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IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/01/2010 10:44 PM

I have sat on the nonunion side since I first started to work. And now I am in a position to begin employment with a union firm. I am just curious on what are your stories about Unions for Engineers and Electricians.

I don't seem to see any benefits but I may be wrong. Help!

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#1

Re: IBEW, or Any Engineering UNION! PROS AND CONS!!!

04/01/2010 11:12 PM

Pros: If you are the lazy type you will be paid at the same rate as the best worker in the shop and the union will protect you in exchange for paying dues.

Cons: If you are the best worker in the shop you will be paid at the same rate as the lazy guy, and be required to pay union dues to protect his lazy butt!

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: IBEW, or Any Engineering UNION! PROS AND CONS!!!

04/01/2010 11:14 PM

AWESOME!! - couldn't have said it any better myself.

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#5
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Re: IBEW, or Any Engineering UNION! PROS AND CONS!!!

04/02/2010 12:37 PM

Great answer!

OP, Ask the IBEW members in North Canton who used to work at Hoover how their Union membership saved their jobs.

NOT.

milo

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#8
In reply to #1

Re: IBEW, or Any Engineering UNION! PROS AND CONS!!!

04/02/2010 11:14 PM

Guess ya never worked around a good group of experienced workers, sorry

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#18
In reply to #1

Re: IBEW, or Any Engineering UNION! PROS AND CONS!!!

04/04/2010 10:48 AM

What crap, Unions have proudly done more to promote efficiency, quantity, safety, and quality in American Goods than any School, Training Program, or Scab Company out there, not paying a fair wage.

Blaming money hungry and poor management on the worker is beneath the dignity of what I call a professional

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#3

Re: IBEW, or Any Engineering UNION! PROS AND CONS!!!

04/01/2010 11:14 PM

My only personal experience with a union was not a very good one, but to be honest I cannot fault the union. Many years back a family member politely convinced me to change jobs and work in his company since a technician position had opened up. He forgot to mention that a petition had already been filed for a vote to bring in a union but the vote had yet to happen. The company was owned and run by schmuck. When the vote established the union in the company, I found out that I was in a loop hole position that could be fired for no cause and was fired when the union came in. The union did offer to help me find a job, but within the week I located a new job on my own. Within the year the schmuck dissolved the company and declared bankruptcy. Now did the the union bury him or was his business sense so poor that he could only barely float a company by abusing his employees, only his accountant knows for sure.

Now on general principles, I like the idea that a union represents the employees. But at best I consider a union the lesser evil between two poor choices. At worst they become either a sweetheart for management or just corrupt uncaring middlemen.

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#19
In reply to #3

Re: IBEW, or Any Engineering UNION! PROS AND CONS!!!

04/04/2010 10:52 AM

Poor, very poor business management I would say.

I have said it before and I will say it again, I have family who are Union Affiliated Mechanical Contractors, who beat out Scab Shops paying half the ages and no benefits, and they have survived longer than these types.

Again, it is the awesome training of the worker that was the key.

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#24
In reply to #19

Re: IBEW, or Any Engineering UNION! PROS AND CONS!!!

04/04/2010 4:35 PM

Your specific example may be true.

However Having worked in Steel companies in three states as union labor, salary chemist, Lab supervisor, plant metallurgist, environmental tester,quality director, and Plant manager, I can tell you my non union shop out performed the steelworkers organized, race to the bottom work rules from hell shops every day. I saw more guys reading papers in USW shops than you will on the subway in NYC.

I suppose you would blame bad management for that.

I note that those fine UAW GM and Chrysler shops have done a great job surviving by getting tax money from all taxpayers. Yay Union label.

I would call that beggary more worthy of being labeled scab than anything, taking via government order tax money from retired old ladies.

I remember being told by my grievance man to slow down,I was working too hard when I transferred to the iron ore docks at Lorain. I was a probationary employee, as a interplant job transfer, I was 100 miles away from home. I vowed that for every hour they paid me I was going to shovel for 10 minutes. I was going to keep my job.

So the union guys told me to slow down.

By the way, my hard work paid off, I had a steady shift in one year, I made salary clerk in two years (Had to leave the union, Would have taken 30years of seniority to get the union clerk bid.) Outside the union, I actually had a career trajectory.

The Union did a great job of keeping the chronic alcoholics with their absenteeism every payday and coke head electricians on the payroll, I'll hand you that. BTW- Those electricians couldn't read a schematic.

At that time, they had 10,000 of your hard working wonderfully trained Union brothers on the payroll. Last time that plant was operating, It had less than 3000, and made just as much steel as in the old days. So those Union hands weren't so indispensable.

Your family may be great union workers. My dad was a union Financial secretary and Vp for 27 years, and I'm sure he was too.

But I know the grievances he filed, and the stories he told.

And I became a better manager for having paid attention.

milo

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#25
In reply to #24

Re: IBEW, or Any Engineering UNION! PROS AND CONS!!!

04/04/2010 5:20 PM

Ah, the old days, both management and union were wrong, but management was muck weaker. Never could figure out some of the "gifts" they gave without a good old knock 'em down, drag 'em out fight.

Sorry for not getting back to you, but I went into intense mode on an assignment.

I just came back from a tour of 2 shops, owned by the same corporation, one USW and the other Non-Union. (Same Client)

The USW outworked the other with excellent quality, almost a 0% rework, no rejects, and much quicker per ton than the non-union guys. I was impressed, and I made a PowerPoint Presentation for USS while there. USS was also impressed with the Union guys.

I have been at Lorain-National Tube, USS-Kobe, and now the USS Tubular Works and have seen so much change for the good. Even when Kobe was there, I knew I could get at least 8 hours of rest time during a 12 hour shift.

I am Pro Union, but it is Front Line Management that makes or breaks the shop.

There are a few non-union shops in our scope that are impressive for both quality and quantity, a few poor, the rest so-so, as there are in the Union Shops.

One of the first pieces for my collection of "stuff" came from the docks in Lorain, by the way.

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#26
In reply to #25

Re: IBEW, or Any Engineering UNION! PROS AND CONS!!!

04/04/2010 5:27 PM

You have a hulett?

milo

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#27
In reply to #26

Re: IBEW, or Any Engineering UNION! PROS AND CONS!!!

04/04/2010 5:46 PM

HaHa, I couldn't imagine what one would be worth. (scrap alone, not to mention historic value). Maybe the Campana Family has one lurking around somewhere, Old Patsy was a character.

A bit of ore and later some sintered pellets was all I could put in my trunk.

For those who like big machines and don't know what a Hulett is:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hulett

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#28
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Re: IBEW, or Any Engineering UNION! PROS AND CONS!!!

04/04/2010 6:20 PM

He hid it in the old Lorain Crane building.

Oiling those machines was a real big deal! Three grease guns two buckets of black oil, Two of green oil.

First time I was asked to stay over and "oil" the huletts. They took me up in the cable room and gear room, showed me where to put the grease where to put the oil. which goes where. I said sure. Next shift they issued me new greens., and I went out and oiled the hulett. Black oil where the black oil goes, green oil where the green oil goes. Grease on about 36 fittings.

I came down, Having been very careful, no oil on my nice new greens.

Foreman comes by, 'Hey, I told you to oil.' 'I did.' 'Like hell you did you're all clean. Lets go.'

So we went up to oil. loaded three grease guns, filled two buckets with black oil two with green. Up the ladders into the mechanicals. Repumped all the fittings,'hey, there's new grease on these.' 'I told you.' Black oil where the black oil goes. Green oil where the green oil goes. Climbed down. Foreman is covered in oil grease and and taconite dust mixed sweat. My greens are still perfectly clean.

Entire crew laughed their a$$ off. Who said mechanical work had to be filthy?

milo

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#29
In reply to #28

Re: IBEW, or Any Engineering UNION! PROS AND CONS!!!

04/04/2010 6:39 PM

At times, I tend to be like the foreman, the reason way back when I went in I went to the furnaces, I could sweat off the grime.

What a tale to be told about the old days in heavy manufacturing.

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#4

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/02/2010 10:50 AM

I suppose it would depend on which "Local" you are referring to.

You haven't even indicated which continent you are interested in. This query cannot be answered due to the lack of pertinent detail.

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#6
In reply to #4

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/02/2010 2:14 PM

Well once again, an engineer over analyzing the question. And complicating a simple question. Muahaha

And Canada!

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#15
In reply to #4

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/03/2010 12:35 PM

I suppose it would depend on which "Local" you are referring to.

With that being said that unions are inconsistant

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#7

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/02/2010 6:24 PM

My experiences as well as many others have been both good and bad. My experiences were with IATSE and Nabet engaged in film and television production. I also worked with IATSE stagehands.

I've worked with, or competed with Teamsters.

I worked non union and union. I had union crews work with or for me, as I have worked in more than one position.

From my experiences I'd say Union labor was more professional and safety conscious.

The joke is: If you think a professional is expensive, wait till you hire an amateur.

Now it is true that I worked with and around unions in a somewhat specialized area. Still I have to admit that in any field, if I was a stranger in town and needed people to do the job professionally, and safely on short notice, I'd be calling the Unions.

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#20
In reply to #7

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/04/2010 10:54 AM

Superb first hand experience from a person who has been active on all sides, not just sitting in a cubical with no windows.

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#9

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/02/2010 11:27 PM

I have spent almost 40 years in the electrical utility business. I either carried an IBEW card ( as a Journeyman Lineman I carried it - - it didn't carry me ), served as an apprentice instructor, Local Secretary, VP and President of a Local Union. At one time or another my Journeyman card was honored and voted in to 7 different IBEW locals in 6 different states. With that said, I've spent the last 25 years of my career either managing or advising management on running electric utilities, both publicly and privately owned on two continents. I spent about a year at a non-union REA when I came home from the Marines. I watched the Boss's butt boy suck up every bit of overtime and all the plum assignments that came along. I left and went to a very large privately owned (stock holders) utility that was unionized. I got a dollar an hour raise for doing the same work that I'd been doing the week before, plus a chance for overtime as the contract specified how OT would be doled out. Life was good. I watched some dedicated people try to do the right thing for the membership and I watched some of the membership set on their lazy asses and make just as much as I did. Eventually I realized that the Union is what the membership makes of it. Some locals are very good and some are very bad. Just like the Companies that they have working agreements (commonly called contracts) with - - some are good and some aren't. My last tid bit of wisdom is that if you want a comfortable life join the Union or at the least be a free rider, also known as a scab, at a Company that has a Union on the property. If you want to reach your potential and have a satisfying life - - go in business for yourself.

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#10
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Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/02/2010 11:48 PM

Lol good answer.... so two options?

1) Take the safe road, join a union and be comfortable...

2) Take the risk, might fail, but might prosper.....

Sweet!

Question about the IBEW. Is it possible to be a journeyman with IBEW and also be able to run your own side business? I have heard mixed answers....

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#17
In reply to #10

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/03/2010 6:40 PM

The ones that had been in a union and had quit or retired to started a side business, their side business was not union. And they played around with business ownership because of the technicalities of a union member started his own non-union business these technicalities I do not recall.

p911

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#11

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/03/2010 3:37 AM

Here is my experience from other side of the globe.I worked for 33 years in unionised company.Here things are altogether different. Unions are politically controlled.There are some hostile unions who only fight for more and more benefits for the workers.They encourage indiscipline and create violent atmosphere. Every 3 years there is wage agreements during which there is tug of war between union and management. Many of the demands are unreasonable resulting in huge tussles as the companies can not afford such demands and will go out of business.

This attitude of the union has resulted in avoiding hiring of labour, rather increase in automation.One of the union which had hay days, killed already sick textile industry in eighties in Mumbai resulting in loss of millions of the jobs. So, are the unions taking care of worker's welfare or they working against their interest?.

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#12

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/03/2010 8:00 AM

You will have dues involuntarily deducted from your pay for the purposes of buying new limo's, and golf courses that you can't play at, for the thugs running the union, and supporting politicians you may, or may not, agree with.

Know this: A good hand can advance on his own merits. Unions protect the incompetent, until they eventually bankrupt the company. Witness GM, Chrysler, et al. This is why union membership is declining, except in the case of government unions. They can't bankrupt their employer (so they think...)

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#13

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/03/2010 8:29 AM

One advantage that people have only implied here I'd like to point out. As an employee there will be a formalized public document that specifies what your pay and responsibilities should be. Also if you have a dispute with management or colleague there is somebody outside of your work review that you can clarify what you and management are entitled to do. I like also the point that a union card for a journeyman can be a key to opportunities. (I've got to give him a GA.)

But as several here have pointed out, just like employers there are good unions and bad unions. The only thing that differs between a bad boss and a bad union is some of the details on how they reek. But when they go bad, they both stink in there own unique way.

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#14

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/03/2010 8:55 AM

I have the same opinion as Vagabond. I worked union in my young years as well as was raised in a union family. It put clothes on my back, fed me and gave me a place to live. It paid for part of my education.

Later I went non-union it too put clothes on my back, fed me and gave me a place to live.

During both periods I picked up my degree in engineering, and also moved into management then later ownership.

Because of my duality, I have no ax to grind with either side. Its a matter of personal choice and how you live you life is your business. Both sides have benefits and both sides have disadvantages. Your career will lead you in a direction and whether you succeed or fail is always up your own personal choices. I would keep my options open and my personal opinions to myself.

By the way, I have always met and worked around incompetent, deadbeats, scum suckers, and other retro-bates, but they didn't seem to come from any particular political, religious, ethnic, or country for that mater. They just seem to be a subset of the entire human race.

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#16

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/03/2010 1:53 PM

One of my first jobs, back in the 60's, had mandatory union membership. We got paid minimum wage and had to pay union dues - hated them every since!

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#21
In reply to #16

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/04/2010 10:59 AM

So, your implication, is, that the Union forced you to take this job?

I think not, sure some of the unions, especially in health care and supermarkets suck, but the ones who provide truly skilled workers treat their members well.

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#22

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/04/2010 11:49 AM

İf you are good and capable - you don't need a union! İf you are so-so or lazy then the union is the only way to go. Most workers are somewhere in between and get stuck paying dues to union management that is all too often of marginal intelligence or use.

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#23

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/04/2010 2:16 PM

Thank you guys for all your stories. This has been very education and a little bit entertaining. I'm just going to fart and see where the wind takes me . :D

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#30

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/05/2010 1:15 AM

Friends,

Interesting thread, and fairly civil. Congratulations to all who have posted. I agree fully with those who see pro's and con's on both sides. This seems to echo the adage that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Unions have served, and will continue to serve a necessary purpose, to ensure justice and reasonable treatment for employees when faced with circumstances in which they are relatively powerless. On the other hand, they have been guilty of the feeling "I am union and you can't touch me." I worked as a nurse when RN's were paid less than (unionized) grocery store checkout clerks, and worked to unionize them. I have been an electrician both within and without the IBEW. Both within and outside the IBEW I have seen a great many who are dedicated, hard-working, and very well-trained. I have met a smaller number who are otherwise, but they were often weeded out by early layoffs, etc. Unions have a problem with the seasonal nature of their work--to complete an apprenticeship you need fairly steady work during the entire period--so entry opportunities are often restricted (in many cases the method of restriction has been questionable).

In the present economic climate, I have seen precious little "trickle-down" in the philosophy of tax cuts we have followed for a couple decades. I would be happy to see corporate pay scales that didn't reward the top management with large bonuses because they wrested pay cuts from the rank and file; that didn't have a ratio of 10,000:1 between highest and lowest pay. Of course, this is also true in the academic setting--a football coach's pay of $1 million or even $250 thousand per year is frequently mentioned, but is totally wrong compared to academic or academic support staff pay scales.

--JMM

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#31

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/05/2010 11:53 AM

It seems to be in the nature of power and greed. For a eye-opening insight into our species, check this paper out:

Keating, C. F., & Heltman, K. R. (1994). Dominance and deception in children and adults: Are leaders the best misleaders? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20, 312-321.

Since I work at a university, I have access to this sort of paper. It may not be available, generally. But here is the link I used to get it: http://psp.sagepub.com/cgi/reprint/20/3/312

I actually saw this research on some "news" tabloid TV show years ago. It made a deep impression on me.

Too many people in power tend to abuse those beneath them -- or at the least, take advantage of them, if they can. Unions began because of this. They may have deteriorated over time, but the idea that workers are entitled to a living wage and a greater share of the wealth of a company/business are at the root of their inception. It is only a matter of time before this same process happens in developing countries, now that that labor is providing the bulk of worldwide manufacturing. It may be harder in China for this to happen, but overworked and underpaid workers will only take such treatment so long. Profit-sharing would be a better structure as opposed to union agreements. All employees should be expected to pull their own weight. But they shouldn't have to suffer a 400 to 1 salary ratio discrepancy between top and bottom.

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#32
In reply to #31

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/05/2010 12:10 PM

Any given job is only worth so much, from flipping burgers to CEO. It is utterly ridiculous to pay a UAW hand $75.00/ hr to screw on lug nuts. Flipping burgers is probably worth about $2.00/hr, but the minimum wage dictates 3 or 4 times that. No wonder a .25 cent burger now costs $5.00.

If you want a share of the profits, buy stock in the company, or better yet, get together with your 'brothers' and buy the entire company. Then you can have ALL the profits. But don't be surprised if you can't find a decent CEO. Most of the good ones are able to generate many multiples of their salary in earnings. Can the guy on the shop floor say that?

Let the free market determine the wage.

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#34
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Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/05/2010 4:29 PM

When the CEO gets 2hundred 500 thousand dollars an hour, don't be so surprised if the labor wants 75 an hour.

Even Mr. Ford figured it was a good idea to pay people on the shop floor enough that they could live somewhere, eat, and show up for work in a car they bought from the company.

There are some companies with profit sharing plans. Most working people would love to buy stock, but really can't afford to gamble with what little money they get for honest work. It is honest work you know to show up and do your job, either flipping burgers or turning wrenches. There are only so many hours in a day.

Many of the CEO club run companies into the ground and walk away with every cent. This idea that they are irreplaceable and deserve to walk on the backs of those who don't have membership in the Country Club, and the finest of golf clubs, is ludicrous.

I think well of The Home Depot, and Wegmans. Don't know what the CEOs make there.

It does seem that many of the Captains of Industry, Masters of the Universe, have been consistently looting companies, and doing all they could to maintain wage slaves who are more and more incapable of even buying anything more than lies.

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#35
In reply to #34

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/05/2010 5:24 PM

Well home depot's Nardelli was very well paid before he left, but that was nothing compared to the $210 million Severance package!

Home depot 2008:

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE52T43F20090330

I would suggest NOT combining CEO salary to The Union / Non union issue. it may add fuel to the fire, but it adds no insight as to workrules and quality of worklife as a member of the " brotherhood"etc... It's just another data point about risk reward compensation. Different issue.

Wegmans is privately held.

you said:

"Most working people would love to buy stock, but really can't afford to gamble with what little money they get for honest work."

It is the attitude that investing is gambling that has driven a lot of the greed on wall street.

But investing is different from gambling, and my IRA and 401k are doing fine, with what I can set aside from my pay.

I couldn't afford to retire if I wasn't "INVESTING" and creating jobs and growth with my "INVESTMENTS."


Did my holdings decrease in value when the market and everybody's houses values tanked? Yes. Are they back up or soon to be where they were before the "recession" You betcha.

I basically lost a year of time, with my "investment." And as today's ceo's see that they can continue to improve productivity with out adding workers, (because new regime in Washington makes workers VERY EXPENSIVE to have) There will be some stellar profits to be made. Businesses in US are sitting on the largest pile of cash ever. It will automate and eliminate labor. Union can't stop technology. Maybe in one shop, but the next guy will get it and blow their socks off by using it.

Dow 12,000 very likely- concurrent with a jobless recovery.

Money= capital investment; Wages = cost. Workers who invest wages in stocks of legitimate companies earn a piece of that success. Mutual funds help diffuse that risk. Workers who are "afraid to gamble with what little money" remain poor and angry. Even if they "save" in an FDIC guaranteed acct, they lose value on buying power decrease and inflation.

Engineers develop processes that add value and remove waste from operations. Wages paid to engineers are investment that reduce overall costs. If the engineers are properly deployed. If they are just ambulance chasing , that's another story.

Invest and prosper. Work to make a difference. Learn as you go along. Intelligently manage risk.

These are my answer to the fearful little working man. (I was one once upon a time)These have been demonstrated by wave after wave of immigrants to our shores. They can work for us too.

I think you are off track on this post, my friend.

milo

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#37
In reply to #35

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/05/2010 5:58 PM

I believe that you are at crossed purposes my friend. Buying stock in your own company that you are working at is a very bad idea, not just for the hazard of insider trading concerns but this is gambling instead of investing. Gambling can be done in the stock market and it's done all the time. Gambling is putting money into a single company's stock based on a hunch. Investing is distributing your stock purchases over such a wide group of companies that no single company collapse can significantly effect your return since the collapse of one provides the room for others to grow. Naturally there are exceptions to this rule of thumb, a technology base that has seen its time is but one such example. The buggy whip manufacturing market for example, has gone through a dramatic collapse in the past 150 years. But it's real stable now.

The problem I personally have with the exorbitant executive pay is when it is linked only to a company's short term performance measure. So very often this leads to a dismantling of the company rather than reasonable growth and expansion. (Do you still own shares of NORTEL? ) As long as any corporate person is a true long term "rain maker" then I have no problem with them getting a healthy part of the pie. But the problem always come down to perceptions. When the salary savings of a worker layoff matches the bonuses of the executive staff, this looks bad.

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#39
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Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/05/2010 8:25 PM

Did I say I bought stock in my own company?

Did I say to exclusively buy any kind of stock?

I thought i said "Mutual funds help diffuse that risk."

I accepted stock options and company contributions in their stock. I was grateful and they were an incentive it worked out just fine. I put my contributions into mutual funds options.

However, I did fine though on company stock, and once I knew the cycle, bought and sold (timed) based on historical swings. USS Steel used to swing like a pendulum between say $16 and $34 dollars a share annually.

Then i got smart and just bought mutual funds.

Until I saw everybody using the same internet provider in Atlanta. So I bought some of their shares. My broker thought I was a genius.

Have I lost money on some stocks? YES. G^%#^%*%* federal mogul. Have I made better than the rate of inflation +t bill rate over my investing history? Yes. It remains to be seen how much I really made, because I do most trades inside my ira's, so the tax bill is yet to be determined.

But I do not recall saying buy your employers stock. You already have all your job risk there. Why add investment risk to that same bucket? Diversifying Risk is what it is all about. Buy stock in companies that do not correlate to your own industry. Lots of companies. And say, probably not even on the same continent.

Dr. Ken Mayland, one of my favorite economists, likes to say that "if you own enough oil company stock, what happens at the Gas pump doesn't bother you at all."

If you track your fuel bills, you'll see that that really doesn't have to be a huge amount of oil company stock.

(multiple oil companies in multiple mutual funds of course)

milo

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#38
In reply to #35

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/05/2010 6:30 PM

Well Milo, I suppose I got bad advice. The father of my Scoutmaster years ago, told me never to put money into the stockmarket, I couldn't afford to lose. Back then he also said don't even bother unless you have 5 grand that you don't need.

He was a stockbroker. At the time I was an impressionable paperboy.

I did have some money in a Union account. Every report that I got showed management fees that ate away any profit, large or small.

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#36
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Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/05/2010 5:32 PM

My friend, I think you missed the point. Any employee of a profit making company must produce more than he costs. I use a non-scientific guess for my own employees. I need them to produce for the my company, about 150% of their pay to my endevour. Much less than that and I can't justify their existance in my company. It's not that I 'pocket' the difference, it is that I must pay overhead for secretaries, accountants, taxes, taxes, taxes, R&D, infrastucture, etc. I clear ( a good year, which I haven't had for a while), 3%. I looked up 'prevailing wage', and found out that I am paying my people pretty well. They make me money, when things go well, and when they don't, I bite the big one, they don't.

Mr. Ford paid his employees many multiples of the farm wages they had been receiving, but expected them to produce him a profit. Then they organized. They got rid of unsafe conditions, unpaid overtime, and many other things, but by that time, the unions were 'organized'. Then the 'shop steward' would tell a hand to 'slow down, you're making everybody look bad', and other things that didn't help Mr. Ford. Then they pilfered the pay of the men on the floor to buy luxury items for themselves on the grounds that it made their bargaining position better! In the old days, just parking a GM car in Fords lot would cause 'spontanious combustion'. Now they pilfer the check of the worker to support socialist ideas and candidates who's policies have been historically proven destructive.

End of rant (for a while...)

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#40
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Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/06/2010 11:47 AM

your secretaries should also be producing....but Over Head is burden.

And Ford did some interesting things to get there worker to produce. by having them compete without them even noticing that was what he was doing to them.

Such as paying a person slight more an hour on a line, which did not sit well with the other line workers who then countered by burying him with work.

As a union, the unwritten rule is, pace yourself, make the job last.

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#41
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Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/06/2010 12:32 PM

If you want to see someone get motivated, tell them they get paid when the project is done, and accepted! Most union hands I've seen will produce, at minimum speed until 'quittin' time, or payday.

I had a contract, some years ago to drill some seismic, shot holes in Texas. I did my due diligence, and figure out how many feet of hole per day we could drill on that job. I bid, got the job, and told my guys, "I'll pay X amount per day, for X feet of hole." We started the job, and the drillers were making their footage in 12 to 14 hours. I thought that was about right since it took me about 10 hours to do it. By the time we got to the end of the contract, my drillers were going home by 2 p.m., footage drilled. I gave bonus's to the guys that wanted to stay around and get ahead.

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#42
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Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/06/2010 1:33 PM

I do see some big differences in how the Union I eventually had a card with operated, and how some of the other Unions that have been mentioned function. For one thing while for some things like The Guiding Light, you might well get a call from the shop steward to see if you were available, the hall only cared that you were in good standing. -Was an old show, had a contract for labor. Paid the lowest rate. Was sort of a fall back bit of work for many. Sure some made it their regular job, but most were out on their own looking for other work on their own. If they got a job they called it in. At least they were supposed to...

Could be lots of ups and downs, but basically work for you as an individual was very dependent on your merits.

Even in situations where all of the calls came out of the Union office, if you didn't perform, and have some solid skills, you might only get calls for scut work. While I haven't worked with IBEW, or for them. I've not here, or anywhere else actually heard bad things about them, from either those that carry their card, or employ them.

There may also be differences between Guilds and Unions, that are of interest. I'm sure not some big time actor, but I was impressed with how the Screen Actors Guild, of which I was not a member, made sure I got paid at least a minimum rate for the work I did since the company had a contract with them for that sort of work. They didn't get me the job.

I heard today that some good number of Coal Miners have been killed in a mining accident. Boy if ever in the US there was a story of conflicts between the Employers and the workers that called for a Union, that's one.

For those who are versatile and have more than one skill, and can move around and up, well, maybe Union membership is a drag, and at best a temporary situation. For those who may well due to reasons of personality and commitment to one job it may be the best option.

In my experiences and in my line of work, the Union guys didn't walk off the job because they didn't want to work, it was because the producer hadn't paid their bills for things like Pension and Welfare. When I was directing a dangerous rig, well I hired Union guys for two reasons, one only these riggers really knew how to do the job correctly and safely, and two they came with their own insurance coverage.

While if someone got hurt or killed, and I as the director could well be personally sued in that event, at least there was a little less liability on me. I did let that job go when the client became uncooperative and wouldn't listen when I said, "If you won't do things when and how I direct them, there is a high likelihood someone will get seriously hurt or killed." In that case it definitely wasn't the Union guys that didn't show up and do what I asked, but the Client who wanted more and more, for less and less. So like so many things there are typically two sides to every story.

We sure know that every year, many coal miners in China get killed, and now adays it is fairly rare for the sorts of deaths to happen in US mining as happen in China. Odd isn't that the supposed Communists who you would think would be all for organized labor, allow such dangerous practices? Just shows again nobody has a patent on hypocrisy, and your country may well sell you out as soon as either the company, or the union.

It's a tough world out there, like one guy told me: "You've got one a-hole, take care of it."

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#43
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Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/06/2010 1:40 PM

Definitely not off topic.

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#44
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Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/06/2010 2:09 PM

Agreed.

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#46
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Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/06/2010 2:47 PM

Dittoes.

milo

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#45
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Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/06/2010 2:33 PM

It started out with the secretaires as overhead to the post I was responding to. And when I got to writing, I adding the issues I saw with unions.

But I have to say also, I worked at a large contract furniture company (non union) that installed furniture at large installations. The installers were a tough lot. (One older experience knowledgable guy, and the rest kids 18-22 years old)

they would drag the work out, and go out and drink at night until the last few days of the install, and then bust A$$ and got the install done in no time.

I did a office furniture (Cubicles) install once, I never brought their work ethic up.

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#33
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Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/05/2010 4:02 PM

When I went to the link I had the impression there that to read what you were referring to, I needed my credit card, debit card handy. Possibly you could give a short summation?

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#47

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/07/2010 5:16 AM

I used to be pro-union until one day there was a walk out.
The Union couldn't decide if it was official or not and wouldn't offer any sensible guidance on what one should do etc.
I went along like a lamb, but vowed that the only union I'd belong to in future was my Family.
I think maybe in some countries and some industries they are a good thing, but generally these days in the affluent west their usefulness has gone and workers are adequately protected by law.
I mean, who is going to support the British Airways cabin crew? Jeez they are hardly mineworkers are they.
Oh dear, which reminds me. Condolences to all the workers and families in the US following the very recent mine disaster.
Now, there is an industry where you do need unions to ensure safety to the best possible standard.
Del

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#48
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Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/07/2010 6:36 AM

Hi Del,

Union with family on Christmas day .

If you do not act like Lamb when in Union Lions will eat you.

I will support the BA Cabin Crews if they go on hunger strike, they will have better waist line.

I respect Mine workers who lay their lives for our comforts.They are real heros.

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#49
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Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/07/2010 7:14 AM

I have to say, with the information so far the mine disaster that happened last Monday in West Virginia, if that mine was a union the disaster may never have happened. but with ever thing seemingly bought and run by big business included the media, who knows what is true.

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#50
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Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/07/2010 8:12 AM

Really! İ doubt it but who knows. This whole topic is a little strange as what does the İBEW have to do with engineering? İt is a skilled trades union and nothing more.

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#51
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Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/07/2010 8:46 AM

I myself are not familiar with unions such as IBEW, UAW, Steamfitters...... But the topics seems to trail off with peoples experience with unions which does cross between the different union types..

What I have found/experienced is, as far as quality and workmansship good and bad both can come from both union and nonunion shops. ie its the individual workers work ethic.

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#52

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

04/18/2010 11:01 AM

I think phoenix911 had the best answer. Simple, logical and so true. ...

"I suppose it would depend on which "Local" you are referring to. With that being said that unions are inconsistent"

Most comments stem around the NEED for unions. It is true, back in the old days we needed them due to lack of employer regulations to protect workers from greedy unfair employers. Now days, probably less, but there are exceptions to every rule.

I wonder if all them people constantly killed in mining accidents, have a Union looking out for them? You see, there are still needs for good unions in some instances.

I too, have seen both sides of the coin. Just like anything, there is good and there is bad. Balance works best.

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#53

Re: IBEW or Any Engineering Union - Pros and Cons

06/16/2010 5:44 PM

Hi All,

Noticed that Milo posted here (after following his latest post on austenitic metal), and thought add to the discussion, since no one has mentioned the following yet:

Germany - an important U.S. competitor - has a large trade-union that covers white-collar engineers in that country: "IG Metall" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IG_Metall.

In the U.S., white-collar engineers (Mechanical, others) who work for the U.S. Government (Army Civilians among them who work for various branches of DOD) are able to join the National Federation of Federal Employees: http://www.nffe.org.

The U.S. government is one of the largest employers of Mechanical Engineers in the United States, and (sadly, IMO) may even provide a larger 2010 median salary than private sector employers at this point, according to recent statistics.

I'm 43 and have never belonged to an engineer's union myself (I have assumed joining one would hurt my career), but allowing them to exist is fundamental to U.S. democracy, and separates us (from a freedom of association perspective) from the various "People's Republics" around the planet.

BTW, my ~90 y/o and retired grandmother belonged to a book-binders union in NYC in the 1940's-50's. I need to learn more about her days there, before it's too late. :)

- Larry

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