State of the Unions

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#1

It's been so long since we've had any subjects that garnered a lot of intrest that I couldn't resist putting up this article. I think it's an interesting take on public sentiment and unions. I think that it should go without saying that Union contracts can't consistently outpace inflation as they have for the past few decades. It seems that it was bound to catch up to them. It also seems that a lot of the union disconnect with public perception is a factor of their own methods.

In particular I wonder if unions should start focusing on longer term contacts which would force both them and the employers to tie the benefits and raises to some variable measure rather than straight percentages. Having long term contracts would also provide a lot more certainty for both the members and the business (or government agency) allowing for better planning by everyone involved and I hope a more amicable solution.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/the-sorry-state-of-our-unio...

"Union contracts can't consistently outpace inflation as they have for
the past few decades."

Big generalization. Citation needed. :-) Most evidence suggests the
exact opposite - that our standard of living is declining.Further, why
should unionized workers settle for treading water? Isn't it the dream
of us all to improve our position in life and build a better world for our
kids? I fail to see why belonging to a union means one should not
have ambition and a desire to rise above one's 'station in life.'

"In particular I wonder if unions should start focusing on longer term
contacts which would force both them and the employers to tie the
benefits and raises to some variable measure rather than straight
percentages."

Current economy is far too volatile. Both sides would be taking a big
risk, and locking into a too-rich contract could hobble a business, while
some unions, such as those in the natural resources sector, could
leave a lot of $$$ on the table if they signed up for a small increase
and then saw commodity prices rise.

What's a typical length of contract between two businesses? A year or
two right? Why is that?

Citation was difficult! But I hope this has the information you'd like to support my
perception that public service wages (Although I didn't previously constrain it to
just public service, I really don't care about private entities as they have a much
more balanced relationship)

http://www5.statcan.gc.ca/cansim/a26

I think the perception that the economy is too volatile in any time frame is part of
the problem. While that might be true, then why tie salaries and negotiations to
fixed amounts rather than other measurements? For instance professional sports
labour agreements are typically revenue shares. That means that the owners can
adequately budget for other departments, and everyone has a vested interest in
making the product (the entertainment) as compelling as possible.

This seems to make for a much more fair basis for an agreement. Also, it could
easily be used for long term agreements.

I don't think sports contracts are a good analogy. Those contracts are
mostly about work conditions and salary caps, etc, while regular union
contracts usually specify wage grids based on position and time served,
rather than negotiating with individuals, and also, in individual
negotiations the players usually have an experienced advocate on their
side in the form of an agent.

What other 'measurements' would you use to define salaries?

Having a hard time figuring out why people feel collective bargaining
isn't working. Most contracts are negotiated and signed without labour
action or lock out.