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View Diary: Wage theft hits software engineers as well as fast food workers (70 comments)

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  •  The Dems have mostly abandoned unions (4+ / 0-)

    They only give the unions lip-service anymore.
    You have no arguments with me on that point.

     But that makes supporting unions, as opposed to supporting a political party proxy, all the more important.

      As for your point about unions being inappropriate for some trades, I strongly disagree.
       If you work for a paycheck, then you need a union. One working class slob looks like the next to the bosses.

    "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

    by gjohnsit on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:26:26 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  But how would unions address this wage theft? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      This is an honest question.  Laura's diary is about an anti-competition scheme:

      The engineers say they lost up to $3 billion in wages from 2005-9, when the companies colluded in a scheme not to solicit one another’s employees. The collusion, according to the engineers, kept their pay lower than it would have been had the companies actually competed for talent
      But one could think of that scheme exactly the same as a union contract.  Say a software engineers union negotiated a contract with Apple, Intel, Adobe, and set the prevailing wage for the engineers.

      Now one of the top talent engineers at Adobe thinks he should be paid more.  He wants to go work for Apple for more money, but they're bound by the same contract.  Apple isn't allowed to pay more for top talent.  The whole point of a union is to treat the workers all pretty much the same.

      So how is that functionally different from the wage theft that happened?  The companies simply agreed to a wage cap on their own, instead of negotiating a contract with a union.  Would a union contract really allow Apple to poach top talent union engineers from Adobe for more money?  What would the other union workers say about that?

      •  Think of it this way (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Norm in Chicago

        In which situation do you have more leverage: by yourself, or as a group?
           When you go bargain with your boss, would you rather sit alone in a room with 4 bosses around you telling you what they are going to pay? Or would you rather sit in a room with 20 of your coworkers telling your bosses what the minimum it is that you will settle for?
           Which situation do you feel has more power?

          As for the companies, that's called theft for a reason.
        They are organizing against you, and it was effective. So how is you and your coworkers organizing not to your benefit?

        "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

        by gjohnsit on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 10:45:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  But the theft was not paying above the minimum (0+ / 0-)

          A)  The Union sets the prevailing wage.
          B)  The "free market" sets the prevailing wage.

          Either way, there's a fixed wage that all companies agree to abide by.

          A)  The companies all agree to pay the prevailing union set wage and not poach each other for top talent.

          B)  The companies collude together and agree to not pay more for top talent.

          Either way, the top talent is not getting paid more money.  Isn't it theft either way.

          Unions are great when they set standards for wages and working conditions.  But they're not great when they set a ceiling on wages and tell individuals that they can't work harder or innovate to get better pay as top talent, because the wages are fixed by union contract.

          My dad did get great benefits as an IBEW electrician. But he was the best electrician in the entire damn plant, and he never got the pay he deserved until he left the union and became an electrical tech.  Only then could he demand higher raises for his talent.

          •  There's two issues here (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Norm in Chicago

            1) You are admitting that companies organizing against you is very effective, but you are stuck in thinking that you and your coworkers organizing somehow won't be effective.
              That is illogical. Organizing is effective in setting wages, not just for companies but for workers too.

              As for the "free market" setting the prevailing wage, not if the companies are colluding.

            2) Your opposition to unions because of "top talent" is exactly what I experienced when the SEIU tried to organize the the IT workers in the UC system.
               You are thinking of yourself as a capitalist, not a worker. It is exactly how the companies want you to think.

               First of all, not everyone can be "top talent". > 90% of IT workers are going to get screwed, eventhough the majority of IT workers think like capitalists.
               Secondly, unions are democratic. You tell the union what the ceiling should be, not the other way around. And if the union doesn't listen to the workers then you find a different union.

              Finally, my father was also an IBEW electrician. Until the day he retired he was paid far more than the average non-union electrician. Or even a very good non-union electrician. Back in the early 80's he was making $35 an hour. I don't know what they make now.

            "The oppressors most powerful weapon is the mind of the oppressed." - Stephen Biko

            by gjohnsit on Tue Apr 22, 2014 at 11:17:46 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I made them equally effective (0+ / 0-)

              I'm assuming that a union-set prevailing wage and a collusion-set prevailing wage are both equally effective.  Stay with me here:

              A)  The union says wages are $35/hr and get all companies to agree to that contract.
              B)  Company collusion says they won't pay more than $35/hr.

              Either way, the engineers say they're workers, not capitalists, and $35/hr. is just fine.  Everyone is making good money, everyone is happy for a while.

              Then, it comes out that Apple actually was willing to pay $45/hr the whole time, but didn't.  They didn't pay more because:

              A)  Apple agreed to a union contract to pay $35/hr and didn't want to treat workers like capitalists and poach the top talent for $45/hr, because that wouldn't be fair to the bottom 90%.

              B)  Apple was worried that if they offered $45, Intel or Adobe would offer $50, so they colluded to keep wages at $35/hr.

              Which one(s) are wage theft?  A?  B?  A and B?  or neither?

              I'm sorry, but you can't ask for unions to treat everyone the same, say paying the top 10% more is capitalist, and then in the same breath complain that Apple wasn't capitalist and didn't hire away the top 10% for more money while screwing the bottom 90%.

              You have to pick one.  Are you mad at Apple for paying everyone the same, or for not paying the top 10% more?

      •  Why would a union set a cap on wages? (0+ / 0-)

        Contracts usually set a floor, not a ceiling.  That's why they work, set a max wage wouldn't make sense for this kind of field at all (or any).

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