Jump to content

Recommended Posts

In the St. Louis region of Missouri the local gas company (Laclede Gas) has to inspect all gas appliances and gas pipes before an occupancy permit will be issued for new tenants. Yesterday I arrived at a vacant house around 10am. The Laclede gas guy was already there talking, in the front yard, to a guy from the cable company. The best I could tell they were talking about union benefits and retirement. They talked for at least 45 minutes before the gas guy came in. He did his things and then asked if I had been in the basement yet, I had not. He said he could not tell where the water on the floor was coming from because there was too much stuff piled up around the water heater to tell. He then went back out to his van and sat there for another hour. Unions must be a great thing to be in, but from my point of view they don't earn their pay.

Here is a picture off all the stuff, he could not be bothered to move.

Click to Enlarge
tn_2013810162639_109.jpg

38.74 KB

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, having had a number of experiences with unions, I tend to agree with the premise that they foster the kind of attitude described in the original post. Not everyone takes the attitude, but the american thought process seems to be that "I am doing what I get paid to do and nothing more". My father was a union guy back in the 50's and the union went on strike over 5 cents an hour. The strike lasted over six months causing my family to file bankruptcy and the company then hired non union guys to take over the plant. Not much has changed in the 60 plus years.

Link to post
Share on other sites

My father was a union plumber for 30+ years. He taught me that when you work under the contract you agreed upon, you give them a good day's work for the wage and benefits you accepted. Nothing less. It frustrated him to no end that there were a few guys in the Local that thought "being union" was a path to entitlement rather than a brotherhood where skilled workers supported each other and put pride in the fact that being trained in "the trades" meant delivering a superior product without equal.

Today, I too am a member of a union (firefighter). Overwhelmingly, we are proud of our work, and strive to be better at our craft than we were yesterday. I take his advice to heart and recall it often.

There are always a few bad apples, be it plumbers, firefighters or home inspectors. Union or non-union. However, I think most want to do their best, and leave happy customers.

Not preaching, just adding to the conversation.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Mark,

You must have met the one Laclede guy that has that attitude. I have met quite a few Laclede guys at inspections at they are usually done and gone within 45 minutes, usually less. Maybe with the change as of July 1st in the residential sales contract they have taken a different attitude towards their inspections.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure I follow your logic. Are you using the behavior of a single individual to disparage an entire class of people? If so, it's not a valid premise.

I don't think I was disparaging anyone; I was just making an observation. If those observations result in someone looking unfavorable then perhaps they should change the way they operate. I just thought it was silly the guy acted like there were mounds of stuff piled high all around the water heater that prevented him from doing his job, but when I saw it I did not think it was that all that much stuff. Perhaps it was just a matter of semantics, perhaps unions have a different definition of "too much stuff" then I do.

Most certainly I am not judging fairly and perhaps my logic is unreasonable, but it is not the action of a single individual I base my unfair and irrational opinions on. I see union guys sitting by the side of the road outside of construction sites, or in the parking lots of restaurants that are being remodeled holding big signs that say

"?Shame on (name of business) for not hiring union". I've seen big signs (bigger then a man) being held up that have a picture of a rat on them. Two days ago I saw them holding signs in front of a church that was getting a new roof. A few years ago there was a restaurant that had closed down and had sat empty for 2 years and was being renovated into a different type of restaurant. For at least 6 months 2 or 3 men sat in the parking lot of the restaurant next to a very busy road holding signs 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. I was told that they received regular union wages for doing this. I don't understand this type of thinking or behavior. I don't understand why they act as if only union workers are the only ones allowed to make a days wage. I see it as no different then if I stood in front of a house holding a protest sign because some other inspector was inside inspecting. Maybe the unions need to hire a PR company to explain to unreasonable and irrational people like me why they act the way they do - cuz I just don't get it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

In Chicago, they have giant (12'+) inflatable rats; when the rat goes up, it's serious. It still doesn't make anyone care, though.

Conventional union policies don't play in the current world all that well. Capital has always been free to go anywhere on the planet. Now, labor does too, only for opposite reasons. Someone will work for what someone else will pay; I'm not sure there's much to do about that.

The only shot at organizing might be fast food, but even there, I'm not so sure.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Mark, I'm pretty sure If I were ever offered a days wages to picket, I'd be a specialist at it. Union guys avoid it like jury duty.

People should consider the huge difference between Craft/trade unions, and industrial unions. It really is a shame most folks lump the two together because of the U word.

Contractors don't put up with workers standing around on construction sites. They don't need to, and the unions won't put up with it either. There's always someone waiting to take the place of a guy who doesn't want to work. If you're that guy, you can plan on hanging out in the hall until you figure it out.

The crafts spend money on training and required certification, that nonunion contractors will never foot the bill for. Some have begun their own drug screening. They offer a better workforce.

However, since in the last five or six years, the Carpenters union sold us down the road chose to merge from real locals to districts that stretch from here to Neptune, It will be interesting to see what happens next. Because of that, and for other reasons, I've parted ways with them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have been in unions and I have been in management. The lengths each can go to to be spiteful, counter-productive pricks is mind boggling. It is one and probably the biggest of the reasons I am self employed.

There are truly wonderful, good, intelligent people in both worlds but it seems the thoughtless jags leave the lasting impression.

My boyhood neighbor who was really a nice kid was in the Hell's Angels. The last time I talked to him before he died too young, 25, he told me he was doing work for the Teamsters.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I must say that living and working in a "right to work state" has its advantages....

Yes, Scott. but the advantages are are enjoyed by very, very few. Take a look at the link. As far as the source, I can't imagine Forbes could be construed as left-leaning in any way.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2 ... mystified/

No Forbes is not left but the author of the article is....

All I can really talk about is what I see around me. New car manufacturing plants opening (GM, VW, Fiat, Nissan), low property tax, low unemployement, good schools, and folks are buying houses in middle Tennessee. The GM plant in my little town of Spring Hill is a union plant.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't claim to have any personal experience with unions, but I fully admit that when they came upon the scene over a century ago they were desperately needed. However, to the detriment of the American economy as a whole, I think it became a case of the tail wagging the dog. Just look at the Detroit auto industry as an example.

As a homebuilder for 25 years in a non-union state, I have to say that the best brick mason I ever had was an Australian gentleman. No contest whatsoever. He came to Arkansas after having worked for a union in another state. He quickly became very frustrated with the union system, knowing that he could do better on his own. As he related the situation to me, the unions had a productivity quota that you didn't dare exceed. Nor did you grab so much as a single concrete block yourself--you had to let the unskilled labor do that for you. Even if it slowed you down to do so. As an extremely talented mason, he had often laid his quota of block or brick by shortly after lunch. He was expected to sit on his hands for the rest of the afternoon. It didn't take him too long to figure out he could make more money working for himself in a right to work state. This guy did undeniably beautiful work. Head joints all perfectly aligned, bed joints of consistent thickness, and absolutely plumb corners. AND he knew how to slope a window sill properly! He kept TWO laborers hopping while working solo. Most crews here work on the opposite ratio. I can't tell you how much I hated to see him go back home.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't claim to have any personal experience with unions, but I fully admit that when they came upon the scene over a century ago they were desperately needed. However, to the detriment of the American economy as a whole, I think it became a case of the tail wagging the dog. Just look at the Detroit auto industry as an example.

As a homebuilder for 25 years in a non-union state, I have to say that the best brick mason I ever had was an Australian gentleman. No contest whatsoever. He came to Arkansas after having worked for a union in another state. He quickly became very frustrated with the union system, knowing that he could do better on his own. As he related the situation to me, the unions had a productivity quota that you didn't dare exceed. Nor did you grab so much as a single concrete block yourself--you had to let the unskilled labor do that for you. Even if it slowed you down to do so. As an extremely talented mason, he had often laid his quota of block or brick by shortly after lunch. He was expected to sit on his hands for the rest of the afternoon. It didn't take him too long to figure out he could make more money working for himself in a right to work state. This guy did undeniably beautiful work. Head joints all perfectly aligned, bed joints of consistent thickness, and absolutely plumb corners. AND he knew how to slope a window sill properly! He kept TWO laborers hopping while working solo. Most crews here work on the opposite ratio. I can't tell you how much I hated to see him go back home.

Sounds like one effect of the Union is that the employee is made to answer to the Union and becomes less answerable to the employer who signs the paychecks.

Marc

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a union gas utility service technician now. My coworkers and I compete daily on productivity and we compare notes on ways to improve. The guys I work with are some of the hardest workers I've been around. Then again, none of us started out as union guys. We've got ex farmers, garage door contractors, mechanics, steel fabricators, and of course one partially retired home inspector. The fact that we are suddenly members of a union doesn't change who were are, nor does it suddenly change our work ethic.

Link to post
Share on other sites

In my day job I work in a craft with employees who have bargaining rights and are represented by a union. I can personally testify that with the attitudes of at least 50% of those employees, they wouldn't last 3 days in the private sector before being sent packing.

It makes me sick sometimes. As I age, it's getting harder to keep my mouth shut about it.

Is the feeling of entitlement in the air? You bet it is.

Link to post
Share on other sites

There are sorry individuals everywhere you go. Union membership does not make them sorry. They may be born that way, or life's knocks or the lack thereof may have trained them to be sorry.

I don't follow the mention of water on a floor and the alleged inaccessibility of the water heater.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't follow the mention of water on a floor and the alleged inaccessibility of the water heater.

Since he was there to check gas appliances and he saw water on the floor he was not sure if it came from the water heater or condensate from the A-coil that was next to it. He said there was too much stuff in the way for him to find out, so he was going to fail the water heater. He asked if I had been down there yet and wanted to know if I had figured out where the water came from.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...