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September 4th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Has your opinion of labor unions changed?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As we head into Labor Day weekend, consider this: For the first time since the question was first asked in the 1930s, fewer than half of Americans approve of labor unions. A new Gallup poll shows organized labor taking a big image hit in the last year...

Workers at SK Hand Tools in Chicago picketed outside their plant last week after their health insurance benefits were cut without notification.

- The poll finds only 48-percent of those surveyed approve of labor unions, that's down from 59-percent a year ago. While approval of unions is down among most groups, the biggest drop comes among independents.

- While 66-percent of Americans say unions are beneficial to their own members, 51-percent say that unions mostly hurt the economy. That number is up from 36-percent in 2006.

- And, 42-percent say they want unions to have less influence, compared with 25 percent who want more influence... last year, these numbers were about even.

But in the past year - a whole lot has changed. These new poll numbers come during an economic recession with record unemployment, and in the aftermath of major taxpayer-funded bailouts of two of the Big Three auto companies.

When Congress was considering these bailouts last winter - polls showed many Americans blamed the unions for the auto industry's problems.

Here’s my question to you: In light of the Labor Day holiday, has your opinion of labor unions changed in the past few years?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Jim writes:
Labor unions have outlived their usefulness. They pad their members’ paychecks with absurd benefits that nobody else has while holding the employers hostage to their demands. They are the primary reason why so many businesses have chosen to locate outside the country.

Mike from Lexington, Kentucky writes:
The price that was paid for all the benefits being enjoyed by today's retired union workers was the bankruptcy of their employer. No company can afford the outrageous wages and benefits being "earned" by their under-educated and overpaid laborers. Bust the unions, before they bust U.S.

Shaun from Evansville, Indiana writes:
Labor unions were established for a reason - to keep the common worker from being trampled on by big business and the corporate grindstone. If, over the years, they've gotten the power to actually make changes to the system, then I say more power to them. They're working to make the lives of your mother, father, sister, brother, son or daughter better, and I applaud them for that.

Michelle writes:
Yes, unions used to fulfill a useful purpose. Now they mostly justify less work for more pay, reward those who do less, make excuses and have very greedy executives. You complain about Wall Street execs, check out some of the compensation for these union execs, not much different. It's become Chicago politics; they claim to be for the little person or the worker, but ultimately they are only looking out for themselves.

Linda from Arizona writes:
There has been a concerted effort by big business and the corporate-run Republicans to kill support for labor unions in this country, and the unions have played into it nicely with what often can only be called corruption. Nevertheless, they are still the only people who even pretend to care about the workers. I will always be a union supporter.

Noel from Nashville, Tennessee writes:
Jack, It seems to me that the general public opinion of everything has gone down recently. We have become a nation of pessimists and cynics.


Filed under: Unity
soundoff (270 Responses)
  1. Kevin in Dallas, TX

    No they have not. Labor unions were at one point useful, now they are a burden.

    September 4, 2009 at 1:55 pm |
  2. Conor in Chicago

    Not at all. I am a union man to the death. The US government, particularly Republican administrations, has been trying to destroy unions in this country for decades in order to serve the interests of their corporate masters. Just study early 20th Century American history to understand why Unionism is so important to all of us.

    September 4, 2009 at 1:58 pm |
  3. Jamie Heier

    I feel a great need for strong unions. They're vital to our economy.

    That said, I have a poor opinion of them, in general. The have alternately seemed 1) mob infested, 2) business collaborators and 3) totally self-interested.

    That said, like many things that are a counter-balance to the power of the elite – it ain't perfect, but we gotta use it and keep making it better.

    Jamie

    September 4, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  4. Jeff in Houston

    Somewhat, but I will just have to wait and hope. They have lost their nerve. They may be downright scared based on the way things have been going. Here is a prediction Jack: Just like the people of the Soviet Union had to rise to shake off comunism, the people of America will need to rise up and rebel against the Corporate State, but that will never occur as long as Corporate America keeps the general population hostage through fear, a lack of education, popular mythology, and hate. I just hope there is enough time for the rebellion to occur.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  5. ken jefferson city mo

    Jack NO unions are made up of middle class workers who stand up
    to blood sucking corporations but in our sick country it's a sin to stand
    up to them ask the republicans!!!

    September 4, 2009 at 2:12 pm |
  6. Peg from NY

    No. I have always supported Labor Unions.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:13 pm |
  7. Katiec Pekin, IL

    My opinion is that it is sad that the unions are getting such a bum rap. Of couse they have made mistakes, just like the CEO's, people who took advantage of when times were good.
    People fail to realize, or possibly do not know what the unions accomplished for the working man and woman. Without them where
    would middle class America be today, or would their even be a
    middle class?
    People only need to check history and see how the working class
    were treated before unions were created.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  8. Jim Bailey

    Given that corporate CEO's were never taught to share by their mothers we need honest and transparent unions now more then ever.
    Jim
    Cripple Creek CO

    September 4, 2009 at 2:19 pm |
  9. Alex in Seattle

    Unions have played a vital role in providing adequate compensation and worker safety. Not so much nowadays as they attempt to justify the union dues that they are paid. I'm shocked and amazed that here in Seattle Boeing workers and unionized teachers are striking during a recession! How much more do they need in hard times?

    Jobless in Seattle

    September 4, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  10. Richard D. Leonard

    I STILL have a job in Michigan!! My boss and his family have kept the doors open since 1945. His grandfather hired my dad after WWII. The unions have drove this state to the edge of disaster and we don;t seem to be able to turn it around. my bother worked for the union, didn't do anything then and retired at 48 while the next generation takes a hit for their greed. No my opinion hasn't changed i alwasy thought they were usless. Kind of like a multi million dollar sports figure.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  11. Chuck in warren, Ohio

    Jack: Yes! I was salary at GM and now I pay 20% of my pension a month for my healthcare. If I had been union my out of pocket would be a lot less. Unions at one time were nessary because of ruthless company greed and now the time has come again to fight those same ruthless bastards that took down this country. It's time to buy union made products and that leaves out TOYOTA, HONDA, and the foreign glut at Walmart.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:20 pm |
  12. Paul from Canada

    Somewhat it has. I never used to be pro-union because they were once too powerful and became a hindrance to business, helping to force jobs overseas for cheaper labor. Now that the numbers are dwindling, business has become a detriment to the working man. Unions are a good idea in theory, but I am not sure we ever able to strike a true even handed balance between the two sides.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  13. John from Alabama

    Jack: Having been a member of a union and a member of a professional association I must admit I liked the union's collective bargaining model much better. I think is the past 10 years unions have declined in strength and numbers, but after 8 years of George W. Bush the idea of unions are starting to grow. What unions fight for today is much different than 10 years ago, instead of hourly increases unions are fighting for job security and more time off. Unions work hard to keep jobs in America I wish the government tried harder to keep jobs in the USA.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:21 pm |
  14. Ronald Holst

    Yes Jack I always thought They Were Bad But after What I and so many others in this nation Have had to put up with On the work site In the last few years . Jack It Is time that the Unions To not only Make A come Back But time to come back with A vengeance , Unless you are like the few out there That are not Paying A decent wage to your employees to line your own pockets . Corporate America Greed Has brought Me to this Point And If it dose not to the entire country, Then I give up on this nation .
    Ron
    TX

    September 4, 2009 at 2:22 pm |
  15. Paul Austin, Texas

    Yes Jack it has. I feel that their time has come full circle and it is time for the unions to get more active. To many companies are using the economy as an excuse to outsource and cut back to the bone and wanting much more from much fewer employees. Just look at our unemployement rate at a 26 year high we just soon may be seeing some young new union members and unions forming in the near future.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  16. Larry from Georgetown, Texas

    They have driven a wedge between workers and management and need to go by the wayside once and for all. To me this is why the auto companies have failed in America as well as poor management.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:24 pm |
  17. Pablo in Arlington Texas

    Jack,
    I am now and have ever been a supporter of unions. That will NEVER change. Ironically, in my 30+ years in the teaching profession I was banned from joining a union by a provision of the Texas State Constitution and by clauses in several statutes of state law relating to public education in Texas.
    As every good union man and woman knows, in a "right to work state" you have the right to work your guts out for the lowest possible wage and little or no benefits.
    So, in the immortal words of Woody Guthrie...
    "I'm stickin to the Union til the day i die!"
    Pablo
    Arlington Texas

    September 4, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  18. Warren

    No, Jack - I still think they are for the most part a vestigal organ in the body of America. Once upon a time, they served a useful purpose; they kept people from getting taken advantage of, or put into unsafe working conditions. The only union I know of that really still does that is the United Mine Workers. The rest seem intent on getting their members the largest salaries possible, and don't really care about the effect on the business. The mess that the American auto industry is in is largely the fault of unions who cannot compromise when the good of the industry is at stake.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  19. Gary H. Boyd

    Yeah, it has. Years ago I thought unions were their own worst enemy. Now, I know they are.

    Gary in Arizona

    September 4, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  20. Wilhelm von Nord Bach

    I'm a retired airline captain who was a member of The Airline Pilots Association when I was an active pilot. my union, which at one time was one of the strongest in the nation, has turned into a company "lap dog" going back to when we didn't support the PATCO air traffic controllers in 1981. that single act of not supporting our PATCO brothers when Ronald Reagan fired them gave the OK to every airline management, along with other corporate bosses, to break their union contracts and violate Federal labor laws because it became obvious that the so called "Dept of Labor" would NOT inforce them.

    I personally think the thousands of dollars I paid in dues over a 20+ year career were wasted.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  21. Debra~Arizona

    No, I support the labor unions.
    Happy Labor Day

    September 4, 2009 at 2:33 pm |
  22. Amber - Austin, TX

    People forget that they wouldn't have vacation, holidays, or ANY benefits had it not been for labor unions.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:36 pm |
  23. David in Natchez

    No, I have always credited the unions with creating the middle class. As the unions declined so did this economic class of citizens. Now fewer and fewer jobs offer a living wage or benefits to its employees.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:37 pm |
  24. Roy

    I've never been in a union, but I've read it's history. Get Saturdays and Sundays off? Thank the union. Get vacation? Thank the union. Your child doesn't work in a sweat shop? Thank the union. And the list goes on and on.

    Roy
    Texas

    September 4, 2009 at 2:38 pm |
  25. Richard McKinney, Texas

    No it has not changed. I still have no use for unions. Having a job is not a right. It is a privilege. Those that qualify for employment are hired. Those that do a poor job are fired. Unions do little to benefit anyone but the union. They have cost Americans jobs because of over pricing labor sending jobs overseas where the work still gets done for a lot less money propping up other countries economies while ours stagnates. Unions are a thing of the past.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:39 pm |
  26. Lance, Ridgecrest, Ca

    Nope, don't like them, never have liked them, never will like them. Want to know one of the main reasons U.S. jobs are overseas? Unions. Want to know one of the country's major sources of fraud, corruption, and violence? Unions. Want know a major reason why prices for goods and services keep rising? Unions. There may have been a time, once, when Unions were needed and actually did some good, however, that time ended when Unions started getting involved in making money for themselves and influencing politics, and forgot that they were formed to support their workers.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:46 pm |
  27. Matt

    After seeing classified aides laid off and programs like technology, language and special education gutted because teachers wouldn't take a 2% pay cut in a public school district where their pay is 30% higher than the national average- my views of unions have indeed changed. Unions are not the always the underdogs looking out for workers-they can just as easily stand in the way of progress and fair treatment as they can advocate for it.

    Matt,
    Santa Barbara

    September 4, 2009 at 2:47 pm |
  28. Bob White, Kansas

    Yes, my opinion of labor unions has improved very much over the past year or two. I now see how the unions were substantivley important in the election of progressives during the last election, including the president who ran as a progressive. i do not blame the unions for the change in the president's stands. Further, the unions were very much against the NAFTA which has proven to be the right position. Finally, the US will never recover a middle class with security for families and secure retirements without labor unions. Collective bargaining is vital to our national ecomony where "demand" is as important as "supply". And it is the middle-class, too, that pays all the necessary taxes.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  29. Rick Medina,OH

    Jack,

    38 years ago, I joined the Seafarer's International Union. That was the only option to work on the 'ore boats' that carried semi-processed iron ore to the steel mills of Cleveland, Pittsburgh, etc. The 'fleet' is now only 20 – 25% of what it once was. The work was hard, but very high paying. Our union contract even included a menu of what we could expect to be fed while on board. (And trust me, Jack, it was a lot better than 'ring bologna')

    Now, the Great Lakes fleet is much smaller, but transports approximately as much goods as it always did. In the end, nothing that fails to make economic sense ever lasts.

    Rick, Medina, OH.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  30. Jason, Koloa HI

    It sure has, cause I've had a union job for the past year and a half. I'd never had one before and it is way better to be in a union then not be in one. Don't get me wrong, the giant corporation I work for still finds ways to screw us collectively, but it is way harder for them to screw us individually.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:53 pm |
  31. Maria

    Tthinking about labor unions as I considered getting the flag out for display I could not remember a whole lot of recent labor activities. Yet they keep our teachers and staff wokring, they keep our restaurant industry running, they keep Hollywood employed, they probably help guarantee jobs at your network...oh, wait a minute, Fox isn't labor is it?

    Anyway, the days of breaking knee-caps and smashing heads has been over for a long time, and I, at least have forgotten just how effective labor unions are to our country.

    Brunswick,MD

    September 4, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  32. Fred R Deleon

    Labor Unions are needed when they benefit the proletariat without
    harming the employers. Should not be a branch of any government and NO government should use the Unions for Political purposes. Otherwise the government becomes a Socialist Power.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  33. Tom, Avon, Me, The Heart of Democracy

    No. It is more obvious in countries like El Salvador, but labor unions are key to the advancement of human rights throughout the world.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  34. Michelle Johnson, Lomita, CA

    I have worked for employers with and without labor unions, and job life quality is 100% better when you're unionized. Your employer cannot terminate you without a valid reason, and is held accountable for abuse or neglect of employees. I've worked 14 years in public sector, and supervisors and co-workers don't mistreat you because of the consequences. I make a decent wage, and have life and medical insurance, a pension plan, and excellent paid time-off benefits. I'm treated well and have access to many free services. I would never return to a job without a labor union.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  35. Ken in Pinon Hills, California

    My opinion of labor has never changed. It is the labor unions through collective bargaining that gave us the highest standard of living in the world.
    No Virginia, business didn't give us our lifestyle out of compassion for the American worker, it was hard fought by America's unions. One sees a parallel In an era of out sourcing and the number of union members shrinking, and the loss of the comfortable life American labor once enjoyed.

    September 4, 2009 at 2:55 pm |
  36. Ed from California

    Yes and No, as a retired (yes!!) union member, we should have walked out as soon as Regan fired the Air Traffic Controllers, that set the downward spin on organized labor. If we had a strong labor force now. Do you think it would have been as easy for the US Gov't to let millions of jobs to be sent overseas? Do you think the thousands of out of work Wall Street or management workers laid off in no particular order would, if, given the chance join a Union? And, loosing all their Pension money! (Medical benefits are not guaranteed, thirty days only)
    Look, I am pro-Union, a retired Teamster (yes!!!) shop steward, but, none of us, not one employee, put the Union first. We put our company and our customers first. Our company paid all of us (thousands of workers, all Union members) great wages and benefits.
    Yes, I am fully aware of the costs of Health & Welfare benefits (health care) and Pension. It ain't cheap, for any company no matter how big or small to stay in business, unless, it's work force is dedicated to it's job base, it's Customers, no business, no benefits.
    The benefits of being a Union member are, Seniority rights, A Grievance process, better wages, Benefits (H&W, Pension). And being in a Union the companies can get health care for allot cheaper than buying it through an Insurance company, Teamster's have Trust's set up, their own type of insurance broker.
    Organize, and join a Union today! You won't be sorry! Have a good one, and, Happy Labor Day!!!!

    September 4, 2009 at 2:58 pm |
  37. JWC in Atlanta

    Yes….but only because unions are all too willing to bring down venerable old companies even as they make demands which take American industry out of the competition. Better to have a job that pays a slighter wage than no job at all…but the mob mentality of those who run unions seem to have only a single perspective. Not to say management with their corporate planes and their federal begging are any more inspiring. But I would hope that unions would have a bit more sense than to stubborn themselves and their industries out of existence.

    September 4, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  38. william fitzwater

    No;
    I like unions 🙂

    September 4, 2009 at 3:05 pm |
  39. Michael, Pensacola, FL

    No, they still play a vital role in American business and people would be in something close to slave labor without them because that's the reality of what it was like before they arrived. Still they need to strike a balance between what they receive and a company's ability to make a profit.

    September 4, 2009 at 3:06 pm |
  40. Tom from Philly

    Well lets see. My original opinion was formed in the wake of the Regan devolution. I was convinced that unions were the root of all evil. They make workers lazy, bring down productivity and insulate employees from responsibility for their actions.

    Well thar buddy, turns out they helped working america HAVE healthcare, pensions, job security and fair compensation. I ended up working for a fortune 500 company: CEO 5Million, 10$/hr max on hourly employees and 55% minimum wage for tipped employees. Healthcare had a 5 day 5,000 limit. Thats whats gross any of those employees that opted for that plan were NOT counted in the uninsured ranks. HA (chris matthews style)

    Somewhere there is a balance, lets try to find it

    September 4, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  41. Laurie in Lawrence, KS

    My opinions haven't changed one iota. Labor built this country. The unions gave us the 40-hour work week, child labor laws, etc. Can you imagine what life would be like for us if we had never had the unions? Unions aren't what is wrong with this country. They are what is right with this country!

    September 4, 2009 at 3:09 pm |
  42. Sherri-Illinois

    No! They are needed more than ever in this day & age. They fought for employee protection, equal wages, unemployment insurance! Thank goodness for them, they are the Equalizer that major employers despite.

    September 4, 2009 at 3:10 pm |
  43. Fred May Sr Spanaway WA.

    NO NO I have been anti union since the forties. They are the reason the cost of living is so high. always after more money and benefits for their members causing the cost of living to go up. They get what they want causing non-union members to aks for more money so they can afford the increase in the cost of living. A vicious cycle that never ends.

    September 4, 2009 at 3:14 pm |
  44. Bruce St Paul MN

    My opinion has not changed, no matter how much the conservatives demonize them. A lot of what we take for granted in the workplace is the result of union negotiations. 40 hour work weeeks, overtime pay, workplace safety, paid vacation, sick days, and much more. Left to the largess of the employer, none of these things would exist. Republicans have opposed unions since the dockworker strikes of the 1930's. They seeemingly want us to compete with Chinese workers for the lowest possible wages. Good grief.

    September 4, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  45. Dave, Brooklyn, NY

    It changed a long time ago. Being a life long conservative, I used to despise labor unions, thinking they were the cause of all evil and the ruination of the country. Later, I realized that they are needed to balance the unethical and rapacious greed of corporations. Without labor unions we would be back in the days of serfdoms. (I no longer describe myself as Republican because most of the pinheads and fools calling themselves Republican today couldn’t define “conservative” if they had a dictionary.)

    September 4, 2009 at 3:22 pm |
  46. Kay, TX

    labor unions have good points and bad. on the plus side, they are the only powerful organization standing on the side of the american worker in defiance of big business and, unfortunately, our own government. on the down side, bad unions and practices, such as those in new york isd, should never have to be tollerated. bad unions /practices reflect poorly on all of the good ones.

    September 4, 2009 at 3:23 pm |
  47. Agnes from Scottsdale, AZ

    Jack: Labor unions need to morph into a new role in US labor. The economy stincks and it's tough right now for unions to get much air time. The average man and woman they represent just want to hang onto their jobs at any cost. The unions could probably be most effective in working closer with Congress than out on picket lines. Unions definitely play a role, but they need to reinvent themselves.

    September 4, 2009 at 3:24 pm |
  48. Joe in MO

    The middle class is dying. Statistics show a greater division between rich and poor with the middle class shrinking. Could that have to do with the decline of the labor unions?

    September 4, 2009 at 3:24 pm |
  49. Chris D.

    I respect the hard working men and woman of labor unions, that used to make up our middle class. They are the backbone of an America who doesn't appreciate them anymore, but rather ideolize the men and women, who dress in suits, and sit behind desk. Nothing wrong w/ that either, but the men and women of labor were the original drivers of the economy. Now it's just the corporations, and firms.

    September 4, 2009 at 3:24 pm |
  50. Jackie in Dallas

    Initially, as I was growing up, unions were presented as the voice of the little people, trying to help them get safer environments to work in, more sane work hours and wages, and pensions for when they became to old to work.

    These days, some of the unions are more like the Mafia, using force and violence plus intimidation to get unreasonable demands met. They lost my support when the pilots went on strike. Excuse me? A group of professionals making in excess of $80,000 a year starting out, with more paid days off, pensions, and perks than I can even dream about getting, and they wanted more? I can almost understand the strikes in Hollywood; residuals make up a lot of what some of the professionals earn there. Teachers? Hmm. I come down on both sides of that fight. But don't EVEN get me started on the unions in the automotive industry!

    September 4, 2009 at 3:26 pm |
  51. BoB bella Vista Ar

    NO Jack

    i have been a union man all my life, and it it were'nt for the union most people in the USA would be makeing the wage as the people in china and mexico.
    they won't enjoy the life style they have now,and you won't be making the money you are making.

    BOB

    September 4, 2009 at 3:26 pm |
  52. Molly B

    Tama, IA

    Labor unions served their purpose in the early years of the 20th
    century. Now they and their rapacious leaders need to softly
    steal away.

    September 4, 2009 at 3:27 pm |
  53. Rory Murray

    Jack,
    Here in California, the Teacher's Union is corrupt and top-heavy with GREEDY supervisors and administrators, some who retire with pensions of up to $500,000 a year!! The good teachers have to buy their own supplies. And the bad teachers get rewarded with tenure.
    "Bilingual education" (Spanish only) here is a miserable failure with a 50% dropout rate of Latino students to prove it.

    The so-called "American" Civil Liberties Union protects those here ILLEGALLY. Not the citizens, who play by the rules.

    Then there's the United Farm Workers Union. What a joke!
    People think Ceasar Chavez was some kind of saint, but he was a THUG! He cracked more skulls than Jimmy Hoffa!

    All labor unions should be compelled to use the E-Verify Program to ensure that ONLY American citizens get American jobs.

    Have a great weekend, Jack!
    -Rory Murray
    San Bernardino,CA

    September 4, 2009 at 3:28 pm |
  54. Rae from Indiana

    I still like getting paid for overtime, working a 40 hour 5 day week, having paid holidays and vacations, seniority, health insurance and a job description. No, Jack, my opinions of labor unions have not changed.

    September 4, 2009 at 3:31 pm |
  55. David E Smigas , Munhall , Pa.

    Not at all ! The UNIONS are what made this country great ! THEY are what made the"MIDDLE CLASS" . They gave us a livable working wage, work place safety , pensions,unemployment compensation, health insurance , just to name a few of the benifits they have brought to the working people of this country. The "PROBLEM is BIG BUSINESS and some Politicians don't like the thought of the workers being able to control their own lives. Business would rather send jobs over sea's for cheap labor,and yet retain product prices or increase them, than to pay someone a working wage. Weak UNIONS hurt every working person in the country,some may not believe this but it's true. Without UNIONS EVERYONE will be working for slave wages.

    September 4, 2009 at 3:31 pm |
  56. g ontario

    stronger unions is the only way to get far wages from greedy employers union built the middle class without it there would be no middle class ask mexico

    September 4, 2009 at 3:33 pm |
  57. Pugas-AZ

    I have mixed emotions concerning unions. They are probably necessary in some areas but they can be a drag on compaies during hard times (GM). Getting too powerful and demanding too much can work against them in the long run.

    September 4, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  58. honestjohn in Vermont

    Not really. Unions are a necessary evil to counter the gluttonous greed of corporate executives who pay themselves lavishly with salaries, perks and bonuses-no matter how poorly their company is doing. Just check out the pay disparaties. Should an executive be making 100 times or more what the avearge worker makes?

    September 4, 2009 at 3:43 pm |
  59. Bob - Rawson Argentina

    Not in any positive way.

    September 4, 2009 at 3:50 pm |
  60. Gordon, NJ

    Historically, unions have made a great contribution to the American work place, and enabled better-paid workers to contribute to the economy. However, the accumulation of complex and inefficient work rules has been bad for US companies, schools, and government agencies. Union leaders and workers should be motivated to be as as concerned with efficiency and profitability as management.

    September 4, 2009 at 3:53 pm |
  61. Jeff

    Yes, it has changed significantly. Workers unions used to be a force to be reckoned with, an organization with the power to rival that of political parties. In Spain, they even fought as a large part of the government's military during the civil war. Now worldwide, and especially in the US, unions are seen as weak and corrupt monoliths that stand in the way of real economic and political progress. The unions don't need reform, they need replacement by nationwide umbrella organizations that speak loudly and wield big sticks.

    jeff
    isla vista, ca

    September 4, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  62. Tom, Bradenton, FL

    Unions have become like the mob.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:01 pm |
  63. george

    No, and they are not about to as long as I live. In a country where it take power to get anything achieved, the labor unions have done more fo help working people tan anything else, and have given them a voice. In a country where we have lobbists buying our lawmakers, and companies who would work our people for free if they could get away with it, and greed as rampant as it is, working people have been, and should continue to get a say only because of unions. When we hear the words "BIg Labor" know that we are talking about people (you), and like you and I, who have punched that clock, and sweated for our bosses in order to earn our pay. The problem with the world today is that we have too many people who get up in the mornings, and send their money to work instead, of getting dressed and going to work. They earn their money off of our sweat, and our bent backs.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  64. jenny

    Nope. I still do not care for them. They served their purpose and really just need to go away. I am sure that the unions are a big part of what bankrupted the car industry.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:07 pm |
  65. Terry from Illinois

    My opinion of Labor Unions has not changed at all. Unions are what created the "middle class" with better wages and benefits.
    In Detroit, it was not the Union workers who didn't listen to the consumers, it was the engineers who designed the cars, so the Japan carmakers designed what American consumers wanted and they took control of the car market, yet the Republicans blamed the Unions.
    Unfortunately, Republicans have created laws that slant in favor of companies and small businesses which include tax breaks for outsourcing American jobs, taking away pensions, and creating
    "right-to-work" states which are all in favor of companies.
    Today, the "middle class" and Unions are smaller percentage than 20 years ago due to Republican policies !!!

    September 4, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
  66. LouG

    The data shows that unions add enough to the price of US cars so they are not competitive with foreign competition. Unions were great for the worker before there were safety and labor laws, but their time has come to move aside.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:09 pm |
  67. AndyZ Lynn, MA

    I think the labor unions were far more interesting when Jimmy Hoffa was around. The American Labor movement has been greatly weakened by the republicans and their NeoCon friends. I wonder what FDR, Jack Kennedy, Abe Lincoln, George Washington, Tom Jefferson, Sam Adams (the president; not the beer) would think of todays America? Not a word can be spoken without all the 24 hour/day news channels dissecting it ndown to the sub atomic level. Go back to reporting the news, not trying to make the news.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  68. Greg, Ontario

    Their day has come and gone Jack. I've personally felt that way for years.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  69. Phil in Long Beach, Ca

    Unions have destroyed the country, be it the Auto Industry, Manufacturing, Textiles, Aerospace, etc. And don't forget all the government unions that are now bankrupting the states. They served a purpose once, but now they're useless today.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:13 pm |
  70. The Broker.

    I never liked Labor Unions, even though I was part of one for a short while.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  71. Denny from Tacoma, WA

    Yes and for the worse. The unions strangleholds on the employers have become so great that the unions themselves are becoming as inconsiderate as our private health insurance companies.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:16 pm |
  72. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Like any group, a new balance has to be the main goal to be reached in workng as a better partner with the company and employees.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:17 pm |
  73. Philly/PA

    Initially union were beneficial to both workers and society. Unfortunately, over time things changed. In order to get elected, union officials had to keep getting more things for their members. Eventually, excessive wages, health care, vacation time, sick days, etc., etc. reached the point where the word "profits" became a dirty word.

    Just as people work for a pay check, a company must make a profit in order to survive. This is simple common sense. Unfortunately, because a "few" company leaders were/are greedy, the ones that are fair and competent are painted by the same brush. Too many union leaders are no different than those "few" greedy business leaders.

    Philly
    Media, PA

    September 4, 2009 at 4:18 pm |
  74. Jane (Minnesota)

    As greedy as corporate America is I suspect they are still needed; but I think the unions in many cases are guilty of greed too. I absolutely do not think there needs to be any government employee unions. I would like to see tighter regulation on the large corporations; that way maybe there wouldn't need to have unions in place to watch out ofor the workers.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  75. Mark, Worcester MA

    I've only ever been a part of two unions, and in that time I've figured out that you've asked a very complicated question. The first was a health-care union at a state institution, a subdivision of AFSCME. Never had a union seemed so useless before I was introduced to this organization. All they did was make red tape, pay the leader's salaries with their dues, and secure the 3% cost of living raise that the hospital was going to offer anyway, and my salary remained below 30K while working more than full time.

    I now work in public education, and find that the teacher's union could do an incredible amount for better our school system. Unfortunately, this is unfulfilled potential – the union focuses on shorter days and higher pay, in a field where entry level teachers earn over $200 each day.

    So historically, I know they played a major and important role in the formation of good employer practices and the middle class. Personally, I find that the current unions appear to be well off track, filled with greedy individuals who don't even like their jobs. Maybe they should get a new name.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  76. Michael in Albuquerque,NM

    Now that we have seen what happens when labor unions are not powerful, I see their purpose. the corporations have shipped our jobs overseas, brought in immigrants to take the remaining jobs at half the wages Americans were getting paid, and plundered the pensions or lost them in the stock markets. Now here we stand with out jobs or benefits, maybe working for minimum wage if we are lucky. If it weren't for labor unions we wouldn't even have unemployment and disability checks. Unions have a good point.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:25 pm |
  77. Marcie

    When did interest in our children's future achivement against thte political law. Does the republicans forget that President Obama is President of the USA that includes Dems GOP and all of our children. Do they know he can mandate all of the students to be in school.
    If we tell our kids they can be defiant to the President what does that say about us and what are we teaching our children?

    September 4, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  78. David Gerstenfeld

    Unions were good 'back in the day' until the Jimmy Hoffa teamsters and organized crime took over & controled private enterprise. Any unhappy union can gather support from other unions and stop trucking etc. to influence business decisions. The auto union & others are equally responsible for the financial mess we're in. Try & change a light bulb in your booth at a trade show & the electrical union will close you down. They'll change the bulb & bill your company $125.

    Now let's take a look at all of our port unions !!
    David, Las Vegas

    September 4, 2009 at 4:28 pm |
  79. Bozly

    Think if labor unions are taking a "hit", it is due in large part of ignorance as to what most of have benefitted from whether we ever were in a union or not !!
    Without the unions , the workplace would indeed be very different –safety issues alone , but ten issues such as compensation and work hours /benefits–there is NOT a profession or position that has not been inpacted for the better most often due to the efforts of unions pushing for such on behalf of ALL workers !! Unions themselves are NOT perfect, but without them, we would be presently a whole lot worse off . Unions helped to build and sustain our MIDDLE CLASS –might note with the decline of UNIONS, there is also a DECLINE OF THE MIDDLE CLASS !!!

    September 4, 2009 at 4:29 pm |
  80. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    Unions had a place when there were no labor laws, and employers could make virtual slaves of workers. Those days are long gone. Labor unions have failed to realize that the only way to prevent their jobs from moving overseas is to work with employers to make the nusiness more efficient. Today's unions are parasites that will bleed the host to death.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:31 pm |
  81. Natalia

    As a non-union member, my feelings about unions have not changed. I support unions right to organize and will contiue to support this right. Big business, which is more likely to lean to the far right, wants to break the unions in order to line their pockets with more profits. I have no illusion that the unions fight for their members because it is the moral and just thing to do.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:37 pm |
  82. Michael M Phoenix AZ

    Labor unions can be both good and bad for the industry they represent and the country....it just depends on how they are used! If the elected officials get "fat and greedy" then the rank and file will suffer.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  83. walt loukota cedar rapids Ia.

    without labor unions how would one bargain or raise their standard of living ?? the unions provide a stable work environment for skilled craft people who can afford to buy a house, add to the economy, put their kids thru college and retire ,and live independently
    the Republicans would have all of us except those who held office or went to a prestigious school, or for the most part are very rich (the !%) and the rest of of the people can wait on a corner until the 1% need some lawn work done for 3.00 an hour no benifits

    September 4, 2009 at 4:39 pm |
  84. Paulette from Dallas,PA

    Yes. Unions did cause many of the problems we are experiencing today. They made too many demands and companies just up and left the US for more profitable soil. Today the teachers unions are causing big problems over members contributing to the cost of health care. Local tax payers can't carry this burden. They want some poor guy with four kids who pays his own health insurance and is just getting by, to keep their gravy train running full speed. Unions have outlived their usefulness and I believe will son be disappearing. No longer will people tolerate their greed.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  85. Ken in NC

    My emotions about unions are mixed. I support them because they are responsible for many of the rights we have today, however, they are also responsible for much of the economic mes we are in too. With every labor agreement there was almost always a much larger wage increase than the non-union work shops.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  86. lkr

    There is an old saying, "what goes around comes around". Unions are in a bad position at this point in time, and history has a habit of repeating itself. We will just have to wait and see. One thing that would help is the young people of today studing, why unions were created and what benefits the worker had.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  87. Dee in Florida

    My opinion of labor unions has ALWAYS been two-sided.

    On one hand I perfectly understand that the unions made working conditions and compensation better for millions of people. That was good.

    On the other hand the unions have ALWAYS been in some way corript, and the union bosses have always reaped the biggest rewards. That was bad.

    Also, once the primary goal of the unions was achieved (the end of sweat shops, benefits for workers, decent pay etc) the DEMANDS of the unions became the death knell of American industry.

    One main reason so much of our manufacturing industry has gone offshore is because of (1) the greed of the unions and (2) the greed of the owners.

    When the greed of the unions began to outstrip the greed of the owners, jobs went away.

    So, while I think Labor Day should honor the LABORERS of the world, that does NOT always mean it should honor the UNIONS.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:40 pm |
  88. jb

    Jack,

    Unions served a purpose and were a positive force until people like Hoffa and the other leaders totally corrupted the movement. Involved with a plant closure of more than 2,500 employees all because the union would not compromise work rules implemented decades before when the plant was part of a monopoly. As a part of the management team I watched Union rep's support employees that would not carry their weight or do their part. In the end we all lost our jobs.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  89. DrFrann in Los Angeles, Ca

    As a member of two unions, I have mixed feelings. Unions protect the lowest common denominator, the weakest links who want to slide by and not take real ownership in their jobs as though they were partners the company (harvards MBO concept). On the other side, Unions can protect the management from running over the workers. But Union leaders can also be power hungry. So greed and sloth on both sides is defended against by Unions. I'd like to think people want to be fair (an I believe in the Easter Bunny and Santa), but Jack, many people on both sides, Union and Management, want to take advantage. So Unions are needed to create fairness because like on Wall Street, many foxes cannot be trusted to guard the hen houses. It's just not their natures.
    Have a relaxing holiday, Jack!
    DrFrann in Los Angeles, CA

    September 4, 2009 at 4:41 pm |
  90. Mike from Denver

    No, I have thought they are out of control for years. Some states are moving in the right direction with "right to work", but is it only a start. Union officials have been more concerned with their own pocket books than the wellbeing of their members for far too long.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  91. Wm in PA

    Yes, unions should be supported! They brought us living wages, health care, 40 hr work week – remember them?
    We think it is great when corporations join the Better Business Bureau, hire legions of lobbyists and buy every legislator for their benefit. Well our bankers bankrupted their banks, the manufacturers moved all jobs to China, Sri-Lanka etc and got tax breaks too. The SEC was staffed between 2000 and 2008 with incompetents who let Madoff run his 65 Billion dollar scam.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  92. David in Raleigh, NC

    Labor unions are destroying industry in America. The airlines went bankrupt and are still struggling because of the unions. GM (Government Motors) and Chrysler went bankrupt because of the unions then our Socialist President Obama seized GM and Chrysler from the secure bondholders and gave their interests to the Union.

    Any business that has a union has either failed, went bankrupt, or is having major financial problems.

    Unions are sucking the life out of American Industries.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  93. dave

    Unions were and still are a necessary evil, same as politicians...without them, and police protecting them, who would protect the regulay people?

    September 4, 2009 at 4:47 pm |
  94. Allen, Texas

    Jack,
    No, my opinion of the labor unions have not changed. When I look at all the benefits the unions have provided the American people over the years and how they have improved American workers' quality of life as well as work environment, Isay, "Thank You" Labor Unions!!. More Americans should be joining the Unions instead of abandoning it. The "Big Three" automakers would like to blame the labor unions for their problems, that couldn't be further from the truth. The reasons American automakers failed to compete with the foreign manufacturers is because they lack innovation and creativity and bad managements who were so bullheaded to see the trend in fuel efficient cars.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:48 pm |
  95. GWTripp

    No. There is still corruption. There is still ignorance and politics that keep our workers from fair and equitable representation. Yet it is better than the alternative of disbanding and allowing big busness to ruin our American way of life even more. Today's unions need to look beyond national boundaries. They need to speak loudly for those abused workers in third world nations who work slave wages in conditions that make the early American Union History look small. Our American jobs are shipped overseas because our own unions have done nothing to stand up for their comrads cause. Workers of the world need to unite to protect themselves from the multi-national monsters that run todays world. Even our own governments are unable to deal with them to get taxes rightfull due.

    September 4, 2009 at 4:49 pm |
  96. Gigi

    Because of my age I know that Labor Unions and the Democrat Party built America. If you don't think so pick up a history book on America History !928 to the present. Though not perfect it did change the American way life for most of us. Or ask your grandparents, or if your fortunate your great grandparents, what life was like in the United States in that time period. It's "Big Business" greed that has hurt America. And guess what! government just bailed them out so they could continue their trickle down to you. And that is the rest of the story.

    Oregon

    September 4, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  97. Lilarose in Bandon, Oregon

    The two best jobs money-wise in my life were union jobs. One was as a cashier at a regional department store and the other as a state employees.

    My beloved grandfather was a strong union man.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:02 pm |
  98. John - Houston, TX

    Not at all. I still think labor unions are a cancer to our economy.
    And I'm not a businessman...

    September 4, 2009 at 5:04 pm |
  99. frankie

    My opinion of labor union swings back and forth like a pendulum as the years go by, but they have done more for America than the Bush administration ever did.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:06 pm |
  100. Tony from Torrington

    No. They are ruining free enterprise and are the cancer of this country. Just look at what they did to GM, and we are bailing them out. When a company is doing something wrong, no profits, products too expensive and lack of quality, they can go bancrupt while other companies make profits stay in business. So the government gives our money to the company that is doing something wrong believing they will do something differently...that's the current administration..... too dumb to be in charge. Much like the majority of your viewers.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:08 pm |
  101. Delia

    Here's our labor union for today's economy - Labor is United in seeking J-O-B-S!

    Unions no longer serve a purpose. We have laws to protect employees now. Of course, we also have greedy people who aren't going to be persuaded to do the right thing by a mere Labor Union. Regulate, regulate, regulate!

    Delia
    Katy, TX

    September 4, 2009 at 5:09 pm |
  102. Brian

    Jack,

    Do I approve of labor unions? Let me answer a question with a question...do we want our future to look like the Ludlow Massacre?

    People think of labor day as the end of summer and their last chance to go camping, not as a celebration of the men and women in America who sacrifice their bodies and their youth in some of the most backbreaking and underpaid jobs this great country has to offer. My opinion of labor hasn't changed because my opinion is that they are very literally the backs on which this country lives.

    Brian
    Boise, ID

    September 4, 2009 at 5:10 pm |
  103. Karen in Cortland, Ohio

    Dear Mr. Cafferty,

    I wish our unions were stronger – strong unions kept business honest until we elected a series of Presidents like Nixon, Reagan and both Bush 41 & 43.

    If you look at the distribution of wealth under Republican run administrations over the past 20+ years, what you'll find is that as the unions were weakened, more and more of the wealth in America became concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people.

    To put this into perspective, line up 100 folks in the newsroom. The top guy gets $ 42.00 (top 1%), the next 19 people get $ 2.75 each (next 19%), the balance of us get 7.5 cents each (80% of working Americans). That's how all the new wealth in America has been split up for the past 20+ years.

    Add to that the increase in CEO pay, from 41 times the average workers pay to 531 times at it's peak under President Bush (43). In Europe the average is 25 times the average workers pay.

    The entire "trickle-down" theory espoused by Republicans does not work. The only thing that "trickles down" is the stuff that my dad puts on his garden to make things grow.

    Bring the unions back and we'll strengthen the middle class again and America will be fine.

    Karen in Cortland, Ohio

    September 4, 2009 at 5:11 pm |
  104. Roy - Chicago

    Unions are a double edged sword, Jack. When the unions are gone, and we are all making 8 dollars an hour with no benefits in sweatshops, while 5% of the population controls 90% of the money, will you please ask your question again? Like anything else..........government, religion, even media coverage....it seems the abuses and corruption within the greater good have everyone throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  105. Katiec Pekin, IL

    Many, many do not realize or even know what the unions have done for the working men and women. It is sad to see them getting such
    a bum rap.
    Where would middle class America be today without the unions,
    or, would there even be a middle class??

    September 4, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  106. Lynda, Greenville NC

    I have never had a high opinion of labor unions – they were usefull years ago in lobbying for safer work conditions, but now they are used to strangle more money and benefits that are beyond what would be reasonable for what is mostly unskilled labor. Thirty dollars and hour for screwing something together on a care with full lifetime health and pension benefits – for high school grads? They make companies want to leave this country to be able to make a profit!

    September 4, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  107. Annie, Atlanta

    I grew up in a union household – teamsters. My opinion of unions (workers) has always been very positive. The workers pay their dues, they get certain benefits, like an insurance policy (or rather like insurance used to be). There’s corruption at the top – money corrupts. Look at Congress.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  108. Lee

    Rangel is right...White America is still in shock that a Black man is their boss. The Republican Party's true face has surfaced. They don't care about what's good for Our Country only that they are forced to follow the direction of a Black man. (just look at the lead stories on Fox) CNN is starting to follow the ratings also.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  109. jane dourghty

    I believe there are many people who don't think they are rasist
    but are and they will find a reason to oppose anything Pres Obama want to do.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  110. j/NJ

    In light of the Labor Day holiday, has your opinion of labor unions changed in the past few years?

    Absolutely, labour unions were once respected institutions in American life, unfortunately that is no longer the case...in more recent times unions have joined the forces of fascism, expanding influence and authority, tolerating no dissent, requiring the American worker to submit to full membership as conditions of employment in virtually all circumstances...thus in deference to puritanical ideals and authoritarian principles, the average labour union has evolved from perceived agent of assistance to the American worker to agent of institutional control, troubling bureaucracy, corruption, nepotism, and unmitigated power...

    September 4, 2009 at 5:17 pm |
  111. Ralph Spyer chicago Il

    Labor unions are a lot like the catholic church the leaders do not always live up to our standards, but the idea of getting to the promise land ,weather in this life or the next is proselytizing

    September 4, 2009 at 5:18 pm |
  112. Ken in NC

    Jack, my emotions about unions are mixed. I support them because they are responsible for many of the rights we have today, however, they are also responsible for much of the economic mess we are in too. With every labor agreement there was almost always a much larger wage increase than the non-union work shops.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:19 pm |
  113. Sam in New Castle, PA

    Jack, at least union members buy Made In America.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  114. Michael from Sterling, Colorado

    Jack,

    My grandfather was one of the guys getting his head bashed in by strike-breakers, when the CIO was first being formed (before the merging with the AFL). It is impossible for me, in my biased opinion, to believe that unions will ever outlast their usefulness. Their are exceptions to every rule and there are bad unions, just like bad people. But without unions, workers would still be at the whim of their employers with very little right to stick up for themselves. They watch out for the welfare of people like police and firefighters and perhaps if some of the local politicians would consider cutting some luxuries for them, or maybe some of their own offices or pay, then unions would be more open to cutting back from their own members pay. Look at the recent cutbacks that the UAW took, in lieu of stock ownership, ala Chrysler in the 80's, which allowed Lee Iaccoca to save a company.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  115. Mike from Lexington

    Unions are diabolical and are becoming the ruination of America. They promote inefficiancy, deceit and theft – theft of time, money and trust. I think Union Leaders (Including – maybe even especially – in Education) are nothing short of parasites, with little true concern for their members.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  116. Albert K.. L.A, CA

    No Jack, but my hope for the survival of Capitalism has changed. After the New Deal allowed labor to organize and save Capitalism by securing a living wage to buy goods, the Capitalist created a Global Economy and moved our jobs overseas. Now workers are bailing out Wall street. The only way to save Capitalism now is for the workers of the world to unite, form Global Labor Unions demanding a living wage and to stop accepting non-union made goods.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  117. dave

    Unions were and still are a necessary evil, same as politicians...without them, and police protecting them, who would protect the regular people?

    September 4, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  118. Loren

    Actually, though I despise Rankel and hate it when people play the "race card", I happen to think he's right here. I cannot conceive of what else could explain the vitriol and foot dragging we've seen. As a person who was permanently disabled on the job but was left with no settlement, no income, no SSI or disability or Medicare, I have NO access to health care beyond what I can scrape together to pay for after 3 months – a brief doctor visit to renew my prescriptions. My husband's part time minimum wage job only just pays for my meds and food. I cannot even afford the "dollar a day" so called government option. There's something wrong when the richest country on earth can't give health care to all its citizens. We could have paid for health reform with what George Bush & Co. spent on a pointless war in Iraq; instead we have tens of thousands of young veterans left maimed and disabled who can't get healthcare either because of the messed up VA system. I cannot think of ANY reason to stall healthcare reform other than Money(greed) and Racism. Most of the un insured and underinsured are poor people and a huge portion of them are people of color. For the record, I am NOT. I still think racism is playing a major role here.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:22 pm |
  119. susan

    I am still pro-union but I do think they need to get more realistic about how much they can make? Yet, when you see the CEO making millions with all the perks, it's hard to say ,"no, that's ok, I already make enough money."

    September 4, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  120. Tom

    Labor unions are corrupt and they help to corrupt our government officials. Labor unions are the reason GM and United and other companies can't higher more people for jobs. If you noticed toyotas costs are not nearly as high as GMs because they don't allow unions.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  121. Charles -NJ

    Unions are good and bad. But I fear their time has past. As a non-union worker I have done just fine and have been rewarded for my own efforts. I know many union workers that have been rewarded just because the contract says so. If I owned a business I would never want a union labor force.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  122. Marcie, Florida

    I am not sure what role race plays in the health care debate. However party affiliation I think plays the largest role. Republicans are still upset about loosing the election and they are using fear to mobilize their cause. Greed and selfishness is also a driving force against Health Care Reform. People that presently have insurance do not want the have nots to be on the same playing field as them. They would rather be the health care elite. Something tells me that H1N1 infection is going to change all that. None of us want to get this deadly disease. people with no insurance will not be able to obtain the vaccine against this infection and they will be sharing the same air space as we are. We have to find a way to allow everybody to have health care. It is the right thing to do.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  123. mike osburn usn ret

    Mr. cafferty

    You said exactly what i was thinking about the politicians who are caught doing something wrong and yet they use there office to get away with it. What surprises me the most is the people still send them back to office...as a Nixon silent majority voter. I was silent when bush made me a fool during his administration...this time iam standing up to be counted. I may have cut my nose off to spite my face by voting for obama but iam not going to set on my duff again when iam being made a fool again...thanks.....mike from va

    September 4, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  124. Connor

    Historically unions have been good for workers & the economy but the time for such powerhouse unions is gone. I used to support the unions but my position has gradually changed over the past few years. It seems like the unions have beome bigger than the companies they were made to protect their workers from. This is just my opinion though.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  125. .............................Wanda

    ..........................Rangel is right. race is at the center of the health debate as well as everything else that President Obama tries to do to help people. This was all started by and fueled by the republicans who can't get over losing the election. Race should not be an issue in this or anything, but look at the people who are causing the trouble. We are not stupid, this all started on election night. Also, why would anyone not want the president to talk to their children.Again, look who is complaining. (white parents)

    September 4, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  126. Jenna

    In light of the Labor Day holiday, has your opinion of labor unions changed in the past few years?

    I have always had a very favorable opinion of Labor Unions.

    Least any worker in America forget that without them we would not have safe working environments today!

    Jenna
    Roseville CA

    September 4, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  127. seth/orlando

    Jack, I do believe they are racially motivated.The right has called Obama
    everything except the one slur they try to hard not to.Nazis are white racists,not bi-racial.And,for the record,I am a white guy in my 50s

    September 4, 2009 at 5:31 pm |
  128. Karen, TN

    Absolutely. I used to be a local union rep until I realized our union caused more problems than it solved. Historically, they protected overworked, underpaid people who were often fired or demoted at the whims of their bosses. Later, they had to justify the enormous salaries of the organizers by "getting" something extra every time the contracts were renewed, and making it nearly impossible for employers to get rid of incompetent slackers. Nobody should be set for life because of a union.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:34 pm |
  129. STAN - IL.

    I am for unions. If it weren't for unions we would have sweat shops like third world Country's. If you don't have unions and the emplorers don't pay decient wages and no retirement, then how are you going to save money to retire on? You can't live on or retire on Mc Donald's wages.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:35 pm |
  130. David

    It is economics 101 that the two main asset classes in the economy are capital and labor. Capitalism makes a clear decision to always value capital above labor, but unions are needed because raw capitalism forgets that labor is not just an asset class but consists of people...citizens who have some other rights beyond just where they fit in the economic order.
    The problem is that when unions get too powerful they behave like a bunch of idiots and mobsters and consistently abuse any power they are given.
    I would classify them as a necessary evil.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:37 pm |
  131. Dennis

    Jack, all labor in this country owe a debt of gratitude to all labor unions everywhere. For if it were not for them, how would we all get by on minimume wage, which Republicans would never increase?
    To make my point, years ago I asked my wealthy Republican boss for raise of fifty cents an hour. He said no but if I wanted to make more money, work more hours.
    I quit and joined the carpenters union the next day. That was forty years ago and now I have a great pension check each month, two homes paid for and a very comfortable life, just like other retired union members who did the same.
    Can't help wonder though, about all those who are my age today who gave me a bad time about unions thru the years and just how are they doing today?

    Dennis / Hartsville, Tn.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:39 pm |
  132. Flyingwolf, Manchester NH

    Unions fought to get better working conditions and health care for workers. Without them, they'd still have children working 10 & 12 hours a day in cotton mills.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:43 pm |
  133. Pam holt

    Pam holt. Foley al. Before my late husband was murdered , I became familiar about the unions because he worked for avco aerostructures in Nashville tenn. I had great healthcare and dental,etc it was a great feeling . After my late husband was murdered I recieved a check for 121.00 a mnth for life, all because of benefits of his having a union. Unfortunately, after he was murdered, I havn"t had health insurance since, while my late husbands murderer has all the insurance he needs in prison....p.s.Jack. Donor read this out load if you are actually getting to read this. I reset my iPhone because I have a hard time getting thru.according to the error messages I read on alot of CNN contact pages I read input is not being allowed in. I sopose all those e-mails I keep sending to get someone to investigate my story from when 21 years ago my late husband was murdered , because we bucked the government in Columbia tenn.was of no interest to cnn, perhaps because I mentioned then democrat Ed mcwhirtor and then senator al gore"s involvement. I still have had 6computers thatt were hi-jacked after you read my comment during the presidential campaign and my daughter has to hook my iPhone to her computer in less then my having purchased it within 2mths.......

    September 4, 2009 at 5:44 pm |
  134. Doris, Ky

    Jack, As a former union worker who's now disabled I wish they were stronger. If non union workers would stop listening to the hype about how unions are taking your money and causing your wages to be lower and get on board things might be a little better for them.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:45 pm |
  135. Brad, WI

    Jack, its obvious that Unions would rather have the people they represent unemployed than take a cut in benefits.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:45 pm |
  136. Lucy, Texas

    Since the "bail-outs" and the CEO's paying themselves multimillion dollar bonuses for their failures, I think America's workforce should be protected more. I no longer believe that a company that runs an dishonest business will eventually pay the price with a lost of its customers. Did we lose our morality along the way? Dishonesty seems to be reaping all the rewards of our society.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:47 pm |
  137. Shaun

    Labor unions were established for a reason – to keep the common worker from being trampled on by big business and the corporate grindstone. If, over the years, they've gotten the power to actually make changes to the system, then I say more power to them. They're working to make the lives of your mother, father, sister, brother, son or daughter better, and I applaud them for that.

    Shaun
    – Evansville, IN

    September 4, 2009 at 5:48 pm |
  138. Michael Shea

    Capitolism is iherentlly"EVIL" for the masses. Unless there are striong, independent labor unions and strong government regulations,capitolism equals fascism.

    "SOLIDARITY FOREVER"

    September 4, 2009 at 5:53 pm |
  139. Adam Simi Valley, CA

    I wouldn't say they have changed any. When a Big Evil Greedy Corporation, fixes prices, limits resources and discourages competition, it is considered predatory and, rightfully, broken up as monopolies under the Sherman Anti-trust Act, ie Standard Oil, AT&T etc. When it is a group of people doing the same thing, they are called a Union looking out for the middle class and the little guy. Everyone should write their Congressman, that Labor Monopolies will no longer be tolerated. People who seek to restrict competition, increase unemployment, and run our corporations and Governments into bankruptcy should be viewed as the enemy of capitalism and the free market no different than Standard Oil.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:54 pm |
  140. frank

    I used to work for a government contractor. We wanted a union. They fired the 4 employees who wanted to put one in. Nothing was done to them. Fast forward a decade, they got slapped on the wrist for not paying overtime to their employees.

    Yeah, we needed a union. Maybe I still would have been working there. If nothing else we would have had some recourse against the idiots they put in as managers (in one case a garage mechanic to deal with aeronautical engineers and flight test data).

    You know, Ronald Reagan used to be in a union. Guess it was pretty good as he had millions by the time he ran for governor and president. Then he hated unions. Guess its got my\ine, the heck with you Jack.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:55 pm |
  141. Neil

    Labor unions have helped destroy this economy. Comapanies like GM that are requred to pay a high school drop out $35.00 an hour create huge problems for companies. These forced wages drive up the price of cars to $30-$40,000 just so they can keep the Unions happy. The same scenario happens in every sector. It is this indirect effect of the unions that has created this environment where both parents have to wrok just to live and then there is no one to raise the kids.

    September 4, 2009 at 5:59 pm |
  142. Adam Simi Valley, CA

    Unions have served their purpose. They fought for more rights of their workers and corrected injustices, however it is time they ended. They have outlived their usefulness and are now destructive. There are no positive results to point to in the last 30 years. It should also be very telling that the States and companies in the most trouble are the ones most heavily and irresponsibly shackled by unions. Airlines, the Big 3 and California at every level of government. They now foster an enviroment that is anti-competitive and they are forcing our businesses overseas or to relocate within the country. They were nice when we didn't have to compete in a global marketplace, but they have become a relic. They are a dinosaur leading to the extinction of the American way of life.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:00 pm |
  143. Mike from Lexington

    The price that was paid for all the benefits being enjoyed by today's retired union workers was the bankruptcy of their employer. No Company can afford the outrageous wages and benefits being "earned" by their undereducated and overpaid laborers. Bust the Unions, before they bust U.S.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:02 pm |
  144. Kevin

    Labor unions are one of the biggest problems facing this country. It is because of unions that the American auto industry can't make a decent car at a reasonable price. Labor unions used to fight for better working conditions and now the the very basic thing they fought for in the first place. WORK!

    September 4, 2009 at 6:03 pm |
  145. Anel

    Jack, I think some one need to check on company hiring practices.

    About 2wks ago I saw a sign on the front door of a local grocery store and Office .... (Sign ) "NOW HIRING". I immediately call My grand daugther who has been looking for a job for a long time. When she got there the store manger was very rude to her and said she would call if she got the job. Well when she finally got to speak to the manager again, she was told that the job was already filled. I think these places give the jobs to their relatives, or their friends. The same happened to the Office....... store.

    Even in this recession, there is RACISM!! You know Jack, God is going to get tired of AMERICA'S wicket ways. I love America, but I can't for life of me understand these people who think only one race of people should be here.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:04 pm |
  146. Karl from SF, CA

    Not at all. If it wasn’t for unions we wouldn’t be discussing health care because it would only be for the owners of the sweat shops that unions got us out of. Third world countries don’t have unions and that is where we would be but for them. Anyone that doesn’t appreciate what unions have done for the working class was never in the working class and has no knowledge of the industrial revolution or American history.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:05 pm |
  147. Richard

    No! Unions still provide a major benefit to society – They provide a counterforce to business that does not always play fair, or honestly, with employees, or customers.

    That said, I'm giving up on the Situation Room. I focusses too much and too long on moronic debates on minutiae drug in from the Internet , such as Obama's words to school children, Charles Rangle, the "TEA Party," Peggy Noonan (who needs help herself) and other such useless trivia

    The only real message that I'm getting from the Situation Room is that America is accelerating the "Dumbing Down" of itself. We clearly don't need the help of CNN. We need a media that focusses on real ideas.

    Maple Valley, WA

    September 4, 2009 at 6:05 pm |
  148. Michelle

    Yes – unions use to fullfil a useful purpose, now they mostly justify less work, for more pay, reward those who do less, make excuses and have very greedy executives that run the unions. You complain about wall street execs, check out some of the compensation for these union execs, not much different. It's become Chicago politics; they claim to be for the little person or the worker, but ultimately they are only looking out for themselves. Yes they were needed at one time, but it's only cost the american worker here lately.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:07 pm |
  149. Jim S

    Labor unions have outlived their usefulness. They pad their members paychecks with absurd benefits that nobody else has while holding the employers hostage to their demands. They are the primary reason why so many businesses have chosen to locate outside the country and continue to influence those decisions. They hurt the economy of this country.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:08 pm |
  150. Bill, King of Prussia

    Unions are so yesterday. With our new socialist government, we are all members of the Union.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:08 pm |
  151. Bruce - Delaware

    No, but we really need to stop worshiping corporations and acting like they don't need regulating. The passing of unions will exacerbate the plight of the worker, hastening the demise of our country.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:09 pm |
  152. Thea of Massachusetts

    As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama's campaign promise was to provide transparency during his term as president of the United States. Now he is President Barack Obama Of The United States of America, and he has begun the process whereby ALL THINGS SHINE BRIGHT FOR THE WORLD TO SEE (Transparency).

    Not only is there transparency to expose acts of President Obama, but transparency to expose actions of ALL people as they relate or not relate to the President and his governing of the United States of America. Over the past few months and now daily, we now observe deeply embedded roots of racial ugliness and all it's componients. Unearthing these ancient roots seems to provide reason and/or excuses for sometimes violent rejections to changes that President Obama has offered. Changes that are so necessary to allow us to go forth and heal this great nation. History calls this rattling the cage. THANK GOD FOR TRANSPARENCY AND GOD BLESS AMERICA

    September 4, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  153. John, Fort Collins, CO

    Having grown up in Pontiac, Michigan, and having worked for the (then) Pontiac Division of General Motors, I have seen the union/management situation first-hand. In the early days, the unions were very necessary to liberate factory workers from virtual slavery at Ford, GM, and Chrysler. Move forward eighty years or so, where Osha regulations, Federal wage-and-hour laws (along with countless other legislation protecting workers) have left the unions with only one mission: to collect union dues. General Motors is living proof of the current benefit of unions to our society - a workforce with infinitely better wages and benefits than the customers of their products can afford.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  154. Noel in Nashville

    Jack,

    It seems to me that the general public opinion of everything has gone down recently. We have become a nation of pessimists and cynics.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  155. Linda in Arizona

    There has been a concerted effort by big business and the corporate-run republicans to kill support for labor unions in this country, and the unions have played into it nicely with what often can only be called corruption. Nevertheless, they are still the only people who even pretend to care about the workers. I will always be a union supporter.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  156. Guy in New Mexico

    The decline of Labor Unions are one of the reason this country is in a ditch. With no one to keep the corporate world on its toes, the greedy bastards got away with robbing this country blind.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  157. Rick Mitchell

    Jack, Labor Unions are a necessary evil. Without them corporations run roughshod over employees. However, when unions are in total control, corporations are run out of business. Where's the happy medium?
    Rick Mitchell
    Columbus, Ohio

    September 4, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  158. Debbie

    No, my opion of labor unions hasn't changed in the last 30 years. Unions represent a large part of what is wrong with this country. There is no need for unions in todays world. We've come along way since the early 1920's. We have laws that protect workers. Unions only get in the way. They bankrupt businesses, cities and states. Unions need to be banned, especially from government. If we could get rid of Unions and Lobbyist, this country might have half a chance at a real recovery.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  159. phillychuck

    With bigger companies and conglomerates, unions are the only reasonable way to give employees an equal chance. We need more unions not fewer.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  160. Andrea

    Who really believes that it was the auto industry's management, alone, that led to the decline of that industry?

    Work rules and processes should include making a good quality product and not just be about workers.

    The auto industry has unfortunate similarities to our schools, where the union takes care of the teachers and not necessarily the kids.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:11 pm |
  161. Renee, New Jersey

    I am amazed that average Americans with average pay would
    not support labor unions who have set the standard for better
    pay for most of the country. Do average Americans think
    companies/corporations would offer better pay/benefits on their own?

    September 4, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  162. Dave in Arkansas

    Yes, my opinion has changed. Unions are becoming less relevant with each passing year. They have done a great service to this country in years past, but have outlived their usefullness.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  163. df

    Unions remain an important counterbalance to big corporations.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  164. Adam-Canada

    Labor unions gave many people pensions, people who would otherwise sink into poverty after retirement. I ask myself what kind of country would that be like?

    September 4, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  165. Dew

    My opinions of unions haven't changed I still see them as bad. I work in Chicago's City Hall and this year us un-unionized workers must take 12 furlough days while those in unions only take 4 or 5... Unions decrease work ethic in this nation because there is no incentive to work hard if peoples jobs are saved by a large unions.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  166. George Pospisil

    Jack, Of course the benefits given to union members helped bring down the Big 3 automakers. But the management of those firms negotiated these deals. They're big boys, aren't they? And what about the big banks and insurance companies that got most of our tax-payer fed bail-outs? They didn't have union involvement and they managed to fail without union provocation. No, Jack, the unions aren't at fault. Stupid and greedy management has authored its own failures and demise.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  167. Joseph Pullen, Pace FL

    Yes.... if it were not for the Labor Unions ordinary working people of this country would have been treated worse then they already have. Corporate greed has become the norm instead of taking care of people that work hard for their living. I support Labor Unions and their cause, without them this country would have been in the tank along time ago.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:12 pm |
  168. Rob Shelton

    Blame the unions, when the ratio of CEO to worker pay in this country is 450 to 1? Absolutely not.
    I blame corporate predators and those thieves on Wall Street and their congressional lackies.
    Rob Shelton

    September 4, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  169. Edmund D

    Yes, my opinion has changed. I now know that workers banding together -unions – are the only thing keeping workers wages anywhere near the increases in the cost of living. Sure, they're not perfect but what man-made organization is? Unions are the only thing keeping rich cororations somewhat honest.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  170. Janne from NC

    My husband is one of the thousands that got laid off from Ford. I would gladly trade the luxury health insurance, paid attorney fees, dental, a portion of profit sharing, unlimited sick days and most of all the inability to fire trifling workers that dragged the entire company down for his job back. Hell yeah I blame the unions. Their time has passed.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  171. A. M. Burton

    I know it, you know it and the nation knows it, that America can not get over the fact that a black man is the president of our great country. Bigotry has risen its ugly head in all forms since President Obama took office. Now we really do need for GOD TO BLESS AMERICA.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  172. L W "Mckell" Harris

    Jack, Labor union are the best friend of the middle class hardworking american. Without the unions, there would be NO middle class and as our financial situation struggles there are fewer and fewer spaces for the middle class worker. The Big Boys don't care and many of us see that now.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  173. mary

    No, my opinion of labor unions has not changed. I think they've done a lot of good for the common man. I think what has caused people's mind to change about labor unions is talk radio that blasts negative rants on anything good in my country. Most talk radio is conservative and their position is "I've got mine, so screw you". The people in this country have a herd mentality and can't or won't think for themselves. These talk show hosts know this and appeal to folks who won't investigate a subject and figure it out for themselves. They want to be told how to think.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  174. Glenn

    I never concerned myself with unions in the past. Since being laid off 6 months ago, I joined my industry's trade union. I feel they are more important than ever.

    The automaker unions were partially to blame, but the real problems cam from the top down. Everyone was fat and lazy. They dug their own grave.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  175. Richard, Kankakee, IL.

    No it has not, but i do understand why unions exist, better wages, safer work enviroment, more training, a better share of a companies profits, federal rules that have benefitted every worker in the U.S., has come because of the power that unions weild. I still do not like unions, but they have done some good for all Americans. After all who want to work in an unsafe enviroment!

    September 4, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  176. Larry Comeau

    Dear Mr. Caffety: Unions did not design and build cars that could not compete with world car, management did. America is better off now with unions and will be better off in the future with unions.
    Have we not learned after Enron and Madoff that the Captains of Industry and Finance car only for themselves and their obscene profits!!

    Sincerely,
    Larry Comeau

    September 4, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  177. Daniel Webster

    Opinions, schminions!!! The rich get richer and the working stiff gets poorer. We need more and stronger unions now more than ever.

    Dan Webster
    New York City

    September 4, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  178. anne fischer

    The changing attitudes towards unions is indicative of the poor education that most Americans have.
    (and by the way, we're 28th in the world in education!)
    Unions are the only vehicle that allows some semblance of fairness to the people of this country which has already sunk to a have/have not society.
    Will the CEO's and their underlings who make millions offer
    raises in benefits to their workers when they are making billions? Not on your life!
    Get some education Americans!

    September 4, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  179. Jamesy Mac

    Notwithstanding overpaid sports athletes, Unions are more important now than ever....The only barrier between the steamroller of corporate greed & 'the people/folks'.

    Kudos to you wellpaid anchoir folks for covering this in an unbiased way.

    JMcH., Fairfield, CT

    September 4, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  180. gholmes

    My opinion has been the same for last 15 years unions. Useless and distructive they are trying to get their greedy hands on the company I've worked for more for a very long time and if they do will destroy one of the best companys to work for in the world absolutely positively
    Its okay for coal miners and steel workers but leave the good company's along I think we know more about how to keep run our company than the unions will. The company I work for is MY union and I don't need teamsters or other unions telling us what to do.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  181. Duke Newcombe

    How quickly people forget. The unions brought us the 40-hour workweek, vacations, safer working conditions, better pay, and the end of child labor. I guess it will take repeats of incidents like the Triangle Shirtwaist Co. fire, and more workers getting sick through the negligence of Big Industry to remind people why unions are still vital. Hopefully, the "unions are the bane of all evil" folks will be alive to regret their mistake of fawning over corporations.

    Duke Newcombe, Lathrop, CA

    September 4, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  182. Kevin

    Jack,
    If anything, my opinion of them had gotten worse. Though they had there place 50 years ago, now they are ruining our economy. If Unions were so effective, and so worthwhile, why are businesses leaving our country in droves for cheaper labor? The unions got greedy, plain and simple. And now they need Uncle Obama to bail them out !!! Makes me sick !!

    September 4, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  183. Claire - Melbourne FL

    If it weren't for Labor Unions we would not be the great country that we are. Back in the 1920's workers were not protected or paid liveable wages. Unions made a big difference in many workers lives. Not to mention health issues which killed and/or maimed babies, women, and men. We had sweat shops like they have in 3rd world countries, not to mention child labor.
    Corruption may be the end of the Unions, but I hope not...we need watchdogs, but honest ones!

    September 4, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  184. Sharon G. in Molalla Oregon

    Just another poll that shows how stupid Americans are. The auto workers' unions gave up health benefits and pay to try and save the auto industry.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  185. Garrett

    Jack,

    Not at all. My father is a UAW worker. The problem isn't unions so much as it is the horrible, blind strategies of American auto makers. Unions simply provide their workers the benefits that EVERY American deserves. Foreign automakers simply have a large advanage by producing their vehicles in countries that provide some form of universal health coverage, tighter labor laws, etc. Add to this the poorly designed American gas guzzlers and you immediately see the real problem. This country is just so far behind.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  186. Phil

    My opinion of labor unions has not change. I have always felt they represent legalized extortion.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  187. Charles Thompson

    My opinion of our labor unions hasn't changed in over 50 years. I watched them kill the steel industry in Youngstown, Ohio (my home town) and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and send it to Japan. Union leadership is myopic, as are many industry leaders, concentrating on short-term gains though they may lead to long-term catastrophe, which is where we are right now. Unions didn't cause all of our problems alone–they had help.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  188. sue

    Jack,
    Unions served a great purpose in a time of need. They have done their job for the American people, now kindly get out of the way.

    Sue/Atlanta

    September 4, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  189. steve thorne

    jack, unions try to keep a fare wage fpr the working man or woman with the cost of living always going up most pays do not.if people were payed according to experience we would not need the union.we would be able to stand up for our selves.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  190. Diane Thurm

    Labor unions have served a useful purpose in the past. In case of the auto workers, they simply got too greedy and helped bring on the demise of the auto industry. I absolutely don'ty believe that anyone should have to join a union as a condition of getting the job. I was a former union steward and I believe union membership should be voluntary. I am less in favor of unions than I have been in the past.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  191. Nick Chavarría

    Yes, Jack, my opinion of labor unions has changed, but it changed a few years ago when the union I belong to was engaged in negotiations with my municipality. I respect the need for unions. After all, before labor was unionized, many folks worked extremely long hours for little pay and no benefits. What bothers me is that many unions have failed to changed with the times, looking only at short-term benefits. There are many tools that social scientists use to study trends in order to make improvements in policies that affect large numbers of people. If unions want to survive and thrive I believe that they are going to have to reassess the ways they operate.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  192. Chris

    Yes, labor unions are more important now than ever. Without unions we wouldn't have weekends, 40 hour work weeks, holiday and fair pay. The auto workers gave up a lot during the last year only to have it thrown in their face by the banks and lenders decisions to not go along with the auto bail out.

    To the best of my knowledge, the banking industry who got us in this mess, are not controled by the unions.

    Unions made this country great. Our jobs being sent overseas and imports from countries who do not share our values is taking our country down.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  193. Bernadette Loesch

    No. For the most part they are in place to protect the American worker. Big Business would LOVE it if the Unions would go away. They could then go back to stepping all over individuals, doing away with a decent wage, sick time and personel time off. As it stands now most companies know just how to step around giving into union demands for their workers. Heaven help us if we go back to the days before Union protections were in place. Anyone who thinks they would be better off need to read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  194. Kay

    Not one single union member ever had a direct voice in the extremely poor decisions auto makers made over the last 20 years. How can they be to blame for not building cars buyers wanted? That goes for all industries.
    When the hourly workers run the corporations, then you can blame them.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  195. chrisitie woodfin

    If anyone is to be blamed for the strains on the American economy, laborers represented by unions are less at fault than top management which has paid itself at the highest multiple of laborers' wages (by a long shot!) of anyplace in the world. It is senior management and their banker peers who have taken huge risks, managed poorly and taken the economy to the brink of depression. And it is the top 1% of the population who has seen a growth in income and net worth while the rest of us, unionized and not, have stayed stagnant at best.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  196. Jennifer

    My negative opinion of labor unions has only strengthened in the last year. I believe that in the days of my Grandmother, the "Union Label" was an important part of her life. Back then the unions were created to help the workers and give them an equal voice against big business. Today, the only voice we hear is what business can do for the unions. Businesses have little recourse against unions especially if the unions have targeted them to unionize. It is no longer about helping the workers. It is all about power over business. We have seen this so clearly with the UAW.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  197. Tom Mytoocents Fort Lauderdale Florida

    Jack

    The Doctors have the American Medical Assoc. Lawyers have the BAR .
    American workers should be represented in the AIG GM Chrysler board room. The bad press the labor unions recieved in the past is pale in comparrison to the corporate thieves that exist on taxpayer bailouts. Collecting obscene pay and bonus while driving corporations to bankruptcy . These unions fare very well in operating huge memberships without the benefits of degreed college graduates. Why....

    September 4, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  198. -drew

    Labor unions have lost their way. Just like in "Animal Farm," the fat cats that run the unions are only trying to save their lavish lifestyles. It's sad because people died to try and form unions to get the most basic of protections – safety equipment, health benefits, etc. Now, labor unions have become that which they fought against. Your union bosses have beomce as rich as the management that they rallied against. All they have to do is march a few times a year and get arrested. The police union will make sure that the union bosses are kept safe during booking and they get the publicity for the membership. It's not too late – members can take back their unions.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  199. Cate

    Jack the unions are not to blame for this financial mess. When did it become anti-American to demand fair wages, a safe work place and an ability to argue fairly against unjust management? Unions are what stopped child labor and the company store. Or perhaps we would all like to work for Toyota? Spend 4-5 years as a "temporary production worker" for half the pay, no vacation days and 3 unpaid sick days per year? Company only making a billion in profit? Let the temps go. I know: I was one of them. Another out of work auto industry employee with a graduate degree. Collective bargaining is power: just like the collective vote we have every four years. Why else would the little 8 auto comanies all build in the anti-union south? I give up. I moving back to the east coast liberal elite where I came from.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  200. balde rodriguez

    no; my opinion has not changed. It's always been bad. They only care about #1, themselves and how they can get more power, It's never about improving the country or the average american. (PS, I am a registed Democrat from deep South Texas, not a right-winger).

    September 4, 2009 at 6:17 pm |
  201. Doug

    Jack
    Isn't the reason that the spread between the rich and poor increase because the corporations have done everything in their power to eliminate the unions. The unions help keep a level playing field.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  202. Allen

    Jack, The problem is that most people do not understand labor unions. Without them most people would still be working 12-18 hours a day at whatever rate the employer wants to pay. There would be no benefits such at health care, sick leave, maternity leave or workplace equality among the sexes. There would still be the unexplained terminations that have nothing to do with workplace productivity. Labor unions have improved the quality of the workplace for millions of workers and impacted millions more that do not belong to unions.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  203. Carol Nikov

    What most Americans do not realize is that many of the benefits enjoyed by non-union workers were hard won benefits in sometimes very stressful labor negotiations by union members in prior years. Health insurance, retirement benefits or contributions by the employers, sick and vacation leave, family leave, and reasonable pay and work hours were all first achieved by unions during labor negotiations and then later became common place in non union environments. Before you condemn unions, you might ask where we might end up in the future without them.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  204. Frank Hague

    Absolutely, I have made a 180 degree turn, unions are bankrupting the country. Examples, the police and teachers unions insist on getting 4 to 5% annual increases, yet they fight every attempt to have them contribute toward the high costs of their medical and hospitalization insurance. In New Jersey, the unions are forcing communities to increase taxes outrageously. Unions are no longer a tool to protect Americans, they are a virus which is destroying America.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  205. Peter

    Hi Jack,
    Labor Unions are groups of working men and women trying to get decent wages and benefits. To say that they caused the auto industry to fail is unbelievable. The wage gap between the highest wage earners and the rest of the folks, who actually work, has only grown wider since the Reagan years. Is a coincidence that since group of union busters ran the country, the unions have been tarnished and the fat cats have gotten fatter!
    Thanks,
    Peter.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  206. Rodd

    The Unions have done nothing but help all U S citizens. Unlike the radical right, which has been attacking successfully for years the average JOE!Driving down wages is fashionable among the radical right though it means less spent or less " Disposable income".

    Rodd333

    September 4, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  207. Nancy

    Some Americans, myself included, were appalled to learn, during the "Big 3" automakers hearings/bailouts, of the pay and benefits diffential between those UAW shops and the non-union factories of Toyota, Honda and others. I had a neutral view of unions until then, but the need for a bailout, at least partially because of union wages and benefits, soured me on labor unions in American industry.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  208. steve thorne

    jack,if bill clinton didn't sign n.a.f.t.a we wouldn't be in this discussion thanks steve t

    September 4, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  209. Richard

    A good example of why people are not backing union could be seen by the John Wayne character shown right after your question was raised. He was with the tea party people and he did a good job of showing just how stupid the people on the radical right are. I could not believe this person lived her in the USA.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  210. Rosalie Gammelgaard

    Corporations stated policy and goal. is to make as high a profit as possible for the shareholders.
    Without labor unions, consideration for workers health, safety and retirement would never have been factored in.

    Several years ago, a company I worked for closed a local office, and I was laid off. Our division had just been unionized for several years. When I compare what our lay-off options were, as union members, to what a non-unionized division's options were, I was very, very grateful that I was protected by a union.

    Unions aren't perfect, but they've made a huge difference to quality of life for working class and middle class families in this country, and not enough people know their history about that.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  211. jeane

    No. While I don't belong to one because I am called a management employee, I support the union cause of protection of the labor force. I know ceo's/business/pundits and some in congress will tell you how bad they are but they do serve the purpose of protecting worker's rights. They are not in place to create jobs as some would like you to believe. They make sure you get breaks, lunch, have a ergo friendly chair, lights, heat etc. Come on you didn't think you got those things because your employer likes you ...oh you did!

    September 4, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  212. Ethan Wainscott

    To many business are all about profit /the bottom line and don't care about the workers. That's where the union comes in and stands up for the worker and the benefits they need. There is a place and need for unions still. What happen to taking care of your workers, it's gone and been replaced by the bottom line, profit. To get bigger profit industry has moved out of the US to Asia, Mexico and India, all for a bigger profit.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  213. Barbara

    Until you have lived in an era without unions, you have no idea how hard life was for the average worker. No rights, pay so low you could not live on it and companies that did not care.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  214. Richard

    Jack,
    As a card carrying union member, I declare that anyone who has access to an union and doesn't belong should receive none of the benefits earned in activist's blood and they should be required to work on Labor Day!

    September 4, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  215. judy buchanan

    As in all groups the unions are just as good as their members. I belonged to the Communications Workers of America for over 30 years. Never was theere a word against them or the way they did business. If we had not had the union there would have been no one to protect the worker. In the more than 30 years I worked for the telephone company and was a member of CWA we went on strike 3 times always for better wages, benefits and working conditions. The union negotiated my benefits so that my family and I are protected by decent health insurance. If all workers were protected by unions President Obama wouldnt have to be fighting for protection of those that are not covered. God bless the unions and the men and women who belong to them because believe me the companys wouldnt give us a damn thing.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  216. dahlimama

    I find the poll sad indeed! It shows how little the average American knows about the ills Americans faces. Most of them get their information from sound bites and know little else. I suggest they give back all the things their parents,grandparents and great grandparents fought for. Those things that most of us take for granted. Things like sick leave, a five day work week, overtime pay,yearly raises, health care and on and on. Who do these dummies think got them that? Do they think that their company gave them this out of the goodness of their hearts. NO! they had to compete with the good wages unions got their people or get worker that were not as employable.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  217. Jennifer - Winnipeg

    No, Jack. I have never been partial to hostage takers, which is exactly what unions do when they go on strike.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  218. Tom

    It was not the unions that caused the break down of GM & Chrysler is was the greed of upper management, also did the unions say what cars were to be built or put on the market, it very simple, thay mis-managed the companies.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  219. DJ

    No! unless it's to say that my belief in them is stronger than
    ever and grows with each year that passes. One can trust big
    business to treat their workers as well as one can trust the health insurers to treat the very people their supposed to insure and protect.
    I imagine their are some companies that are fair and just to their
    workers but I am 60 years old and have never seen it happen. I've
    worked since age 15.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  220. Louise, Las Vegas

    My father was a member of the goon squad for the union when the turmoil happened at the Ford Rouge Plant. My father-in-law worked at Rouge at the time and he had to bring his own soap and towels to wash his hands in order to have lunch. Ford only provided it's workers with cold water; in the winter it was very cold water. Yes, I bellieve in unions. And I think that if my father and father-in-law would see what is going on with unions today, they would each turn over in their graves.
    Louise,
    Las Vegas

    September 4, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  221. bob

    If it weren't for Unions people wouldn't have received any type of benefits they now enjoy. In fact now that Unions have been on the decline workers benefits have actual been taken away and continue to be eliminated along with stagnant wages and wage cuts. The only thing that will change the downward trend is for Unions to start to becoming popular again. It was Ronald Regan and the Republicans that changed laws to make it harder to have Unions represent the work force. It is now time to change the laws to make it easier for labor to have Unions if that is what they want.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  222. Michael

    Of course, when monkies turning screws can retire after 30 years at the ripe age of 48 while business owners Who take risks get hit with increasing wage costs, lower work ethic among employees, and are called rich by the current president. Compare the average work hours and risk levels of the typical business owner and the typical autoworker (leave out those on job bank). Who are the real "working class"? Unions have created higher paid welfare recipients.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  223. L. J.

    Consider this- If Enron had been unionized would it have been as easy to conceal to the public its avalanche into insolvency?

    September 4, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  224. Denise

    Union leaders could care less about what in the best interest of its members. They use membership for money and power. And their strong-arm, bully-like tactics do more to harm business than help. They make them less competitive, less efficient, less innovative, etc, etc. Look what the auto unions did to American auto business - they nearly destroyed it. Members become like children. Group think prevails. Unions dumb down business and the people within. I have no respect for the leaders and pity the members.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  225. bruce campbell

    Hi Jack,
    The Big three have always been in control of contract negotiations. To blame Labour now for the bailout of GM and Chrysler is a cop out. Anyone with an once of common sense knows it was a lunatic marketing policy that destroyed GM.....49 models and counting. With Chrysler it amounted to management not being able to plug all the ever increasing holes in the dyke. Chrysler was dead in 1979 but for the brilliant Lee Iaccoca and his K-car resurrection of the company. What did his successors do? They tried to out guzzle GM and Ford with monster cars and trucks. I sure feel sorry for American taxpayers.
    Bruce Campbell
    Toronto

    September 4, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  226. Bert

    The last time I belonged to a union, they were in bed with the company and sold out all the new hires like myself. I was forced to pay extort – uh – union dues for below scale pay, no benefits, and no paid vacation. They got away with this by calling us "vacation relief" even though I was there for three years straight, 40 hours a week. Many others were in the same situation. Sadly, most of the real talent was among us "permatemps", yet the company and union wouldn't budge to change our status despite support from the direct beneficiaries of our work. BTW, this was a broadcast television situation!

    Unions have become "good 'ol boys" clubs where hiring and advancement are based not on abilities but on who your beer buddy is. Of course without unions, employees would have to learn to band together and stand up for their rights when their employers abuse them. In my situation, there was much talk among the "permatemps" about making a stand, but in the end most wimped out when they were individually threatened.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  227. bic bren

    So much in America has changed in the past 50 years but unions haven"t . Is their a single thing they do that is not self serving designed to benefit seniors members.?

    They are so last centuury.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  228. Ben Smith

    Jack:
    I grew up in Detroit during the mid thirtys and lived through the lock-outs and sit-down strikes.. And thwe national gaurd being called out to the Rouge River Bridge. While I have mixed feelings about the present position of unions !
    My greatest contempt is for the Automotive burearocrats in the front offices that failed to fund retirement rights insurance fees etc.. Their failure eventually led to the bankruptcy of at least two automotive companies and many supplier firms
    Ben

    September 4, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  229. Charles from OK

    absulutely not I believe without the unions the companies would do very little for the employee, and take all the prophet for themselves.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  230. Arrel Henry

    Unions were important early in protection of labor rights but their time is passed and today they prohibit competition in the world and US markets. Unions have an unfair advantabe because of their donations to politicians.
    Obama received trememdous financial support from Unions. Now unfortunately you see their influence in Obama's policies. This blatent influence should be brought to the public area and dismissed and replaced with logical and healthy decision making.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  231. David California

    Once upon a time unions were a critical force within this nation, but no more. Many unions always want more and more, and that is the reason why you see so many jobs being outsourced these days. Bottom line, Americans are spoiled compared to the rest of the world. Pay increases are always nice, but in reality, when someone else in another country is willing to do the same job for less something has got to give. Unions are slowly destroying this nation by increasingly demanding more for their workers and bringing pay to sky high rates to the point that we can't compete like we used to. Greed in the front office and on the floor are the root causes of why we simply don't manufacture as much as we used to. America is headed into darker times because of unrealistic wants.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  232. Jim Sluss

    As a life long mid-westerner, I was a member of the OCAW.
    (Oil , Chemical & Atomic Workers) union, for 23 years.
    Despite the fact that the union did benifit the hourly employees, I have always believed that unions can severely impact national economies if if if they continously push for higher wages and benifits all of the time. It
    takes no rocket scientist to see that you can price your self out of
    business. Other issues such as quality of life, (having enough
    employees to staff all positions and cut down on overtime etc...)
    are just as important.
    During my 23 years , I worked on both sides of the line and there
    are good and bad points to both sides, and neither side works
    for you 100% of the time. Often, ;you need to get all your facts
    together and stand alone and fight it out. I was surprised at how
    often I won my arguments.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  233. Curt

    Unions made the middle class; they raised the standard of living for all. I was not untill Unions started to decline that the middle class started to decline. Corporate management will NEVER hear a single voice only through unions will a common voice be heard and the working man will not have to settle for the crumbs that fall from the corporate table. Without a voice you had best be satisfied with 2 and 3% raises per year because that is all you are going to get while Corporate Management get 21%.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  234. Todd Groller

    Jack, people are so naive. I belong to a union, I have decent health coverage, and ok wages, I surely am not flying around on my private jet to one of my many homes like most CEO's in this country. Even with unions, CEO's saleries have gone from 46% higher than the average worker to 446% higher. Keep blaming the unions and sit and watch those CEO's saleries go even higher.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  235. Craig in Arizona

    I work with Journeyman Electricians all over the Country. Non Union Electricians work for one third the wage which is still nearly $20 per hour and generally outperform their Union Brothers. You cannot have this conversation without exposing what they are earning. If the general public knew what these people were earning, they would have little support.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  236. Kevin Downey,Wilmington, Vt.

    Don't get me goin', Jack. As a retired union Millwright out of the Boston Local, those poll numbers amaze me, scare me and frustrate me. It just shows that Corporate America is winning the propaganda war when it comes to the benefits of Unions and what the world would be like without them. Should the unions go away, you can be certain that it wouldn't be long before workers would be at the job for more days/ week (probably 7), more hours/day (12 or more), would be making less /hr., would have their health care taken away, and they'd have no retirement as well. Unfortunately, people have had a negative view of unions for some time now, and it comes only from a simple ignorance of the facts about what Unions stand for; justice in the work place for everyone, not just the management team that gets many times more in salary with handsome benefits.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:24 pm |
  237. Russ, Orlando FL

    Jack, Labor unions are a necessary evil, without them corporate america would run over us in the name of profits for themselves. Their are few if any americans left that remember the turn of the century labor conditions that ignited the labor union movement. Refresh your memory by reading Upton Sinclairs "The Jungle" a chilling testament of the disadvantaged working class of the era. All you have to do is look at the recent greed of Wall Street and corporate America to realize that without trade unionism, American workers would be once again taken advantage of. All non union employees need to thank the trade unions for the benefits they have today.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  238. Bobby Martin

    The unions are to blame to some degree for the Big 3's financial woes. You can't compete with the rest of the world when you are paying your employees not too work. Yes, this was the practice thanks to the UAW.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  239. Chuck

    If it wasn't for Unions in our country Jack you and I wouldn't be off from work this Saturday, Sunday and Labor Day! We'd also most likely be working a lot more than 8 hours a day.

    Don't get me wrong, Unions aren't perfect, but if management had a "free reign" in this country, God help the working class!

    Enjoy your "three-day-weekend" Jack and remember who to thank for it.

    Chuck

    September 4, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  240. Lee

    jack does the general public know how much profit the auto companys,make off each auto? Its more than you could imagne.Why make the UNION THE FALL GUY?

    September 4, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  241. Jan from Montana

    Blame the labor unions?? You have to be kidding. I bought a new truck last year it gobbles fuel and the performance and looks are not as good as my 1996. The labor unions may have built the truck, but they didn't design it, and make the executive decisions as what it should contain, how to price it , etc. The same with SUV's.

    Why should the unions be blamed for the decisions of greedy stupid executives which is what has trashed the whole economy?

    September 4, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  242. Laura See

    Union membership is up to 12.4% of employed U.S. citizens from 12.1% in 2007. The Bureau of Labor Statistics report said that most of the new members were government employees. Government workers make up most of this 12.4%.

    Conversely, these same workers also seem to have several outside sources of income, and are the most complained about of all "service" industry workers. (refer to BLS.gov).

    So, taxpayer funds considered, I have totally reversed my opinion on any benefits unions represent for the U.S. taxpaying citizen.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  243. John Meeks

    I am proud to belong to a labor union. I believe in collective bargaining to ensure that working people are able to work in decent working conditions and for a reasonable wage.
    While the labor movement has had its excesses, the corporate world has also harmed our economy. The CEOs continue to walk away with obscene compensation and golden parachutes while we scapegoat the workers. I do not believe that this is fair.
    We claim to live in a nation that values work. We should also value our workers.
    If you are taking time off this weekend for Labor Day, please take time to thank a worker!

    September 4, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  244. matt

    Unions brought America decent wages,the weekend,unemployment insurance,social security you know all the things the Corp. rite wing Hates! Matt Carson WA

    September 4, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  245. Sunnie in Florida

    Yes!! With runaway corporate greed dictating the direction of the country, we need unions more than ever. The average worker is losing protections faster than ever. Unions have been the only organizations that have the capacity to protect the American worker. My father watched the bodies laid out by the entrances to the coal mines as a child. Now, living in Florida, I see the unrestricted destruction of workers by corporations in this "Right to Work" state. The only people with a right to work, it seems, are the people, often, but not always, undocumented, who are willing to perform skilled labor without the skills or training necessary.
    We lost out home to Hurricane Charley, and the building contractors supplied shoddy results while paying their laborers a mere pittance compared to the well-trained & responsible workers in Union states.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  246. Harry

    Say all you want about how bad unions are. But there was a reason for them in the first place. History will repeat itself again. When we go back to the sweat shop mentality, people are refused time off due to deaths in the family and when people die on the job for lack of concern for safety, there will be a rebirth of the unions.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  247. Rolf

    I am beginning to despair about our citizenry. There was a time when we recognized that the fruits of productivity should be shared equally between investors, management and labor. Unions are a positive force to maintain this division, that has come apart since Ronald Reagan and has gotten worse. Unions are not responsible for the problems of the American auto industry. The just built the shoddy products designed by management.

    Rolf Seitle

    September 4, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  248. Douglas

    I think that, in most cases, labor unions have outlived their usefullness. When unions sprang up it was because workers in general did not have many employment options and very little control. In the modern global economy of today, the employment environment is more competitive and employers know they have to do right by their employees to stay in business. We are all more mobile now and that gives people more options of places to live and work than they did in the past. In my personal experience, I tended to get better pay and benefits from my past non-union employers because they wanted to be good to their employees, vs. union employers who always held back because the union was always going to want more and they needed to hold back something so that they have something to give in response to union demands. This holds true with my current employer. Where I work now, non-union hourly employees are the best paid in the local market, but the union employees only get average pay.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:28 pm |
  249. Pat Coombs

    This comment isn't about the question, but I'm not sure whom to address. THE CAFFERTY FILE is the area most familiar to me. Perhaps you can help make the correction. At 6 o'clock tonight on THE SITUATION ROOM a board in the background used to accompany the newscaster's opening comment read "YOUR FIRED"! Of course it should have been YOU'RE FIRED–with the apostrophe and letters r and e. This is short for YOU ARE fired. It was not good to see the error on the board. You are wonderfully helpful by providing wide news coverage and I'm sure this was an oversight, but please do be careful since you serve as an educator to young people and adults who watch your news. Thank you.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  250. pasco a verducci

    Come on jack that is not a fair question. The union members is down because most of the jobs are dissapearing, because they are moving out of the country.the ones to blame are the greedy corporations.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  251. Gary R. Lind

    My first real job was union at 1.65 per hour in 1965. Unions will decide where this country will end up. I work in a non-union service oriented industry where if the employer had it's way, none of us would have a job.
    I spent 20 years in the military defending this country's way of life, and the older I get, the more cynical I become. I will survive, but I am increasingly concerned with where this country is headed, and it seems that the elected elite, who allegedly serve us, only line their pockets and then grin and pimp us for our vote.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  252. jeff

    Unions are getting unfair rap. As a former union member unemployed for the past 9 months I don't expect to see another union as long as I live. Some say that auto unions are at fault for the auto industries downfall, give me a break. Negotiating is a 2 way street, why did the auto companies agree to some of the outragious benifits. At the table both sides ask for the world then meet in the middle. Who designed the crap

    September 4, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  253. Big Jim Gersin

    No, I've always believed unions protected labor. I have seen non-union shops being sucked dry by management, through wages, insurances, vacations, and treatment. Look at S-K Tools in Chicago for one of managements latest abuses. Unions have done a lot in past decades to help their members. It's a lacadaisicle public that are afraid to stand up to management, form a union to earn a living wage and better working conditions. LONG LIVE UNIONS !

    September 4, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  254. Sherry

    While I have not always been thrilled with the decisions of my own union in the stands they have taken, I am also an intelligent member of America's workforce. Without unions, I know we would not work with fair pay agreements, limited job protection, hour limits, benefits, or vacation. Once again, in tough times, American unions will take the brunt of peoples anger instead of it's rightful recipient: the Corporate American machine, who has created the perfect storm of greed, gross mismanagement, and undue influence of our government. (Although this would not be possible without the assistance of our members of Congress, each time election time rolls around again!).

    September 4, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  255. Michael P Byrne

    Jack
    After decades of taking a beating, it is no wonder at all that union members are getting another one on the chin. We have had nothing but
    but anti-worker propaganda from law makers, to corporate entities. As a result of most laws working against unions and organized labor, pension and health care plans have been decimated. Under negotiated contracts
    signed sealed and delivered, it don't matter, cause once a company for strategic reasons decides to go bankrupt all contracts are null and void. and guess what ...the govt. picks up some of the tab.
    Now we have a economy in free fall, designed and brought to you by the same kind of thinkers, and so many people without a job , it sure makes sense to blame the workers themselves. I have been and always will be a strong union supporter. thanks Michael P Byrne

    September 4, 2009 at 6:31 pm |
  256. sarah

    Unions are robbing America blind!
    Unions control the American Workers and they protect all workers whether good or bad. For instance, in Boston Public Schools you have 143 schools and only 2 of those schools have been passing the Average Yearly Plans (AYP) in math, reading and language arts.
    So while 141 schools are underperforming, the administrators,
    and teachers continue to get paid year after year!

    While the workers get pay raises every year, health care coverage,
    pensions, the children have no books, no computers, large classrooms, no physical education, no art, no science labsand
    no progress!

    September 4, 2009 at 6:33 pm |
  257. starr sanders

    We need labor unions more than ever. Corporations interest is only in making money at the expense of everyone. Loyalty and hard work are not rewarded.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  258. Donna

    Unions are needed now more than ever. People need to realize that BIG businesses do not have THEIR best interest at heart. People need a voice and the UNION can be their voice in the workplace. It is these big businesses that are taking American Jobs overseas and paying ridiculously low wages.

    The Union is NOT the problem with the economy. The government needs to fix these businesses that are moving American jobs overseas so they can get past Union Wages and benefits. Believe me .. I won't be buying a Maytag product again and no American should support them. If Americans would come together and BAN these backstabbing businesses that are taking their jobs overseas ... maybe they would feel the crunch in their own pocket. I'm tired of giving up my wage increases, health benefits, etc. for these CEO's to have multiple houses and million dollar bonuses. The American Government needs to get a backbone and take care of these issues and stand up for the MIDDLE CLASS AMERICAN UNION WORKER - a breed that is slowly dying in this country!!

    I am PROUD to be a UNION MEMBER and my dream ... one day WAL-MART will be unionized!!!!

    September 4, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  259. Marlyn

    Math proplem. Get rid of Unions, lower wages and how many zeroes will be added to CEO's bonus?

    September 4, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  260. Forest Bayer

    I have been an IBEW member retired now for several years. The labor union has been able to help me get a medical suplement that has been a financial lifesaver. If not for the IBEW electricians would be working under unsafe conditions, Safety is one of the reasons the union was formed, in the old days people were getting electrocuted just as our servicemen have been in Iraq and Afghanastan. No help there from our lazy congressmen and women or the pentagon, No bid contracts do not work, only for the greedy. KBR cons. should be held responsable and not rewarded with more no bid contracts. Just awarded a 35 million dollar continue on contract, NO BID. It is a shame and ludicrous. Thank you, Forest

    September 4, 2009 at 6:35 pm |
  261. Keith

    Its corporate greed that is the problem not unions, although unions aren't perfect either.I don't understand how non union people cannot see why they even make a decent wage.Union has set the standards not only with wages but also health and safety.All you have to do is look at other countries without unions.
    We must have a strong balance.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  262. Summer

    Anyone who doesn't think all the rancor and outrageous/egregious behavior towards every little thing involving this president isn't racist, isn't thinking.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  263. Ben

    I don't have a college education, but I'm not dumb enough to not know that with out unions. The rats behind the desks, pockets would get fatter, while the workers/ labours of this country would have to work harder and longer to just get by. It's all about greed, Instead of the suits pointing their finger at the unions, they need to point the finger at their wages. Are they really worth what they are getting paid!

    September 4, 2009 at 6:36 pm |
  264. Fredrik Rothstein

    Not really pro.

    The same difference with unions and health care. If you are a member or have it, you are fine in a situation where help is needed. Without membership or coverage you are on your own. Thus it's easy to oppose unions when doing well. But if you get into conflict with your employer, and not a union member you are weak on your own.

    However unions aren't benign, too often associated mith crime. And at times abused by dictatorial leadership.

    Launch a non-political union with a global perspective of employer vs employee and the dynamics of improving productivity alongside the well being of all parties.

    These improved dynamics would benefit the entire US economy,

    Reform the way unions function and I may lean a bit more towards the pro union position.

    Said Fred

    September 4, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  265. Tom Thomas

    If we had no Unions, all of us who work by the hour would be making minimum wage!

    September 4, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  266. Marty , New Mexico

    So many jobs have been sent out of this country. Labor Unions gave working people a chance. There is only a skeleton of the union movement left in this country. Put the blame where it belongs. Those who run the large world corporations and the fraud that was committed by wall street.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:40 pm |
  267. Terri from Virginia

    My opinion has not changed. My husband is a card carrying member of a union that helped to get health care benefits for its employees. As for retiring early, if 67 is early I suppose he retired early. Unions were not at fault for the problems for businesses. Is it possible that high paid CEO's who jet around and administrators making poor decisions might have played a role?

    September 4, 2009 at 6:41 pm |
  268. Michelle

    MICHAEL,

    Man .. I do not know what country you are from but get your facts straight man.

    I AM a UNION worker and I can't retire at the RIPE OLD AGE of 48.

    SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS have it rough .. I was on for several years. Please name me ONE small business THAT is UNIONIZED???

    We need unions for these BIG BUSINESSES that line the pockets of their CEOs and Board members . How much do you think a Wal-Mart employee makes compared to the owners???

    September 4, 2009 at 6:46 pm |
  269. Sandi Wynter

    I am totally in favor of unions. My husband & I both belonged to the Hotel & Restaurant workers Union in Honolulu when we lived there.
    They really did protect the workers & got us excellent wages. Ibeleive
    all resorts &food services should should be unionized because I have seena lot of exploitatation and slave wages paid in the several
    states that I have lived in.

    September 4, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  270. Craig Hath

    It is about time people wake up and get rid of these unions, they want to much! These people want days off. If we can get rid of unions we can rid ourselves of days off, 8 hour days, get these lazy kids back in the mills where they belong and quit wasting money on public schools. We would longer have to pay for health care, vision care, dental, overtime and other benefits. CEO's would be able to make what they are worth, companies can make a profit because they would not have to pay a living wage to workers or their children. Get rid of child labor laws, safer work areas, the middle class, on and on and on.

    The 1800 and 1900.s were so great, work all day and get no pay.

    I can't wait

    Craig A. Hatch

    September 4, 2009 at 6:48 pm |