« What has happened to us? | Main | A strong voice falls silent »

December 03, 2008

Unions' responsibilities

Unions protect workers’ rights

I have worked at union places and non-union places. The only places I felt intimidated were the non-union ones. The union’s fought for the 40-hour workweek, eight-hour workday, paid vacations, health care, time and half for overtime, and pensions. Companies have moved jobs overseas, and if your memory is not too short, you should remember how they treated their workers.

Yes, there have been some bad unions. There still are companies that are bad, too. I will always be thankful for the unions.

David L. Netz Sr.
Independence

Employers and unions must cooperate

This article “YRC, Teamsters work together; Two sides want to change labor agreement to help out the company” by Eric Palmer (11/29, Business) should be must reading for all other unions whose employers are having trouble due to the economy, especially the autoworkers. Everyone needs to give a little.

Remember the old saying “A half loaf is better than no loaf at all?” But companies are not asking that much.

Paul Newhouse
Shawnee

Comments

whispering_to_kc

"I'm just a independant professional who doesn't always think that "the man" is out to get the little guy."

If "the man" is looking out for his own best interest and "the little guy" is in the way, of course "the little guy" is going to be got.

Got? No. The little guy will be crushed and tossed aside.

"I knew" a couple of CEOs. Dana Mead and Bob Nardelli. Face to face, neither one is "exceptional". Both are very ordinary and both will, someday, end up just like we all do. Sorry to bust your bubble.

Marctnts

I once knew a guy who managed a company. He worked hard his whole life, always tried to do what was best, and even though he was constantly under pressure, managed to turn a profit while keeping his employees fairly compensated.

Does my "I knew a guy" story prove that all managers are hard working and fair? No more than your "I knew a guy" story proves that all employees are mistreated or harder-working than their managers.

Again, that's the problem with the "I knew a guy" stories. They seldom shed any light on a subject, but everyone's got one to support their position.

Marctnts

"You're nothing but a set of Professor Harold Hills, con men with a scam."

Wow, me thinks you were wronged by a boss at some point in your life. Seriously, take a deep breath man. BTW, I'm not sure who the "you" is that you refer to, but I'm not a business grad or a manager. I'm just a independant professional who doesn't always think that "the man" is out to get the little guy.

You just can't acknowledge the fact moving workers, who for decades have labored under a "get what you can and screw the company before they screw me first" environment to one in which their fortunes are more closely tied to the success of the company makes since. I guess to some it will always be the "evil company" and the "mistreated employee".

"That old man motored along for years, just doing his job. Moving freight from point A to point B is a simple business."

No one's claiming they're smarter than anyone else, and yeah, I bet that old guy knew more about loading a truck than any of the managers he worked for. I wonder if he also knew about the hundreds of other things that went into making CF a success above and beyond the ability to "load a truck real good". If you honestly think that the pool of people willing and able to run the company is as big as the pool able to load a truck, I guess there's nothing more to talk about.

whispering_to_kc

"Yeah, and your point is?"

My point was that as smart as you think you are, you aren't. Your faces come and go and with each change of executives you convince yourselves you're the "ones" with the right skill sets for the times. That you're above average people and you deserve whatever you can get. Then, you give yourselves another raise for being so good at what you do and you move on to the next job.

Only you aren't very good at what you do. You're nothing but a set of Professor Harold Hills, con men with a scam.

That old man motored along for years, just doing his job. Moving freight from point A to point B is a simple business. He saw business school grads come and go, applying their skill sets to his management but the basics of "freight" never really changed. He lasted, most of them didn't.

In the end, the last of the business school grads killed CF and moved on to their next mark.

Marctnts

Yeah, and your point is?

So you once knew a hard-working old guy...

What does this have to do with the benefits of shared risk/reward systems that encourage both management and employees to work towards the same goal? How does this change the fact that there were/are a whole lot more people capable of doing this man's job than are capable of running CF.

That's the problem with the "I knew a guy" stories. They seldom shed any light on a subject, but everyone's got one to support their position.

whispering_to_kc

There used to be an old man on the dock at CF on Gardner. His start date was something like 1928 or 1932. As I recall, a senority list was posted and he was at the top.

He was old and bent over. He shuffled around like his health was poor but he never complained. He may have not been the most productive on the dock but he never slacked off either.

I wonder how many times over the years his "employee motivations" were aligned with management's. With each new dock supervisor that appeared, I wonder if he marveled at the difference between his and their "skill sets".

Marctnts

Whispering,

Most analysts are pegging YRC's troubles to the costs associated with their latest round of acquisitions, their trouble integrating their acquired divisions within the company model, and their union contract commitments to contribute towards the pension plans of other failed companies within the industry. So yeah, I would say that a good portion of the blame lies with management action (whether in deciding to acquire or in decisions about how to manage acquisition). This doesn't change my mind that the rarity of skill set and value added of most CEO's justifies their much-greater salary than typical employee, it just indicates that YRC CEO hasn't earned his keep, and as such, should probably be shown the door.

Let's remember, however, that the union isn't being asked to "give away" wages, but rather, to shift their focus to company health. In return for a 10% reduction in wage, the company is providing a 15% share of the itself to union employees (similar to the popular ESOP programs). Further, while non-union employees (at all levels) will also be suffering the 10% reduction, only union employees will be eligible to participate in the stock ownership plan.

I would love to know why you think that shifting some of the risk (and reward) for company health is a bad thing. Usually, these kinds of actions are seen as good steps towards better aligning management and employee motivations.

whispering_to_kc

"DO you suppose that the value the CEO adds to the company is worth 100 times the value added by one guy driving one truck for the company? I would guess, yes."

Given the poor financial condition YRC currently finds itself in, I'd say their CEO is adding less and less value to the company. He must be making one bad decision after another?

Or, would their current poor financial condition somehow be the fault of the Teamsters?

While you think it over, the freight is still being moved by YRC's drivers and dockmen. Just like always.

Marctnts

You completely ignored the rarity of the CEO's skill set versus that if an employee driving a truck, but we'll move on.

How about the value added? DO you suppose that the value the CEO adds to the company (through operational decisions, budget decisions, and strategic planning, among others) is worth 100 times the value added by one guy driving one truck for the company? I would guess, yes.

If your wage rationale is solely based upon effort, a ditch digger ought to be making a fortune.

Pub 17

Is it a hundred times harder? The poor dear, he must be EXHAUSTED.

Marctnts

"Some loafs are more equal than other loafs."

This kind of statement makes me think of another. "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs."

Let me get this straight? You have issue with the fact that the ONE man who leads this MULTI-BILLION dollar company makes $4 million a year? Do you suppose what he does is a little harder, or his skill set is a little rarer, than that of the average truck driver on the payroll?

whispering_to_kc

"A half loaf is better than no loaf at all?"

As is a wage. A half wage is better than no wage at all.

Depression. Deflating wages. Corporate bankruptcies. Crashing stock markets. The Bush legacy is about to reach full flower.

And just in time ... to blame it all on President Barack Obama.

Mr. William D. Zollars , 60
Chairman, CEO and President of YRC.

2007 compensation: pay - $ 1.67M, exercised options - $ 2.63M.

I think that means he makes $4 million/year. Some loafs are more equal than other loafs.

 
About KansasCity.com | About the Real Cities Network | Terms of Use & Privacy Statement | About Knight Ridder | Copyright