enough to bring basic services that many people rely on to a halt if they don’t show up for work.

    At least with the last EWEB strike they threw them a bit of a bone, but basically put their foot down, saying that they would not raise rates for customers just so those guys can get whatever they want.

    And just remember, when you, by law, either work only 40 hours a week or get overtime pay to compensate for your lost time, that the labor movement is to thank. Our ability to stand together in the workplace to fight for fair wages and working conditions is one of the most important basic rights we have. But, you know, if people like justadog would like to go back to working 18 hours a day in the factory for pennies an hour, be my guest — It’ll sure make my cost of living go down!

  3. Andy says:

    If taxation is the legalized extortion you’re talking about then I agree, but if it’s just a union I don’t have a big problem against it other than they are inefficient and most are not very good at raising the wages of their members. (i.e. UAW)

    But the public unions are the real p.o.s. Because government *has to* keep functioning, every strike results in gains! How many times has eweb or the bus drivers been on strike in the past 3 years I’ve been here! That’s extortion!

  4. JustaDog says:

    Yes, I think of the unions when:

    – I see business laying off hundreds of workers because they can’t affort their excessive union demanded wages

    – I see businesses going out of business because the union demands have forced that company to no longer be competitive

    – I see legalized extortion in action

    – I see taxpayers increasingly held hostage and gouged to support the public service workers demands

  5. Andy says:

    Whenever I click on the internet it only shows me this site and pr0n.

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