SEIU-UHW Local 250

That (Service Employees International Union – United Healtcare Workers West, Local 250) was my daddy’s union before he retired. And the reason why I bristled when I saw this counter-protest sign. The misspelling of thuggery elicited an eye roll. Anyway, the sign was from a protest in Olympia, Washington, one of many places around the country that drew thousands in support of Wisconsin union workers.

Protesters across US Decry Wisconsin Anti-Union Efforts

I was listening to my local news talk radio station while waiting in the drive-thru line. My Saturday night ritual includes an In-N-Out Double-Double Burger and French Fries. The topic was the anti-Union protests. A caller went off on firefighters who get to go to a firehouse and watch TV, retiring early, and get 100% salary pensions. A couple callers ahead said, “It was just 10 years ago on 9/11, firefighters were the heroes. Now they’re entitled parasites?” I thought, “Exactly.”

Going to a firehouse to watch TV? When that alarm goes off, they put their lives on the line. They may be called to help with other states’ fires. Nevada firefighters went to fight the Southern California wildfires a few years ago. I remember hearing of firefighters on 24-hour shifts and sleeping on sidewalks. Some died. They deserve those benefits and more.

In Wisconsin, the firefighters are spared in the bill, but many are out there with the protesters. They realize that being spared wasn’t fair and that there is nothing guaranteeing their collective bargaining rights would not be on the chopping block later.

From New York to LA, people are showing their solidarity. I loved the messages on the signs:

  • United We Bargain, Divided We Beg
  • We are All Wisconsin
  • The Time to Stand Up for the American Worker Now
  • Save the American Dream
  • This is What Solidarity Looks Like

I don’t know what will happen in Wisconsin. This uprising hasn’t been an exercise in futility, though. Indiana GOP state lawmakers dropped the Right to Work bill. As Walker digs his heels in, so are the union workers. It’s a showdown. From the article: Bradley Whitford, who starred in television’s “The West Wing,” told his hometown crowd, “This governor has to understand Wisconsin is a stubborn constituency. We fish through ice!”

Good. Every ounce of stubbornness will be needed in this fight.


23 responses to “SEIU-UHW Local 250

  • lbwoodgate

    The messaging on both sides is important here to see if this succeeds or not, I think. The right is trying to associate this with liberal government politics. I hope most people see this for what it is; private corporate exploitation at its worst.

  • Terrance H.

    I wish someone would explain to me in what way the “assault on public unions” helps or hurts private enterprise. Liberals keep saying that, but they never bother to explain it, except to say

    “Destroying public unions makes fundraising for Democratic constituencies and causes much more difficult. That gives an edge to Republicans in places where Democrats are less organized.

    Which makes zero sense. It’s something former Senate candidate Alvin Greene would say. It’s wholly ridiculous, and unsupported by the facts.

    Does someone have a better answer?

    • lbwoodgate

      I think you’re taking things out of context again. I haven’t seen any “liberal” make the claim as you have written it here that the “assault on public unions” helps or hurts private enterprise.

      The reference you cited points to fund raising, not “private enterprise”.

      Got any other references?

      And how does”Destroying public unions makes fundraising for Democratic constituencies and causes much more difficult” NOT make sense to you?

      • Terrance H.

        The reference I cited points to fund raising, yes, but with the premise (and I should know, as I talked to the guy) that Republicans look out for corporate interests and only corporate interests. This is false.

        It makes zero sense because not all unions support Democrats, for one, and Obama carried states he shouldn’t have, for two, which proves false the silly notion that Democrats have a difficulties organizing.

        And if it’s true, then that just goes to show you that Democrats are for big union, not the regular guy.

        So, are you going to answer my question, or are you just going to parrot liberal pundits and their non-answers?

      • SpinnyLiberal

        Your quote from wherever “in places where Democrats are less organized” does not mean that we have trouble organizing as a whole. However, in smaller, red states where Democratic leadership is sparse, it would be difficult.

        I believe that Obama carried states he shouldn’t have because of his use of the internet and the large number of student support. Both gave him an edge.

        Big unions are about the worker. Improving working conditions, better pay, benefits, and representation. They would support candidates and legislation that would be beneficial for their members. Middle class tax cuts, projects that allow for union bids.

        Corporations are about profit. They have to answer to shareholders or VCs. Of course, they would support candidates and legislation that helps them with their bottom line. Lowering taxes, deregulation, etc.

        Since both entities have the money, Republicans and Democrats will turn to them for support.

        That’s my now half asleep take on it. I shouldn’t have Coke in the evening.

      • lbwoodgate

        Terrance,

        “So, are you going to answer my question, or are you just going to parrot liberal pundits and their non-answers?

        You haven’t answered mine yet. You only think you have.

        You keep taking thinks out of context. Quit putting words in my mouth because I never said Republicans ONLY support corporate interests or that ALL unions support Democrats. This is your interpretation.

      • Terrance H.

        lbwoodgate,

        What question have I not answered?

        I never said you believe that of corporations, but the man who wrote the quote I cited most certainly believes that. And, as I have said, THAT is the only explanation I have received from those on the Left. If you have a better one, by all means, please.

  • Terrance H.

    I don’t believe that, Spinny. Barack Obama took Colorado, Indiana, Virgina, Ohio, and North Carolina! I hardly think union support was wholly responsible, particularly considering that union presence in those states is rather scarce.

    Big union stopped being about the worker the moment they rejected right to work laws. And why? Because they want to force people to pay union dues, and no other reason. That makes big union just as greedy as corporations.

    And healthy, profitable corporations help American people; this is something the Left doesn’t seem to understand. If a company makes a profit, oh boy, we best call in the National Guard. It’s absurd. A healthy company can afford to take care of their workers when their workers are making demands within reason; this hasn’t been the story with unions in America lately, and you know it.

    I’m anti-union- completely. They have outlived their usefulness.

    • SpinnyLiberal

      I didn’t say they were wholly responsible. I referenced the internet and the large number of student participation.

      If the union is huge and greedy and Democrats turn to it for support, it wouldn’t matter if those states don’t have a strong union presence. They can use the union money from other states.

      I hope you are not saying all liberals hate corporations and profit. I work in the private sector. Of course profit is important and something I want. Without it, I’m out of a job.

      Duh we all know you’re anti-union. That is as clear as me being pro-union.

  • Snoring Dog Studio

    As much as it pains me to side with Terrance – on this one issue I think I do. Or, I’m just ill-informed and confused – or both. I’ve been thinking about this union thing for awhile since Walker got involved. I can’t figure out why public employees need a union, yet private employees don’t. I’ve worked in both sectors. I’m a public employee now and not a member of a union. I can imagine, though, that if I were, my fellow union members would be stuck in a stalemate of a mess fighting with the Republican legislators here in Idaho who appear, by what they’ve said and done, to despise government employees (they love themselves, though). These giant unions are a big business – they’re powerful, they can bring things to a screeching halt. As a public government employee I can’t collectively bargain for health care benefits, salary, etc. But for some reason, I’m okay with that, probably because I was a private employee for most of my career. I agree that a union provides the means for their members to influence decisions, but why is needed in the private sector and not the public? But please, I’m not union-hating, I just don’t get it.

    • lbwoodgate

      To snoring dog,

      “These giant unions are a big business – they’re powerful, they can bring things to a screeching halt.

      There’s pros and cons to this issue that both sides can weigh in on but the main issue at stake here is a group’s ability to negotiate wages.

      These people have time invested in what they do and they plan their futures on what they make. It may be tougher for union employees to be fired but it’s not impossible.

      The belief that public employs control their destiny as a voting block sure didn’t prove true in Wisconsin’s case and now they are confronting an adversary that claims to be representing the voters will but on the issue of union busting, its not true.

      • Snoring Dog Studio

        lbwoodgate: These people have time invested in what they do and they plan their futures on what they make.

        But so do private employees, right? I know I did when I was a private employee. I do have a real problem with an entire block of people being able to thwart paying more for their health care than others in the private sector. In many cases, the health care costs for public employees are less than that in the private sector (I don’t know what it is in the case of WI). The Wisconsin union members, through Walker’s bill, would still be able to collectively bargain for salaries, true? That’s way more than I can do here as a public government employee in Idaho. I haven’t had a pay raise in 5 years and the governor says we won’t for another two (I’m betting we’ll never get one because that’s how much our Republicans here hate us).

        I can foresee the cycle here – when Walker is up for re-election, the unions can exercise their power to vote him and others like him out. And then, whoever is in office can reverse what Walker and his friends have done. Do you think that’s what might happen?

      • SpinnyLiberal

        They can only bargain for base wages. Other types of compensation like raises and merit pay can’t.

        I’ve worked in the private sector most of my working life too. It doesn’t bother me either that I can’t negotiate for benefits, etc. I’m happy and grateful I have a job and benefits. Any raise I get are sprinkles on a cupcake – not necessary but nice to have.

        Just because I don’t have collective bargaining rights doesn’t mean it should be taken away from others. For me, it’s about people willing to do what others can’t/won’t – teachers, firefighters, prison guards, police. I saw a neat sign in one of the rallies held by a police union…”To protect and serve what we deserve.”

    • Terrance H.

      SnoringDog,

      I’m not unreasonable, you know; it just seems that way. Kendrick opened my eyes a bit last night with something he said to me, so I fully plan to tone down the rudeness. I won’t compromise my beliefs, but there is no reason to be rude, after all.

      I have noticed your uncanny ability to be a bit snaky, although it’s hard to notice; it’s quite subtle. Perhaps I should try that! LOL.

      In any event, I don’t think I could have explained my own position better than what you have. My mother was in a public union, and they didn’t have the right to collective bargain, and she made out just fine.

      Private unions were very necessary – at one time. I don’t support their destruction, of course, but I do think they may have outlived their usefulness. I just wish they would be a bit more reasonable. By that same token, however, there are some corporations who need be a bit more reasonable as well. This isn’t a perfect world, after all, but big, greedy union is to be as detested as big, greedy corporations.

      Public unions? I reject them, entirely.

      • Snoring Dog Studio

        I’ve been working as a public employee for about five years and I have to say I don’t think it matters much that I’m not a member of a union. Neither would I want to be forced to join one. Honestly, you readers here – I’m in a very crimson state and it doesn’t much matter what I and my fellow Democrats vote on – we’re in a dust spec of a minority. What I do know about this Wisconsin issue is that the pension fund, which apparently has grown quite large, cannot be supported by the state’s coffers. Something has to happen to fix that, right? I mean really, we can’t continue to have this attitude in this country that says, “Well, I’ve got mine, the heck with you.” Tons of people are suffering in this country – those in private and the public sector. We all have to bend some. I wish that Governor Walker could have found a more statesman like way to deal with the issue, though. He and the opponents have created ill will that will last for decades.

        Terrance, your latest remarks are so very refreshing. I can see how much it means to you to have these conversations, to share, to learn, and to try to get people to understand your points of view. I’m looking forward to hearing more about what you have to say on this and other topics. I know we won’t always agree, but I’ve already benefitted from our conversations. And you’re quite a skilled writer, too. That Kendrick, he just spreads his magic all around, doesn’t he?

        Me, snaky? : – )

  • Snoring Dog Studio

    I just read this extremely informative article at http://www.tax.com/taxcom/taxblog.nsf/Permalink/UBEN-8EDJYS?OpenDocument – Really Bad Reporting in Wisconsin: Who ‘Contributes’ to Public Workers’ Pensions? by David Cay Johnston

    I’m appalled at the lies Walker and his cronies are spreading about the union members in Wisconsin. I hate it when people hide their agendas under lies. It does nothing to engender respect for our elected officials. I truly hope Walker is impeached. Really.

    • lbwoodgate

      “Since the Wisconsin government workers collectively bargained for their compensation, all of the compensation they have bargained for is part of their pay and thus only the workers contribute to the pension plan. This is an indisputable fact.”

      Great find SD.

    • SpinnyLiberal

      Thanks for the link Jean. Very informative.

      “The fringe benefits offered to State of Wisconsin employees are significant, and are a valuable part of an individual’s compensation package.”

    • Terrance H.

      Thanks for the link. I’m going to fact check this as best I can and see if this is a new revelation, or if it’s just propaganda. That is possible.

      I might forward the link to PoltiFact and see if they’ll check it out.

      • Terrance H.

        So far, it appears to be true. But then the argument is simply that they (public workers) were overpaid to begin with; their compensation was far too generous.

        Scott Walker shouldn’t lie about it, however; he should just come right and say it. They’re paid too damn much, period. And they are. It seems to me that many public workers are paid more than comparable jobs in the private sector.

  • Terrance H.

    A response to that link I found.

    Hold on to your hat.

    1) In this country a Public Worker is one working for the Public in a State, national or local, job

    2) Everyone else is termed to be in the Private Sector in someones employ.

    3) There is no pension fund for any Public worker other than the contributions from the Tax paid by everyone who has a job and spends time working at it for more than 15 hours per week.

    Now the private or public worker and his employer both contribute a percentage of the workers wage that covers Health, Unemployment and Pension. Since the private worker has the service provided by the public worker he has to pay for that as well.

    Today the 7,000,000 Public workers with their INFLATION PROOF Pensions are over twice as high as the private worker in fact the are so high they are beyond the countries ability to pay for it.

    Additional due to their annual pay rise the Public worker has a 2.5 average salary.

    In short the State Sector has created poverty for the private sector in paying for their inflated benefits.

    Currently the Government is creating inflation to decrease the spending power of everyone.

  • Kini

    I have no problem with people wanted to belong to unions. There was a time in our Great Country’s history when unions were needed and necessary. Since then, laws have been passed to help workers from discrimination, fair wages, and work hours. If you want to be apart of a hive, a collective, a union, do so.

    However, in states that do not have “Right to Work” laws, unions force dues from non-union workers. Union members have little control or say where their dues go. Much of the dues go to democrat politicians, that in turn pass legislation in favor of the union Bosses. The union bosses that are the fat cats with 6 figure salaries and little oversight. They have cutesy legislation names like “Employee Free Choice Act, or Card Check, which does away with the secret vote by workers to decide if they want to be unionized. Abolish secret vote and forced tribute, hardly an American value.

    Unions are now doing what corporations have done in the past, exploiting workers. Something corporations are prevented from doing today by laws now on the books. This straw man argument that corporations are exploiting workers is total nonsense. Unless you’re one of George Soros corporations.

    There is a big difference between Public and Private unions. Private unions work for private companies that produce a product, they are for profit, and are run by a board of directors, and owned by shareholders. Public unions are funded by taxpayers; their health care is paid by taxpayers, their pensions are paid for by taxpayers. Taxpayers do not have a say in the union negotiations, except through the ballot. When Americans taxpayers have had enough of their money taken, then events like Wisconsin, Ohio, New Jersey and Indiana start to happen.

    When corporations have been exploited enough by unions and politicians , they take their corporations overseas to China. When the wealthy are over-taxed and demonized by unions and politicians, they move to another state.

    In today’s world where information is lightning fast, human rights are scrutinized under a microscope, and 24 hour news channels, unions have out lived their usefulness. The have become so large and greedy, that they have priced themselves out of the free market and destroyed jobs. Unions have become a parasite, feeding off its host, the taxpayers. Soon, the host will die and so will the parasite. Unions are destroying their own future.

  • Kini

    And the news just keeps getting better.

    Add a president that hates corporations, along with his thug union buddies, and the great corporate exodus begins amass.

    “Politicians forget that business has choice. We’re not indentured servants and we will do business where it’s good and friendly. If it’s hostile, incrementally, things will slip away. We’ve got a real choice between manufacturing in Canada and Mexico – which tend to be pro-business – or America.”

    — Chief Executive and Chairman of 3M

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