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View Full Version : This is the reason why a strong labor movement is necessary



Miulang
October 8th, 2005, 12:56 PM
Aloha Airlines, following in the footsteps of some of the major carriers like United, now wants to eliminate the pensions (http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051008/BUSINESS03/510080329) of 3,000 of its employees. It's one thing to tell new employees that they won't have a defined pension plan to count on when they retire, but it's not fair to those who have already spent years paying into their pension plans to just say tough beans, your pension is only going to be worth half of what you thought it would be worth when you retire.

Companies no longer take care of their employees, which is a shame, because that engenders no loyalty from the employees, and if customer service is something a company prides itself on, that will get flushed down the lua by disgruntled employees. Bad move, Aloha Airlines.

I never used to believe in labor unions because I have always been salaried, but with all the take backs and concessions many of the rank and file have had to endure over the last few years in order to even keep their jobs, I think big business had better start re-thinking how they make their money and who's making it for them. :mad:

Miulang

TurquoiseDuck
October 8th, 2005, 03:46 PM
As long as people put up with this kind of crap from the companies they work for, it will keep happening. Unions stop this kind of thing from going on. I realize that people need jobs and some times have to take what ever job they can get and not all companies want Unions, for obvious reasons. It is a shame that companies treat employees this way.

scrivener
October 8th, 2005, 03:54 PM
If I'm not mistaken, everyone employed by the airline already belongs to a union, and that didn't stop this from happening; is it possible, just slightly, that unions are one of the things that caused this problem?

I am not anti-union, but let's be honest here and acknowledge that it is in the nature of a union to get all it can for its members. By mandate, that is what the union exists for. Now, I'm a firm believer in companies keeping the promises they make to their employees, but I wasn't there when the pension deals were first set up -- is it possible that in order to keep the airline running, at some point along the way, the management had to agree to an unreasonable pension plan agreement?

I'm just playing devil's advocate here; I, too, am disgusted at companies that take back the pensions honestly earned by their retirees. However, to say that this is what we need unions for seems like something of a leap.

Miulang
October 8th, 2005, 04:37 PM
I'm just playing devil's advocate here; I, too, am disgusted at companies that take back the pensions honestly earned by their retirees. However, to say that this is what we need unions for seems like something of a leap.
Part of the problem of the main union (AFL-CIO) was that it didn't really represent the needs of the service workers. It was set up more to protect the interests of the workers in the manufacturing sector.

This summer, 7 unions broke away from the AFL-CIO (the SEIU being the largest) with the intent of not competing against the AFL-CIO, but more to address the concerns of the service workers. SEIU is pretty militant (they represent most of the office workers and many professional people, too, as well as healthcare workers), so my guess is you're going to be seeing more "hard bargaining" (i.e., strikes, threats of strikes or work stoppages) once the SEIU really gets itself organized. They will also be the one who will try to organize WalMart employees...a thankless task at best.

If you read about the history of the labor movement, you will discover that what just happened with the 7 unions breaking away from the AFL-CIO was how the AFL-CIO got started, so everything's come full cycle. Will the AFL-CIO die? Probably not. As long as there is a manufacturing sector in this country. Amazing...

Miulang

Miulang
October 11th, 2005, 06:58 AM
The proposal to eliminate pensions from employee benefits packages at Aloha Airlines (http://www.honoluluadvertiser.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051011/NEWS01/510110342/1001) is just part of a trend in big business to use the high cost of maintaining benefits as a reason to cut back. If the pension plan goes bankrupt, it would be taken over by the Feds, which is maybe what Aloha is hoping for. But the people on the defined benefit plans won't get everything they were promised if the feds take over.

My question is, when HawaiianAir emerged from bankruptcy last year, they didn't have to resort to eliminating pensions. Why could they do it and Aloha not do it?

Miulang

D'Alani
October 11th, 2005, 08:03 AM
Now that the Teamsters are sort of "clean" more people should consider organizing with them. As a retired Teamster I can honestly say that if not for them my pension would not be what it is. Our pension is protected by the Federal Government so the union cannot arbitrarily cut our pension. The company contributes directly to the Teamsters and do not control the money. I'm surprised Hoffa Jr. haven't approached more workers who are affected by this. The biggest adveantage is we contribute the same amount so everything being equal, years of service in particular, it doesn't matter what your hourly wage was you would still get the same amount in pension.
What is happenning in the airline industry is unbelievable.

Linkmeister
October 11th, 2005, 09:11 AM
It should also be noted that the PBGC (Federal Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp.) is grossly underfunded and facing a huge deficit, thanks in part to national airlines' previous defaults on their pension liabilities and to previous defaults by big steel. That's why pensions get cut in half when the Feds take over.

I don't have a link, but the stories are available on Google.

Rickyrab
October 15th, 2005, 01:36 PM
Labor is important for keeping big business at bay. Without organized labor, perhaps the Democrats would never have dented the politics of the Islands...

aloha-anon
October 17th, 2005, 09:30 PM
As long as people put up with this kind of crap from the companies they work for, it will keep happening. Unions stop this kind of thing from going on. I realize that people need jobs and some times have to take what ever job they can get and not all companies want Unions, for obvious reasons. It is a shame that companies treat employees this way.

Indeed! Thanks to everybody that posted in this thread and thanks to Muilang for starting it over a week ago!

EXCELLENT ARTICLE HERE http://www.aviationplanning.com/asrc20.htm

Airline Industry Bankruptcies Facts V Myths

Mahalo and we wont let you down! The employees will save Aloha from these raiders. Thank you for your support all!

scrivener
October 17th, 2005, 09:43 PM
Labor is important for keeping big business at bay. Without organized labor, perhaps the Democrats would never have dented the politics of the Islands...
I assume you mean "labor unions" and for the most part, I agree. However, when business is booming, unions want their share of the pie, which of course they are entitled to. But then when business is bad, seldom do unions offer to give back any of the ground they gained earlier. I said seldom.

I also think it's a bit of a stretch to call jet pilots "laborers." They aren't "labor" any more than I, a high school teacher, am "labor," and for this reason, I choose not to belong to a teachers' union. It's a personal choice and I don't judge people who do; I merely choose not to as a matter of principal.

Glen Miyashiro
October 17th, 2005, 09:58 PM
It's a personal choice and I don't judge people who do; I merely choose not to as a matter of principal.Principle. Mr. English teacher. :D

scrivener
October 17th, 2005, 10:15 PM
Principle. Mr. English teacher. :D
Whoops. I hate when I do that.
That was the math teacher me posting that. English teacher me would never have made that mistake.

Oooh, wait...it was a discussion on teachers' unions. I was deliberately punning. Yeah, that's it!

aloha-anon
October 18th, 2005, 08:30 PM
I assume you mean "labor unions" and for the most part, I agree. However, when business is booming, unions want their share of the pie, which of course they are entitled to. But then when business is bad, seldom do unions offer to give back any of the ground they gained earlier. I said seldom.

I also think it's a bit of a stretch to call jet pilots "laborers." They aren't "labor" any more than I, a high school teacher, am "labor," and for this reason, I choose not to belong to a teachers' union. It's a personal choice and I don't judge people who do; I merely choose not to as a matter of principal.

First off I can't speak for the autoworkers or painters or any other unions. My only exposure to organized labor has been in the airlines. The Air Line Pilots Union and other pilots unions are very aware of the volatile economics of our industry and as a matter of fact, in this day & age we are sometimes the ONLY ONES with any real understanding of how things work. The new corporate raiders certainly don't have any understanding of the synergies involved or the results downstream in dollar amounts of a certain cutback etc. ALPA has those resources available and more. These resources are always available to our companies, but they never ask. We literally go out of our way to show them how to save money sometimes. Our heritage & geneaology goes back to the dawn of flight. CEO's come and CEO's go. The Air Line Pilots have been here from the beginning. HERITAGE. We live and breathe aviation. The raider only worships the dollar.

As long as we work for large corporations, we become, in effect "labor". If you have never read the old book "Hard Landing" I believe it is as relevant today as when it was originally written. These guys running our airlines are more ruthless and cut throat than any of the hughes, trippes, (or even lorenzo for that matter), but they lack the love of aviation and vision of the early airline guys including Aloha's Dr Ching. All we are is a line item to pencil out on a spreadsheet.

OK TWO EXAMPLES OF BAD MOVES by AQ, The Western Samoa government bought and paid for Aloha's brand new equipment to serve their nation. We pulled out of there 4 months later because "the South Pacific was unprofitable". :mad: The Rarotonga segment was weak and was tagged onto the Pago run so it looked bad, but the Pago segment actually supported the Raro tag. (we'd go into Pago full and fly another 2 hours into Raro with less than 12 people in the back) According to the old station manager our Pago yeilds were higher than Santa Ana, our highest yield market now. Nobody cared to listen to him.

As Aloha pulled out of "unprofitable" Vancouver, Canadian carrier Harmony actually increased service, while publically mocking Aloha's decision to pull out via local media. Other Canadaian Low Cost Carriers West Jet and Zoom also both announced to take over where Aloha left off. Thats all I got tonight i'm spent.

BTW, Nice article in todays Star B quoting the ALPA press release. Dave Segal huh. Curious name for a reporter that likes to do airline stories. :)

craigwatanabe
October 19th, 2005, 12:11 AM
Labor Unions serve a purpose, to provide a contractual agreement between labor and management.

The bad about unions is that it does create a rift between the two sides. The good is that it puts everything in black and white.

I've worked both sides and can see the pitfalls and merits of either. When it comes to large scale operations where a worker can get lost in the paperwork and where management protects their own, the collective bargaining power of unions give the small employee a strong voice telling management they cannot railroad their employees without a legal battle.

But unions can also hurt the striving union employee whereas he/she may not be able to make the jump from union to management if he/she desires to do so because of a rift or preconcieved notion that the union person is the enemy.

At one point in my dual career in radio and at The Gas Company I wore two hats, one as a manager in a non union environment and the other, a card carrying Teamster member.

One of the merits of being in a union is simply that your boss cannot make you do something you didn't agree to do when you were hired, like driving that cement truck because the driver got sick and you're a sales executive. Or like being told to make the coffee for the rest of the managers when you're a junior executive and being treated like a peon.

It also guarantees some safety in your income. Imagine working for a radio station in a non union environment and you decide to buy a home on a mortgage. Everyone who works in radio knows that there is no job security at all in this biz and that committing to a 30-year mortgage while working in radio is taking a very BIG chance.

At least in a unionized job if you're doing your job and the company looks like it will last a few generations then you at least have some assurances that your job will be around for those 30-years.

I left the Gas Company with a unionized job that pretty much was solid. The PUC required that TGC operated within certain accuracy guidelines and my job was to make sure those guidelines were kept intact. Our department at one point had over 14 people working on accuracy. By the time I left there were only two of us...the minimum for safe certification of LPG distribution systems. The company couldn't let either one of go because of a stupid move on their part.

I had seniority over my co-worker yet my co-worker had a better understanding of the certification process than I (I knew it well, he just knew it better). Because of that I couldn't get fired or let go as long as I was doing my job to their expectations. They couldn't release him because they'd lose someone who simply was too valuable.

What TGC ended up with was two very competant workers that did their jobs well. What more could you ask for right?

So because of the Teamsters Union, the company had no footing on to let me go as long as I was doing my job to their expectations (I did better) and the two of us literally became the only two people in the State of Hawaii that could do this job (because of the intensity and the union position). I literally had a high level of job security in a well paid job.

BUT I wanted to move into management like I did in radio. I wanted to more than just certify things that pump propane gas, I wanted to exercise my managerial strengths in this company I literally bled for. But because of my union image, I was turned down by the evil director of Human Resources (I love Dilbert) despite the backing of department managers and supervisors.

So I quit. The look on my boss' face when I gave him my two week notice was totally priceless...as a matter of fact :eek: is what he looked like. It took over 6-months to find my replacement and even so it would take about 5-years to get to the grade level to be competant enough to be able to certify the things only two of us could do.

So being in a union protected me from stupid managerial attitudes yet it also inhibited me from aspiring to higher levels in the company. Quitting TGC was probably the best thing I ever did stress wise.

If you want job security and a consistant paycheck and don't mind being treated like a peon, then working for a unionized company is a good thing. If you want to climb that corporate ladder, brown-nosing all the way up then you may not want to join the union.

If you have a large family (like mine) and am the bread winner then a unionized job may offer you some financial stability.

If you argue that unions strike, well if you ratified a 3 or 4-year contract then you got stability for those number of years. Without a contract or even with one with a performance clause, you could come into work Monday morning and be presented with a pink slip "for no apparent reason" and find yourself out of a job in one day.

If you personally challenge yourself then maybe a non union job is your ticket. Sometimes unionized jobs put you and keep you in a rut: That's not my job..I just come to work and push da button...dats all I do and I make $30 an hour doing jus dat.

But hey don't complain when the management team gets their Christmas bonus and blows away what you got in overtime. Yeah management protects their own, Mel Kahele (Teamsters president/Hawaii) protects his members...Teamsters members that is!

It's a toss up and it all comes down to what you want to do with your life. Keep it simple and get a paycheck every two weeks? Or do you want to challenge yourself and see how much and how high you can get within the ranks of a corporation. Some are leaders...some are followers, and there's nothing wrong with either. :)

scrivener
October 19th, 2005, 06:06 AM
First of all, I need to clarify that I'm not blaming the pilots for anything. Aloha's going back on pension agreements sucks, and it shouldn't be allowed to get away with it. Also, I am not anti-union. I merely expressed reservations to Miulang's original assertion that THIS is what we need unions for, and then added that as a personal decision for my own life and my own career, I will not belong to a union.

I want to make that understood. I know it's a touchy subject.


One of the merits of being in a union is simply that your boss cannot make you do something you didn't agree to do when you were hired, like driving that cement truck because the driver got sick and you're a sales executive. Or like being told to make the coffee for the rest of the managers when you're a junior executive and being treated like a peon.
Craig, one of my problems with unions is that not only can a boss not make you do something like this, but that the union's self-preserving bent virtually prohibits an employee from doing this kind of thing even if he or she wants to. It sounds as if you had a healthy approach to your union position and did your job well; however, you know as well as I do that the system gets worked by too many people who just barely do the minimum, and there often seems to be very little anyone can do about it in a union situation. Fellow union members often don't do anything to encourage these people to pick it up, because the tendency with so many people is instead to say, "If he can get away with that, so can I." Workers who want to do more than their stated job descriptions are quickly and strongly encouraged not to.

In my job, if another teacher sucks at his or her job, it negatively affects my job in a big way; not only do I want that teacher gone, but I need that teacher gone if I'm going to be able to do my job. Likewise, if another teacher is excellent at his or her job and goes well beyond the requirements, I reap enormous benefits and so does the rest of the school. That should be encouraged and rewarded, and I certainly don't begrudge any extra considerations (including pay or extra time off) such a colleague might be granted. Unions generally discourage this kind of thinking.

That's totally fine, but I won't work in that kind of setting.

When I got hired where I currently teach, I was weighing a few different options, so the principal who eventually hired me offered to move me two steps up the pay scale. Based on my experience and ability, I was worth that much more to this school and the school was free to express that. That never would have happened if the faculty had been unionized.

I don't think it works in education.

jdub
October 19th, 2005, 08:07 AM
do they have a labor union for self-employed hack writer/musicians? if so, i've already paid my dues and i want my pension! i'll settle for health coverage and free cable...

oggboy
October 19th, 2005, 01:01 PM
I also agree, this is a very bad move by Aloha`s new mngt. Feel really bad for all those loyal employees who are giving back all they can to make Aloha shine. This management team better get their act together or it`s curtains for all those involved with Aloha Airlines. So What Now???? Pilots hu-hu, Flights delayed. Flight Attendants hu-hu, Bad service aboard. Ramp agents hu-hu, Lost luggage or Damaged. Get a grip Aloha, you once had the ball rolling back in the 90`s. I don`t want to see my friends come home from work from Aloha all fustrated because of all the bad vibes they get from mngt. :mad: :mad: :mad:

Miulang
October 19th, 2005, 01:34 PM
When I got hired where I currently teach, I was weighing a few different options, so the principal who eventually hired me offered to move me two steps up the pay scale. Based on my experience and ability, I was worth that much more to this school and the school was free to express that. That never would have happened if the faculty had been unionized.

I don't think it works in education.

The organizations and companies that treat their employees fairly don't have to worry about unions muscling in on their territory, Scriv. I mean, why would employees be against management if they perceived they were being treated fairly? There are LOTS of nonunion companies who treat their employees well, and the hourly people wouldn't want to organize. I think where unions are necessary is when employees who work their butts off to make the bottom line look good are treated like chattel and not as a precious resource.

You're lucky you had an administrator who knew your true worth and was willing to pay you accordingly. The way unions suck is everyone gets raises in a contract---whether they deserve them or not---but it's going to be up to the management and union working together to weed out the undesirables. I think there must be a way to reward unionized people who go the extra mile, as opposed to those who just do their job, because it does neither the company nor the union any good to not reward the high achievers. It affects the bottom line of the company and the reputation of the union to let this continue.

Miulang

aloha-anon
October 19th, 2005, 09:20 PM
The organizations and companies that treat their employees fairly don't have to worry about unions muscling in on their territory, Scriv. I mean, why would employees be against management if they perceived they were being treated fairly? There are LOTS of nonunion companies who treat their employees well, and the hourly people wouldn't want to organize. I think where unions are necessary is when employees who work their butts off to make the bottom line look good are treated like chattel and not as a precious resource.

You're lucky you had an administrator who knew your true worth and was willing to pay you accordingly. The way unions suck is everyone gets raises in a contract---whether they deserve them or not---but it's going to be up to the management and union working together to weed out the undesirables. I think there must be a way to reward unionized people who go the extra mile, as opposed to those who just do their job, because it does neither the company nor the union any good to not reward the high achievers. It affects the bottom line of the company and the reputation of the union to let this continue.

Miulang

Excellent post miulang. I was going to elaborate but you really did a good job.

aloha-anon
October 19th, 2005, 09:29 PM
I also agree, this is a very bad move by Aloha`s new mngt. Feel really bad for all those loyal employees who are giving back all they can to make Aloha shine. This management team better get their act together or it`s curtains for all those involved with Aloha Airlines. So What Now???? Pilots hu-hu, Flights delayed. Flight Attendants hu-hu, Bad service aboard. Ramp agents hu-hu, Lost luggage or Damaged. Get a grip Aloha, you once had the ball rolling back in the 90`s. I don`t want to see my friends come home from work from Aloha all fustrated because of all the bad vibes they get from mngt. :mad: :mad: :mad:

Maui boy, the employees, while frustrated with managements flip-flopping, are doing the same professional job as always. If anything, we are even giving MORE aloha right now as word travels fast and this is a small State. I think its best to let management get all the bad press. The employees will shine no matter what. We seen these CEO's come and we seem them go. Aloha is my airline not theirs! Pilots and FA's may be hu-hu but no flights are being delayed because of us!

Example; I know of a few minor write-ups that happened throught the week on Oahu and the issues are solved and the flights still are getting out on time or even the standard 5 minutes early. Being delayed means we dont get to go home on time either you know! :D

Palolo Joe
October 20th, 2005, 01:26 AM
When I got hired where I currently teach, I was weighing a few different options, so the principal who eventually hired me offered to move me two steps up the pay scale. Based on my experience and ability, I was worth that much more to this school and the school was free to express that. That never would have happened if the faculty had been unionized.

I think there must be a way to reward unionized people who go the extra mile, as opposed to those who just do their job, because it does neither the company nor the union any good to not reward the high achievers.
Some union contracts include a clause that allows for employees to negotiate above and beyond the pay scales set on paper. And just because a company is unionized, it doesn't mean management can't reward employees who do good work. We're not talking monetary bonuses, but there is something to be said for a few days of comp time or an extra couple of hours of "overtime" here or there.

craigwatanabe
October 21st, 2005, 12:54 AM
do they have a labor union for self-employed hack writer/musicians? if so, i've already paid my dues and i want my pension! i'll settle for health coverage and free cable...


It's called BMI or ASCAP. I'm sure there's others but these are two of the biggies.

And Scrivener...I agree that the unions can keep their own down simply by virtue of their collective bargaining. There were so many times I wanted to improve our testing procedures but was ridiculed by management telling me that's not my job and that all I'm supposed to do is to do and not think.

And that's from some 25-year old "fresh outta college newbie" who hasn't had any practical experience in the industry or in life telling this college educated union guy a thing or two.

As much as I appreciated the union, it did inhibit me from aspiring in The Gas Company. 22-years of experience with practical and education in the propane and natural gas delivery/calibration experience simply walked out the door when I quit. I had enough of banging my head against a concrete wall. My union couldn't support me because I wanted to go beyond my job description. TGC wouldn't support me because I was unionized. My job required me to carry my union card and the company wouldn't hire me unless I did join.

Now I do consulting work in the field of liquid metering and calibration as well as fuel distribution systems to anyone who wants to pay for my services. I had to wait one year because of TGC's non-disclosure agreement, so I just sat on it and waited.

I also agree with Scrivener that I'll never join another union because on one side you try to do your best, but there's always the slacker who just irritates everyone because their not doing their part in making that company an efficient one. And that guy probably has more seniority than you and there's no way to get promoted because of it.

Unions serve a purpose, but if you're a self-starter you'll soon learn to hate them

jdub
October 21st, 2005, 01:11 AM
It's called BMI or ASCAP. I'm sure there's others but these are two of the biggies.

Unions serve a purpose, but if you're a self-starter you'll soon learn to hate them

i'm with both, and they've never done a damn thing for me...i don't hate anyone, excepting that "o'neill" guy on CNN or whatever he's on...

the only self-starting i do is pretty much here on HT and with my songwriting and performance proclivities...the rest is dictated by deadlines and down-beats...

but sweet jumpin jesus, CW, you've got it right...

oggboy
October 21st, 2005, 04:44 PM
I didn`t mean to offend the superb workers at AQ. I know it`s ALL YOU FOLKS that make ALOHA AIRLINES SHINE.... It`s just fustrating to see all of you have to deal with the B.S. while mgnt. TAKES EVERYTHING from all you loyal employee`s. Believe me It`s hard to see this happen to such loyal workers. I have family and friends working for AQ, and I can feel their resentment towards the clowns that now are getting whatever it takes from the workers. Remember back in the early eighties when Aloha almost went under. I don`t think us local folks can deal with no Aloha Airlines. This is the airline I always fly on, because of the caring workers at ALOHA....
ALOHA KAUHANE KAU MOKULELE