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I am very curious to hear what benefites/negatives there are to joining a union. Is there anybody in here with a union? If so, do you find it beneficial? How do you go about joining a union? Does somebody approach you about it? How much are the yearly/monthly dues? I tried to search the forum on this topic and found nothing.

 

I was reading something about when the union is on strike, if you cross the picket line, basically the aviation community conciders you a dirtbag for hindering their efforts, and puts you on a list, forever.

 

If anybody has any info on these questions and more, it would be appreciated. I just want to be informed in case the opportunity was there.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

CM

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I am very curious to hear what benefites/negatives there are to joining a union. Is there anybody in here with a union? If so, do you find it beneficial? How do you go about joining a union? Does somebody approach you about it? How much are the yearly/monthly dues? I tried to search the forum on this topic and found nothing.

 

I was reading something about when the union is on strike, if you cross the picket line, basically the aviation community conciders you a dirtbag for hindering their efforts, and puts you on a list, forever.

 

If anybody has any info on these questions and more, it would be appreciated. I just want to be informed in case the opportunity was there.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

CM

 

I can not speak of aviation union, but I have worked "union" before and my current company also has a union side. I can tell you about my personal experience with a union. Personally, I think its a bad gig for a couple reasons. First, it is a sess pool (sp?) of bad attitudes and it is NOT based on merit. Personally, I think those 2 go hand in hand. Promotion, advancement etc is based on senority alone. if Joe has been with a company 3 weeks longer than you and is completely incompetant, and does nothing but the bare minimums, slacks off whenever not being watched etc and you are the exact opposite of that....IT DOESNT MATTER, he gets promoted, bottom line. It really doesnt take long for a hard charging new guy to fall into the, It really doesnt matter if I bust my butt becuase it holds no merit, line of thinking. I have never been around a larger group of generally unpleasant and unhappy people. Did I mention its a sess pool of bad attitudes.... Secondly, in the generally disgruntled union against the company demeanor, the unions price themselves out of business. Take a look at the automotive industry and look at some of the major airlines. a guy that sorts out bolts from bin A over to bins B and C is NOT worth 30 bucks an hour to a company. Sorry, just not. That is the sole purpose of a union and that is the attitude it spawns thus starting the "war" with the company.

 

If a company is not capable of seeing that the people are actually what makes the company (in all facets) then forming a union and starting a never ending fight with the company is NOT going to make an enjoyable work place, its NOT going to make the company see value in its personnel, nor will it (the union) ever gain appreciation. Why anyone would be willing give the better part of their life to that environment is beyond me.

 

Union is as blue collar as it gets. I will be honest, I came into a union blue collar job when I got out of the military as I needed SOMETHING to keep a roof over my head. I lasted a year in Iraq without any trouble at all. I lasted 5 months in a Union job becuase it straight sucked. The work was ok, the people made it suck. Makes it real hard to go to this place every day when there is nothing but dragging feet, bitching and moaning, haning heads, and the management / execs / supervisors are "the enemy." I am not in that situation anymore, but I still deal with a union shop and we have union engineers. The members of the company that are not union are a completely different bunch of people when it comes to attitudes and outlook on life.

 

Unions wont hunt you down or recruit you. If you go to an employer and they are union you may or may not HAVE to join. The union I was in (which is national) was like 40 bucks a month and I HAD to join as a condition of employment. As far as lists, reputation, and crossing a picket line thats really hard to say. If you are an old dog whos been union his whole life and someone crossed the line...they will forever be a dirtbag as that old dog knows no different. There was much discussion over in some of the other forums about the infamous LIST. The Union has its agenda and staunch supporters. The Companies have their agendas and staunch supports (much like our political circus). If you dont drink My koolaid you're a communist and if you dont drink MY koolaid you are damned to eternal whatever. Ya know what I mean? If it comes down to feeding someones agenda vs feeding my family.....your agenda looses. If you choose to work for an employer that needs to have that type of environment to be successful.....I feel for ya. There are a myriad of companies that dont need a union. To me, those are the companies that are worth MY time, effort, and loyalty (oh yeah and the best part of my days and the better portion of my adult life).

 

Bill Gates and Microsoft treat their employees VERY well. They dont need a union. If Microsoft didnt value their employees and treat them with any respect, they would surely form a union. I was told by a very wise old man that companies don't get unions unless they deserve one. Having worked both side of the fence, those words ring very true. Now without a doubt....my post is going to get some people all fired up. Unions do do some good for employees. However, again, if companies value the success and longevity of their revenue-generating lives they will treat the thing that generates that revenue fairly and with a little respect (read a respectable wage, maybe a little bennie package, and a little time off).

 

Lengthy post, sorry. I always find this an interesting topic. It always gets people thinking. Later

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Unions are absolutely essential, because it's the only way the field can be leveled, at least to some degree. Employees only have the power to change working conditions if they stand together. Good and bad companies have unions, and the good companies use the unions to help make it more productive. One of the most heavily unionized companies in the US is Southwest Airlines, which treats its employees very well, and gives the union a voice in how the company is run. The result is that Southwest is the only airline, and one of only a few companies overall, which has posted profits every quarter of its existence. A study published in Scientific American magazine showed that the most productive, most profitable companies there are have unions, and have a good working relationship with the unions. Behind those were companies with no unions, and bringing up the rear, the least profitable companies were those with a union and an adversarial relationship with the union. Unions are not good or bad per se, but the company's attitude makes all the difference. Companies which get a union almost always deserve it, and worked hard to get it, even thought they thought they were working to keep it out. Poor managers bring in unions.

 

If your company has a union, you have an obligation to join it. If you don't, you have no say in anything - working conditions, pay, strike votes, nothing. If you want things to be better, then you have to work for it, one way or another. Part of being a human being is the ability, and the willingness, to put the common good above your own short-term self-interest.

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I am very curious to hear what benefites/negatives there are to joining a union. Is there anybody in here with a union? If so, do you find it beneficial? How do you go about joining a union? Does somebody approach you about it? How much are the yearly/monthly dues? I tried to search the forum on this topic and found nothing.

 

I was reading something about when the union is on strike, if you cross the picket line, basically the aviation community conciders you a dirtbag for hindering their efforts, and puts you on a list, forever.

 

If anybody has any info on these questions and more, it would be appreciated. I just want to be informed in case the opportunity was there.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

CM

 

You'll hear a lot of BS on this subject. There are people who despise unions, and those who fervently believe. I'm in the middle. I believe there's a tool for every job, use the appropriate tool correctly for best results, and no tool's perfect.

 

The benefits of a union:

A contract that clearly defines work conditions and compensation, mutually negotiated;

You're the member of a group with common issues. Use that status to your advantage, bargain collectively;

There's a formal method to resolve disputes, it's not "my way or highway" anymore;

Because you spread the costs among a larger group, the cost of using experts becomes affordable, and used wisely, profitable;

Don't fool yourself- unless you've got unusual skills that are in particular demand, you're in a disadvantaged position negotiating solo against a company and their staff. At will is not appropriate for a professional.

 

The drawbacks of union:

The contract, and believe it or not, bites both ways;

A union, especially the locals, is only as good as the members make them. Petty squabbling and politics can become an end in themselves for some people;

There's an additional bureaucracy- It's harder to do things informally;

You'll pay dues.

Those aren't small issues.

 

Notice I didn't mention seniority, merit, etc., and promotions. Jerks get promoted in organized companies and jerks get promoted in non-union companies. Slackers exist in both, too.

I also don't see seniority based promotions suppressing initiative. If you have the initiative to do more than the bare minimum, you'll do it whether you get "attaboys" or not, because that's part of your work ethic. At least it's the way everybody at my job works...

I'm afraid I don't see a connection between union membership and work environment, other than it takes pretty crappy work situation to get people motivated enough to organize.

There definitely is a connection between union membership and long-term employment intentions. If you intend to stay, you try to fix issues. If the job's temporary, on the other hand, you don't care, you're outta there in "X" time anyhow.

 

If you work for a company that has a union, the options available are defined in the contract that the company and the union agreed to and signed. Sometimes, you have to join the union. Sometimes you just pay a share of the cost of the benefits of union representation. If you're going to pay agency fees, you might as well join the union, have a say and vote.

 

Strikes are unpleasant for everybody, and they're supposed to be. If the union membership put their jobs and earnings on the line, stop working and go on strike, you can understand why they'd be upset if somebody exploited the situation. That's what you're doing if you cross a picket line and work during a strike.

 

I'm a satisfied union member. It's worth the 1% dues to have a specific contract.

Edited by Wally
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Well let me just say, thank you all for the great responses! I can see that people that are informed about a union can feel very passionate about it, whether bad, or good.

 

I did have another question about a union that also interests me. If the union goes on strike, does the union pay you during these periods, or not? It would seem to me that if you pay your due's, then the union should be there to support the workers in times of trouble. I understand that the due's go towards professional help during times of need, but what if you are with a union for ten years with no issues or strikes?

 

I'm sure the answer is no, but you never know.

 

I'm still a little confused on whether unions are good or bad, but it's defenitly not from the lack of information. I'm sure I will have a stronger opinion on them when I get in closer contact with people in them, or join one myself.

 

Again, thank you all for the great responses.

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I did have another question about a union that also interests me. If the union goes on strike, does the union pay you during these periods, or not? It would seem to me that if you pay your due's, then the union should be there to support the workers in times of trouble. I understand that the due's go towards professional help during times of need, but what if you are with a union for ten years with no issues or strikes?

 

Depends - the only union I've been a member of is IBEW in the power generation business, and we were under a no strike/no lock out clause in the contract. That didn't prevent either a strike or a lock out, but fortunately not till long after I had left the job. (It can be done after the contract has expired.) Some locals have a strike fund associated with their dues, and it's usually a pretty good chunk of money. When they go on strike that fund is used to ease the pain, but it's no where near a normal salary. My personal opinion was to avoid places that had a strike fund because that was an indication that they needed it. The regular dues generally support the unions local and national administrative costs.

 

FWIW, some professions really need union representation, some don't, but if you're working in a union shop I really think it's to your advantage to join. The dues aren't that high and it gives you some say in what the issues and solutions are. If you're not in the union they're not going to go out of their way to support your positions, and you can't deal directly with management because the contract isn't going to allow management to do that. How active you are in the union is up to you - even in a closed shop (one where you are required to be in the union) you don't have to be active as long as you pay the dues, although there is an expectation that if you're not going to participate in the process don't bother complaining about the results.

 

I think the pros and cons have been covered pretty well already, although I have a question for Wally or Gomer... Is a strike fund normal practice in the GOM?

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Depends - the only union I've been a member of is IBEW in the power generation business, and we were under a no strike/no lock out clause in the contract. That didn't prevent either a strike or a lock out, but fortunately not till long after I had left the job. (It can be done after the contract has expired.) Some locals have a strike fund associated with their dues, and it's usually a pretty good chunk of money. When they go on strike that fund is used to ease the pain, but it's no where near a normal salary. My personal opinion was to avoid places that had a strike fund because that was an indication that they needed it. The regular dues generally support the unions local and national administrative costs.

 

FWIW, some professions really need union representation, some don't, but if you're working in a union shop I really think it's to your advantage to join. The dues aren't that high and it gives you some say in what the issues and solutions are. If you're not in the union they're not going to go out of their way to support your positions, and you can't deal directly with management because the contract isn't going to allow management to do that. How active you are in the union is up to you - even in a closed shop (one where you are required to be in the union) you don't have to be active as long as you pay the dues, although there is an expectation that if you're not going to participate in the process don't bother complaining about the results.

 

I think the pros and cons have been covered pretty well already, although I have a question for Wally or Gomer... Is a strike fund normal practice in the GOM?

 

Pogue, I'm not a GoMer any more. I'm a happy Air Methods pilot and a member of Local 109. No strike fund that I know of, we're encouraging members to prepare against the possibility. That's a win/win for everybody. If AMC gets froggy, and I don't think that they will, we should be self-reliant, nobody to blame but ourselves for our issues. If the negotiations result in a mutually agreeable contract, then we've all got a little more saved and a better contract.

 

So far, AMC has been largely a good and honorable contractual partner. There are still issues between the parties, some fairly significant, but I think both sides are truly working hard to make the compromises agreed to, work. Most of the issues seem to be the result of misunderstandings and contractual phrasing. There are a very few where either/both side is/are being somewhat "bloody-minded" as the Brits phrase it. I can't discuss those, as I'm not involved, so it would be third-hand and probably inaccurate. As I said, I'm happy.

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Pogue, I'm not a GoMer any more. I'm a happy Air Methods pilot and a member of Local 109. No strike fund that I know of, we're encouraging members to prepare against the possibility. That's a win/win for everybody. If AMC gets froggy, and I don't think that they will, we should be self-reliant, nobody to blame but ourselves for our issues. If the negotiations result in a mutually agreeable contract, then we've all got a little more saved and a better contract.

 

So far, AMC has been largely a good and honorable contractual partner. There are still issues between the parties, some fairly significant, but I think both sides are truly working hard to make the compromises agreed to, work. Most of the issues seem to be the result of misunderstandings and contractual phrasing. There are a very few where either/both side is/are being somewhat "bloody-minded" as the Brits phrase it. I can't discuss those, as I'm not involved, so it would be third-hand and probably inaccurate. As I said, I'm happy.

Yeah, that's pretty consistant with my experience. It's good to be prepared but everyone really should want the negotiations to work - strike/lock out is really a lose/lose... Minor pissing contests aside, in my experience both sides generally do try to find a workable compromise most of the time.

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