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decline of the unions
It's Not Just the U.S.

Tony Abbott’s Liberals are up in the polls in Australia for the first time in two months. Part of the reason for his uptick in popularity? A crackdown on labor union corruption. The Sydney Morning Herald:

The deterioration [for Labor] comes after a week in which Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the terms of reference for a wide-ranging and potentially open ended royal commission into union corruption, naming five unions specifically – one of which was the AWU, the union giant formerly run by the Labor leader.

In the wake of the Tennessee Volkswagen employees’ vote against the UAW, it’s worth briefly noting that the troubles of the labor movement aren’t just found in the United States.

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  • Jim__L

    Unions suffer from a self-inflicted wound — they’re better known for goldbricking and protecting incompetent workers, than for being the best-by-far at what they do.

    They have an amazing opportunity now. Companies are drastically cutting back their training budgets — if unions were to step in and fill that void, there are workers out there hungry to learn how to do their job well.

    If companies knew that when they got a Union worker they were getting someone solid, someone competent and productive, then everything would turn around for Unions.

    It’s like Christian churches that don’t encourage and enable their members to live more Christlike lives by digging into Scripture and finding exactly what that actually means. They’ve lost the core, and so they’re losing everything.

  • rheddles

    Unions are legalized gangs of thugs. Till they change that, they’re going to lose every non-violent contest they’re in.

  • Bruce

    The worst unionization situation of all is the federal government workers who live far better than those who provide the money for their lavish pensions and above market pay (for doing work that doesn’t need to be done and is actually destructive in many cases).

    • Corlyss

      You must be thinking of the Congressional and Presidential pensions. Most feds are on a defined-contribution plan, you know, the cheap-skate version of pensions that industry started going to in the 60s and 70s because they didn’t want to keep putting so much money in their pension funds. The feds are not in the same position as state employees who have a small enough pool of politicians that they can control them thru their campaign contributions and thereby extort from state residents the kinds of gold-plated pensions the unions are now fighting to protect. Defined contribution has not hit state employees yet.

      • Bruce

        Defined contribution hasn’t hit the federal workers either. It’s one of the things that makes working for government at all levels so lucrative. They are all defined benefit. The elitists running the country would never expose government workers to risks that the rest of us live with. It’s a brotherhood and it’s us versus them and part of the benefit of being them is defined benefit, tied to inflation.

        • Corlyss

          “They are all defined benefit.”

          I’d like to see your sources on that. The whole point of instituting FERS in 1983 was to tip the federal workforce into defined contribution plans, with the attractive sidecar of the Thrift Savings Plan that allowed the worker to control the investment of some small portion of his retirement contribution. I’m CSRS and we’re aging out of the system very rapidly since the FERS system is now 30 years old itself.

          • Bruce

            Most current federal employees are covered by two pension plans: a defined benefit (DB) program known as the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) and a defined contribution (DC) program called the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP).


          • Corlyss

            Thank you for the cite. I certainly was unaware of that fact. I’ve been laboring under a misapprehension for 31 years.

      • Kavanna

        Not true. Some states started adopting defined contribution plans after the 1991 recession. It’s been a real blessing to have the liability off the states’ back. Plus the worker owns the pension, unlike the defined benefit plan, where the worker is completely at the employer’s mercy.

        • Corlyss

          “As of March 2011, 90 percent of all state and local government employees had access to a retirement benefit of some kind. Eighty-four percent of these
          employees had access to a defined benefit8 retirement plan with 78 percent participating. For state employees, 87 percent had access to a defined benefit plan with 78 percent participating. Eighty-three percent of local
          government employees had access to a defined benefit plan with 79 percent participating.”

          Basically, I’d say the defined contribution pension plan tsunami hasn’t struck the states yet. It will, eventually, but I believe that to be a decades-long process.

  • free_agent

    Is the union decline limited to the Anglo-Saxon world, or is it more general?

  • Corlyss

    Good for him to take ’em on publicly! Now if he will only follow thru . . .

  • Kavanna

    How about the equivalent here, which would be the public employee unions? Or SEIU? How about a De Blasio probe?

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