Labor Pains

This is not a post about SFWA.  It mostly isn’t a post about SFWA because I haven’t belonged for (I think) two and a half years, and had shrugged off in despair long before that.

It’s not that I don’t get the rumblings of exactly what is going on there.  I do.  Tons of my friends are still members, and honestly, I’d laugh over the whole “is raising the rate targeting minority writers.”  I’d laugh, but it’s too sad to.  It’s also inevitable.

I’m not a labor historian.  I don’t have time to research this topic in depth, because as you all know, I make very little money from this blog (and honestly, to my subscribers, I will do my best to provide more goodies, particularly reading stuff in the subscriber page.  I’ve been terrible at it, because the idea was to put up what I was prepping for indie publishing, and, other than novels [and I’ll send final eversions of those out soon to those subscribing above the $100 level] I haven’t put anything up in a while, between getting sick and trying to finish in contract work.)

I’m sure I have labor historians among my readers and if they want to point out inaccuracies, that’s fine, though at the level I’m going to be generalizing there are always inaccuracies, but those aren’t usually relevant.

I’m going with both my 30 year old knowledge of labor history from school, and my knowledge of general history and conditions.

If what I understand is true, organized labor flourished when unskilled and semi-skilled laborers, available in great numbers, joined together to demand living wages which would not otherwise be paid.

There are certain holes in the logic and reasoning there, because this is presented in schools as a “shoulder to shoulder” and “everyone together” thing, but it couldn’t have been.  Take for instance high-immigration, early 20th century NYC.  If the union guys were striking there would always be fresh replacements off the boat, and why didn’t the bosses hire those?

As anyone who has tried to run the tea stand at a book sale knows, getting everyone to “stand together” against their self interest has all the functional practicality of a hard candy computer.

Of course, I know more that I wasn’t taught in school.  I’ve heard from friends whose parents were in, or refused to join unions, about threats and even violence against those who wouldn’t stand shoulder to shoulder.

More, from sometime in the thirties the unions were infiltrated by communist front groups.  This meant they had ready muscle when needed.

But even before communists were around, unions, leagues, trade-associations, were always a thing of force and forced conformity.  They were in fact not so much an association of happy-go-lucky fellows who all happened to wish to better their condition, shoulder to shoulder, at the same time, while singing beautiful songs, but sort of a micro government within a trade – capable of making things happen because they could bring on the force not only against the people who might be exploiting the work, but against their fellow workers, too.

The apprentices in Elizabethan England were feared because they were quite likely to riot and break their masters’ equipment.  Not to say that they didn’t have reason to.  If you worked in the conditions they did, you’d riot too (though consider that it’s not that strange in early emerging industrial economies, and that young men flocked to the cities to apprentice, because it was better than living in the country.) They rioted in groups, despite the fact that a lot of them were hanged.  And it might have helped their living and work conditions, who knows.  I mean, those who survived.  The ones who were hanged were definitely out of trouble.

Of course, apprentice leagues and labor leagues also offered security to their members by coming down hard on anyone who tried to practice the trade without being a member.

Pratchett captures this beautifully with the thieves league, who are the best police the city could want, since they will kill any unlicensed thief.

At the same time the smart labor organizations certified their members, and had levels you went through to be considered for certain jobs, which, if kept true (and for a long time they were, though with service workers now… never mind) provided the employer with a guarantee of quality.  If you were hiring a level three whatever, certified as such by the union, you knew he would be able to spaz the whatzits at a very minimum.

At any rate, in the States the heyday of labor movements seems to have been in those times and places where the abuses were great and the labor force otherwise powerless, so that they had to stick to the union as their only hope of survival. The union provided a bolster against competition, certification levels, and often loans or help when you were unemployed, in a time when social services were otherwise lacking.

Well and good.  Against that framework, one endured the threats if one went against the union and also vague rumors of stuff happening to scabs and line breakers.

I’m not going to argue on whether unions were needed, or whether those things they secured, like the 40 hour work week would have come about anyway through competition and the free market.  Maybe they would have.  Or maybe not.  If one starts arguing what might have happened if one hadn’t done x or y, one can convince oneself that if the US had sat on its hands during WWI and let Europe become the Kaiser’s problem forever, we could have avoided a great deal of trouble in the twentieth century and not have ended up with a world much different than it is today.  On the other hand that type of backwards projection never accounts for you know, the German going ahead with eugenics programs in Europe (which could very well have happened, given the ideas at the time.)

And though normally things move towards greater power/well being for workers, I do know – I have reason to know – that employers will exploit employees (and contractors) when they can. And that abuses will go unpunished and will spread, if there is no effective workers’ organization.

The problem we have is that the labor organizations as constituted are actually counterproductive or totally ineffective.  Take, for instance the Teachers Union, which seems to mostly forbid the firing of ineffective teachers and mandate the jumping through hoops to even take the certification exam.  It is counterproductive both in results, and by lowering confidence in its certifications and levels.  It might succeed in raising the salary of individual teachers and in keeping them in jobs, but it is ultimately killing the golden goose, by forcing people to find alternative methods of schooling their kids.

Then there are organizations like SFWA which are about as effective as wet tissue paper.  The reason for this is that they are in the exact opposite situation of that in which labor organizations are effective.  Or not quite, but close enough.

Let’s take the situation as it was before indie opened up the market.  You had six big publishers and a WIDELY distributed labor force, with not only varying but unclassifiable levels of attainment and ability, not to mention areas of focus, connections, etc.

What this meant is that the things SFWA SHOULD have been doing, it couldn’t do.  Because most of the leaders – if not all – were working writers, it couldn’t do things like class action suits and demanding to see the accounting of the big houses, because the leaders would be out of a job forever. There were very few employers and they all talked to each other.

Ask any working writer about his statements, and they’ll roll their eyes.  I have a house, for instance, which still hasn’t reverted two of my books with them, which has quantum print runs.  No, seriously.  The initial number of books printed changes according to what they want to claim in the statement.  (Yes, as soon as Dan has a week he’ll do an analysis of the incongruousness in those statements and I’ll publish it here.)  When I mention that house to other writers, they say “Oh, yes, they’re famed for this.”

But has SFWA ever taken a stand and questioned their statements?  Heaven forfend.  For one, the publisher is a member.  For another, well… none of the leaders or the members want to be sidelined forever.  And the way books are bought, writers never have job security.

Then there are the schreklish clauses that have crept into contracts, including the funny, funny ones that give the publisher the right to anything you ever wrote under any name, including your own blog.  What you hear is that they are “standard practice” and you have to sign or walk.  Where is SFWA in that?

Well, again, there are only six (now five) houses and the leaders and membership work for them.  And keep in mind that a writer can be fired for any reason or none, under the excuse the book did not sell (without taking in account cover, distribution or anything.)

Would you, if you were SFWA, stick your neck out?  I wouldn’t.  I didn’t, when I had to work for publishers-other-than-Baen.

Then there is what happened to the pay rates over the last fifty years, but like Mark Twain in Connecticut Yankee, when he starts with “And if the peasant had a daughter” I weary of telling this stuff, because, really, what could we do about it? Also, some things are too dreary to even tell.

The only stick SFWA ever wielded was to consider publications either pro or not, based on what they paid.  It was a weak and ineffective stick by the time I came on the scene, since there were so few and so short lived magazines that beginning writers worked for what they had to.  (Yours truly made ¼ of a cent a word for more than a year.)

And then we got indie.  And the shell cracked loose.

What we have now is almost exactly the opposite of a situation in which unions help.  Instead of having a few concentrated employers, a large and uneducated workforce, a geographically concentrated area in which strong arm tactics and strikes work… you have a largely educated work force, which can choose to work for itself and is spread all over the entire world.

How can a professional organization demand higher pay – from whom? – help with job security, or otherwise secure better conditions for its members?

It can’t.  It was never particularly effective at it, because the conditions weren’t right for its model.  And now it can’t at all because the conditions are the opposite of the ones in which they could be effective.

So they really can’t do anything but ONE thing – the one arm of force left to them is force over their own members – hence the continuing purges and fights over discrimination which become more fantastical and strange as the saner membership flees (and yes, scary as it may seem for a writer I come close to being sane as a brick.)

But, since, due to spread out work force they can’t use physical force, the only thing they can use is shaming, mau-mauing and verbal bullying.  Which by definition favors the insaner members.

All of which brings us to the sad state of labor.  Because where SFWA has gone now, everyone in any profession that doesn’t manipulate heavy materials or require physical presence is going.  That is, everyone in the white collar professions (and a few of the blue collar, as automation progresses and can be remote-controlled.)

Have we gone to a post-labor world? Are organizations of people in the same profession outdated?

I don’t think so.  First of all, abuses will happen and a lot of them will be in legislation. The doctrine of first sale being changed by law will destroy the ability of any writer to make a living in electronic media.  We need to know what’s happening.  We need to make sure lawmakers know what they’re doing and how many people they’re pissing off. We need organization and numbers to carry this off.

Second because even the most haphazard and distributed profession (I won’t claim mine is, but surely we come close) needs a way for members to contact other members and learn of new opportunities, fast in a new world in which distributed information, personal networking and staying abreast of fast-changing technology.

Also, in a profession, like ours, in which I THINK at this point a majority of practitioners are childless and aging, and in which, due to the nature of the beast, many of us go through periods of unemployment that doesn’t count as such legally, a mutual beneficial support organization is not without merit.

And that too might not be a bad model for other unions, or whatever you want to call them in the future – an organization that helps people find job opportunities (I always knew that in writing, but apparently studies have shown the biggest difference in any profession – bigger than your competence – in how well you do is your social network.  Who you know), that points them at ways to acquire new skills, that arranges for help in dire times, that allows you to communicate with other people who might have your problems very quickly and to form the equivalent of a flash mob when your interests are threatened.  That might work.

As would warnings about organizations that have shady practices and doubtful contracts (though frankly that never worked very well with SFWA.  Oh, sure, they went after egregious places like Publish America, but the shady practices of the mainstream went untouched, because, of course, members had to work for them.)

If this glimmer of an idea of what the future might bring I have is true, where even present-in-person jobs go to contractor models which means that people relocate in wildly fast rotations all over the country, having the local equivalent of a professional welcome-wagon might not hurt either.

It’s just an idea.  And it might never work for SFWA.  G-d knows, I don’t have time to do anything, not even help the people who are trying to do it, and also, frankly, the individualists are failing to organize, while the crazies are just interested in insane stuff.

But it might work for other professions.

Because the era of shoulder to shoulder, to the extent it ever worked is gone.

Outside of the most basic service professions, you can’t strike and force the hand of the employers (and at that level, like fast food I’d question striking in this particular economic climate and with automation JUST at hand.)  And in any white collar profession, you’re not going to manage to exert physical force on your members (and if you did, it would be terrible public relations.  People believe the shoulder to shoulder about unions, see.  You practice violence and you won’t be a labor hero but a villain.)  All you’re going to manage is finger pointing, shaming and mau-mauing, which in turn will encourage the worst crazies in your group and drive everyone else away.

If you cling to the old model, you will in fact eat yourself.

My guess is that trade associations will emerge in a more functional form more or less spontaneously, but that is probably because I don’t want to get roped into designing one, and besides even with design, this is not likely to happen in the next 30 years – that is the extent of my working life, more or less.

And yet, as sure as the fire will burn, there will be abuses and those least powerful will need protecting.

I can’t do anything – or much – other than push towards what the needs are and what we need, and hope that a hundred unorganized, voluntary organizations pick it up.

And ignore the old model.  It might not know it, but it’s a dead model walking, and the unpleasant eructations emerging from it are just what you expect from a corpse.

105 responses to “Labor Pains

  1. The lucky souls were those forced to join the union. The unlucky were forced to not work. It was openly admitted in Congress that the purpose of NRA pro-union legislation was to keep blacks from getting jobs. (Hence, Negro Removal Act, Negro Run Around, Negroes Robbed Again.)

  2. Slightly off-topic, but there was this interesting story in British media – about the high percentage of indy-published ebooks are selling on Amazon –
    All is proceeding as the indy authors of my acquaintance had foreseen, several years ago.
    http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/dec/04/amazon-kindle-ebook-sales-indie-publishers

  3. What sort of services would authors like to have in a trade association, bearing in mind what was written in this blog?

  4. William O. B'Livion

    You (or someone) needs to start the Intergalactic Transdimensial (dis)Organization Of Speculative Fiction and Fantasy Independent Artists. ITd0OSFFIA

    Note that it is open to *artists*, not just writers.

    Membership is $10 a year, and one copy of whatever work you’ve produced (electrionic files count) that year. $10 for a card. Every 10 years you’re eligble for a nicely printed certificate. For an additional fee, of course.

  5. Labor unions, especially they way they’re done in the US, are nothing more than monopolies on the labor market. In some cases, where there’s a monopsony in the labor market, they can be good in at least establishing a balance of terror in the market. But labor monopsonies simply don’t exist today, so labor monopolies are nothing more than a market failure. Unions are why manufacturing jobs are fleeing overseas, they’re why municipalities around the country are flirting with bankruptcy, and they’re why idiot Democrats keep getting elected. All to line the pockets of labor “leaders” and their pet politicians.

    • William O. B'Livion

      Unions are why manufacturing jobs are fleeing overseas,

      This isn’t entirely true.

      If it was purely union issues you’d see more movement from anti-freedom states like Michigan and Illinois to right to work states..which do you see where the NLRB doesn’t f* things up.

      A significant portion of the job flight is *other* regulatory issues. OSHA is the reason more shoes aren’t made here in the US–it turns out the “best” glue for those types of soles is essentially illegal to use here in the US, and so the shoe companies do it in China where people don’t care if their skin falls of and they get cancer. Electronics manufacturing uses a LOT of toxic crap, which is why a lot of it moved from here to Japan, then to Taiwan, then to China as the peasants got wealthy enough to buy their politicians.

      There’s also a reason that companies like Intel continue to build plants in the US, mostly in “non-union” (aka “workers freedom”) states.

      Oh, and Sara–Unions are necessary because (as I’ve posited before) MOST people are peasants and unwilling to challenge their lords directly. Unions let them form virtual torch and pitchfork parties.

      • I should have said they’re largly the reason jobs are going overseas.

        But even the reasons you provide are the result of steady lobbying by the unions to have government take over their only legitimate jobs. That way the big shots can spent their precious time enjoying themselves as compensation for their hard work representing the little guy.

      • News flash: Michigan is a Right-to-Work state. Been this way almost a year now.

    • I believe no union should be allowed to cover more than a single employer, and no more than a single metropolitan area. Any larger and the union prevents the workers from competing with other workers.

      • I think there should be some anti-trust actions against unions. Break them up into competing guilds. Employers negotiate with the guilds to supply a certain number of workers of a certain level of skill at a certain rate of compensation. Guilds compete with one another to provide enough money and training to attract sufficient workers to cover their contracts, while at the same time competing to get enough contracts to employ their members. If a guild tries to charge too much (or slacks on certifications) they won’t get any contracts, and their members will be unemployed until they leave and join a guild that has work. If a guild doesn’t meet minimum standards for education or pay, the workers will quit to find better working conditions, the guild won’t be able to cover its contracts and will default.

        • Their donations to politicians are too powerful. Plus all the “anti-worker” rhetoric that could be ginned up.

          After all, why is Davis-Bacon still law? It is blatantly unconstitutional. The Congresscritters arguing for it explicitly said that its purpose was to keep blacks from getting jobs.

          • The Davis-Bacon laws are now to assure that the trade unions cannot be undercut by non-union companies, it “puts everyone on the same footing”. It was, I am told, put into law to keep the jobs for established unions instead of letting the laborers coming from the south (yeah, mostly blacks) to more lucrative jobs and undercutting the labor costs. Now it seems to be more of a way for unscrupulous firms to under-bid more honest firms, lie about the wages they are paying their workers, and pocket the difference as the margin.
            The rules are insane. There is a difference between the rate of someone who is a brick-layer and someone who installing brick shaped tiles, however if the brick-layer or the tile-layer install the other type, there are issues for backpay at the higher rate for the entire pay period/work week (depending on the rules). And possible penalties for the employer if they forget it.
            There was a local kerfuffle here a few years back about whether the people who judged and adjusted the HVAC flows should be paid at the HVAC installer rate or at their own, lower, rate.

  6. In James Green’s (very well-written) book “Death in the Haymarket,” he points out that the Germans who pushed for labor organization in Chicago encountered resistance because Pullman, McCormick and the others could just hire more unskilled help from the streets, as the iron works in Pittsburgh did (Carnegie and Frick, others). The “Mollie Maguire” coal strikes in Pennsylvania can be traced in part to men who’d attacked the Anglo-Irish property managers in Ireland to protest evictions and clearances. Mix large industrial populations with the European class and social-mob tradition and the attitudes of McCormick, Pullman and others become a bit more understandable.

    There’s a strain in US labor history (Sean Wilentz, Alan Trachtenberg) that traces the idea of the rights of laborers back to just after the American Revolution, to the rise of skilled craftsmen who could not own their business. According to that line, skill became property, so workers of like skills began banding together because they were the “true republicans” carrying forward the ideas of the Revolution. Add in a dash of Marx in the mid to late 1800s and you can see where this might lead. Mutual assistance and “freedom of contract” became “freedom to band together to force better contracts” became “freedom to abuse anyone who won’t join the cause.” (See Steeleye Span’s version of “Blackleg Miner” for an example). I’m not a labor historian and I’ve not read in that sub-field for a while, so feel free to correct my (probably flawed) memory.

  7. There are really two major problems with unions in the twenty-first century:

    1.) Foreign competition

    I hate to be that guy, but it’s true and the US government is making the problem worse, not better. Really. “Fair trade” is stupid. Businesses need to compete. Any competition is a fight. Fighting fair is using bad tactics. The government is broke, the people are broke and the government is incenting businesses to employ overseas workers. Zero is talking about allowing illegals to stay and work openly. This makes no sense.

    Of course, it only works if it is possible for a union to actually work if it has the monopoly on labor that someone else mentioned upthread and right now that doesn’t even come close to happening. And a large reason for that is because either the jobs go overseas or companies import labor.

    Ordinarily, I hate taxes worse than I hate cancer and I’ve lost family to cancer but an increase in tariffs just makes sense here. If you want to protect American labor, doesn’t it make sense for the American government to help?

    (Dammit, there goes my Libertarian card.)

    2.) Union Corruption

    Now I’m not a labor historian, but I did take a semester of American Labor History in college. One of the books we read was called Which Side are You On? by Timothy Geoghan. I _think_ I spelled that right. It’s a weird (yet oddly entertaining) book and he’s pro-Union but seems to be less than enthusiastic about labor leadership. He’s got a couple of chapters about rigged elections, ballot boxes that were stolen and stuffed, the evils of the Internationals and what they do to locals, etc. It’s a good read and definitely informative about both the positives and negatives of the labor movement.

    I’m wandering badly here. My point is that labor _leadership_ is quite often not interested in the well-being of union _membership_. I’ve seen it. I used to deliver office supplies/furniture. I live in the Detroit area, and worked at a business in Madison Heights, MI at the time. I did a COD delivery of a desk/chair/credenza, etc to t a local CEO. He ran a manufactuing business that had four or five locations (been awhile, I forget which) all local I believe. I’m not allowed to tell you that the name of the company way T***m so I won’t. About two weeks later I did another furniture deliver to a UAW local. Same types of furniture, different brands/models. Sorry, can’t give you the number or exactly location of that either. Confidentiality and all of that. Anyway, guess which one was more expensive. I’ll give you a hint: It wasn’t the set that went to the CEO. Ask a labor person about the SEIU out west. They’re doing the same type of thing on a bigger scale. Of course, it all sounds like a typical leftist government to me (Make yourself wealthy, tell the little people you’re doing it for them) but what do I know?

    • Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy

      In any bureaucracy, the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy itself always get in control and those dedicated to the goals the bureaucracy is supposed to accomplish have less and less influence, and sometimes are eliminated entirely.

    • There is a strong argument, with lots of empirical evidence to back up the theoretical work, that high tariffs and other regulatory barriers impoverish nations. Things may be bad in the US now, but they would be much worse if we didn’t have pretty free trade.

      Moreover there is extensive evidence in Europe that restrictive labor laws that provide “protection” to workers and so on result in much higher unemployment because companies will generally be unwilling to take the risk that they should hire someone and then be unable to fire them.

      All these sorts of regulations do is help the lucky people who are currently in a job and hurt all those who haven’t got one yet.

      • a great example is what is happening to the young people in France– imho

      • You’re speaking of too-intensive tariffs and if they’re too high you’re right. See the Great Depression (generalizing). There is also a body of evidence for the efficacy of Mercantilism. See Germany circa 2013.

        • Given that Germany is on the hook for all the PIIGS in Southern Europe I’m not sure Germany is going to remain a poster child for Mercantilism

    • William O. B'Livion

      y to cancer but an increase in tariffs just makes sense here. If you want to protect American labor, doesn’t it make sense for the American government to help?

      Do you have any evidence that this sort of protectionism is good for America? Not just for the American factory worker–who isn’t just being replaced by “foreign labor”, but by robots/automation.

    • The union concept went of the rails when some legislative asshole determined that government/public employees could unionize. This bit of insanity may well have cost us the Republic.

      • Off the rails!

      • Ain’t that the damn truth.

        • This illustrates one reason we have to wait fifty years for “Current Events” to become “History” and to properly evaluate a presidency: some of those chickens take a long time to come home to roost.

          50 Years Ago, JFK Opened Door for Federal Employees to Join …
          http://www.aflcio.org › AFL-CIO Now › Organizing/Bargaining‎
          Jan 17, 2012 – Fifty years ago today, President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order opening the door for 2 million federal employees to join unions. … Ford and Carter—a bipartisan recognition that federal employees should have a …

          See also:
          Executive Order 10988 – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    • If a tariff is necessary to keep a manufacturer or industry alive, then removing it will destroy the industry by making it non-competitive with overseas manufacturers.
      But the tariff does not reduce the price to make the goods more attractive, it just removes competition and the choice of buying lower-priced goods. But the higher price is forcing the public to subsidize the industry through the higher costs, in short paying the difference between what the overseas manufacturer can afford to sell it for and what the local manufacturer can afford to sell it for.
      That subsidy might be best left in the hands of the consumer so they could buy other things that can be made locally instead, but instead, the tariff by imposing this involuntary cost removes that choice of purchasing by removing the money.
      In short, in essence, you are being forced to buy domestic tires with the money you could otherwise buy import tires and two pairs of shoes. So you wear worn out shoes and drive on high-end tires. And the shoe manufacturers can’t sell as many shoes.

      • The question with Tariffs, though does become more worth thinking about, when a country producing the ‘cheap’ goods is doing so by government interference in the natural market (for instance China it’s currency, other egsof businesses getting subsidies so they can undercut unsubsidised items produced in the country they sell to. It still means the receiving country gets cheap goods – so in that sense they win, but in longer term it is more like the big supermarket moving in, cut pricing the local greengrocer buying from the local out of business, and then jacking their prices except to the local farmer – if he still exists, getting less. So I’d be happy to suggest no tariff where the state simply allows the market to set the price, HUGE punitive ones if they don’t.

        • That generally happens when there is collusion between the regulators and the big producer. Otherwise there is room for smaller producers that specialize. For example, I am given to understand from the designer of crêpe cooking trailers that the health regulation are so arbitrary and draconian in many cities it is nearly impossible to run one of those push-cart businesses.
          However, I understand from relatives in the business, groceries have insanely small margins, and often scrape by on beer and cigarette revenue. The ag multinationals might be making coin, but the hometown grocers aren’t. Sighing over the quality of veggies and meats makes me wonder why there isn’t room for a local outlet for local produce. Then I realize, yeah. Taxes, regulations, fines, fees, union, rules, insurance, being sued by special interests, shoplifting, and more taxes, rules, statutes, and minimum wage. All designed to help the hapless consumer and worker (that’s you) but the main result is to give you wilted lettuce and wooden tomatoes and strawberries from Chile.

        • mikeweatherford

          Actually, if I were in charge, I would impose a flat 1% tariff on everything imported, and use the money to offset corporate “taxes” (legalized extortion). The tariff isn’t enough to really hurt anyone, or help any particular business, but does help offset the balance in the Treasury. If the US really does import over $4 Trillion every year, the tariff would bring in a nice tidy sum. At about 3%, the amount of the tariff would offset the differences in prices of many imported vs domestic goods, and would reduce the profitability of both local production and foreign imports, causing more harm than good.

          • Are we posting “If I were in charge” ideas now?

            Cool! I’d abolish the entire current federal tax code and implement a 15% National Sales Tax on first-time retail sales. Everyone who buys anything that’s not second-hand pays the tax. Savings don’t get taxed, investments don’t get taxed, profits don’t get taxed. Just groceries, new clothes, new cars, new houses, new electronics, etc.

            Abolish Social Security and Medicare (and Obamacare, natch) and the proceeds should be more than enough to fund the legitimate functions of the government.

            It’ll never happen short of a Second American Revolution/Civil War, but a man can dream…

            • William O. B'Livion

              And 5 years later the socialist morons in D.C. would reimplement a income tax on “only the wealthiest 1%”. 50 years later we’d be right back here AND have a NST.

              • There you go, spoiling my fantasy with highly likely probabilities:-P.

                I suppose I should’ve added a repeal of the 16th Amendment.

            • If we take care of people NOW dependent on Social Security and Medicare for the next 20 years, I agree.
              Everyone in favor of putting jabrwok in charge say aye.

              • Oh, aye.

                He’d be expecting the heckling, right?

                • In some positions (such as the one proposed for jabrwok, if certain people aren’t heckling you (heck — hanging you in effigy and singing songs demanding you leave office) you aren’t doing the job properly.

                • I wouldn’t have to deal with heckling, my Press Secretary, Kim du Toit, would take care of that:-D.

              • I have no idea how to do that in a way that won’t have the AARP up in arms, literally. They want “their” money “back”, but the taxes they were forced to pay have all been spent, and now they’re expecting checks that will be paid for with *my* taxes (and yours, and your childrens’, etc). Either my generation, and those following, get robbed, or the Boomers, who’ve had 40+ years to plan for their retirements, find out that the politicians they voted for robbed them. Compromise, like means testing and creating a poverty-level dole always get rejected when I suggest them elsewhere.

                In other words I’m *very* open to suggestions on how to finesse the SS/Medicare issue. I have a friend whose suggestion is to hand out guns with one bullet each and the admonition to “do the right thing”, but I don’t see that one happening either:-P.

                • Since, from the stories I have read, one can’t even reject one’s SS payments on the grounds that you don’t need them, yeah.

                  Now, if either those stories are incorrect, or that has changed, maybe there is some hope.

                  I have been howling for years that they should be raising the retirement age (I think that the retirement age for my age group – I’m 49 – should be at least 75), but they won’t do it. There was so much wailing and gnashing of teeth when they raised it two freakin’ years that they won’t try again until it all crashes and burns.

                  • we’ve practically doubled life spans. Yes, we should be raising retirement age.

                  • One proposal I’ve read is to increase the age of eligibility by one year for every two years that pass. It would be a gradual solution as eventually the age of eligibility would exceed everyone’s lifespan, and then the program could be closed down.

                    Unfortunately, it would still cost quite a bit, and the money would still have to come from the young and poor (kinda like Obamacare!). If anyone would bother to try to educate the young voters on the issue, then you might be able to get the young to override the AARP vote, but that’s a very iffy proposition.

                    Of course if being “in charge” means I get to be God/Emperor, then all bets are off:-D.

                • The only thing to do is a poverty-level dole. Sorry. We can’t let people starve when government fleecing prevented many of them from saving. BUT we also can’t go on with this forever.

                  • William O. B'Livion

                    Piffle.

                    The only thing to do is cut them off completely and funnel the money that WOULD have been given to them (and *ONLY* that much money) to local charitiable organizations who provide food and housing.

          • The federal government was originally supported mostly by the excise taxes on imports and exports. This is fine, except for issues with how do you value various products and how do you make sure someone is going to tell the truth on what they are importing or exporting. But why offset? Adding bureaucracy on top of bureaucracy costs more than just abolishing the original rules that are hurting people.

      • A useful, but not always easy, book on this is Douglas A Irwin, “Peddling Protectionism” about the Smoot-Hawley tarriff and the US and world economies. It’s a short book but useful as a case study of a tarriff that probably did more harm than good.

  8. In the UK in the 19th century there was a lot of overlap between unions, friendly societies, the co-operative movement and so on. I think what you are describing is much more along the lines of a friendly and/or co-op. These sorts of organizations had an honorable history but were mostly put out of business by national government mandating things like social security, pensions and the wonderful NHS that took over a lot of their raison d’etre.

    I think there’s considerable merit in such an organization – or indeed organizations – being formed for (indie) creative types. Were I not busier than a very busy thing I’d set one up. What you need I think is the following
    1) Legal contract advice
    2) “Writer beware” service listing shady publishers, agents, lawyers …
    3) Group healthcare
    4) Pension plan (401k …)
    5) Lobbying/marketing/PR on relevant issues (e.g. copyright reform, abusive contracts, …)

    Se the thing up as charity or non-profit and you might even manage to get non artists to donate services as a tax writeoff

    • Well, SFWA does indeed fund (and provide insurance for) Writer Beware. A couple of other writers’ associations have joined in.

      And there is the Emergency Medical Fund, with loans. (Chiefly used for high deductibles.)

      • I know, those bits of the SFWA seem to make sense

        • Though writer Beware NEVER goes after the “legitimate” publishers, even when they should.

          • Unless the case against a given publisher is slam-dunk (and sometimes even if it is) an organization risks a serious defamation suit from any publisher warned against.

            Further, any “Writer Beware” notices would have to cope with the fact that “standard industry practice” pretty much ensures that publishers can get away with (metaphorical) murder so long as they all agree to similarly screw writers — their refusal to kiss doesn’t constitute a warnable condition if none of them kiss their writers.

            • Maybe they just need to change the name from Writer Beware to Notification to Authors and Writers, NOTAS. It should protect you from defamation suits because you’re not warning anyone, implying that the terms in question are bad, you’re simply pointing them out in a value-neutral manner. You can also list out standard industry practices as well as, most importantly, exceptions to those standards.

            • Truthful statements of practices and contract terms as reported to them would not create defamation liability.

              The late A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss did do some good work. They were focused on the more overtly fraudulent conduct of the scam publishers.

              The conduct of the mainstream was obviously outside their mandate, but regardless would have required greater resources than they had.

              The conflict that arises when a practicing author(s) attempt to hold the industry accountable ought to be obvious.

    • Also, they spoke to Congress during the orphan copyrights question. They were literally the only representatives of the original producers of copyrighted stuff.

  9. I refuse to join any organization that would have me as a member …

  10. My opinions on unions are unprintable, at least as regards their present configurations. Leaving those aside, they stagnate the market they ‘protect’ damaging the businesses that employ them, the society they live in and the workers they represent. In the end, this appears to be the result of all protectionist schemes. They control for the status quo and solidify models that become outdated. Or else they try to skew to models that don’t and can’t exist. SFWA is doing both. Because they’re really smart and extra-special-doubly concerned about the plight of…whomever.

    The current egregious climate of big publishing worsens the trend. They hope to limit the market to their own extra-stupendous selves and then their customer (Big Pub, of course) will recognize them and reward them and candy and flowers and kittys.

    Voluntary, independent and fluid associations are a much better way to go. This right here is one. Slightly more formal organizations ought evolve in time. I’ve mulled over structures for such, from time to time. The key of course is responsive and fluid. When they lose that they should be reorganized and abandoned.

    In my mulling one of the things I come back to: avoid formalized validation of product. No awards or contests or whatnot. It invites gaming and politicking. Leave those to third parties. Next…

  11. No time to go into detail at the moment, but I could provide a little insight into the recent Boeing Contract vote – The short being, it was a REALLY bad deal, and everything you’ve read in the press is wrong.

    • Well, the part about the press being wrong does not surprise me at all, for some reason.

    • Was it a worse deal that “We’re building them in South Carolina. You’re fired. Good luck.”?

      • Personally, I’m betting on Long Beach.
        But nobody’s getting fired.

        And whoever does get the jobs they will be thankful that we didn’t screw them over by taking that extension. More in the next comment.

        • No sane company is going to relocate to CA.

          • They already own a huge plant in Long Beach where the C-17 is built, but that program is shutting down in a few years. Opening it there will keep that experienced workforce going.

        • So instead of the people making the decision on the contract having to live with the consequences, some poor kid is going to be staying in his parent’s basement rather than starting his carreer.

          Not seeing much to make me think better of unions.

    • I’d be very interested to hear more details when you do have a bit more time.

      And I second TXRed’s total lack of surprise that the press could get something completely wrong. I still remember this bit from CNN:

      “While a standard engine is powered by a belt connected to the crankshaft, a turbo engine runs on its own exhaust steam, making it more energy efficient.”

      • When Boeing merged with Douglas, Boeing inherited a lot of upper management that hated the unions, and what was previously a decent working relationship went to hell. And ever since they’ve been looking for ways to fit the mold liberals have of greedy capitalists screwing the workers.

        Among the bad points for the union members, an end to the pension that was one of the best features of the agreement. Boeing was one of the last traditional manufacturing companies where if you gave them your entire working life, they would take care of you in your old age. (Although one stat I heard is that the average Boeing retiree only lasts about 7 years – it is not a healthy place). They promised to replace it with a Boeing-paid savings plan that would get 4% of your salary (with a bit of frontloading in the first few years). Even by their generous estimates, this would not replace the pension, and could go poof in a stock crash, and if you DID live a long time, it could easily run out. I fear being 85 and broke. You would also end up tripling or more what you paid for health insurance. Also the agreement would limit the negotiated general wage increases to 1% every other year. (Compare that to what teachers regularly get.)

        On the plus side there was…. nothing. They’d hire some more guys under new terms that would really hose them. Oh, and the state had a special session promising an 11 cent or so gas tax increase for “Transportation” which meant they would piss it all down the light rail rat-hole more than likely.

        The new hires would really get screwed. A current machinist starts at about half of his pay grade’s pay rate, maybe less. A typical Grade 4 Machinist starts at $15/hr, (What they think burger flippers should make in Seattle these days – don’t get me started). Every 6 months, as he learns his trade, he gets a 50 cent increase. Until after 6 years, they finally jump him up to full pay (Currently $35.25. The local Boat dealerships depend on this day of “Maxing out.”).

        The new hires, they get the same starting pay, and the same 50 cent bumps. But they don’t max out, so reaching the maximum for their pay grade will take them 14-16 years or so. And remember, instead of racking up years of service for a Pension, they get 4% if this reduced amount into a retirement account, with no frontloading, so their retirement benefits are significantly reduced, plus they have the increased health insurance fees. All those new 777X machinists would be really better off with a job in Retail or something.

        I actually really like my job, even with some of the frustrating management edicts that get in the way of doing it. But I also realize it’s a very dangerous place. There’s a guy who lost both his legs when a 787 under tow rolled over him. Another guy got crushed inside the spoilers of a 747, but he was saved, and after 2 months on a ventilator, his ribs healed enough he could breathe on his own again. Another young fellow died after falling from the platform in the paint hangar. I work with terrible chemicals and extreme physical forces in awkward and cramped spaces every day. The idea that they should cheap out on paying the people who put up with these risks when the company’s stock has doubled in the last three years is absurd. There is no reason for this kind of worker hostility from the management, but there is no choice these days but to have an adversarial relationship, and that’s sad.

        (As for the national union, they didn’t care if the Local got screwed, there’d be more dues paying members, countering the trend of declining union enrollment. There’s some friction there that doesn’t make the news either.)

        • The reason why Boeing is one of the last companies that offer a defined-benefit pension is because with increased longevity defined-benefit pensions simply don’t make economic sense. Boeing can get away with it because they only have one competitor, and Airbus probably spends far more on pensions, but Airbus also enjoys substantial government subsidies, which mean that Boeing has to cut costs wherever it can to stay competitive. Frankly. I’d rather have the money in my own account under my own control so that I know how much I have for retiremeent. Pendion fund managers aren’t exactly paragons of competence or virtue, ask anyone in Detroit.

          I work in the shipward across the sound from you, I know all about working in a dangerous environemnt. And if someone thinks that $16/hr is enough compensation for the risks he is undertaking, I’m not arrogant enough to tell him he’s wrong. If Boeing can’t find enough people willing to take those risks at a given wage, they’ll raise the wages until they do.

          • That strategy would result in a lot of employee turnover, which will degrade the quality of the workforce, and degrade the quality of the product, and Boeing’s reputation for excellent aircraft is the main reason it can still beat Airbus, barely, in the market. It’s a very short-sighted strategy in this industry, which is a very slow moving one.

            Labor is actually only a tiny fraction of Boeing’s expenses, and they are not hurting so bad that they have to totally screw over their current employees, and even further screw the future ones.

            But there are competitors coming up, at least in the Single Aisle (737) category, including one being built in China.

            Oh, and they recently leaked a memo of the demands that Boeing is making of the various places that want the program. Basically they want Free everything. Free site, Free facility, free transportation improvements, free workforce training, substantially or completely eliminated business taxes. They want to do to the states what they want to do to the employees.

            Oh, and the plan is to replace a lot of the 777X workers with automation too.

            • Manufacturers have known since Henry Ford’s day that increased wages can reduce turnover costs. Thanks to Obamanomics those turnover costs are much lower than they used to be. Who is going to leave a job, no matter how poorly paying, when unemployment is as high as it is?

              You’re also buying into the marxists’ idiocy in calling the new deal a screw job. Yes, it’s not as good as the deal you currently have, but it’s better than nothing. You have to properly identify the decision space, and the deal you currently have isn’t in it.

              Of course Boeing wants free everything, who doesn’t? It’s called a bargaining position. As you said, the 777X is going to be built, and it’s Boeing’s job to build it as cheaply as possible. That means cutting costs wherever they can. If they can get some place to give them free everything to do it, then that benefits me in lower airfares down the pike (or higher return on Boeing and airline stock). Would I support giving them free everything to build here in Bremerton? Hell, no. But I don’t fault them for asking.

              • They’re getting a crappy return on investment by cheaping out on Labor. South Carolina workers get maybe 75% at best of what the workers in Everett get, so yeah, it’s cheaper for Boeing… Except their output is half, and their quality is such that the top tier customers like ANA refuse to have any planes that are built there. They have to move them at a significant discount to their tier carriers like Air India and China Southern.

                Were this not the internet, I would call you out for accusing me of Marxism.

                And I’m sorry, but yes, the deal for new employees is a screw job, since they will be paid less for the same work as someone else at the same factory. Especially when they find out “This guy was hired a month before me, we’ve been here six years, and he’s now making $35 an hour and I’m only making $21?”

                • “And I’m sorry, but yes, the deal for new employees is a screw job, since they will be paid less for the same work as someone else at the same factory. Especially when they find out “This guy was hired a month before me, we’ve been here six years, and he’s now making $35 an hour and I’m only making $21?”

                  But it is an up front screw job, if the employee does his homework (which he should) he knows what he is getting going in. It isn’t like they are changing his contract midstream. I don’t have a problem with that, the employee makes his choice on whether to go to work for that wage, knowing he will get $.50 per year raises with no balloon raise. I don’t have a problem with them not offering them a pension plan either, although I do have a problem with them taking away pension plans from employees that were promised them going in. It all boils down to the contract, write it however you want, I will choose to sign it or not, if I think you are foregoing using any lube I’m not being forced to work for you, so it is a consensual screwing. Changing terms previously agreed on is an entirely different matter.

  12. SFWA is, IMO, the perfect example of a ‘Sweetheart’ union – whose prime purpose is defend the employer from the laborers, from other unions, and the employer from competition. Few groups of highly skilled workers (good writers are highly skilled) are as badly ripped off and gouged as writers have been. SFWA had to exist and had to allow the employers to be members (which is just ridiculous) and into all their internal discussions, to be an effective ‘sweetheart’ because the situation was over-ripe for the writers to actually do something about it. It is exceptionally telling – if you question my analysis above – that Amazon has improved working conditions and pay, and provided many of the things that SFWA should have fought for – Bookscan data for one example, 3 monthly settlement, continuous live access to sales for two more – and yet remains the ONLY reputable retailer or publisher attacked and boycotted by SFWA.

  13. OT (but left of center): Nelson Mandela has died at age 95.

  14. “a mutual beneficial support organization is not without merit.”

    Like the Moose Lodges used to be.

    Maybe call it “The Loyal Order of the Fithp”.

  15. I put this idea in my stories, High Rail Breakdown and The Ombudsman: A Guild which consists of a certifying authority for both employees and vendors. Each member is rated at Apprentice, Journeyman, Master, and Doctor levels. Rating is acquired by the production of some tangible demonstration of workmanship, e.g. a masterpiece is required in order to be a Master. Each employer is rated in terms of Safety Record (we’re talking about space mining and prospecting companies here) and Reliability (i.e. likelihood that paychecks will bounce). Members also submit to psych evaluations to ascertain suitability to deep-space or near-earth operations.

    In my future history, EarthGov eventually corrupts the Spacers Guild, but by then the best Spacers have decamped for greener pastures.

    I have thought of creating a real-life programmers guild that provides similar functions–but more along the lines of a legal partnership with senior & junior partners. But making a fictional Spacers Guild is a lot easier.

    • There might be such certifications in my future world.

      Of course, there is also a reliable truth detector. And in the societies where I set my story, frequent recourse is made to it. Indeed, annually, people attest under it that they have not committed any crimes — including falsifying such certification.

  16. I’m perfectly happy to see unions left alone. People have a right to associate. I just don’t want government putting its thumb in the scale on behalf of them.

    I’m talking private sector unions, of course. Public sector unions are unionizing people who are supposed to be working for me. Plus they invariably involve massive political corruption. Ban them and lower their leaders by inches into boiling oil.

  17. I spent years working in a heavily unionized field (entertainment). Most entertainment unions are closed shops, where you need to be invited to join and then you pay dues and an ‘initiation fee’ that outweighs any benefits for at least a year or two. Non-union workers did benefit from the negotiated rates and practices of the unions since most employers started with the standard union contract terms, and downgraded them. I think that of all the currently unionized industries, entertainment is still exploitative enough to need unions to protect workers who are not capable of protecting themselves. Over the last 25 plus years I’ve worked with and alongside the entertainment unions, and members of the biggies like the UAW, IBEW, and other construction trade unions as well.

    Now, here, I’m going to make some folks angry. (Not trolling, really.)

    I think (and I’ve given this a LOT of thought over the years) that unions are mostly attractive to people who (perhaps unconsciously) think or know that they are losers. They feel powerless, and are not willing to take control of or responsibility for their own careers. Why else would you accept TINY guaranteed increases in pay, handed out over YEARS? In most cases, we’re talking about PENNIES. If you thought of yourself as capable, valuable, resourceful– a winner, why would you settle for so little? After my initial exposure to the field, I could consistently ask for and GET much better than union pay rates and working conditions. I worked for people and companies that valued MY INDIVIDUAL efforts. I wasn’t thought of or treated as just one of many identically skilled (or unskilled) warm bodies, to be plugged into a job. I was a rock star at my job. If you are going to spend a huge part of your waking life in a job, shouldn’t you at least _aspire_ to being a rock star at it? Shouldn’t your compensation be determined by YOUR abilities and efforts? Unions _hold their members BACK_. They keep you at your current level, slow your advance in your career, and decrease your ability to change employers or jobs. Work rules are designed so you do “this much and no more.” You are punished for ‘over-performing.” They protect and enshrine the least competent workers, which should be demoralizing and insulting to anyone who IS competent.

    Beyond that, they distort the free market, and lead to companies making short term decisions that are not in anyone’s long term interests. The hypocrisy of the union leadership (like Communist party leadership) living large off the work of the people they are supposedly ‘helping’ contributes to the erosion of faith in public organizations and people. The MASSIVE amounts of political power that comes from the huge amount of money collected from members distort and corrupt government and elections.

    I could go on, but this post is too long already.

    Writers and other creative people who seek to excel and succeed individually should NEVER want a union. At best, what you could use is a “mutual support and welfare society.” An association of individuals that would give the benefits of a group without limiting the opportunity of individuals could give group buying power for legal services, insurance, etc. Architects have done it, as have self-employed people. Many professions have something similar (Drs, engineers, attorneys) without being a union. The biggest difference being that unions want to limit and control what their members do, associations want to expand and encourage what their members do.

    BTW, I am beginning to see one way that another alternative to unionizing for support is developing already. I see it in the blogosphere. I see it with Larry C and his book bombs for authors who are suffering from hardship, or need a hand up. I see it on the gun blogs when someone has a medical emergency. I saw it in the writerly blogs when (forgot her name) made her post about sexual assault at cons. I see online communities of ‘like minded individuals’ reach out to support their own.

    Blogs and online communities, indy publishing, and indy financing (Kickstarter) are changing the nature of creative business and the lives and work of creative individuals. It makes sense to me that the solution to problems of supporting writers and other creatives will come out of this new world, and not the old world of the unions, and labor organizing.

    Whew, that’s a lot. My thanks to our gracious host for the venue and freedom to share my thoughts 🙂

    zuk

    • No need to be reticent, let us know how you feel. 😀

      By the way, I don’t know if people join unions because they think they’re losers. But unions go a long way toward making them (act like, at least) losers. The incentives are in all the wrong places.

    • I find your ideas intriguing and wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

      Ace’s theory (and I think it has a lot of merit) is that a union’s power base is the barely competent worker. That worker knows he would be fired in a free labor market, so they vehemently (and, if necessary, violently) support the union. The union, in turn, works to protect the barely competent, even at the expense of their better-performing members.

      I, for one, feel no need for a union. If I felt that my employer was abusing me, I’d simply quit. I’m confident that I can find another job. There would be sacrifices invovled, but nothing I wouldn’t be willing to make.

      • I am not sure I agree that a union’s power base is the barely competent worker. Or rather, I suspect that by supporting the barely competent worker, the union effectively drives out (discourages) more competent workers. Think of it as Gresham’s Law as applied to labor.

    • William O. B'Livion

      I think that of all the currently unionized industries, entertainment is still exploitative enough

      It’s full of progressives. Of course it is.

      to need unions to protect workers who are not capable of protecting themselves.

      Yeah, because one has a GOD GIVEN RIGHT to be in the entertainment industry (unless one is conservative or ugly) and we have to protect those people.

      • Will O, you correctly point out the no one has a right to work in any industry, and of course, I’ve advocated for and USED the worker’s ‘nuclear option’ which is to leave. The free market then fills the position with someone who _will_ work under the conditions and pay offered. Unfortunately, repeat this cycle often enough, and you end up with virtual or real slavery.

        I was part of this very scenario on a movie of the week, many years ago. When conditions exceeded my personal threshold for acceptable, and I couldn’t change anything from within, I left. Others, who made the personal decision that for economic reasons they could not leave, stayed. It was a decision that very nearly cost them their lives. One spent several weeks in the hospital after being electrocuted. When the production was “organized” and the union came in, working conditions and wages both improved. Wage increases were more than offset by dues and initiation fees however.

        So yeah, I think everyone should want to be, and strive to be, a rock star in their field. Not everyone can be, though, and not every employer needs or wants rock stars. Those employers, if they are inclined that way, will act to get as much out of the employees as possible. The employees in that situation (individually) have few options, mainly stay or leave. Most employers see the benefit of treating employees well (or at least not actively badly.) Some do not. For the ones who don’t, then a natural consequence seems to be employees banding together.

        Jerry Pournelle, a man who I admire for his books and his thinking on a broad range of subjects has “said for many years that unrestricted capitalism leads to the sale of human flesh in the public markets” and I believe that to be true. Since I don’t WANT to live in a world where this happens, I accept that there should be restrictions. Unions are one of those.

        That doesn’t mean that I LIKE unions, or what they have done to the USA. I don’t think they are good for anyone who wants to individually excel. I do acknowledge that in certain instances, and certain industries, the actions of the union really do improve life for their members, and society at large.

        zuk

  18. “I, for one, feel no need for a union. If I felt that my employer was abusing me, I’d simply quit. I’m confident that I can find another job. There would be sacrifices invovled, but nothing I wouldn’t be willing to make.”

    Yup, I’ve done just this. Walked away. I was younger and single, so it was admittedly easier for me than it would be for most people.

    Happened again recently, only this time I’ve got a spouse and kids.

    When my last work situation became abusive, I left. It took a couple of years of bad management decisions to finally bring it to a head but finally the effects on my family were too big to ignore or work around. Fortunately we had been very financially conservative, and my wife has a good job she likes doing.

    Not everyone can just quit. I know that many people are just barely making it and can’t miss a paycheck without serious real world consequences. And I’d say “fix that.” It’s possible. It takes time and discipline and hard work but you can do it. The alternative is slavery. And there isn’t even any security in that anymore.

    I do see the attraction of a union for some people. Especially those that are only moderately competent (or completely incompetent). But the only one who really cares about you is YOU, so if you give over control of your career to someone else, you have to acknowledge that they are going to care about themselves more than you. And they will likely put their own interests ahead of yours.

    Kristine Kathryn Rusch goes into this in some detail in her Business Rusch posts about agents and lawyers. (Her posts are specifically aimed at writers, but most of the advice is widely applicable to any freelancer. I spent years freelancing and find her posts incredibly valuable.)

    Anyway, I believe that everyone is the best judge of his own best interests, (coming from the right side of the political spectrum), and so at least part of my dislike of unions is the assumption that they know better what is best for me.

    zuk

    BTW, please no one get the wrong impression, that I think only incompetent people work in or support unions. I know and respect a great many people who excel in their chosen work who are members. My WIFE still carries a card, although she no longer works directly in that field. I just think that a union is the absolute LAST place anyone whose success comes from their individual effort should be.

    • Yep, I’ve walked away from jobs, too. Jobs that I hated, or felt that management’s goals and practices were not ones that I could live with – or endure. Been fired, too – and had one employer go out of business and I was the one to see to closing the office and turning off the lights.
      One of the ones that I hated the most, though – I didn’t realize that there was a ton of paid days off that I never took while I worked for them. I figured that once I gave my notice and walked, I’d never have anything from them again. Bless their little corporate cotton socks, I had a check for those unpaid days for a couple of months afterwards. Which I had never expected at all.
      Still makes me faintly ill to drive down the street by their worksite, though.

  19. That sounds like a very nice surprise.

    Funny how long it takes to get over a bad job. It’s worse in some ways than a bad relationship.

    z