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  • Rethinking Unions IV: time to ditch the union label?

    Posted by TM Lutas on November 26th, 2011 (All posts by )

    Previous in the series:
    I, II, III

    Given my positions about work and unions, it would be natural to assume that I would want them to shuffle off into history as fast as possible. Nothing could be further from the truth. Unions are bankrupt, but that doesn’t mean that they are without value. The process of bankruptcy is the process of trying to maximize the value you can save from something when it can no longer continue operating as it has in the past. Ideologically bankrupt unions need to go through bankruptcy to identify and save that value as best as possible, not to kill them off and throw that real value away.

    This is where simplistic conservative solutions go wrong. The wasteful idea of “just shut it down” guts political support among the population of people who are frugal and understand what bankruptcy is. These people are natural conservative supporters but they are not going to sign up for wasteful shutdowns that increase net value loss for society. So long as they perceive that there’s more net value to retaining the present arrangements than to tear them down without replacement they will both be unhappy with unions and fight to keep them in business.

    Improvement and replacement instead of elimination creates a wider natural coalition. The union label itself will likely live on so long as it has brand value and far beyond it retaining its original meaning.

     

    30 Responses to “Rethinking Unions IV: time to ditch the union label?”

    1. sol Says:

      In mediaeval times peasants were tied to the land. When you bought the land you bought the buildings that were on the land and you bought the peasants. Today, you buy a company and you get the workers. If they are unionized you are stuck with them.

      In mediaeval times you could not sell the peasants or force them off the land. You were stuck with them. Mediaeval lords struck deals with their peasants. The peasants decided which crops to plant, when to plant and when to harvest, field rotations, provided fertilizer, etc. The lords protected the seeds over the winter. Introduction of labor saving inventions (eg enclosure) usually caused revolts. Everything was done according to ancient laws and customs – the mediaeval equivalent of union work rules.

      The mediaeval period is not famous for technological advances. Nor did mediaeval Europe export food to Africa, China or India.

      Essentially, the mediaeval village was a labor union and worked the same as labor unions do today.

      Unions help us return to the middle ages.

    2. Bill Brandt Says:

      A few days ago I had a conversation with a neighbor over our neighborhood fire station. It seems because of the city’s budget problems they aren’t able to buy the station a backup generator.

      The neighbor suggested we “pass the hat” around and buy them one.

      I mentioned that the average fireman there is probably making $150K-200K/year, far more than us , and that the firemen themselves are in far better shape to pass the hat among themselves.

    3. Michael Kennedy Says:

      Medieval times saw more invention than is usually acknowledged. The horse collar, the curved board plow, the windmill was improved sop that it would rotate with the direction of the wind. All of these were agricultural improvements and improvements in mediterranian style of agriculture. The soil was different; thicker with more clay and harder to plow.

      No on knows the names of the inventors and they may well have been lords who took off time from the usual military interests. Still, the medeival society would have started without these innovations.Crop rotation came courtesy of the black death.

    4. Michael Kennedy Says:

      They would have starved, not started without the inventions.

    5. sol Says:

      As Shannon Love noted in section II (oct 2), unions have helped bring about crony capitalism by obtaining special laws and government contracts and permits for the companies that hire them. The crony capitalist no longer competes in free markets but, like a medieval lord, has come a part of the government. Like medieval lords, crony capitalists are above the law (indeed whatever pleases them becomes law).

      Compare the inventions of the 1000 year long middle ages with just the period 1800-1900 in America. Ask why did so many Europeans abandon their homes in order to come to America and invent their inventions here? Why didn’t they stay home and invent their labor saving inventions in Europe? Because if they did it there, they would have been hung for eliminating jobs.

    6. TMLutas Says:

      Sol – I do not disagree with anything you say but it seems a bit beside the point as I’m currently working on transition strategies. Perhaps a story might illustrate the issue.

      In Chicago there used to be a store called Marshall Fields. It was bought up by Macy’s, Inc. For many years it kept its branding but essentially was a funny, one off Macy’s that didn’t quite fit in the business organization. When they’d waited several years, Macy’s Inc. finally bit the bullet and did the changeover to Macy’s badging in 2006. There were political protests, a lot of boycott threats and general bad feeling even though Marshall Fields had ceased being an independent public company way back in 1982. This is the potency of brand, a potency that Macy’s Inc simply did not have under its own control even though it had full control of the company for years prior.

      Like them or hate them unions are not just an organization, a structure that does stuff, there is both a generic brand that can be called “unionism” along with individual union brands. Just by themselves, those brands have value and if possible that brand value should be retained. But it isn’t too hard to find instances where there’s more than just empty sentiment to back up that brand value. Solidarity in Poland got real help from the AFL-CIO and thus to a measurable (though I think small) extent the end of communism can be credited to union action. The willingness and ability to do that elsewhere at need is not something to throw away lightly.

      Another issue to consider is that an embrace and extend strategy towards unionism is also a wedge. Those who are in the union and doing fundamentally good and decent things like running training efforts and helping people who are being abused by bosses in criminal fashion need to understand that they’re going to have a career path going forward. Shouldn’t they have one or is their prior association sufficient to throw them into the outer darkness?

    7. Tony Says:

      TMLutas: Workers no longer need unions to protect them from abuse in the workplace as laws and agencies exist to address these abuses. Every worker has their own avenues to address grievances on their own. A union is just an overpriced muscleman that you have to pay a vig too every month from your paycheck. ;)

    8. Tatyana Says:

      TMLutas:
      First, a pedantic note aside: there was no Macy’s, Inc when Marshall Fields was bought. There was instead Federated Department Stores, Inc – a national conglomerate of department store chains with headquarters in Cincinnati and flagship stores of chain-components in many big cities of Mid- and South-west and North-East, including Marshall Fields in Chicago and Macy’s in NYC. Federated took the name of one of the components (Macy’) only in 2007. I don’t see how the protests of local customers, unhappy with renaming of their traditionally-kept departments store brands could be called “political”. What do you mean by that word?

      Second. Tony is right; if you think union’s legitimate reason of existence is in protecting members from abuses from administrating staff, why ALL employers, in ALL firms, could not be in a union? Why, for instance, a regular engineer in an engineering firm could not be a member of protectionist union and is forced to fight [possible] work-related abuses from his manager on his own? Why some workers are more privileged than the others? Division by “exempt” and “non-exempt” employees is way outdated; job force “working horses” are now not only machine-operators, but regular designers, engineers – anyone who creates firm’s product (be it physical or intellectual). Engineers and designers are often working in conditions no union member would tolerate: being on a salary, they are routinely made to work over 60hrs a week without overtime pay (sometimes even w/o being paid anything above their 40-hr/week norm); their vacations are typically 2-week long – and that only starts during 2nd year of employment; their employer is required by law to offer medical insurance – but what is often offered is so expensive (compared with their paycheck) and of low quality, many employees refuse it, etc etc. Overall, any position of benefits/pay you look when comparing union members and designers/engineers the latter group looses.
      So why blue-collar workers still need protection? In what way they are more vulnerable than other categories?

      There are labor and criminal laws in place to protect all categories of workers, and they are independent of “protected groups”. It is much more efficient way of managing grievances than excluding some and favoring others. Let union members compete in a marketplace just like engineers do; if they don’t like a workplace where there are no guaranteed coffee breaks every 2 hrs they will be free to quit and look for other which will offer them this convenience.

    9. PenGun Says:

      “if they don’t like a workplace where there are no guaranteed coffee breaks every 2 hrs they will be free to quit and look for other which will offer them this convenience.”

      Apart from whatever nastiness you espouse it has been well demonstrated that regular breaks increase productivity.

      The outfits that do offer breaks will eventually out compete your more oppressive operations. Sorry.

    10. Mike Doughty Says:

      Having worked for 32 years in Labor Relations and union avoidance, I have some experience in this general area, as well as countless hours of discussion with Management and other Labor Relations people on this specific topic. For what its worth, my conclusion is that the “value” of labor unions in the present day consists of this……the threat of unionization is much more important as a modifier of Management behavior than being unionized itself, at least in “traditional” unionized industries and businesses. Non-union employers have a real incentive to treat their employees well if they believe the consequences of ill-treatment will be a unionization attempt. If unions disappeared completely, there would probably be more bad behavior on the part of Management. Other than that, it’s hard to make a case for unions.

      One man’s opinion.

    11. Tatyana Says:

      The outfits that do offer breaks will eventually out compete your more oppressive operations

      Tell it to a typical Principal of an engineering or architectural Company. Especially now, when 40% of staff got laid off and the remaining few are working at 140% time and responsibilities and at 60% salary of the pre-depression time.

    12. PenGun Says:

      “Tell it to a typical Principal of an engineering or architectural Company. Especially now, when 40% of staff got laid off and the remaining few are working at 140% time and responsibilities and at 60% salary of the pre-depression time.”

      In my experience design operations such as architectural and engineering small businesses only have custodial and perhaps secretarial staff in a union and even in Canada that is the exception. I have no great hatred for management or professional people in general but they are the ones who use the product of sometimes unionized workers to their purpose.

      I think it’s apples and oranges.

    13. sol Says:

      There are really only 2 choices in life. The first is too embrace a feudal society. Everyone has his place, everyone has job security and only War, Famine and Plague upset the daily routine. This is socialism. It is built on the three legged stool of Land, Labor, Capital. All are controlled by central planning. Socialist hate change. So do unions. So do bureaucrats.

      Free markets are based on constant change. New products replace old. Old jobs become obsolete and disappear. New jobs are created. Personal productivity can only increase by doing a task more efficiently. This involves improved technology. Paupers become princes. Princes become paupers.

      What we call liberals are really reactionary conservatives who want to end all change and (unknowingly)bring back the midddle ages. They favor vast national parks where any development or mining or any commercial activity is forbidden. They favor total job security where jobs are never lost, no matter how obsolete (post office). They favor income redistribution as a way to prevent investments in new product development and new technology.

      What we call conservatives are really wild eyed liberals who are never satisfied with the status qup and want to change everything because like Steve Jobs/Andrew Carnegie/JP Morgan they have monster egos. They built America as a land of constant innovation, increased productivity, and useful dreamers.

      Free markets built this country. But I doubt feudalism can prserve it at any tech level except the medieval tech level.

    14. Tatyana Says:

      I have no great hatred for management or professional people in general but they are the ones who use the product of sometimes unionized workers to their purpose.

      what product?
      if you are talking about secretaries – they are clerical staff, produce nothing
      if you mean trades used in construction – they use intellectual product of engineers and designers which they sold to Client/Owner.
      how engineers and architects use trades’ product?

      besides, you did not understand how engineering and design firms work; no – it is not apples and oranges.

    15. TM Lutas Says:

      Tony – Reshaping unions to fight the actual threats to workers today is what I’m talking about. If you use the term “overpriced muscleman” you are implying that there is a price that is fair and value is being provided. I would suggest that the natural role of a worker movement is to fight corporatism, something that we have in all too high a supply and whose hallmark is to pervert the law to the benefit of the company insiders.

      Tatyana – political in this case included street protest. I think universal membership is an excellent idea, one best moved forward by creating a $0 dues membership level with higher levels of service for paying members. If you can sign up for basic worker services such as education videos on how to claim your legal rights against abuse without having to pay a dime, membership would explode and I suspect payments received would also rise over time. But present day unions are unwilling to move to that model, obvious as it is for me.

      As for your takedown of PenGun, I believe that providing a service is just as legitimate, honorable, and admiral a thing as creating a product. A modern economy has requirements for both in a balance line that is constantly shifting. Over time the shift has been towards service as production is increasingly automated/made much more efficient and problems of production are solved.

      PenGun – Oppressive operations that can buy political influence and favored status as govt. contractors insulate themselves from competition by corporatist tactics. It’s this unholy alliance that is the strongest argument for a capitalist workers movement.

      Mike Doughty – If you knew that poor management culture would lead to a legal conspiracy to expose your key workers to head hunters and a concerted effort to increase turnover so as to tank your profits, do you think that this would be a more or less effective threat than current arrangements?

      Sol – I’m unfamiliar with the theory that conceiving the factors of production as land, labor, and capital implies that they must be centrally controlled. I don’t buy that. Not even marxists say this to my knowledge.

      I also (this time slightly) disagree with your definition of the US conservative. He is a true conservative but what he is conserving is a radical liberal revolution which is why conservatives and libertarians much more readily ally in the US than in other nations where the conservative impulse draws from blood, soil, and traditions of aristocratic privilege.

    16. PenGun Says:

      besides, you did not understand how engineering and design firms work; no – it is not apples and oranges.

      Oh but I do. My father at one time was the head of the Professional Engineering Association of BC and both my uncle and cousin had architectural businesses.

      My point was they are not unionized to any extent at all. Comparing an entrepreneurial operation to a union shop is at least apples and oranges.

    17. Tatyana Says:

      Yes, PenGun, I know they are not unionized. If you read my first comment, you might noticed – that is exactly the point I am trying to make, i.e.: why are they not unionized?
      It is an entrepreneurial operation from the point of the owner. But from the point of view of his employees? It’s a sweatshop. They are the ones often oppressed, abused, devoid of their god-given perk of regular coffee breaks (everyone drink their coffees at the desk while continue working…and eat their lunches in the same fashion, too…) and they are working 60-hrs week! Forget about company-paid training: that luxury is a thing of the recent pre-Rrecession past. Forget about Company-paid bonuses or pensions or even insurance. Now employees are even expected to pay themselves for transportation to the construction site and sometimes – to work on their own laptops with software ($5,000 price tag) purchased and downloaded by themselves.
      Tell me, what union worker would tolerate these work conditions?
      So – apples to apples, PenGun, not a fruit medley.

    18. Tatyana Says:

      TMLutas,
      not every street protest is a political one, and your link confirms that.
      About services vs. goods, as in “there is no difference anymore” – I agree; in fact, that was my original assumption. I even said “a product might be physical or intellectual”. I was replying to PenGun’s statement “management or professional people [..] are the ones who use the product of sometimes unionized workers to their purpose.”
      (bold is mine)
      Btw, he still didn’t answer, what product of unionized construction trade workers is used by architects and engineers.

    19. PenGun Says:

      “Btw, he still didn’t answer, what product of unionized construction trade workers is used by architects and engineers.”

      You must be joking right? Um, if not, you might want to look at who builds the buildings. Their work is their product. The skills used by people who build things are fairly hard won. I have done construction and it’s not easy work physically and the knowledge required to properly build things takes years to acquire.

    20. Tatyana Says:

      Ah, PenGun, when will you do your Marxist homework??

      You stated that professionals (designers and engineers, in context of our conversation) use the product created by unionized workers (construction trades, in context of our conversation).
      I asked you to point out to that product.
      Not to tell me they “produce product (buildings)”, but specifically, how architects and designers use product created by trades on a construction site?
      The answer is: there is no such thing. In fact, it’s the other way around: the construction workers use product created by designers.

      Let me explain how things are (apparently, your relatives couldn’t)

      A Client approaches architectural and engineering firm and exchanges his money for design of a building. An owner of AE firm pays part of that money to his employees for doing the job, i.e.: designing, thinking up, drawing, making a model of, specifying components and producing set of Construction Documents for a building. This is their intellectual product. Without this set your highly skilled proletarian masses can create zilch. This product is the property of the Client. Which he then uses as set of instructions to construction trades, with whom he also engages in transaction: money vs. their building skills. Resulting building is the property of the Client. Note: your union workers sold their building skills in exchange for the money while following instructions in the form of Construction Drawings. The resulting product is the physical product created from intellectual.

      Let me also direct you to the source (write it down, it will be on the quiz): F. Engels, in his Principles of Communism, gave the following definition:
      The proletariat is that class in society which lives entirely from the sale of its labor and does not draw profit from any kind of capital; whose weal and woe, whose life and death, whose sole existence depends on the demand for labor – hence, on the changing state of business, on the vagaries of unbridled competition.

      See now, how designers and engineers, those NOT in management or owning the AE firm, but actual working horses, the ones who design, draft, specify, calculate and draw things, are the proletariat of intellectual labor (also a Marxist tag)?

      Now go and re-read my first comment with this enlightenment in mind.

    21. PenGun Says:

      Strange. You assume I have a Marxist background, why? I am amused by places like this where there is a real right/left belief system. Your attacks on the so called left are constant and pretty funny sometimes. It’s only where there is true belief on one side you can believe the weird stuff about the other side.

      The world is not really like this.

      We are arguing about definitions in our discussion of unions. I understand that private firms often have employes that work very hard and in your present, self inflicted, economy it can be very difficult. This has little to do with unions unless there is one at that company.

      My original point that breaks have been shown to increase productivity is still valid. You may find at some of these ‘heroic’ enterprises you might do better to take regular breaks than if you just slave away constantly. Part of the productivity increases are less errors from a well paced work environment.

    22. Shannon Love Says:

      Tatyana,

      Professionals can’t actually unionize because unionization is based on the premise that the workers are largely interchangeable when it comes to their individual productivity. You can’t have uniform pay, uniform conditions and uniform treatment unless the value of the work is also largely uniform.

      The world’s best bricklayer can only work on one wall at a time just like the world’s worst bricklayer. The best bricklayer might do work worth two, three or even five times the value of the worst but the multiplying effect quickly levels off. There are no bricklayers so superior they can produce millions of dollars worth of bricklaying in the same time that the average bricklayer produces a few hundred or a few thousand of dollars worth of bricklaying.

      The same cannot be said of professionals. Professionals can leverage information technology (including organizations) to increase the value their work per unit of time by several orders of magnitude. This means that the very best professional workers can be fantastically more productive than the average worker. Professions that deal in information have “rockstars” whose work is vastly more valuable than the average “musician”.

      Computer programmers might be the purest example of this. Two different programmers spending the exact same amount of time programming can produce software whose value differs vastly. Some of us write a single web page while in the same time some of us write google. The very best programmers don’t want to be lumped into the same economic boat as the average programmers and every programmer dreams that someday, they will be the rockstar. Employers can’t afford to provide the pay, perks and latitude that they provide the rockstars.

      If you want to work in a profession in which everyone is treated the same, you have to choose a profession in which everyone’s work is similarly valuable. Unions benefit the mediocre at the expense of the best. In work in which the best don’t receive significantly greater rewards than the mediocre, the best will tolerate being treated the same as the mediocre in most cases. However, in work in which the best can receive significantly greater rewards, the best will not tolerate being chained to the mediocre.

      So, in the end, it is the “workers” and not “management” that dictate whether a field can be usefully unionized or not.

    23. Tatyana Says:

      PenGun:
      “your original point” about breaks might be “valid’, but it is irrelevant. For my purposes I could bring any of outrageous (from non-unionized worker) perks the unionized enjoy. Including the coffee breaks- but i see that my the meaning of my comments still escapes you. Well, someone in your family has to not make into engineer or architect…nature rests sometimes.

      Shannon – I was not advocating for unionization of professionals. On the contrary, I propose to dissolve all unions.
      See my original comment’s last paragraph:

      -There are labor and criminal laws in place to protect all categories of workers, and they are independent of “protected groups”. It is much more efficient way of managing grievances than excluding some and favoring others. Let union members compete in a marketplace just like engineers do; if they don’t like a workplace where there are no guaranteed coffee breaks every 2 hrs they will be free to quit and look for other which will offer them this convenience.

    24. PenGun Says:

      “Well, someone in your family has to not make into engineer or architect…nature rests sometimes.”

      Indeed I am the black sheep of my family. I never saw the point of so much of what society finds important and have led my life accordingly. I doubt there is anyone here that makes less money. Still, I would not trade places with anyone on this earth.

      That is however a cheap shot. Cheap is as cheap does and you do seem to have a chip you may not be able to afford to dislodge.

      As to the subject. You are pretty plain that you think unionizing workers is a bad idea. You would like to make that illegal. Your position is that all employees are already protected by appropriate law.
      So rather than allowing free and open bargaining there are areas you would preclude from this freedom. I imagine it would be to make your economy more efficient. The 3rd Reich was sorta founded on similar principles.

      @ goodwin ;)

    25. Tatyana Says:

      Shannon – I re-read your comment again.
      Everything you said about bricklayers applies to entry- and intermediate – level designers in engineering or architectural firm. (Senior level are more administrators and project managers from design p.o.v. than they are designers)
      One designer can work on 2 or 10 drawings at a time, but not on 10 projects. There is industry standard range of compensation for specific tasks. There is no designer so superior that can produce orders of magnitude bigger-impact set of drawings than the other one employed on similar position in another firm. If we are not talking about inventors (these are whole different game, and they are few) – the job of the working-horse designer is very much available for calculating, counting and monitoring (like 10hrs for preliminary sketch, 24hrs for design development, etc. – look into any “billable hours” manual on PM’s desk)

      So, by your logic, there are conditions for designers to be unionized. In fact, I know of one example, one attempt already made – for a wider category, but including arch. and eng. designers: Freelancers’ Union. So far their biggest draw is offering group medical insurance, but there is a platform for wider advocacy on behalf of members.

    26. Shannon Love Says:

      Tatyana,

      Everything you said about bricklayers applies to entry- and intermediate – level designers in engineering or architectural firm.

      It doesn’t matter what the average or beginner worker makes, it matters what the top 1% make. As long as every grad has a hopeful gleam in their eye that they will be the next Frank Loyd Wright, the effect holds. The best won’t tie themselves to the average and the young won’t ever think of themselves as average.

      For unions to work, the very best must follow the same rules as the worst. That only works when the value of the labor of the best is only marginally more valuable than the labor of the worst. Otherwise, the best will make the rational decision that they are better off on their own.

      Even if you could make a rational argument that economics of a field are similar to those of low productivity fields, it won’t matter unless the individuals in the field believe it. Again, the best have to agree to shackle themselves to the average. As long as people believe they have a chance to be a rockstar, they won’t.

      One designer can work on 2 or 10 drawings at a time, but not on 10 projects.

      Yes, but not all drawings of equal value. It’s the same as programmers. All programmers churn out code at about the same number of lines of code per hour but relative value of those lines of code vary massively.

      As long as the field offers the opportunity to truly excel, you won’t have stable unions. At best, you will have guilds which restrict entry and fix prices. A lot of professions have guilds but today they primarily serve to restrict entry and otherwise prevent competition. They don’t tie the best to the average they just try to limit the number of people in total who can provide the service. That in turn provides an income floor for most. Unions, however, require an income ceiling.

      So, by your logic, there are conditions for designers to be unionized.

      Only if designers basically give up on the dream of ever being a rockstar. As long as enough designers hold out the dream that one day they will hit it big and get their own firm, they won’t want to join unions.

      The other problem you will face will be a legal one. In professions, some member work for others while some are self-employed. The self-employed are running businesses. When businesses form unions, the unions are suddenly correctly labeled as monopolies engaged in price fixing.

      Any professional unions will have to make a strict legal separation between employees and self-employed. If unions raise cost to high, which is the point after all, then employers will simply contract out to self-employed.

      Professional unions have been tried again and again in Europe but they never really stick. When they do, they are highly anemic organizations that mostly represent the professionals to the state. They are really nothing but associations.

    27. sol Says:

      Unions insulate their members from the constant changes that occur in the market place. Wages, hours and salaries are protected. Until the auto industry bailout, there was no such protection for their employers. Every original air line has gone bankrupt but not the air line unions. All the major steel companies have fled Pittsburgh, the rust belt and even the USA. The US makers of small aircraft are gone from our soil as are almost all the US commercial aircraft manufactrers. Indeed, there are only a few US military aircraft makes left. There is no industry that has benefitted from having unions. Even the unions don’t like unions and they fight every attempt to unionize their office workers.

      Unions are against change. But the world is constantly changing. In the last 2000 years there have been 4 mini ice ages – not cold even to cover the world in ice, but cold enough to shorten growing seasons by 3 or 4 months, cold enough to create famines, mass migrations and war.

      Even year to year crops can be bountiful one year and bad the next. And as food supplies go, so goes the economy.

      Everything in this word is changing. God created evolution so that every living thing could adjust to a constantly changing universe. The ability to change faster than anything else is why we are at the top of the food chain.

    28. Tatyana Says:

      Shannon,

      Designers do not have a dream of becoming a rockstar; designers want job security (not being fired on a whim or when a project ends), being paid for overtime and not being forced to pay for very expensive continuing education themselves (or at least share the expense with employer).
      I don’t know where you get your notion of “rockstar” architects; believe me – the only rockstar the Principal of arch/engineering Co is going to tolerate is himself.
      I don’t see how having a dream one day start one’s own firm prohibit a designer to join the union for a purpose of protecting his current job and to work in decent conditions in a meanwhile. Unless membership in the union somehow made into a life-long slavery there is no barrier for a member to stop being one when he wants to, isn’t it?
      As to your “best/average” line – it might be relevant (although I don’t see how), but what I observe some unions with no specific measured criteria for distinction between the two there are still hundreds of thousands of members who want to be assured of the lowest common denominator – like the Teacher’s Union, for instance.

      Let’s put aside reasons why unions are bad, inefficient, regressive and so on – I already said I advocate their dissolution, you don’t have to convert me.

      What I am saying – as a target audience, in marketing terms, there is a vast group of technical professionals who would like to have same work conditions, security and perks as unionized trades. What I am saying – there a basic inequality out there that needs to be addressed. The division of exempt and non-exempt workers, in my field at least, is way outdated, even if one compares average incomes of an plumbing engineer and a plumber, even w/o looking into all other things. Decades ago that division made sense: you are an engineer, you studied for 7-8 years, you work long hours, you have legal responsibilities a plumber doesn’t, etc, etc – but you make twice as much.OK, that’s worth it. What we see now is sometimes the reverse, in terms of compensation: unionized plumber makes 1.5 times more than average plumbing engineer (I am talking about employees in both cases, not self-employed owners of business).

      And when we look at hiring practices of many design firms, who prefer to import designers from 3rd World and invented workarounds re: legal requirement of preferential employment of domestic workers – I can definitely tell you, there are a lot of angry and disappointed people who’d trade the “dream of becoming a rockstar” for a union’s protection now.

    29. sol Says:

      Tatiana,

      Sometimes small design firms provide better pay and better security than large firms. Large firms are afraid employees will walk off with customer either to anothe company or to start their own. Therefore they separate production people from sales people.

      But is very hard to good work without having direct contact with the client. Sales people don’t know enough aboput production tosell it right; production people don’t know what the clients goals are – so they can’t produce it right.

      When a production person has direct unlimited access to the client this problem disappears and the job becomes much better paid, more secure and more satisfying. This happens in small firms.

      A union will not help you. Client contact will.

    30. Tatyana Says:

      Sol,

      you are offering solution to a problem I didn’t say existed.