Where are the unions?
Grupo Santander, the global banking giant, last year took control of Sovereign Bank.
The largest bank in the Euro-zone, where it is based, Santander is the world’s eighth largest banking company by market capitalization. While the company is very good at generating profits around the world (it’s the world’s fourth largest bank by profits), this international meeting is focusing on something else: how the bank’s new U.S. branches might become as unionized as branches in Europe and Latin America.
Santander bank branches are on average 75-percent unionized outside the United States, according to UNI Global Union Finance Director Oliver Roethig because most other industrialized nations have unionized banking sectors. In the United States, however, less than 1 percent of all front-office bank workers are organized. In fact, the unionized janitors working for contractors that clean Sovereign Bank’s headquarters in Boston, Mass., often make more than the bank tellers and personal bankers, whose average wage is $10-$12 dollars per hour, despite individually producing millions of dollars in profits for the bank each year.
But the financial sector, at the center of the U.S. economy, has never been unionized. The international workers and local leaders of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Communication Workers of America (CWA) gathered in July to use the clout of global union federations like the UNI Global Union to give labor a foothold in Santander’s Sovereign operations, and potentially organize the industry from there. If Santander employees are heavily unionized overseas, and corporate profits are so robust, then why shouldn’t American workers also join a union?
Hmmm…these unions didn’t destroy Sartander? Puzzling.
And while we’re at it, let’s have the “But UNIONS KILL JOBS!” crowd explain the economic miracle of Germany. The world trade dominating democracy that also happens to have one of the most highly unionized and well compensated workforces on the planet.
In most markets where Santander is (Portugal, where I am for example and yes, I bank with Santander) all banks are unionised. Which means that no one bank loses out by being unionised when the competition isn’t etc. and vice versa.
Being unionised in a market where you’re the only bank that’s unionised would be rather different…..as GM and Chrysler found out with the UAW for example…..
“the bank tellers and personal bankers. . .individually producing millions of dollars in profits for the bank each year.”
Seriously? Bank tellers individually produce millions of dollars in profits for the bank each year?
“But the financial sector, at the center of the U.S. economy, has never been unionized.”
Opening Pandora’s box with this one, but prior to the financial crisis, and even post the crisis (and yes bailout – which, as a reminder, I was against), financial sector profits had vastly outgrown other sectors of the economy,whereas manufacturing declined. I recognize that correlation is not causation, just sayin’.
I wish my teller did…she likes me. But they aren’t my millions she handles. Sigh. So yes, not so well written.
Is there any argument to the observation that a unionized workforce in the same environment as a non-unionized workforce is less efficient? Every dollar spent supporting the union is not being spent producing marketable goods and services. Union managers function as lawyers that attempt to route money from one part a business to their clients, all while skimming some of the take for themselves. By definition, the business will be less healthy when there is antother mouth to feed that does not increase output.
One of my best friends worked for Honda of North America for 15 years. He made much more at his position than his union conunterparts because he was able to negotiate directly with his boss. Yes, he was more valuable to the company because he took it upon himself to learn additional skills. That would not have helped him in a unionized shop where you get union scale based on fixed factors.
In Germany unions are considered a balancing force in the economy. Even during years of full employment rate of about 2% during the 60s there were hardly any strikes. Unions and mangement negotiated and settled in the middle. Never has anyone made a claim that businesses went belly up because of unions, like here blaming the UAW union and the claim that unions are bad for the economy. IG Metall is still a big union and the auto industry pays union wages. Germany had strong unions and no strikes to speak of.
Ah Logic 101, your statement is not. Lots of things happen but certainly not the way you describe.
Rdan–We should also probably note that union members pay for their own union dues. The union does not derive any income from the business whose workforce it represents. Most union contracts are pretty basic and can be renegotiated periodically. So, if some provisions of the contract are not working, you just negotiate them into a better form. I used to handle small, local negotiations (“impact and implementation bargaining.”) It’s no big deal. Definitely not a reason for lost productivity per se. Nancy O.
Logic 101–Every employer is free to set compensation over the contract requirement. Usually, there is some relationship between length of service and hourly compensation, but that too can vary. Anyhow, productivity does not correlate highly to the absence of a union. One big variable in productivity is hours worked per employee. The fewer the employees and the longer hours they work, the higher the productivity. Less paid in benefits relative to those hours creates higher profits, as well. So, union or no union, machts nichts in a well managed shop. Then, you have GM. QED. Nancy Ortiz
Where have all the unions gone?
Long time passing.
Where have all the unions gone?
Long time ago.
Where have all the unions gone?
Gone to servants every one.
Oh, when will they ever learn?
Oh, when will they ever learn?
So what did Chrysler, GM, and Ford find out about unions?
I think it was that bondholders won’t pay their wages forever. But then again stock and bondholders said white collar payroll was way fat too. Then we all know about CEO and senior management pay. GM has also been described as a health care company that happens to make cars. Pensions w/ big health bennies are way out of whack with reality.
All GM workers seem paid way better than average. The Japs and Koreans build cars here with 2/3rds the labor cost. US production of SUVs and light trucks are protected by a heavy import tariff. Something like 30%. See where that got us.
But to answer the question of the thread, unions are wherever competition doesn’t exist. The state, local and federal government, Defense Industry, Boeing, Utilities, etc….
“machts nichts in a well managed shop”
nicht so true in my experiance. The union tells you how the shop is run, and productivity was not the goal, at least back when I was in the manufacturing sector.
A common joke went something like “How many union people does it take to screw in a lightbulb”
One to get the lightbulb, one to rotate the ladder, and one to complain that purchasing ordered the wrong lightbulb.
It was close enough to true to make the joke funny.
Also, overtime is paid at time and a half or double time. Usually management frowns on that as a way to manage cost. In CA it is law for any hourly employee, but companies wouldn’t let us do it if paid hourly, or they just made you salary.
It works different if you are a cop. In that case we had 6 figure cops driving around burning the taxpayers’ gasoline.
We really did have problems with unions, but the solution in manufacturing was ship the jobs overseas.
No, Cedric. The union doesn’t tell you how the shop is run. It doesn’t control who’s on the payroll, the hiring and firing, the timing of production runs and the management of OT and administration of benefits.
Now, if management doesn’t want to work within the framework of the contract, alright. You can fight with the union and may be able to get rid of it especially in mid-size or sole prop companies. You’d probably find some employees to support you. After all, there are a lot of ways that unions cost more than they’re worth to lower wage and salary workers. But, you don’t have to move your shop to Guatemala to solve a union problem. Mainly, you have to have managers who actually understand labor law. That’s just not a common thing.
If you want to pump up your profit and don’t want to manage your way there, that’s when you shut down here and open up shop in cheap labor paradise. That’s true union or no union. Thing about that is you don’t need American managers down there. You need Guatemalan management–language, culture, etc. call for it. Management goes down the tubes when the shop moves too. So, one way or another, it ain’t the unions’ fault if a business doesn’t make it. In any government or business shop, it’s the bosses’ fault.
let us assume your story is true. it is likely enough that some people can “negotiate” a better wage with their boss that their co workers. this is fine for them… for a while. but in a lot of jobs all it leads to is rate busting… everyone works harder for a lower wage. setting the workers up to “compete” with each other is a favorite trick of management. and no it does not lead to more efficiency, except in the case where you don’t need any creative input from labor, but just need to work the people you have to death, knowing there are plenty of folks out there who’d be glad to have the job. it’s a recipe for widespread poverty. and strangely enough that turns out to be bad for business in the long run.
can’t say there are never union abuses… but almost always they are a response to abuses my mangement. in a game of “competition”, or dog eat dog, you can’t complain if the workers organize to give themselves an even chance.
and despite the short sighted squeeze a nickle today as if it was the last chance you’d ever have one, beliefs of management and owners, everywhere that workers are treated decently, or organzied to get decent treatment, living standards have risen, for both labor and management.
let us assume your story is true. it is likely enough that some people can “negotiate” a better wage with their boss than their co workers. this is fine for them… for a while. but in a lot of jobs all it leads to is rate busting… everyone works harder for a lower wage. setting the workers up to “compete” with each other is a favorite trick of management. and no it does not lead to more efficiency, except in the case where you don’t need any creative input from labor, but just need to work the people you have to death, knowing there are plenty of folks out there who’d be glad to have the job. it’s a recipe for widespread poverty. and strangely enough that turns out to be bad for business in the long run.
can’t say there are never union abuses… but almost always they are a response to abuses by mangement. in a game of “competition”, or dog eat dog, you can’t complain if the workers organize to give themselves an even chance.
and despite the short sighted, squeeze a nickle today as if it was the last chance you’d ever have one, beliefs of management and owners, everywhere that workers are treated decently, or organized to get decent treatment, living standards have risen, for both labor and management.
for your homework assignment check into how much wages, and health care costs specifically, are part of the cost of a new car.
then explain why people buy expensive foreign cars instead of cheap american cars.
and if you think auto workers are overpaid, why don’t you get a job on the assembly line?
and if you think getting paid enough to afford health care is too much, tell us exactly what is meant by a “living wage.”
now, me, i look at the distribution of incomes in the good ol u.s. of a. and it strikes me that auto workers are not overpaid so much as the rest of us are underpaid.