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My Fere is a service writer/manager for a auto repair shop. If I had know what a trained Volvo technician was paid ($25-30 an hour) I would have been one. Add the flat rate system and getting paid for 50-60 hours while only doing 40 hours is a nice way to earn a living.

This is a good example of the union vs. no union.

In a field where there's a shortage of trained, skilled, and high quality workers, the workers are treated well. No need for a union.

In a field where the available workers (or illegal workers) are greater then the need, then workers are treated like disposable items. It's here that the unions are needed.

When did the relationship between labor and management stop being a symbiotic relationship and start being an adversarial competition?


Bob, I think it's always been there. In Britain, during the black plague years, the bargaining power of skilled craftsman was high. Many traveled to better work locations. To prevent this, rather then offering better wages/living conditions, the nobles instead got a law passed making such movement illegal.

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Gerald, great information. I have issues with the same thing, but on a different level. I can't find any hard working apprentices. The ones i do get are entitled and refuse to work hard. When i "broke" in working rods, my shoulders bled for a week. The whole crew tortured me and played pranks, but after a time they knew i had heart, and they taught me. I learned from old timers and my apprenticeship school. The old timers finally relented and taught me because they could see i was INTERESTED. That is the key. Now when i get an apprentice, i'm lucky if he shows up on time, he could care less about learning the trade, and he expects to be pampered.
I had this apprentice a few weeks ago. Shows up to the job with an attitude, trying to fit in with the guys i guess. I gave him a shot and put him to work with the rest of the guys. Pretty soon he comes up to me, (i'm the foreman) and asks me to hold his car keys! One of my regular guys yells at him to keep his personal stuff in his lunch box. He turned around and yelled at the guys "do you want me to work or do you want me to go to my lunch box"! Next he goes back to work and works for maybe an hour and comes over to ask me what i want him to do. Meanwhile he left the other two guys working, carrying number 11 bars 65-0 long by themselves. I told him that if he came all the way across the job to ask me what to do again, i would have a learning experience in store for him. So he hustles back to work, and not ten minutes later he comes over where i was working and tells me he cant carry iron anymore, he wants to tie wire it. I was getting a bit pissed, so i grabbed a cut off piece of #9 bar about six feet long, i painted it orange. I handed it to him and told him to take it everywhere he went on the job. If he didn't know what to do, he had to hold the bar over his head and stand there, either myself or one of my lead guys would find him, he was no longer allowed to ask for instructions because he was just wasting time trying to walk all the way across the job! It worked like a charm, that kid started working hard, he was doing everything he could to not have to hold that bar over hid head. I must say it was amusing when he did hold it over his head! He would be standing there with a pained look on his face trying to keep that bar over his head waiting for one of us to come over.
After a few days, we started teaching him about the trade, and even the guys eased up on him a bit. I finally thought he was getting it, just stay busy and work hard, try to watch and learn, the guys or myself will help you when we think you need it. He comes into the job the next day, and first thing in the morning he was standing by his car cussing and yelling , so i was walking by and asked if he forgot his maxi pads (mind you this kid is brand spanking new, didn't know anything, and was more of a burden than a help to the crew), he looked at me and said "no but i brought yours m***** f**** " I looked at him and asked him if he was serious, he said a few more nasty expletives and i told him to go home, he was fired.
The guy called me an hour later, no appology, and asked if he was coming back the following day! I told him no. He went to the hall and filed a grievance. The business agent came out and asked me if i would take him back. I told him i would quit before i worked a guy like him! Most of the business agents know me and respect me so the kid never got to file a grievance. But he did tell them that we were harrassing him.
Unbelievable, i guess you have to treat everyone with kid gloves these days.

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Monster articulated very closely my own feeling towards union and non union work. I think there is(was) a definate need for unions in the past and for certain jobs that are easily exploitable but there are a lot of unions that aim to protect itself and govern its workers at the expense of the entire industry they are serving.

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What Gerald describes is exactly the way I was treated when I was an apprentice
Except it was in a machine shop
Under the grips of the machinist union
local # 10 aerospace and machinist union

Mike

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I have really enjoyed reading the views presented here... It seems to be a very hot and cold subject with feelings being one end of the spectrum of the other.. After reading Ironstein's comments It seems to me that what really makes him a Union man is not what the union has done for him, but the sense of brotherhood and strength it gives him and his crew. Being a part of a well oiled, productive machine always feels good. I feel much of that brotherhood with fellow blacksmiths but Im sure its not the same... And I respect that he stands up for his views and his brothers... Those are the kinds of friends I want to have...

I personally dont work well with others, Expect people helping me to be brilliant yet mindless.. And dont tolerate others shortcomings well when we have to work as a team.. I think part of my anti union feelings might just be anti others feelings.. I want to work how I want to work, when I want to work and dont want anyone telling me whats safe or appropriate.. I feel I can be trusted with my own safety and well being, That my interests are best looked after by me and me alone... None of which seems to jive well with the Union way....



I see a lot of the argument going on here as about the same discussion as if we where talking about Bush or Obama and who has helped or hurt the country more ( Im my opinion they are both a cog in the same machine out to destroy us, but hey)

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I disagree with just about all of this (sorry Gerald)

My view is that all of this

Blacksmith shops = poor wages
Blacksmith shops = poor training
blacksmith shops = poor treatment
blacksmith shops = no insurance

while it might be true, has nothing to do with workers rights or taking advantage of a worker and making it a Union shop would ultimately just ensure there would be no shop..


And this.....

If you don't take a coffee break in the morning and maybe one in the afternoon, if stopping for lunch is a burden, instead of a opportunity to discuss the day's work, if your employee's never stay for more then a couple of years, then I don't think we'll be a good match.

The above probably sounds a bit self-centered and maybe a little judgmental, but my experience has taught me to look for certain things in a shop. I've worked in shops that were run by incredibly skill metalsmiths, but for the workers under him, it wasn't much fun and they stayed only as long as it took to learn the trade and then they were gone. Why would I want to subject myself to the same. I work hard, but I'm not a mindless cog in the machine works of someone's shop.

To me that just sounds like finding someone who works like you work. It has taken me 20 years or so to figure out most people do not think like me.. You want to work with people who think and work like you do. If are at odds, there will be no harmony....

I would hate to work in the shop you describe... I want to work with people who work like me... My dad owns a steel fab shop and I have seen people come and go over the last 40 years.... My experience (what I have seen at his shop) is that the best people, the movers and the shakers... never stay more than a few years.. They are driven, they start there own shops, go on to manage other shops or just outgrow the operation Or just get tired of rest of the crew.... Its the ones who just show up to do there job that end up working there for 20 years... the ones who find a groove and just ride it, the ones who sit around for 15 mins ever morning and afternoon with the others in the groove and drink coffee while the rest of us are out working trying to get some rush job out the door....

Im not saying im right and your wrong... Im just saying that whats good for you might not be good for me or vice versa...

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First I am saying this because I am allowed to. I believe in freedom, I have never worked for a poor man, and i have been employed both by the union and also as management as a manufacturer. I was once a member of the steelworkers union. Waste of time.
Unions may have at 1 time work for the good. These days they are parasites save a few. There are some unions that make sure you have decent good pay and keep you working safely.
I do respect everyones posts. Most sound like what I believe.
Humans are the root of all this balony. Greed, Averice and Vice.
I could rant and rave...but I dont type as well as I would like and voicing my opinions doesnt help anyone. I am waiting for the day someone comes on my property and tells me burning coal is illegle...or burning propane is going to cost me x amount of dollars for my carbon usage...go and read some history of Andy Stern and seiu.
It aint money no more its all about power.
It aint just big buisness, consider our wonderfull new gov't. they are so buddy buddy with the unions like i have never seen.
Scary days are ahead union or not.

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I see a lot of the argument going on here as about the same discussion as if we where talking about Bush or Obama and who has helped or hurt the country more ( Im my opinion they are both a cog in the same machine out to destroy us, but hey)


Monstermetal

I was wondering when someone was going to interject politics and the current administration into this thread.

Without getting into a political debate or bashing anyone I will give you my brief opinion and observation.

I have been self-employed doing high-end architectural woodwork for the last 35 years and up until last year; I was making a good living. I wasn’t getting rich but I kept pace with the rising cost of everything and was able to put something away for my retirement. I have never seen things this bad in those 35 years. Now I’m living out of the bank watching the saving dwindle. I can’t collect unemployment and I’m not yet retirement age.

I haven’t seen one dime of the Stimulus money nor do I expect too but I’m paying for it. Much of the money went to union jobs in the public sector and to infrastructure improvements also mostly unionized workers. It’s a good time to be in a union. I will say that if I had it to do all over again, I would have taken a public sector union job. I would be collecting a pension, on my second career with money to spend by now.

It is the disposable income of the wealthy that has kept me in business and I would guess it kept most artisans and craftspeople that work for them in business as well. Well, they’re not spending like they used to because of the uncertainty of what is to come. I know that what was good for the wealthy in this country was good for my little business; something I fear is a thing of the past for the foreseeable future.
****, soon we will all be surfs giving everything to the government, owning nothing and letting them take of us. Not where I want to be. And if you think things are bad in the economy now, just wait until next year.

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This simple quote brought me more trouble that anything else I said or did as a shop steward.
I made the mistake(?) of posting it on the main board at the yard.

"The truth is that man needs work even more than he needs a wage.Those who seek the welfare of the workers,should be less anxious to obtain good pay,good holidays and good pensions for them as good work,which is the first of their goods.For the object of work is not so much to make objects as it is to make men.A man makes himself by making something useful"

Matahma Ghandi

To those who have never felt the incredible empowerment of a difficult job well done either as an individual or better as a member of a group of talented and highly motivated people I can tell you it is a feeling you will find hard to forget and it will spoil you for anything less.
The few times I have felt like this I was paid minimum wage or no wage at all.I didn`t know what time it was and didn`t care what day it was and most times I slept where I dropped,sometimes in the rain.

If you die never having felt this way then you spent your life chasing the wrong dream with the wrong people IMO.

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I have to agree with both Larry, and Bob. The proudest moments in my career had nothing to do with the union. Being able to "work hard at work worth doing" has enriched my life in many ways. I think the big plus for me has been going to work and accomplishing next to impossible feats of construction with good men who respected each other. I drive around Los Angeles and see huge projects i took part in, and it makes me proud, union or not. I have to say my favorite thing is working with huge cranes, rigging huge steel! I was in charge of one building on a huge job which was the largest concrete structure in california history. We placed over eight million pounds of #11 #14 and #18 bar in the footings in four months! There were four tower cranes, one of which could pick 17,500 lbs at the tip. There is something so cool about working with big equipment and accomplishing big things. I have to say that was the best job i ever worked on, all the trades got along and worked together to build this super complicated structure in eighteen months.
I fear the future, my job just isn't the same. No glory left. Contractors aren't getting the work they used to, and we are expected to perform miracles on a daily basis. We place rebar by the pound, and companies bid by the pound. We are expected to place triple the tonnage of what we were placing a year and a half ago. There is only so much the human body can take, you can't expect your guys to triple their work load for the same pay. Unfortunately thats what we are dealing with. Gone are the days of leaving the job proud that you made the company money, and provided a good service to the contractor. Now its all about damage control, and minimizing the losses to the company. They are estimating stuff with no profit margin and expect us to make it happen. I feel like my job is on the line every day.
I like the responses posted here. I think most hold a common thread, union or not, if you take an interest in your work and work hard, you can be proud. The disappointing reality i am discovering is that i fewer and fewer people willing to go that extra mile to do good work and man up. When ever i run into seasoned guys on projects, i understand that they have something to offer me in the way of experience. So i try to get to know them and learn from them. Most young punks these days can't even recognize that, and aren't even interested, they are just clocking in and clocking out.

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My dad wasn't union but my two uncles were, both worked for GMC. My uncles made lots of money and died rich, not so my dad. With my one uncle if it wasn't nailed down or locked up he carried it home from the plant, got caught twice for stealing and the union fought for him to keep his job and he kept on stealing. My other uncles job got eliminated because of technology but the union made sure he kept his job, he did nothing for fifteen years but read westerns and draw pay for doing nothing. My dad worked every day of his life without union backing by his own skill and hard work ethic. He never needed anyone to stand up for him when he stole from the company simply because he didn't steal from the company. He didn't need to have the union fight for him to get paid for a job that had been phased out because he kept up with training to stay current in his job. He wasn't as rich as they were but he also wasn't bound to an archaic system that promised him a safe and secure life if he surrendered his labour to them, he was a free man able to choose his own way in life something they were not. God bless America!

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Just my story, Worked for a major aircraft repairer. 2nd shift guy did 2 pieces a week with a 50% failure rate.
I did 1 piece a day and rewelded his 50% failures. He got my wages reduced 30% cause he was senior. (I got NO rejects + fixing his *******) ( both members of the same union) Few yrs later sent a crew from a FL shop north
to start up a new military contract. Came back saying waited 2 hrs for a union guy to open the doors, 2 hrs for a union guy to move a fork lift(keys in it) 2 more hrs for a electrican to plug in the welder. By the way the union guys were getting 4 or 5 times what we were getting. We were profitable they were not. Guess who closed. Unions are great if your a union boss. Yeh go on strike for 6 mos to gain $ .50 an hr. How much did ya lose over the 6 mos?
How much did your dues go up? Sorry guys if I do X in 30 mins I want 30 mins pay not 20 mins with 10 nins going to a Hoffa.
Ken.

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Excellent! I had read this years ago, thanks for bring it up for me to see again. Wonder if any of our folks in Washington have read this...hmmmm....
Also like your 2 sigs.

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I have been a Steel Worker and a Paper Worker. I have mixed feelings about working in the union shops.
I went to school nights for almost 20 years in order to get out of the factories.
I have worked more in non-union jobs than union jobs. I have a few observations.

In a union shop the people who are 'in' with the union officials get favored status.
In a non-union shop the people who are 'in' with the managers get favored status.
A brown-nose is a brown-nose.

If in a union shop someone is caught stealing, the union may help him if they like him.
If in a non-union shop someone is caught stealing, a manager may help him if they like him.
A thief is a thief.

I could go on, a slacker is a slacker, incompetence is incompetence, favoritism is favoritism ...

The fact is that it all happens in both. There are good people and not so good people everywhere.

I have made a very good wage working in the unions. I make a better wage working in a non-union now.
The bottom line is that some people will excel regardless of where they end up - and some will fail - union or not.

I personally feel that there is a great need for unions today.
Not in the traditional trades, but in retail and the service sector.
I cannot believe the way Walmart treats their people - And I wind up paying for the health insurance that the country's largest employer doesn't provide to most of their employees - through my taxes!
Between their treatment of employees and their shipping jobs to China, I get PO'ed every time my wife shops there.

I like Bob's idea of the satisfaction of a job well done. I have always strived for and often found this satisfaction.

Here is one of my favorite quotes:

"Work is an essential part of being alive. Your work is your identity. It tells you who you are.
It's gotten so abstract. People don't work for the sake of working. They're working for a car, a new house, or a vacation.
It's not the work itself that's important to them. There's such a joy in doing work well."

Kay Stepkin, baker, as quoted in Working, by Studs Terkel

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I'm a life long Union member IBEW LU 595 (Alemeda Co. Ca.)
I started in high school working half a day my senior year for a union contractor for high school credit, having transferred from another school with more than enough credit to graduate less required classes PE, english , history etc.

Upon graduation I entered an 4 yr.apprenticeship program, 2 nights a week classroom and 40 hrs. a week on the job.

I had to complete x amount hours of on the job training , several categories,residential, commercial and industrial wiring,broken down into many categories, conduit bending, motor controls etc. etc.

Pass a written test at the completion of the 4 yrs. to be classified as a journeyman.

This at least sets a minimum standard of competence. A Big plus for the industry.

I went on to become a self employed electrical contractor working in residential.

In short the unions don't work for the lowest skilled segments of the industry, but when a contractor needs a readily available skilled labor pool it works well, not without problems, but they have set standards of, safety, wage ,health care, retirement, work hours,means of dispute resolution etc.

They just don't work for small contractors.
My experience is from the construction industry.
I am very independent, so I didn't fit with the group, "best for union mentality", but there is a lot of good, they represent the worker.

Here is a page from the International Brotherhood of Electrical works constitution:

07-16-2010 07;17;24PM.PDF

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Crosspein, You summed it up for me. I feel the same way. My wife and i have and will never shop at wal-mart. I know it isn't just wal wart, but after reading some of the stuff i've read about the waltons, i just can't bring myself tolet them profit from spending money there.
Gerald, I have great respect for your statements as well. There is a need for unions, but more of a need for good workers in those unions.

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If you look at the early history of how folks like Sam Walton and LL Bean started you would see that they were all about made locally and especially made in the USA.
It`s the people who stepped in after they passed on that allowed the "Bottom line watchers/bean counters(pun intended)" to turn it into the monsters they have become.

My wife was hired by Sam Walton after he personally intervened on her behalf.I can tell you the man would NEVER have allowed things like life insurance on all employees with Wal-Mart as the beneficiary. :angry:

I don`t shop at either now,I used to go out of my way to shop at both whenever I could.Even if it cost a little more.

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Well check this out I can not believe I found this got this on ebay 10 years ago, maybe there is a union for blacksmiths
post-10376-006257100 1279385405_thumb.jp

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Well check this out I can not believe I found this got this on ebay 10 years ago, maybe there is a union for blacksmiths
post-10376-006257100 1279385405_thumb.jp
International Brotherhood Of Boilermakers-Iron Ship Builders-Blacksmiths_Forgers and Helpers

http://www.boilermakers.org/

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Saying "union" is like saying "wine" or "steel" or any other generic term. Might as well say I do/don't like people. Or dogs.

Some locals of some unions are great. Others suck. Welcome to the human race.

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Im beginning to see that... I was having a discussion at a local gathering tonight about unions and we talked about blanket versus compulsory unions...

sounds to me like I have more to learn about unions.. I still feel the same but know that I dont know or understand everything... and mind works best when open...

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