Unions are holding America back from being competitive. They served their purpose but are no longer relevant in the 21st century. Companies will continue moving to non-union states because of the ridiculous wages they are forced to pay union workers. I’ve been physically threatened by union workers for not hiring them in Seattle, Cleveland and Chicago, and this mob mentality has got to go. The 20th century is over and it’s time to abolish unions. Watch this short video I taped in Madison, Wisconsin, where the issue of collective bargaining has reached fever pitch. I’ll look forward to your comments. Steve Siebold

[media id=158]

Steve Siebold
Author and Professional Speaker since 1997. Past Chairman of the National Speakers Association's Million Dollar Speakers Group. Author of 11 books with 1.4 million copies in print.

47 thoughts on “Critical Thinking on Unions”

  1. Well…reading all those comments probably gives people misleading idea that we, Polish are bitter and jealous about “our” girl making it big in LA. But the truth is, that for you Alicja Bachleda-Curus is just a pretty, talented actress from Poland. I’m her age and actually grew up, seeing her making it “big”. It wouldn’t happen if not for her very well known and rich parents. I’m from the same city she lived in, have friends who went to high school with her and even met her once. And we all share the same feeling about this girl: arrogant, rude, spoiled, stuck up person. Very sad.Report this comment as spam or abuse

  2. This blog has presented some great discussions on this topic. In addition, I agree that if we the people don’t talk about this and other topics our country will eventually disappear.
    I also appreciate the fact that we are to look at this from a non-emotional point of view.
    Yes, unions have had a place in shaping this country. However, as in anything that is going to stay functional it has to continue to grow and change. Unfortunately like many other parts to organizations I feel they are put themselves first, greed, and not looking at the whole picture (the company staying alive and things working the best for all sides)
    I’m looking at this topic through a long time span in my 48 years of life.
    As a young lady I worked with my non union father that was a barber. He grew up on a farm and because of health reasons had to leave the life he loved. So he mowed for church and factories around town to keep some of his farm life alive. He waited as long as he could for a union strike to end but eventually the grass HAD to be cut. He knew there would be problems and told me we would have to watch for metal stakes in the grass and that the workers would be verbal with us. We not only encountered the metal stakes, broken glass, and verbal abuse, but as a youth of not more than 13 yrs old I was egged as I cut the grass. One of these eggs didn’t break; I stopped my tracker, picked up the egg, and calmly walked over to the person that had throw it and handed it back to them. My father saw this and the shame it brought the person that had attempted to egg me and at home praised me for my behavior. He said that my actions of peace and love taught that person that their behavior was immature, unethical, and wrong.
    As an older youth I worked in a nursing home where there was a union. I opted not to join and saw people who were kind to me when I first started working there turn on me. I had decided to watch and see if joining the union was a benefit or not, I could always join later. I never saw a benefit.
    While attending college for education, unions were brought up and in the textbook it mentioned that the teachers union would require me to pay 10% of my income into the union. I had heard of tithing to a church, but a union. I didn’t want to be told I had to tithe my income to a union, I quit the education department.
    Now as an adult, I have seen a bread company my husband works for union reduce their members’ standard of living by not taking deals the workers were willing to settle for. The union wanted more, “just hold out and we will get you a better deal”, what they got their workers was far less in the end than what the company had originally offered. They ended up with a $150 a week cut in pay and having to pay $40 a week for their pervious free health care.
    My brother-in-law is in the steel workers union in WI and I have seen the mind set promoted by the union. My free thinking sister that has had a very profitable jewelry business of her own, for marriage sake became a union supportive brainwashed middle income mind set supporter. Her husband swears that without unions workers would be in unsafe working conditions. Really, I have to question that Pete, I believe workers can join together and report unsafe work conditions. If too many accidents happen a company is going to have their unsafe work conditions brought to light no matter the threats of management. In addition, there are state and federal guild lines in place now that are there for the workers protection. Like others here have stated, you have to be licensed in order to do certain kinds of work. I would not be afraid to have a non union electrician wire my house; they all have the same training and licensing requirements.
    Being part of a company that promotes an opportunity and not a job, I have seen too many people “have to have benefits”. They deny themselves to opportunity to build something for them because they think they have to be taken care of. They just can’t grasp being able to claim health insurance as a tax write off, and getting paid for their efforts instead of hourly or salary. We as a nation have fallen a long way from our founding fathers/mothers reasons for starting this nation and if we don’t fix things I’m afraid this nation will fail.

  3. If you believe that corporate employers do not take advantage of their workers, you are badly misinformed. How is it that wages are going down while corporate profits are going up? How is it that workers have lost their mobility because they need to have health insurance provided by the corporate employers? How is it that we have political representatives who serve the large corporations over the interests of the citizens of this country? Why would it be beneficial that corporations have no limit on the use of their funds to control government but the workers cannot do the same? I cannot understand how you think that just having 24 hours cable news in any way replaces the need for workers to have an organization dedicated to protecting their rights.

  4. I used to be a union mason. I went non-union early on in my working career for several reasons.

    A couple thoughts and a story worth sharing:

    Power is a concept we can’t avoid. When unions have more power to determine the outcome of a company or industry than the man or woman who actually has skin in the game (ownership)–there is a problem.

    I’m pretty libertarian in my views and practices these days but 18 years ago when I was a union mason, work dried up as it often does in the winter in upstate New York. So, I went on unemployment. Now at the time, to prove that the receiver of NYS unemployment compensation was actually trying to NOT be unemployed, one had to get signatures from three companies per week establishing that they’d tried to get work and simply couldn’t find it. My lazy side was over-joyed to learn that being a union mason I didn’t have to look for work. Why?! “I was a union mason! I couldn’t legally be compelled to take work that wasn’t what I do (brick, block, concrete, plastering…)”

    I still shake my head and laugh when I think about this today. “Great Mr. Union Mason, I guess your family won’t be eating this week because you’re too proud to change tires at the local tire shop or…” Unions create proud, tired, entitled underachievers who too often think they are overworked, underpaid and under-appreciated. I do believe here in the US, they’ve outlived their productive usefulness.

    Ahhh, but therein lies the point. Productivity isn’t the point of unions–it’s sustainment or creation of jobs and power. Power ought not be legally shifted from the ambitious, hard-working and skilled individual to a member of the brotherhood of pipe-fitters, masons or state workers.

    Powerfully Yours,


  5. Having lived in New Zealand where the unions were disenfranchised. You had people having to take their own coffee and tea in to work and also their own toilet rolls.
    now in Australia we here of unions taking shows of hands for strike action and if you disagree you are targeted and your family threatened ( this is what I have heard).
    When my DH was a delgate all voting for strike action etc was done by secret ballot.
    The truth is that you have unscrupulous unions and unscrupulous employers. Like everything there needs to be a balance and each group should be keeping the other honest. The problem is that from what you say the unions hold the employers to ransom neither is good for the economy.

  6. … and these same teachers that are to be key citizens for children to model, take a bunch of “sick days” at the public expense– to the point that there are massive school shutdowns. PATHETIC!!!

  7. In addition to the many quality comments already made, allow me to add these points in relation to the teacher’s strike in Madison:

    1. Elected officials and appointees are very willing to ratchet up pay and benefits that will not be brought down in order to garner votes and approval. They will make concessions today because they won’t be there to be blamed for these unjustified give-aways the day after tomorrow.

    2. When labor costs rise too high, a company can relocate to any other area that has a willing and capable work force. Citizens of an area usually do not have this option. Government services are tied to a region, be that a county or school district, and if that area is going to be solvent in the future, then tough actions must be taken when necessary.

    This system continues until the imbalance is too great to bear.
    These teachers and non-critical public employees have benefits that few in the private sector can wish to be offered.
    These politicians were voted in to make the reasonable corrections that the public demanded (contributing to your own health care costs and controlling payroll growth) and a few cry-babies cut across the border to delay the inevitable.
    A Supreme Court nominee costs these counties hundreds of thousands of dollars to confirm the obvious: an unfortunate mis-step provided a fleeting sensation of victory, yet when it is time to fold up camp, we get stuck with the bill.
    … and now the crying continues with these ludicrous recall elections of officials that are doing as they were put in office to do.

    Too many people over-value their opinions around here– willing to provide the view of problems as they see it, but have no solutions.
    Time to take the medicine!

  8. Union thinking came to assume at least 2 things: no global competition and they could control the status quo. They assumed that the government had full control over companies. They assumed that companies could/would never leave.

    They held to the illusion that they could maintain a strangle hold on companies, even on non-union members, forever. They got so used to their ‘benefits’ and for so long, they cannot bare the blinding light of their illusion being false.

    Not just unions, but many other groups in the US and other countries assumed that prosperity, under our central banking system, would be sustained forever or at least during their lifetime.

    Unions may have started out as a self-defense mechanism but then they morphed into ‘high-class’ gangs to enforce the status quo which they like.

    2 problems with people:
    The chaff mix themselves with the wheat. (that is why they call for equal pay).
    Most people believe that they are worth no less than what they are being paid now.

    How many people think they deserve less pay?
    I know of none.
    One should take care of oneself and not off other peoples’ backs.

    … just passing by …

  9. Wow.. you really opened a can of worms with this one Steve! Thank you! You have given me a platform!

    I’m with you. Unions do need to go. I am not a fan of the union either and I’ll tell you why.

    When I fueled jets at a navy base I worked with a lot of people who were union employees and let me tell you, working with the union employee was next to impossible and it’s all because the union employee is untouchable. They have their “rights” you know… like they are some exclusive group of people and non-union employees are beneath them somehow. The unfortunate ones. Like they have memberships at the worlds most lavish country clubs and everyone else eats at Denny’s.

    Union employees are protected so in turn, the attitudes they adopt are unbelievably bad. They don’t go to work because they love what they do, or even believe in what they do but rather, they work becuase they have a guaranteed job that has a built in safety net that allows them to become finger pointers, whiners and complainers in the workplace, and in society and no consequenses ever come of it. Union employees are ruined employees because it’s all about the expectations of having a guaranteed job with benefits and in turn they tend to have hand out mentalities. Trust me, I know. I just fired a former union employee on Tuesday who worked for me for a very short time.

    I know a lot of people who work for unions. People whom I used to be good friends with in fact, before they became union employees. Let me just say that the quickest way grown men can lose my respect is for them to become finger pointing whiners with chips on their shoulders, who live thier lives in a constant state of victimhood because they’ve got it so bad, and they go to work every day to do as little work as possible while they gripe and complain to each other about their problems so they can get off work at 5 and start all over again at 9 the next day.

    Spare me!

    I own and operate two businesses. My rear end is on the line every day of my life and no one is out there protecting me. The only “right” I have in this life is to be happy and do the things that bring me joy. As an employer, I look for people who have a deisre to make a difference in other people’s lives, as well as their own lives, who can come to work with a pleasant attitude each and every day who has the ability to bring customers to my door and make my cash register ring. When that happens, I get to pay my employees and, I do it with a glad and greatful heart! As it should be! Everyone wins! Making a difference! Solving problems and making money! That’s what turns our economy and makes America so GREAT!

    Bickering and fighting in these little union wars is just plain gross! It’s time for unions to die and people to grow up and take some personal responsibility for themselves. A lot of people would wake up and realize the great potential they have to make an amazing life for themselves if the union didn’t exist and no one was around to condone their bad behavior.

    Ah.. and, as for the question Jen A asked “how many of the people posting here are living on minimum wage? That’s right, you can’t…” Here’s the deal on minimum wage:

    In Nevada I pay my employees minimum wage for entry level work. $8.25 an hour to answer a phone, take messages and do various tasks that don’t require much training or education. Minimum wage jobs are everywhere. They are designed to put the entry level employee into the workforce. These people are high school kids who are in a place of transition in their young adult lives.

    Minimum wage jobs were never intended to support someone, let alone support a family. What people are suppose to do is to get an education, or develop skills that will make them profitable for someone else which will take them out of the minimum wage bracket and move them into higher wages. (Please don’t even be tempeted to tell me it can’t be done without the union. I’m also not interested in hearing about the economy. I’m sick of hearing it!)

    There are plenty of jobs are out there. The problem is, no one’s finding them because people are having too much fun crying about what they don’t have, being victimized by circumstance and collecting unemployment checks rather than getting out there and impressing the daylights out of a prospective new employer with their talent, fortitude and greatful attitude! Greatful to have a job in “today’s economy” that pays more than minimum wage.

    Right now I’m hiring Membership Representatives, Coaches and Managers. I have posted job descriptions in my facility, posted job openings at the local community college, the local employment office and on Craig’s list. I spend a great deal of my time interviewing, hiring, training and firing BECAUSE, like most of my like minded business owner friends, we simply can not find qualified people who want to work. They’d rather have the hand out. We are competing with the government and the unions.

    I’m so glad this administration brought the “change” everyone was looking for. I’m not seeing it.

    People have to change their attitude and change their minds before this economy is going to change. People have to change.

    BRAVO Steve for posting this today! If you need my help kicking butt out there, just give me a call!

  10. I hear a lot of chatter about, should the unions stay or go. We could debate all year about the pros and cons of unions an dboth sides would right. The problem with America is not just the unions, or the wealthy, or the government, the problem with America is all of the above, plus us.
    We, the people, have allowed heads of state, unions, and the media to decide what is best for us. Of course, since they are making the decisions, and they know we will just follow their orders, the decisions they make benefit them the most.
    The America I know is filled with pride, creativity, and independence. We have allowed the ring leaders of both parties, unions, and the media to brainwash us into believing we are something we are not.
    At one time, unions were needed to protect the worker. Now we need unions to empower the workers with pride, not just pride in their work, but pride in their fellow Americans.
    The 24 hour news stations have us believing that we are bad people only because they continually show the same crimes over and over again. After a while the viewers start to believe that all people are bad.
    Our schools are falling down on the job because parents want punish the teachers instead of working with them, The teachers and the parents are now mad with each other because the teacher can’t be fired if they have tenure and the parents are giving total control over the curriculums. What sparks this anger? The constant media attention to these 2 topics instead of the child. The child is the most important piece of the puzzle.
    If you want change in America, we have to change America. That means stop watching the mind numbing news stations that have an agenda, stop voting for the same idiot politicians over and over, in fact, most people should start voting, and stop giving your power away to everyone who seems important. They may look successful, they may sound successful, but they are only in it for one reason- WHAT IS IN IT FOR THEM!
    I am tired of hearing people whine about the problems being someone else’s fault. The only person to blame is the person you see in the mirror every morning. My question to you is: Are you going to make changes in your life to make a difference, or are you going to sit on the sidelines and whine? That is what will change America my friends, YOU AND I!

  11. I think we really should differentiate a bit more. There are the public employee unions, where the beneficiaries are federal, state and county workers, many of them essential to run the country (emergency responders, teachers). Theses unions take tax payer money (through forced deductions from union members) and then use it against the same tax payers to force more money for these union members. There is a very clear imbalance of power and oversight. These unions must be decertified, so we can balance our budget.
    On the other hand we have free enterprise unions (truckers, electricians etc). I have no problem with these unions, as long as we have secret ballots and “no closed shops”, so workers can decide for themselves, if they see benefits belonging to the union, without being forced.
    This would then level the playing field for all and we probably all could live with that result.
    And Steve, I love it that you brought some politics into this, just look at the lievly discussion you stirred up.

  12. I agree with you 100%. Unions have served their purpose and should now be abolished!

    On one of our moves there were three men unloading a truckful of furniture during a heatwave in VA. The driver of the truck sat in the truck ALL DAY LONG while the other three men unloaded furniture and carried it into our house…because he “belonged to the union!” He said he could not even unscrew a light bulb! That is un-Christian and UNAMERICAN and unneighborly, etc., etc.! That is stinking thinking!

  13. Well, Steve, you got roundly criticized for bringing politics into your blog. I personally want to commend and support you for doing so. The idea that a businessman shouldn’t discuss politics because they’re “not good at it” is ludicrous! Every businessperson is affected by politics every day they are in business, and you and I and every American are entitled to express our opinions on any subject, including politics, freely and openly. The problem in my view is that union bosses are, by in large, liberal progressives. They run the unions; the workers do not. They play at politics every day with money from union memberships that often don’t support the candidates or the points of view that the money from their dues is being spent on. I am not against unions supporting workers’ rights and helping them have the best standard of living possible, but when worker’s dues are co-opted without their permission, union thugs attend political rallies and beat people up, and those who disagree are told to shut up or they’re out of the union, it has gone too far. Look at California, look at Wisconsin and you will see that unions are not primarily looking out for their people. They are using their union and it’s money to push a political agenda. The head of SEIU has even threatened to use physical force to promote the union agenda. Is it time for the unions to go? Maybe not, but some massive restructuring is definitely in order!

  14. I believe that Unions have become inherently parasitic. At the time of their beginnings there were legitimate reasons for their existence. Now they basically have become a blackmailing mob. Their unspoken creed ‘more for less.” The result of their seniority system is at best a mediocre workforce.

  15. I have been a member of three unions in my working lifetime BELIEVE me, they don’t look after the welfare of the worker, just his benefits. It is not the workers and benefits so much that are bankrupting public sector unions it’s powerful collective bargaining and the fat cats at the top ripping off the funds,including way overboard retirement packages. In the private sector,mainly blue collar it’s up the chain of command and seniority members hogging the overtime and not spreading the time to the newcomers so they can get their hours in to claim their benefits. Add that to this government’s lack of controlling illegal immigration problem in this country and people still wonder why American small businesses are not hiring. I own a small hardwood flooring business on Long Island and I had to lay off all my guys 4 years ago because I could not afford to keep them busy. It is simple math,It is getting harder and harder to stay licensed and insured,conform to regulatory and tax structures and compete with those who are not legal bidding on the same work. I DON’T SEE GOVERNMENT REGULATORS AT THESE ILLEGAL HIRING SITES!!!!

  16. @Chris
    of course in Germany the union and bosses work more together, they don’t have a choice. By German law, any publicly traded corporation with at least 2000 employees must have half of their Board of Directors from the union.
    The big difference between America and Europe is that Americans are more freedom loving, more willing to take risks, willing to take responsibility for their lives and less depended on government or other people in general. I was born and raised in Germany and lived there for 30 years and now the same time in the US and I see the big difference. It is 2 quite different cultures.
    @Jen, do I have any surveys etc. No. Most of it comes from customers at my restaurant, whne we talk about things, including how life was different 40 to 60 years ago. My main point was “being content”, not necessary happy.

  17. @Mike… do you have anything to back up your assertions that people were more content? I’d be interested to read…

    @Chris the U.S. seems to thrive more on a sense of individualism and isolation rather than cooperation, and unions are in direct opposition to the sense of helping others… It’s not really a surprise they are so hated there.

  18. You are half right Steve, unions never served a valuable purpose, they are always about greed and power. Free Enterprise works when it’s free, not forced to pay some “union scale wage.” Like Jim Rohn used to say, America is a ladder to climb, not a bed to lay in, if you want more money become more valuable.

  19. Just a FYI clarification on competency.

    Re earlier comment “What about electricians? You wan’t your house wired by a non-union electrician, putting your kids at risk so you can save a buck?”(sic)

    Union membership has nothing to do with competency.

    State licensing requirements, including supervised work experience and state exams, are the means of certifying competency.

    Here is a link that addresses standards in Texas

    Or….just check it out yourself on google

  20. @Mike Different people have have different perspectives of the impact of Thatcher. One alternative POV might be that some formerly prosperous areas, particularly in the North of England, never recovered from her policies. Her breaking of the unions made it easier for industries to outsource to other countries not to mention her closing all of the mines.

    Sure London is rocking thanks to the finance sector being bailed out by the taxpayer and generous tax breaks but the rest of the UK economy is pretty sick and been for decades since the 70s. The illusion of wealth is there, sure – but it’s just been pumped up by a massive debt based consumer economy and huge amounts of privatization and government borrowings over by the last 30 years.

    Considering Germany has had to assimilate east Germany after the fall of the Soviet Union – I think they’ve done rather well. Certainly, it seems a pretty prosperous country when I visit it. Car ownership isn’t anything – they have a damn fine public transportation system and most of my German friends chose not to own a car as a result. And there seems to be a greater spirit of cooperation between unions and bosses over there than the picture I’m getting from you chaps in the US.

  21. This is Mental Toughness? Or Critical Thinking? Your “conclusions” seemingly can’t be “weaker” or more “shallow.” Such beliefs and reasoning clearly exemplifies the USA problem(s) of today. We may well have been born “equal,” but surely we haven’t deveoped that way. Lord, help us!

    1. Jim,
      These consclusion are based on emotionless, objective reality. America wasn’t built on overpriced labor or guaranteed work, it was built on free markets, ingenuity and innovation. This has nothing to do with being deep or shallow because it’s not an emotional argument. What right do workers have to bully their employer into paying ridiculous wages? If they don’t like their job they are free to quit; and if their employer doesn’t like their work they are free to fire them. Thats free market capitalism, and thats the 235 year history of America. I’d like to hear more of your thoughts on this.

  22. @Kurt,
    Germany has a higher standard of living than America? Which Germany do you mean? The one were most young people can’t even afford a car any more, where about 25% live permanently of social security (called Hartz IV there) and by the admission of their own politicians, they have no chance of getting away from this, the Germany that has a national sales tax of 19%, where home ownership is considerable lower than in the US etc.
    On unions: You few months ago we had great examples why unions are necessary: stage hands in NY city make $500,000 a year, life guards in Long Beach over $150,000 a year. In Tampa police office receive pension after 25 years of service and get rehired in a different position, thus double dipping.
    @Chris, remember the UK before Thatcher? Once she broke the back on union power, England started to prosper.
    Look at the power of the federal state and county workers unions. They are sucking the life blood out of our economy. A large part of the deficit is due to the horrendous salaries and compensation package they get. They use the union funds to get more money from lawmakers, and we, the taxpayer funding all this, have no seat at the table.
    The unfunded pension requirements from the auto industry and other unionized business will never be able to be paid. There is just not enough money there.

    The unions today fulfill one main purpose: push the responsibility what’s wrong in our lives to somebody else, teach people nothing is their fault, it is the big bad employer, the greedy capitalist etc etc. This then enables the government, with the help of the unions, to make things right for you. This is also called Socialism. And it has never worked.

    When America and Americans were self reliant, from work to health insurance to local education and policing, we as a country were doing a lot better and were more content

  23. Steve,
    I have followed your career for many years and am a big fan of mental toughness. i am sorry, however, that you are using this forum for this political conversation.
    I will always be outraged at the political agenda of this country now to unempower the working class. Please stick to what you’re great at….empowering people…and dissassociate your material from the mass political agenda to weaken the human condition of our citizens.

    1. Marsha,
      I’m sorry you feel I’m wrong for entering into a political debate. I’m not in the business of empowering people. Thats the job of a motivational speaker. What I get paid to do is advise Fortune 500 companies on mental toughness and critical thinking, and that very often means tackling the big issues everyone else is afraid to discuss. I’m entering into politics, religion,and other controversial topics on this blog because if America doesn’t grow up soon and start debating these issues and start reaching more intelligent conclusions, this country is finished. This blog has 20,000 of the smartest subscribers in the blogosphere, and together we have a better chance of solving these seemingly unsolvable problems. I hope you will continue to get in the discussion! Thanks for your thoughts.

  24. Without unions there would be no vacations, no child labor laws, no 9-5 work hours, no fair wages, no employees rights, no child-care, no fair-hiring. Just a party of NO! sound familiar?

  25. How many of the people posting here are living on minimum wage? That’s right, you can’t. Poverty is costing your systems much more than living wages are. http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2007/01/poverty_report.html

    And don’t fool yourself, Ken – corporate America is outsourcing to do what it has always done – take advantage of those in desperate situations. Organizing a union may be tough in North America – in other parts of the world, it is murder.

  26. Steve, et al:

    My anti union sentiment is with teacher unions. Having three school aged children, I have seen first hand the potential destructive nature of the unions. My perception is that the main purpose of the union is to protect it’s members over what is best for students.

    When our daughter was struggling with a potentially damaging teacher, and we investigated having the teacher removed from the position, we were told that because she was tenured she could not be removed.

    I keep writing potential with regard to teachers because we decided to empower ourselves and enroll our two daughters in a newly established charter school. In this new teacher performance based environment, our daughters are thriving. It is a welcome relief not to have to worry about ineffective and detrimental teachers.

    Truly free markets, an environment where consumers have freedom of choice, is what will finally do away with teacher and other unions. People are ignorant if they believe there is nothing they can do to promote free markets. Quite the opposite, we can speak at the polling booth and with our dollars.

  27. Hey Steve,

    I’m with you on this–the pendulum has swung so far from the original purpose of unions that it has become absolutely out of control–your example of having to hire someone to plug in a projector is a classic example. No wonder corporate America is outsourcing! Unions don’t get it! Workers were once taken advantage of, now unions take unfair advantage and are the epitome of fat, lazy, spoiled rotten whiners that have undermined our economy right off the American soil.

  28. Steve – I agree 100%. In New Zealand they disenfranchised the unions many years ago and brought in an employment act that allows employers the power to negotiate and hire people under their own conditions and pay rates. Individuals are able to engage an “advocate” to help argue their case, but ultimately it’s a “locally” agreed contract. Speaking as an ex-employer, so far this has worked brilliantly. The only downside, if any, is that to compensate against the risk of abuse the courts are encouraged to lean more strongly in favour of the employee when it comes to employment arbitration or grievances…

  29. Steve, great commentary. Having never been affiliated with nor associated with unions, I have a fairly naive perspective on this topic, but I’ve seen the damage to progress and growth unions create.

    The union barrier is even ruining professional sports (see “NFL” and “NBA”).

    While the worker is being “protected”, the public they serve is getting the short end of the stick through higher costs of services or no service at all during a strike or a holdout. Unions seem very antiquated and unnecessary. Great to see you carrying this message to such a huge stage! Thanks as always for your great work.

  30. Steve,

    Your take that workers are no longer being taken advantage of shows how out of touch you are with today the work force in America today. I’ve worked both in non-union and union shops and the atmosphere in most non-union shops is “take the crumbs you get and like or else you can be replaced for even less than we are paying you”. I think Rockefeller taught his sons “when you deal with the Unions, be a straight shooter- that way you don’t miss!” ha ha ha…good joke, except he actually carried it out.

    Germany and many other countries who have higher standards of living than we do have far more unions. Peoples’ characterization that union employees are a lazy a bogus stereotype, ever heard of Ironworkers? They built the Twin Towers, thank God that Brown & Root didn’t, or else they would have collapsed on impact and possibly 30,000-50,000 people (from media reports this is what I heard was population at time of the attack) would have died. What about electricians? You wan’t your house wired by a non-union electrician, putting your kids at risk so you can save a buck?

    And your comment about paying $75- to plug in a projector sounds like personal experience and smacks of elitism, you’re a mentally tough multi-millionaire who I’ve always admired and referred people too. People who hate unions always bring up the odd example of what appears to be overpaid or lazy workers than paints all union workers with the same brush. They will, as you did, minimize or ignore the abusive nature of power, whether it be in a small company or in D.C..

    I believe in Fair Trade, Free Trade etc, but many Republicans in this country will have you sell out your own job to a blockade country, so their company can flourish. They graft politicians so they can get around the rules, or bend the rules, or change the rules for us while foreign countries continue to block American products. Use some true critical thinking here Steve. Let me know whether you can honestly say Japan and China have been true free-market, fair-market trading partners.

    Germany and other European countries have a surplus with China rather than a deficit because of the intelligent cohesive nature of their unions and employers and government.

    Steve, my first instinct was to lash out at your ignorance and tell you to stop drinking the kool-aid…lol…but I know you’re a smart guy I respect and even admire…and this isn’t youtube..lol… than I remembered Steven Covey…and how two very intelligent and informed people could see the same picture or situation and see the exact opposite thing or solution.

    A perfect example would you paying someone $75- an hour to be a projectionist and mocking his profession, to his take on it- which goes something like this… that in the middle of your presentation where you are making $25k-$250k the machine goes out and he saves your rear-end.

    Seriously, without unions everyone who is a worker would suffer, even more importantly the threat of unions to most companies is enough to keep them in line.

    Steve, any time you want to come clean offices in a high rise downtown L.A. for $8.00 an hour without health benefits let me know, because then you would no longer be so out of touch to be so arrogant to assume everything is so rosy.

    Love ya Steve, but your clueless about what the workers go through, which is understandable as you study millionaires and billionaires. And yes if workers don’t like it they can move on or move up, but with college becoming unattainable here in California that’s not as easy as it once was. You really do need to mentally tougher and physically tougher than ever.


    workers can not compete against because the competing countries have tariffs and trade barriers and they create and promote

  31. Comment on unions? They’ve been running California for years and look how that is working out! Need I say more!

    Ward D. Lyon

    Ps… Would like to see the videos be able to run on the iPhone & iPad.

  32. Lastly I want to touch on small point you made. Assuming, in a post-union environment an abuse was uncovered in a company and news spread like wildfire across the media.

    In a world of small government and light touch or no regulation as you advocate – how exactly would it be stopped? And what would help prevent it from happening again?

    PS. Good blogs, Steve. The questions are always provocative and occasionally way out there. It’s always good to be challenged.

  33. Unions today are about encouraging their members to be as non-productive as possible and thereby requiring more workers to complete any task.

    The more workers, the more union dues and the more wealth that accrues to the union bosses.

    Unions have outlived their original and valid purpose and are now a drain on the economy because they increase costs to consumers and make us less competitive in international markets.

    They have encouraged an entitlement mindset and the destruction of a strong work ethic and the pride that people once had in delivering the best work product that they could. They are a major contributor to the decay of the moral, ethical and cultural fabric which made this country a world leader.

    Ironically I have been approached by some of the leadership to speak at a Tea Party event on “Labor Day.” I intend to include a brief piece I wrote called “The Political Landscape” which I have included below.

    The Political Landscape

    “I look across this country and I see
    a land reduced to moral poverty.”

    Where once respect was given to those who chose to work,
    now sympathies seem to align with those who labor shirk.
    With hands held out for alms they somehow deem to be their right
    the takers come to call with voters might.

    They claim it’s only fair to share, and if they get their way,
    they’ll implement their vision funded by the tax you pay.
    It seems that wealth cannot be earned when viewed through slothful eyes.
    So, fillled with spite and jealousy, the wealthy they despise

    Though wealth provides employment and every workers pay,
    still ignorant fools and lazy thieves, if they’re allowed their way,
    will destroy a system that has worked for so long and so well,
    and in the end will damn us all to economic hell.

    Dicipline is not a sin and wealth is not a crime
    Feel free to keep the things you earn, and I will just keep mine.
    A man is worth what a man is worth, and that’s what he can provide.
    If someone tells you otherwise, I’m telling you they lied.

    © 2011 Jim Keenan and Cogent Communications, Inc

  34. While it’s possible to find some very daft examples of union practice – I think they still have their place in some situations.

    Not every boss or company is enlightened and while news spreads faster nowadays, it doesn’t always result in action and it’s forgotten faster too. We have a saying in the UK, today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s chip (french fries) wrapping. Not to mention that workers in some industries haven’t yet had the chance to benefit from the rights fought for by people working collectively together.

    Even companies you’d imagine to be quite progressive are not always:

    Obviously, you can make the argument that it makes countries less competitive than others. But do we really want to emulate some of those countries in their race to the bottom? I think perhaps not.

    And I do agree with the notion that the old divisions of workers v bosses are not always valid and nor should everything be a confrontation between the two. Sometimes, and perhaps more often than not, the two parties’ interests are more aligned than separate.

    The labour market is a transaction between the employee and company owner. But while one side controls your ability to support you and your family’s addiction to food, shelter etc – they will always have the upper hand. Sometimes unionisation provides a good check on that power.

    I think critical thinking would suggest that a blanket condemnation or celebration of unions isn’t appropriate. It varies from situation to situation.

  35. Steve,

    I agree with you. I have experienced this same rediculous mentality at hotels in Boston when I have been at trade shows.

    One union unloads the truck, one carries the boxes, one sets up the projector. And if you “break the law” by carrying your own materials, they make your life difficult.

    They served a purpose, and played a big role in our country, but so did the stage coach, brothels, slavery, and blacksmiths.

    When you are forced to pay someone a wage which is much higher than minimum wage, or a market based wage, your business can not compete in the world. When people earn a wage which is higher than what the open market would pay, society runs into problems like the housing crisis we face today.

    You should change Fat Looser Diet to be Irresponsible Citizen Diet…….

    Thanks for being an honest voice in our society!

  36. The problem with unions is not the union…to problem is their desire to be paid “non-market” pay rates. They have transitioned from fighting for unfairly low wages in the dawn of the industial revolution to fighting for unfairly high wages in the post industrial era. Unions need to shift to fighting for fair wages that allow their employers to compete, survive, and thrive in a global economy.
    Unions thrive where they collaborate for the good of the entire organization.

  37. Steve:

    Like yourself, I’m also from a “union town” (Detroit). I think/know that unions in their current construct have totally outlived their purpose. What a lot of people aren’t aware of with unions and what isn’t taught in schools when discussing the history of unions is.. A lot of them were created with tenants based deeply in racism.

    After the civil war ended, there was a fear that the now freed Blacks (who at the time in the south were the laborers obviously) would “take” jobs away from Whites. To protect those “jobs” , unions were created. The AFL and founder Samuel Gompers easily fit this bill and merely a google search will affirm what I’ve mentioned here.

    That said, I saw with my own eyes how IMO “unions” breed a “LAZY”, “Entitlement”, “we’ll do it when we do it” type of mentality. My disdain for unions overall doesn’t mean I support “screwing” workers over or overpowering the “common man” due to more legal and $$ resources either.

    But considering their history, their history of being corrupt, I do think they’ve outlived their purpose. Do they stifle creativity/innovation as it relates to progress? Well when you’re ENCOURAGED NOT to do something at a pace that will make everyone else “work harder”, what does that tell you,lol..

Comments are closed.