Danger Comes With Rise of Public Employee Unions Political Power

The public employee unions won a significant victory in Oregon’s recent primary election. The only surprising thing about the victory is that The Oregonian, having awakened from a long period of political naivete regarding Democrat politics, has become sufficiently alarmed by the political dominance of the public employee unions so as to feature the story with a Page One, above the fold, headline on this past Sunday’s edition.

But even at that, The Oregonian has underwhelmed both the reason and the impact of such political dominance.

In my August 26, 2007, column in the Medford MailTribune, I noted:

“. . . And nobody is more focused on getting their candidates to fill those offices than the public employees unions.

“Please note that I said public employees unions and not their political action committees. After all, the public employees unions do just about nothing other than politics. And there is a good reason for that. Politics is what guarantees them higher salaries, bigger benefits, ease in organizing and assurance that money for the unions will continue to be collected by the government and remitted monthly to their coffers. That amount collected by state, county and municipal governments is the tidy sum of about $58 million every election cycle. That amount of money goes a long ways to making sure that Democrats control every statewide office and both houses of the legislature. And control is what matters.

* * *

“And with that kind of money, the public employee unions control who gets the nod for the Democrat nominations and, thereafter, who gets those vast sums of money, coupled with the legions of paid volunteers, to make sure that they are elected. Here is where you begin to understand the nuances of power politics within the Democrat Party. There isn’t a public declaration by the public employee unions as to who should get the nomination. It is a lot more subtle than that. But in the end, nobody brings as much as the public employee unions to the table and they generally get their way.

“And the corollary of that is also true. If there is an incumbent that has not toed the line, money and support is withheld until that incumbent remembers who is really running the show.”

Therein lies the reason for the political dominance. The public employee unions utilize the payroll checkoff system to collect nearly $60 million dollars every election cycle. It is an effortless system since the state and local governments bear the burden of calculating, collecting and remitting that amount each month to the public employees unions.

Men and women are required to join the public employees union as a condition of employment. They are required to make mandatory payments to the public employee unions. And the public employees are charged regardless of whether or not they agree with the political activities of the public employee unions. There is no other entity — political or otherwise — that enjoys that same cost free program of imposed contributions. There is no other political entity in Oregon that comes even close to matching the massive $60 million war chest each election cycle. Add to that an army of “volunteers” — each union demands participation in the election process by its members — and you have an overwhelming political machine that cannot be matched and is growing to the point where it cannot be stopped or neutralized.

The impact of such political dominance is, to put it bluntly, corruption in government. Unfortunately, the concept of political corruption assumes that public funds are being used to make someone or some business rich. But political corruption can also be about using public funds to acquire and maintain political power. That is the corruption upon which the public employee unions have seized.

In traditional labor-management relationships, there is organized labor on one side and management on the other. The unions are ostensibly beholden to their members — the employees. Management is beholden to the owners (shareholders). There is a tension that exists which is likely to result in an appropriate balance — sufficiently robust wages to attract quality workers vs. low enough wages to insure that business remains competitive in an open marketplace.

But that tension does not exist in the case of the public employee unions simply because the management structure (elected and appointed officials) are beholden to those who place them in office rather than the shareholders (taxpayers). In Oregon, the Democrat party is largely financed by the public employee unions. In Oregon, the public employees unions have a substantial influence on who is selected to run in the Democrat party.

It is this second issue that is the most important and which is routinely ignored by the mainstream press even though they have an undue fascination with “public corruption” — real or perceived — in every other facet of government. Evidence of this naivete in the mainstream press is The Oregonian’s willingness to print uncritically Gov. Kulongoski recent comments:

“We would always hope that our political system rewards elected officials for making the tough decisions. We, unfortunately, many times do just the opposite. We allow interest groups to punish elected officials for making tough decisions.”

This is the same Gov. Kulongoski who, having experienced the wrath of the public employee unions during his own primary, completely knuckled under by appointing three former public employee union officials to his three top administration spots — chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and communications director.

He negotiated a generous wage increase for the public employee unions and thereafter secured the funding for it through the Democrat controlled legislature. He declared reform of the burdensome and overly generous PERS system off limits. Kulongoski has routinely authorized “sole source” contracts with the public employee unions which prohibits the state from outsourcing any function that was previously performed by a public employee union member thus ensuring continuing inefficiency. Kulongoski signed into law a provision that deprives public employees the right to a secret ballot as to whether to unionize and thus makes them vulnerable to intimidation by the public employee union thugs.

In his last gubernatorial campaign Kulongoski, during a speech to the AFL-CIO, which is dominated by the public employee unions said:

“. . . I’ve never lost sight of who I represent, and that’s you.”

The poster boy for the public employee unions’ corruption of Oregon’s political system is Gov. Kulongoski. For the mainstream media to publish his comments about the “hopes” for our political system without asking the hard questions is the moral equivalent of allowing Bill Clinton to discuss the sanctity of marriage.

By using these vast sums paid by taxpayers and remitted by the government to ensure that people dependent on their political largesse are elected, the public employee unions ensure that those with whom they negotiate are beholden to them and grant them robust salary increases, handsome pensions, ease in imposing mandatory membership on new employees and unlimited political power.

It is no wonder that, in Oregon, public employees enjoy higher wages, better benefits, and more job security than equivalent positions in private enterprise. It is also no wonder that one of the largest growth sectors in Oregon employment is government. One only wonders as public employment grows, who will be left to pay for it.

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  • Jerry

    Being forced to pay union dues is simply the Oregon way. Oregonians support it 100% as they consistently vote to keep it.

    People should be proud of our strong union state fighting every single day for a living wage, a lot of time off, and zero job accountability.

    La vie longue les unions!!

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Yeah, on the union thing in Oregon you kind of have to give up. In a state with as low wages and high taxes as we have, I am consistently surprised how often people vote in a way that supports the most absurd of union demands by public employee unions. I gave up about ten years ago when there was a measure to repeal the Davis Bacon act in Oregon. When people couldn’t vote to support elimination of that law, I was stunned.

  • RinoWatch

    I cannot imagine having one dime taken from my paycheck to be used for any political purposes – especially purposes that I disagree with.

    The final insult would be to have an open ballot where my union vote would be known to all.

    What kind of self-respecting person allows this kind of puppetry?

    • Jerry

      No self-respecting person does. However, the rest all do.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      You don’t have to. Under the Supremes Beck decision, you have every right in the world to withhold from your paycheck that portion of union dues membership which is used for political lobbying if your job requires you to join a union.

      Interestingly, rescinding Bush 1’s executive order instructing employers to post notices of workers rights regarding this was Clintons first act as president. That speaks volumes as far as I am concerned.

      Frankly I think enforcement of this act should be brought back under a fairly rigorous regimen.

      1) Unions should be held to strict accounting standards and heavy penalties should accrue to them should they be found to be using accounting gimmicks to hide the true level of funds used for lobbying.

      2) Workers should be informed of the Beck decision. There seems to be an endless array of posters the government requires you to display as an employer, this would be a nice addition.

      3) Employers should not be required to collect union dues or withhold them from pay checks. Unions see themselves as representing the workers, fine, then let them do so on their own dime.

  • Crawdude

    Oregon should be a “Right to work ” state. I always chuckle when liberal espouse the right of the working man and then force their public employees to join a union to be employed. If the unions was so great, they would join willingly.

    Union membership by threat of job loss should never be tolerated in the public sector or any sector for that matter.

  • Jerry

    What have I been saying all along. Dems never practice what they preach. Never.

  • dean

    Wages for middle class Americans have been stagnant or declining since George Bush was elected, in spite of reasonably high economic and worker productivity growth. It used to be that when worker productuvitiy went up, workers earned more. That is why auto industry and longshoreman worker wages are so high, because the unions and management agreed to base wages on productivity decades ago.

    In 1960 union membership rates were 30% in the United States. By 1999 it had dropped to 13%. A big part of the decline of the middle class can be attributed to this statistic alone.

    Unions are imperfect institutions, and I have experienced their limitations first hand. But if the US is ever going to regain a prosperous middle class, it is going to be by increasing, not decreasing union membership. Public employee unions are unfortunately one of the last places for unions to be able to make a stand, which is why the right wing wants to bring them down. allowing individuals to “opt out” while enjoying the high wages their union has gotten for them is a good way to unravel them. the “right to work” states of the south have the lowest wages in the US. CD…is this really the model you want for Oregon? More poverty?

    • Anonymous

      Probably because the democrats attemp to stop free enterprise at every turn.

  • Jerry

    Dean,
    Have you ever noticed the massive sucking sound of hundreds of thousands of manufacturing (union) jobs going off-shore?? What difference does a union make if the company moves to India?? I think not much.
    And move they are doing – faster than you can say we need more union membership (which we don’t).
    Thousands upon thousands of union members have lost their jobs in the past few years, and it has nothing to do with the President.
    If you pay people more than they are worth, you either go out of business or you go offshore. That is EXACTLY what has happened.

    You can cling to your out of date, communistic ideas of the glories of union membership, but it doesn’t wash with someone who is left without employment, especially after faithfully having their payroll deducted for years and years of union dues that resulted in the loss of their jobs.

    Live free or die.

  • Bob Clark

    Yes, the Unions did a good job of killing off the domestic automobile industry in Detroit. On the other hand, right-to-work states have picked up automobile manufacturing jobs. Unions prevent full employment because they restrict employers from affording more employees. The only true way to grow the economy in a global setting is to be competitive at skill level jobs. Putting up protectionist barriers like unions tend to eventually bleed industry, and result in local demise and/or labor saving technology which displaces workers just as in the case of Detroit.

    Bottom line: Unions need to be about adding value through job training and skill building, and not about dominating government so as to self deal or raise employment barriers.

    • dean

      Jerry….a union can’t make a company stay here. “Free trade” and mobile capital has caused much manufacturing to go to cheaper places. No question. This is true especially in textiles, which are not high wage jobs to begin with.

      But at least 70% of American jobs can’t logically be off-shored. These are in services of all kinds, construction, hotel maids, landscaping, retail sales, barristas, desk clerks and so forth. Increased union membership in these jobs would raise wages and benefits, thus making people less dependent on taxpayer assistance. I would think you of all people would be for that.

      Decline in union membership has a lot to do with who is president and who runs congress. We are likely to see changes in an upward (union membership) direction after 08, because the Democrats are poised to make organizing much easier.

      Bob…a lot of things have caused American auto industry decline. High wages is one, as is poor choice of vehicle design due to cheap gasoline policies. But high medical costs for current and former workers is a huge factor. Other nations have cheaper health care that is not tied to employment, and as a result auto manufacturers do better in Canada than they do in the US.

      http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/display.article?id=8785

      • sybella

        Did it ever occur to you that if things could be produced at a more reasonable cost, the necessity for higher wages wouldn’t be there?

        No, I suppose not. You have to get your nose out of statistics and look around you at the real world.

        • dean

          Sybella….sure. That has occured to me and many economists. Its called increased productivity. More stuff made more efficiently. That is the main basis for national economic growth. And over the years, as people become more productive they usually get higher wages, and businesses make higher profits. Win-win.

          But ask yourself this. Since our economy is 70% consumer driven (people buying stuff,) then how can it be good for our nation to LOWER wages, even while productivity is going UP? We tried that once and it was caled the Great Depression. We seem to be intent on trying it again, expecting a different result.

  • Annette

    My husband worked for ODOT. His union dues were taken from his monthly paycheck regardless of his desire to join the union. He was recently fired for coming forward with wrongdoing in ODOT management. Yes, he is a whistle blower. His union, AEE, has however *not* supported him. We are required to endure the contract process, filing grievences for the actions ODOT has taken against him. These drag out for months, and in the end, the union attorney refuses to take the issue to the final stages of the grievance process, which is arbitration. We have documents which show that ODOT has mishandled our state tax dollars. Yet, the union will not present these on behalf of my husband. We were even told behind closed doors that he (union attorney) had to bargain for the union members, so he did not want to make waves which could affect his bargaining power. And then, the union turns around and makes a political contribution to these same lawmakers. How is this just? I read the comment from Gov. Kulongoski above, “…I’ve never lost sight of who I represent and that’s you.” Oh please! We’ve gone to the top to ask questions about this issue, and no one will address this. The unions are supposed to help their members, but when the union has a bigger relationship going with the powers that be, the members get to pay for all of the ‘dating’ but get to reap none of the benefits. Is there anyone out there that can help us? Our union has left us high and dry.

  • Silence Dogood

    The ugliest part of this story is that The Oregonian only comes out with this stuff AFTER the election. They’ve done it many times before, it’s an old pattern … a “labor-state, pro-union news organ game.” It’s particularly sickening in the case of The Oregonian because the Newhouse family created their Portland cash-cow monopoly by busting the news guild in the first place. Now they do this as a matter of extortion: give the union what they want in political coverage in exchange for a no-organizing deal on SW Broadway. But it’s not only in Oregon – this is pretty much the Newhouse-wide editorial deal from dailies in New Jersey to Alabama, and from glitz ‘n glam monthlies from GQ to Vanity Fair.

    • Rupert in Springfield

      You kinda cant blame the newspapers, The Eugene Register-Guard does it too. They are actually a really good example of the truism:

      “Everyone is conservative in the field of their own endeavor.”

      Plenty of those who support unions for others don’t support them for themselves. Its always easier to spend someone’s money on theory stuff, but pretty hard to cough up the bucks in ones own back yard.

      How many people support unions? How many of those do you think hire only union contractors to build their house or work on it? Can anyone imagine what a single house, for the kind of builder who builds one two houses at a time, would cost if the individual builder hired only union shop contractors?

      • dean

        Rupert…no need to use our imaginations. Labor is about 20% of the cost of a new spec home. If we assumed a price of $250K for a low end home, 20% of that is $50K. If we raised the wages the builder pays by 25% (just a guess) we would raise the price of a low end new home by only $12,500, assuming the builder does not lower his profit a bit, or make other adjustments. And this assumes that a higher paid construction worker is at the same productivity as a lower paid one. In my experience that is not the case, since lesser skill usually means more mistakes and redos.

        $12,500 is less than the 7% realtor commission ($17,500) by the way. (Not meant to knock realtors, but really…who works harder here?)

        • Sam

          “Labor is about 20% of the cost of a new spec home. If we assumed a price of $250K for a low end home, 20% of that is $50K. ”

          Wrong, Mr. dean. Labor is much higher. That is why all the illegal aliens moving into skilled trades like construction. Try and find a drywall-er, framer, or other tradesman who doesn’t speak Spanish. In ten years, most union, *legal* citizens or aliens will dominate the trades. And union folks will only be in Government sector jobs. Unions are a dying bread, the only growth is in Public Sector union jobs.

          • dean

            Mr. Sam…well, I guess you know more than the National Association of Homebuilders, which estimates that 20-25% of house construction is labor costs. And I guess you know more than Jeffrey Passel, a demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center and expert on undocumented workers. He estimates 14% of all construction workers in the US are working here illegally, with 2/3 of these in only 8 states, Oregon not among them.

            He also says 36% of drywallers are working here illegally, the highest percent of any of the trades.

            http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003265139_imprices19.html

          • Sam

            dean:>>>”Labor is about 20% of the cost of a new spec home. If we assumed a price of $250K for a low end home, 20% of that is $50K. ”

            Sam:>>”Wrong, Mr. dean. Labor is much higher. That is why all the illegal aliens moving into skilled trades like construction. Try and find a drywall-er, framer, or other tradesman who doesn’t speak Spanish.”

            dean:>”Mr. Sam…well, I guess you know more than the National Association of Homebuilders, which estimates that 20-25% of house construction is labor costs.”
            ========

            Nope. I agree with them. Glad to see you correct your errors, dean. You said labor is about 20%. You were wrong, off by 25% (5% of 20% is a quarter).

            dean: >> “He also says 36% of drywallers are working here illegally, the highest percent of any of the trades.”
            ========

            Wow! So I am right again!! Even I didn’t expect it to be so high. Thanks for proving my point, dean!!

            Makes you want to LAUGH OUT LOUD!!! All the bleeding heart liberals are busy coddling up to the illegal aliens, while the illegals are stealing their jobs right out from under them. Hasta La Vista, baby!!

            dean is so inept, he makes my points for me, while thinking that he is refuting them. He thinks he is standing up for illegal aliens, while they are busy raping his women and children, and stealing his job! LOL!

        • Rupert in Springfield

          >Labor is about 20% of the cost of a new spec home.
          >If we raised the wages the builder pays by 25% (just a guess).

          You ARE kidding right? First of all, The National Association of Homebuilders is not an organization I have a lot of respect for. When I was contracting I found that they tended to represent larger builders more so than smaller ones. In addition, a new spec home is quite a bit different from a single custom built home. Labor is used much more efficiently in most spec homes because a substantial number of them are built in developments. A framing crew will bid quite a bit lower to frame ten houses, than one single house, on a per house basis. I would suspect that the NAH figures are skewed more towards developers than single home builders thus skewing the numbers a fair amount.

          Second, 25% is a pretty poor guess. My familiarity is in hiring under Davis Bacon, this supposedly represents union scale, euphemistically called prevailing wage. When I would hire for federal projects, my wages alone would go up 30 – 40%. In addition I had to pay fringes which tended to add anywhere from 15% – 30%. All told the total cost of an employee would rise anywhere from 40% to 75%. This was not due to me being a low wage employer in the first place. I would hire through a temp agency, and I was known at the time to pay higher than almost anyone else for a given skill level.

          >assuming the builder does not lower his profit a bit,

          Why in the world would anyone do this?

          When I hired under Davis Bacon I would consistently raise my profit, not lower it. The reason for this is very logical. You are now having to pay people substantially more thus the responsibility for managing them is quite a bit greater. Mistakes will be more expensive as the labour to re-do them will be higher. Trust me, if you hire a guy to work on your house, and you are paying him $35 an hour, plus $10 an hour fringes, you make sure you are there to supervise him a hell of a lot more than if you hire the kid next door to mow your lawn for $8 an hour.

  • Rob Kremer

    Dean writes:
    “It used to be that when worker productuvitiy went up, workers earned more.”

    This is very true, but it has nothing to do with unions. Wage increases are directly correlated with productivity increases. Worker productivity increases slowed in the 1970’s with the onset of the regulatory state, and wage increases (including benefits) slowed in turn.

    But I am really amused by the notion of extending this argument to public employee unions. Should we tie public employee union wages to productivity?

    Ha!

    • dean

      Rob…your reading of history is different than mine. In unionized industries workers often negotiated contracts with companies that tied wages and benefits to productivity gains. This is wny auto workers earn so much. It is not that their work requires high skill levels. Most of it does not. International competition (free trade) ate into profits, which put downward pressure on wages and benefits even though productivity continued to rise. This is why free trade is not popular in the rust belt.

      In non-unionized industries, there is not necessarily any correlation between productivity gains and wage gains, at least none that I am aware of. And the de-unionization of America has clearly contributed to rising corporate profits and stagnant wages. In 2006, America had the lowest wage to GNP ratio since the 1940s while corporate profits reached their highest level since the 1960s. Not good. Coincidence? Not likely. Its all about bargaining power.

      I have no problem linking the argument to public employee unions. In those jobs where productivity or quality of service delivery can be fairly measured, then public managers should try and tie wage gains to these. Some public agencies are experimenting with this approach and have had success.

      Paying someone just to show up is never a good idea, whether private or public sector.

      • Sam

        “In those jobs where productivity or quality of service delivery can be fairly measured, then public managers should try and tie wage gains to these. Some public agencies are experimenting with this approach and have had success. ”
        —-

        Yes, like teachers unions, right? WRONG!!!

        Unions hate any and all “wage to performance” ties. That is why teachers claim that their jobs can’t be fairly measured, except only by years of service. To the union stooge, teachers’ performance keeps going up and up and up, right until they drop dead of old age.

        “Paying someone just to show up is never a good idea, whether private or public sector.”
        —–

        WRONG Again, deano!!!

        That is the union’s goal:
        -pay me to just show up to work.
        -pay me while I am on vacation.
        -pay me when I am too sick to work.
        -pay me when I am sick from my vacation.

        The union “pay for performance” or “merit pay” plan is called seniority or tenure, neither of which have any performance component, by design.

      • CHris McMullen

        Yeah right Marxist. That’s why millions of Americans are dying in the streets.

        I’m so sick of you liberals acting like anyone making under $100K a year is “suffering.” The poorest Americans live better and healthier and with more amenities than the rest of the poor in the industrialized world.

        • Jerry

          Amen to that! These people want things to be bad so they can control more of our lives and more of our money. That is it in a nutshell.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    The bottom line is, think Globally, Act Locally.

    Let those who want more unions support them. Let them buy union made clothing ( yes you can still get it in the US ). Let them pay prevailing wage to those who work on their homes. Let them hire only at prevailing wage in their own business.

    In short, if you are a union supporter, great! Convince us of your argument with your money, not your words.

    • Larry

      “In short, if you are a union supporter, great! Convince us of your argument with your money, not your words.”
      ====

      How about the unions use your money to convince you? School buildings cost 25% more because of prevailing wage laws. Beaverton’s school bond passed last year is almost $200M. Redmond’s bond just passed is over $100M. Just two school districts bonds worth over $300M, and that 25% “extra” for the unions’ labor is $75Million.

      Whose money is that?

      • dean

        Larry…you must be using some form of new math. If labor costs are 20-25% of building construction (just a guess on school buildings,) then how could prevailing wage laws that add 25% to WAGES add 25% to the ENTIRE CONSTRUCTION bill? On a $300M bond, you need to first deduct about 20% for architect and engineering fees, project mangement fees, and so forth, which is likely 15-20%.

        So…$300M less $60M = $240M. Labor at 20% is $48M. Add 25% to that and you are adding $12M to the entire package to pay prevailing wages, not $75M.

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        • Rupert in Springfield

          >then how could prevailing wage laws that add 25% to WAGES add 25% to the

          Probably because you for some reason have now mistaken what you wrote was “just a guess” in a previous post for fact.

          “Labor is about 20% of the cost of a new spec home.
          If we raised the wages the builder pays by 25% (just a guess).”

          The 25% figure is something you just made up. If you had ever hired union workers ( we now know you don’t ) you would know that the 25% figure is pretty far off the mark. Im not sure 25% would even cover the fringes most of the time in construction work.

          • dean

            Rupert…according to the Bureau of Labor stats, union workers in construction trades earn about 16% higher pay, and 33% higher total wages and benefits.

            So…bump my estimate to 33% higher and what do you get? You add $15.8M to the $300M school bond cost instead of the $12M I estimated earlier. But what do I know. A comprehensive economic study found no increase in school construction costs at all can be attributed to prevailing wage regulations. So maybe the true answer is zero, since higher paid workers are apparently more productive on a per hour basis than lower paid.

            http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1468-232X.00299?journalCode=irel

            http://www.carpenters.org/join/benefits_2.html

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >Rupert…according to the Bureau of Labor stats, union workers in construction trades earn about 16% higher pay, and 33% higher total wages and benefits.

            I would say the figure is higher, but, not a big deal. I can tell you if you have a guy making $10 an hour as a laborer, his pay at union scale is simply not going to be $11.60. I got a sheet of Davis Bacon wages I had to pay on every federal job I did, 16% isn’t even close to the disparity in Oregon.

            >But what do I know.

            Not much, I gather you are a lay person in these matters. Apparently you have never worked in the industry as an employer. I did for fifteen years. Union workers are paid upon seniority, not productivity. That is the basis and essence of a union. The worker givers up individual recognition in exchange for the security found in a group. Anyone who thinks that increasing compensation by 33%, will be offset in productivity gains simply has never been on the hiring end of the union equation. In construction, you can hire a union worker on the spot and know there will be basic competency. However whatever that gains you is lost in the fact that there is no productivity incentive for them at all. Union workers will also only generally do one thing, a carpenter will not lay tile, insulate or throw shingles on the roof. They also are very rarely craftsmen who take a lifelong pride in their work. They are competent and skilled, but that is very different from a craftsman who feels his name is on each piece. On most government projects this doesn’t matter. On a private residence this will kill you. I have met them, but the union worker who can do fine work, such as fabricating and installing an oak staircase, is few and far between.

            >A comprehensive economic study found no increase in school construction costs at all can be attributed to prevailing wage regulations.

            And if you believed this, then I assume you always call up the union hall when its time for work on your house or in your business?

            No, of course you don’t. Since you had to guess at how much union workers make over non union in the construction trade we know this. We also know you probably don’t employ union workers in your professional life as well. Since, by your actions, you don’t believe this study, why should I?

          • dean

            Rupert…you and I are both above average intelligence. We both must know that union construction workers by and large are engaged in commercial, not residential building. When I employ construction workers around my broken down farmhouse, I don’t seek out the low bidder. I combine references, quality, trust, service, and cost. I’m an indie, and I tend to hire indies. They get paid well, or at least as well as whatever their rate is. And based on my limited research, it turns out I have been paying at or above scale.

            Do I “believe” the study I cited? Sure. Those economists studied available data and based on that came to their conclusions. Other studies might confirm their results or come to different conclusions by including other data. I’m not trying to make a dissertation out of this, so I’m content to stop at one citation. Be my guest to do your own research.

            As it turned out my “guess” on what union construction trades make over non-union was pretty dang close. And when you called my “guess” into question I bothered to look it up. That appears to be a key difference between us. You seem to base many of your views on your personal experiences, while I bother to look things up. But then, even after being confronted with empirical evidence, you dismiss it or wave it off, and go back to the personal.

            “We also know you probably don’t employ union workers in your professional life as well.” You “know” no such thing. You surmise. And I’ll add that using “know” and “probably” in the same sentence renders the first meaningless. You don’t “know” squat about my professional life.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            >We both must know that union construction workers by and large are engaged in commercial, not residential building.

            Um, no, one is quite able to hire union contractors, or pay union scale on any residential project. It might be a little hard on a single residence to hire all union crews, but one could easily pay union scale especially if one was acting as their own general contractor.

            >As it turned out my “guess” on what union construction trades make over non-union was pretty dang close.

            33% and 25% are close? you were off by 33%. That’s close? I’m beginning to think maybe you do government work. Are you in a union?

            >Be my guest to do your own research.

            I’ve done it. I was in the business for 15 years and bid on plenty of federal contracts. I’ve had Davis Bacon wage sheets shoved in my face more times than I can count prior to bidding. Seems like plenty of research to me.

            >You “know” no such thing.

            Of course I do. If you hired union workers you would know what you pay them. You would have known the pay disparity and not have had to guess. Please, this is really weak.

            >And I’ll add that using “know” and “probably” in the same sentence renders the first meaningless.

            No it doesn’t. What sort of silliness is this? If I bet on the number 12 in roulette, I know that since that the ball will probably not land on that number. What are you on?

            >You don’t “know” squat about my professional life.

            Sure I do, I know you don’t hire union workers. That’s something right there.

          • dean

            Rupert…I’ll make this easier for you. There are no union workers in my field. And…I don’t “hire” anyone. I work independently. Your core premise appears moot.

          • Rupert in Springfield

            Oh ok, well, sure would have been easier to say that up front rather than getting all defensive. As the owner of some sort of landscape architecture business, I would have thought you’d someone in your employ. My mistake.

            My core premise being moot? Not really, as your hiring of union workers or not was never my core premise, nor would most construe it as such.

            It does make for some rather funny intellectual hijinx however. You consider yourself more knowledgeable about the issues involved in hiring union workers even though you apparently don’t hire them and my guess is you never have. I on the other hand hired union workers for 15 years in two states, but what do I know? You looked up a study!

            Probably the funniest aspect is that in this case, a rare instance of you looking something up in an argument with me, you don’t even realize when the figures you cite in your own cherry picked study indicate you were pretty far off the mark. Off by a third is off by a mile in this case, but it sure does confirm the lack of familiarity with the issue, as I suspected all along.

          • dean

            Yes Rupert…again your debating skills are without peer. I started with an estimated guess, then looked it up to validate or not. You started with your personal experience and stayed right with it. And obviously, this is all you ever need. Hats off.

            “Off by a third.” You say it all right there. The debate was over the total cost of school bonds due to Davis-Bacon. To determine that one would start with 100% of $300 million. Then one would attribute an amount to labor to that 100%. Deducting out 20% for design, administration and engineering, we get 80% left. Labor is 20-25% of that, and prevailing wage might increase labor by 33% instead of my intial 25%, or it could be zero according to reputable analysis by others.

            You repeat the exact error Larry made by saying I am somehow “33% off.” Only I wasn’t. I was $4 Million off on a $300M bond measure, which is all of 1.3%. How the hell do you stay in business with your version of math? No wonder you hate taxes so much? You think you are paying way more than you probably are.

  • Dan E.

    If we really wanted to hamstring unions in Oregon without the politically unpopular notion of doing away with them completely, we (as local and state government) would stop collecting the union dues FOR THEM. Imagine the cost in billing and accounting and collection efforts that it would take if the union had to collect those dues all on their own. Instead of just coming out of their check before they even see it, imagine the questions that might get asked if workers had to write that monthly check themselves. And it’s not like they could be fired for being behind in their dues, or just refusing to pay. The unions would have to start showing value to the workers, just to get them to continue those payments.

    It’s basically using the democrats’ tactics against them. They might not be able to outlaw the things they despise (guns, cars, property), but they try to make them as expensive as possible to use.

  • Jerry

    I also strongly suspect that more than a few of these union “members” would not pay these dues each and every month if they had to write a check and mail it in.

    • dean

      Jerry…that is correct. Some would choose to fre ride on the others.

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