Majority says organized labor negatively affects local economy
17% of respondents report union affiliation in household
Most respondents to this week’s RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll say unions play a negative role in the local economy.
Nearly 80 percent said their role was negative, while 14 percent said unions are good for the local economy and 8 percent said their effect is neutral.
Union membership nationwide rose in 2008 for the second straight year-and by the largest amount since the 1980s. Among the states, New York had the highest union membership rate-24.9 percent.
Of the poll respondents, 17 percent said their households included at least one union member.
Roughly 810 readers participated in this week’s poll, which was conducted Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.
In your view, do labor unions play a positive, negative or neutral role in the local economy?
Do you or does a member of your household belong to a labor union?
As an architect, I am quite familiar with union labor in the construction industry. They are all highly trained and skilled and perform effortlessly. They are a positive influence because they all work together to produce the best products at the best price.
I firmly believe the labor unions’ power over our elected officials is the biggest reason for our government’s inability to cut costs/spending. That, in turn, results in higher taxes, which then cause people to seek other states to live and work-a real-world death spiral for New York State.
(Unions) have driven the cost of pensions and other retirement benefits out of sight and demand more and more from the taxpayers. Under the pretense of protecting the worker, they have destroyed many more high-paying jobs than they ever protected. Now they are demanding universal health care. It must end, or we will all end up in a socialist society-which is happening right now. Wake up!
-Bob Brinkman, chairman,
Brinkman International Group
I believe unions played a significant role during the Industrial Revolution, but they long ago lost their usefulness and have turned into bloated organizations more interested in maintaining their infrastructure than their members’ well-being.
Unions are providing opportunities such as apprenticeships that allow new workers to acquire skills that are critical to our economy and society. They have also been a counterbalance to poor management at many large companies around the country. They do not have a great track record at making this country cost-competitive, but locally I do not see a negative impact. I have long felt that the need for unions would be eliminated if management addressed the needs of its workers.
-Bill Lanigan, Chamberlin Rubber Co.
I did belong to labor unions and found that they did not do any more for me than a good, reputable company. I guess they are good for companies that do not want to take care of their employees. I now see the big unions running business into the ground with their demands versus working with the company during hard financial times. They always want more and more; sometimes finances do not dictate that. Also, the pay scales do not foster pay for performance; hence many workers get away with poor output and still get big raises. I believe the pay structure of unions should change to pay for performance.
-Judy Pfoltzer, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics
Unions are a negative force in the employer-employee relationship. They encourage the situation to be confrontational, add to the expense of doing business (for the company and the employee) and add nothing to the interpersonal environment, the productivity or the profitability of the business. They are a drain on our businesses. They make a profit, causing problems.
-Bob Vance, The HRM Group
Unions definitely had their place and time in society, but that time has passed. It has turned into a money-eating machine that survives only to support itself.
At one time, labor unions played a vital role in creating rights for the working class. Today, however, the unions are all about making more money and getting more power for the union bosses. There is no concern about the health of our economy.
With the advent of today’s labor laws, occupational health and safety laws, minimum wage and anti-discrimination laws, the union movement has achieved most of its important goals.
-David Lovenheim, managing director, Keystones Global LLC
If people just knew their own social history, they would know the important role that unions have played in this country.
-Cris Zaffuto, president,
CSEA, Monroe County Unit 7400
Unions stop progression of people who want to achieve more than the status quo and increase mediocrity of employees.
09/04/09 (C) Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303.