The Unions Ain’t What They Used To Be
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When Unions Worked for Workers
In the beginning, the union provided one of the only hedges against employer abuses and unfair practices. Through negotiations, unions became increasingly influential and gained substantial political clout. They used this leverage to get legislation passed that benefited their members but also ensured the growth and longevity of the union structure. Since those early days, laws protecting workers have indeed been passed and the union’s mandate has largely been met. But the success of the labor movement would also cement that the union would be a big part of workers’ lives for a long time. Then something strange happened.
Unions Have Become Big Business
As the need for the union provided protections faded and membership services had increasingly fallen short, dues continued to go up. Civil servants were compelled to both unionize and have dues deducted from their paychecks. The golden age of the labor movement was passing into memory and the rise of union bosses as highly paid politicians began. Union boards devolved into institutional bureaucracies abusing the enormous wealth they controlled. Bloated union coffers were starting to find their way into executive board salaries, cars, credit cards and other exorbitant perks under the guise of official union business.
A typical union executive board member still receives his/her government wage plus an Executive Board salary which often multiplies their pay. This compensation follows no industry standards nor
The compensation structure for these officials goes well beyond appropriate levels for work performed.
expense accounts and free health care all adding up to a big business salary of 4x their normal pay.
Many civil service employees who serve as union officials are:
- Paid their normal government wage yet “relieved” from their civil service responsibilities to report to their union offices
- A Secondary salary from the union
- Often given union vehicles fueled by a union gas card rather than use their personal vehicles at their expense
- Union Expense Accounts and CCs (abused)
- Family meals expensed
- Friends and family brought on Union paid vacation hot spots
- No oversight on the service they provide often working from home and using an honor system.
- Unnecessary Staffing – Self negotiating for union pay and benefits = Self Dealing
- 1st, 2nd & 3rd VPs
- Recording Secretary
- Corresponding Secretary
- Legislative Chairman
- Sergeant At Arms
- Various “Trustees”
- Delegates for each work location and their Alternate Delegates seeking appointments to the board
Needless to say this current scheme served the financial interest of the union officials but not their members. Executive board greed and their lavish lifestyles are certainly not an entirely new phenomenon. However, the actual disclosures in these obscure union IRS filings reveal the growing scale of abuse.
Are Workers Getting What They Pay For?
Most union workers believe that their dues go directly to pay for everything from their health insurance costs to their legal representation by attorneys, should they need it. While the union will engage attorneys in actions taken as a part of union business, legal services are not always covered for individual union members. Health insurance costs are typically paid by the government. Workers who choose to stay in the union and continue to pay excessive dues are doing so for coverage and representation that is often substandard.
Recent Raw Deals
The union failures have continued over the past few years. In New York City, for example:
- Conditions in precinct are shabby
- Summons Quotas
- As prisons close, corrections officers are facing historic layoffs
- Corrections unions have been ineffective in stopping inmate assaults on uniformed staff.
- Police departments are being defunded
- Police Officers are being denied indemnification
- Police unions are doing little more than lip-service nothing in addressing negative public perceptions of policing
- Uniform police are being asked to go far outside of their mandate and training to cover social services and interventions that strain their numbers and threaten their personal wellbeing.
- Firefighters in New York are being increasingly rejected out of hand for Disability Pensions through a systematic weakening of their collective bargaining powers.
This is a pattern that is becoming increasingly prevalent as the sun sets on the old way of doing the business of protections and benefits for civil service workers.
The Time Has Come for a Choice
Many civil service workers have had a troubled relationship with their union for years. They know the history of the labor movement and understand that collective bargaining has historically been important when it came to a workers quality of life. But, more recently, unions have repeatedly been letting workers down.
- Unions have become increasingly comfortable making costly concessions to government negotiators
- Pay increases have not kept up with inflation for the last 20 plus years.
- Civil servants are more likely than ever to be unfairly disciplined and even fired
The situation is unacceptable as it is. So, along with a landmark Supreme Court decision (read more about “The Janus Decision” here) the time has come for a new opportunity. Outdated unions have lost their monopoly and finally face innovative competition.
EEZEE Choice answers the persistent question of “What is the next breakthrough for workers protection and benefits?” Find out about enrolling in an EEZEE Choice plan by clicking here.