Recession. The Good Fortune Of Harley-Davidson And Of Its Investors

harleytattooBefore you read and formulate comments, let me mention that this post is not to criticize or to take side with Harley-Davidson unions. As a matter of fact I think that they can make very fair or very unfair requests. The following is an observation that all of you can make just by watching TV. Since our economy went down the tube, almost each time a major public corporation announces a reduction of labor its stock price goes up, for some of them even reaching a 52-week new high. Shareholders applaud a leaner company because lower labor costs make it more profitable. And in a recession like this one, there is no foreseeable risk that the company is going soon to suffer from being under staffed and consequently miss sales and market shares.

This explains these last months exceptional stock price gains we saw day after day in Wall Street. The scaling down is possible only because organized labor has never been in such a weak position. Many large corporations consider that unions are a thorn in their side. A feeling extremely strong in the automotive industry. High wages, concessions for more benefits are very often negotiated using the constant threat of a strike. Look at what’s happening in York, PA the largest Harley-Davidson plant. Union’s current labor contracts are about to expire and Harley needs labor flexibility to ride the recession and prepare for better days. Harley threatens to close the plant, publicizes its multi-state search for another location where the company can start fresh, building the exact infrastructure they need for today’s market and hiring a new labor force starving for work to which the management will very easily impose its working conditions.

No more of “I am a welder, I will not do any assembly work”, etc. As I reported last week, Harley proposed to the York plant unions a last chance tentative agreement. They must agree on December 2nd. I didn’t read it but 2 people I know did. In substance, here the York proposed deal “shut up or we close up”. Any room for negotiations? Not much. Don’t forget that Harley-Davidson has for priority to support its stock price. If the Milwaukee company needs more investment money its stock value will be the key factor in getting what is perceived as needed. Unemployment is such that large corporations can now strike back at their unions. Since my opinion is that the economy just began its very slow recovery and that I see an expansion at this very slow pace during the next few years, I really wonder if unions are not already and for a long time just ghost labor organizations. For the best or the worst. Belonging or not to an union, what do you think?

51 Responses to “Recession. The Good Fortune Of Harley-Davidson And Of Its Investors”

  1. 1 Patrick R. Nov 28th, 2009 at 3:17 pm

    It is true that unions have created a lot of problems at the same time that they defended workers. Now the only rule is shut up if you want a job.

  2. 2 Sam Nov 28th, 2009 at 5:58 pm

    The Unions need to stop being so greedy. They collect too much from workers & spend too much on political contributions. SEIU Boss Andy Stern has openly bragged about the SEIU’s $61 million investment in Barack Obama. Where did all that money come from? Maybe if all that money went to the workers, the companies they work for could be more profitable?

    “Getting more and more pay for less and less work is a dead-end street.”
    Walter Reuther, former head of the United Automobile Workers

  3. 3 Dave Blevins Nov 28th, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Labor unions are dinosaurs, there is no longer a need, (hasn’t been for many years), for their existence. There are agentcies (OSHA, NIOSH, IMSHA, EPA, etc) now in place to help protect workers from hazardous working conditions, and enforce fair hiring practices.
    A union worker is paying dues and taxes, only to be poorly represented by either the union or the government… at least if you aren’t paying union dues you will only be paying for one bad representative instead of two.

  4. 4 Roadside Marty Nov 28th, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Dave makes a valid point but most companies only want to pay the least amount so that their bottom line is bigger, makes sense in a Capitalist society while unions have their strong and weak points they do insure that their members earn at least a living wage..are their abuses? ABSOLUTELY!! Are their lazy,unmotivated “members”? ABSOLUTELY!! much as I hate to say this, if management is against it, then it has to be a benefit to the employees! Unions are still needed but they can certainly be improved upon! Roadside

  5. 5 Scott Nov 28th, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    The need for unions has waned in recent years. We must not forget the good they have done for the working class. Everyone has enjoyed some of the benefits of a unionised work force. I have worked in both union and non-union environments. Both have advantages that the other doesn’t enjoy. My only concern of a union free future is the reintroduction of antiquated ways. We all know that corporate America does not pay high wages to the shop floor employees out of the kindness in their hearts. While the government has bureaucratic agencies to protect us the sanctions imposed by them are for the most part minimal for environmental and safety infractions.

  6. 6 Mike Nov 29th, 2009 at 2:43 am

    Some people don’t get it.

    If your job is to sweep floors, you do not deserve $60k a year. If you are sweeping floors, it’s probably because you didn’t pay attention in school, never learned anything, never had any motivation to do a good job or be a good worker, and now your only shot at making good money is to band together with others and extort money from the company.

    We don’t need to encourage people to be assembly line workers. We need to encourage them to be engineers and scientists and such. There’s nothing wrong with being a laborer… but the simple fact of todays world is that sitting on an assembly line putting on lug nuts is not a middle-class job, so expecting it to pay for a middle-class lifestyle means you’re making more than you’re worth.

    You can only do that for so long until the company lays you off, or outsources your job.

    People whine all the time about outsourcing… UAW workers costing $75hr make it reaalllly attractive to outsource.

    IMO, union workers have nobody to blame but themselves.

  7. 7 AL Nov 29th, 2009 at 7:22 am

    Well its obvious to me that most of you are not union labor and are still living in the past. Modern union plants are not ran this way. For the past 5 years we have a “no strike” clause in our contracts so this is not an option. We have journeyman electricians that check part quality. There are no maintenance crews, the teams run their own lines and maintain them. As far as $60,000 floor sweepers, give me a break this work has been contracted out to $8 an hour people long ago. As far as your own personal wages well you can thank the unions for that because the unions have raised the rate for there members which in turn raise the level even outside the union. Chances are there is a union tradesperson in every family and we can all relate to them but this is a modern era not the Henry Ford Days.

  8. 8 Roadside Marty Nov 29th, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Well put Al! My father was a union Sheet Metal Worker for over 35 years and the union was very good to my family in the regard that he made an hourly wage that included COLA (cost of living allowance) as well as raises for higher learning. As far as the $60,000 a year floor sweeper job is concerned…GIVE ME A BREAK!! Once again Al hit it, those ridiculous positions have been eliminated long ago,most unions out there have trimmed the fat off of their organizations so that that type of abuse is gone. I’m certainly not one of these wealth envy people but it’s nice to make a decent wage and like it or not a collective bargaining presence somewhat guarantees this..just my two cents..Roadside

  9. 9 Cade Nov 29th, 2009 at 9:44 am

    Problem with unions is Hussian Obama.

  10. 10 Matt Nov 29th, 2009 at 10:17 am

    I am a non-union worker, and have never worked in one. I also have no opinion, positive or negative, regarding unions. I do have friends that make $16+/hr working as “fire watch” in a pipe fitters union. Their job is to stand next to the welders, hand them supplies, and make sure nothing catches on fire. I’m very happy for my friends that they have well paying jobs, but I also think they are overpaid for what they do!

  11. 11 Mike Kiwi Tomas, Kiwi Indian Motorcycles Nov 29th, 2009 at 10:46 am

    There is a balance and over the years there have been some union abuses. And to be fair I hate seeing employees making concessions and next thing we hear the company executives paying themselves millions of dollars in bonus’. In the good times when 1 of the big 3 automotive companies negotiated a new labor contract the others adopted that agreement. Both GM and Chrysler employees made concessions with the recent economic nuclear melt down. Fords employees now refuse to have any part of negotiating down. On the other hand I’m not for seeing employees make concessions only to hear down the road of all the exec bonus’. Then there are the unionized workers at the ports. Out west namely LA just a few years ago they held the country hostage with their strike. I had friends ship 16 vintage bikes from Australia who were caught up in the strike and the bikes were held hostage in that feasco. These visitors arrived only to see their dreams fade away. For some it was a once in a lifetime trip ruined by unions. This instance was not good public relations by the union.

  12. 12 BikerMarc Nov 29th, 2009 at 11:17 am

    Unionization = Socialism. Neither gets the best out of people. Both are licenses for justifying mediocrity.
    The best thing that could happen to Harley-Davidson is to reorganize its workforce so that they can keep manufacturing in America and keep employing hard working Americans. Otherwise, and very unfortunately, the company will take manufacturing to another country. There will be no choice. The times, they are a-changin’. Unions need to change like everything else.


  13. 13 union steamfitter Nov 29th, 2009 at 11:58 am

    I work for Local 72 in Atlanta,Ga. Shockingly, I go to work every day, work hard, and make welds that will be x-rayed for integrity, not to mention my pipefitting. Once I’ve failed an x-ray or 2, I’m gone. People need to Understand that most Unions have similar goals, we all have many and varied ways of achieving those goals. The UAW is NOT representative of all Unions.I went through a 5yr apprenticeship to make good money and I still don’t make that kind of scratch. I certainly don’t always agree with the decisions made by my Local and we’re not blind to the fact that Capitalism makes us more competitive to survive. We win work because we provide a drug free, skilled, well trained workforce. Sure, there are exceptions and it’s possible to lose your book (right to work for the local) and/or pension should you forget how to be a good employee. 60K floor sweeper?!?!?! Where do I sign up??I would further suggest you guys research the UAW a little more as well, they’ve given up much and that’s a big bunch of people to generalize about. Toyota has a UAW plant BTW.

  14. 14 just my opinion Nov 29th, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Unions have done some good for people but there is the other side of the coin. Union contracts generally say that at quiting time their workers do not have to stay and finish the job. I have personally seen times when a worker could have stayed just five minutes and finished but his union would prefer him to drive a half hour tomorrow getting to the job and another half hour back home than to allow the worker to have stayed the five minutes to finish. Why? Time equals money and more time means more money for the union and the worker. There are those times when that sinario causes the product to fail, If it takes an extra minute or two to place a needed nut or bolt or nail that does not get done because the union workers “work agreement” said he is to leave his job on time. That nail,bolt or nut is left out and later could and often times does cause failure. Union workers also have a tendancy to be lazier than their non union counterparts because they know that the union will fight to keep their job for them. And why you may ask would the union do that? Because the union gets money for every hour the employee works. If the worker works as fast and effectively as he or she can the job takes less time. Less time equals less money for the workers and the unions.Lazy workers take longer to do the job. More time equals more money.You could bet everything you have that if a union contract said they had to finish a job in X amount of time or finish free of charge they would work faster. But their contracts always state X amount of dollars per hour on the job. If there is a finish by date it is not bond by a certain amount of hours. I had worked in the construction industry for 27 years and have seen many examples of union abuses of time. As a subcontractor we always said if you get to old to earn a honest living you join a union. We used to call the union workers. ” Wonder Bread the eight hour loafs.” Remember in the case of high prices in cars,trucks and Harley’s and construction the unions have played a major roll in making those items so expensive. I am not trying to offend anyone with these comments just telling things as I have seen them happen.

  15. 15 tattooeddmike Nov 29th, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    I’ll keep this short as I can, ….. I am pro-union, and damn proud of it. I’ve worked most of my life as a union worker, and it has afforded me to give my family some quality of life and without having to work two or three jobs. I do however work midnights, weekends, and overtime goes to those people who have seniority and as such I don’t get the chance to make the extra monies to buy the toys or parts I would like to have for the bikes. On the plus side I grateful for the chance to own and enjoy my American bikes of my choosing as well as my British machine. I know that some who read this will feel compelled to find some kind of fault with my note, and it is your privilege to do so, (opinions and such), but realize that without people making the kind of monies union work affords, most of us would be hard pressed to buy the bikes and parts we need to keep our machines on the road. One of the reasons most of us fab our own parts or do our own work is simply out of economics, or at least starts out that way. I am a member of the Teamsters Local 710 out of Chicago and know that they endorsed that main democrap in office, but he was not my choice.
    However, as of present it is still a free country for the time being and hope we can get through the tough economic times to enjoy our bikes, riding, shows as well as events. My best to all, weather we agree or not.

  16. 16 Unions? Yeah right Nov 29th, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    In my opinion, as an employer, every union employee that ever crossed my path after moving from any union job was in it for all they could get. The one time I hired a supposed “machinist” he was nothing better than an inept button pusher, yet had the audacity to ask for $17/hr. I’ve got talented employees who are happy to have their job and have worked their way through the ranks. Frequent, unrequested raises, paid holidays, full bennies, and no attitude and no “my Daddy’s gonna come beat you up” mentality…PERIOD.

    Sure there are plenty of good folks in there, but the status quo has dictated that most are lazy…let me repeat LAZY…and looking for a handout because they pay a due. Now that’s just plain stupid, and contradictory to the capitalism we all strive for. If you want it, earn it….learn it, and work for it…don’t go crying because somebody called bullshit on your laziness.

    I have friends that worked unions, and all have since left, realizing the money was not going in their pocket, or at the least…the “guaranteed” wage they received just made it convenient for them to always have money to pay their dues. Last I checked…that was just shy of extortion.

  17. 17 Jeff Nicklus Nov 29th, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    All I have to say is this: If ever my employees were to vote a Union into my business, the very next morning after the election, I would walk in and with a very large smile on my face I would fire everyone in the building and close the business. The day following my termination frenzy I would be found kicked back on a beach in the islands with a Giant Dewars and Soda in my hand never to worry about another employee!

    As you might have guessed I hate unions and the typically lazy, non-caring, only out for themselves extortionists that seem to inhabit unions! Talk about an organized crime unit … that is all a union is!

    Just my 2 cents worth.

    Over & Out,


  18. 18 Chopper Kid Nov 29th, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    Dang Nicklus, I would have never thought you to be one that would generalize in such an unfair way.

    If corp. appreciated their workforce like the small business owners, the unions my have never been born, but we all know in the beginning some people valued money more and had money at number one.
    Unions are in place where they need to be.
    There are all types of people in all types of positions and that will never change.
    If you believe that there is power in numbers than is hard to argue the basis behind unions.
    Unions are only as good as their membership.
    I have worked in both union and non-union shops and there are honorable hard working honest people, and lazy people in both, there is those kiss ass people and bosses that have their favorites not always chosen by work ethic. I think unions are great and should be embraced by people. To have 100% unity for goal is an outstanding accomplishment. !!!

  19. 19 Jeff Nicklus Nov 29th, 2009 at 9:02 pm

    Chopper Kid,

    Are you guys a Union Shop?

    ……….”I have worked in both union and non-union shops and there are honorable hard working honest people, and lazy people in both”………..

    You are absolutely correct; however, I have found that the lazy worthless group will eventually corrupt the group willing to do something. I have had a Union Iron Worker tell me once that “if my ass doesn’t earn me an hour’s wages daily I haven’t done my job.” … In other words he will hide out in the bathroom for at least an hour a day ….. that is honorable if I ever heard it.

    Over & Out,


  20. 20 carson Nov 29th, 2009 at 11:17 pm

    in the state of oklahoma you can be fired for the color of socks you wear on your day off. so if a union makes it a little more difficult to fire someone i’m all for them. i dont think an employer should have the right to fire you for anything except for monetary or job performance reasons. t think the most important thing a unon does is protect workers from unfare terminations. those of you who disagree must be business owners

  21. 21 J Nov 30th, 2009 at 2:41 am

    Unionization has always, and always will be, a pendulum in this country. As of now, we’re in a period where traditional unions don’t make much sense- despite the good intentions of most members, most major unions in this country operate on the basis of fear and corruption- that’s just fact.

    In a real free-market society, there is absolutely no need for any labor unions. However, we don’t have a free-market economy in this country, despite what all the politicians try to lead us to believe….

    Mr Huze hit it right on the head- the threat to close the York plant was very real, and will continue to be- this is also how free markets work;

    The solution is to QUIT WHINING, go out and DEVELOP REAL, MARKETABLE SKILLS, and demand your own price in a free market! The sooner this country gets out of this “entitlement” mentality, the better off we’ll be able to compete with the countries that are not weighed down with this ancient notion.

    I was promised nothing. I expect nothing. I begin every month at zero, and if I don’t produce, my kids don’t eat. It’s on ME, not my union delegate, to produce something for myself, and I accept and embrace that responsibility.

    Get rid of all of it- military pensions for goldbrickers, social security benefits for lazy scammers, and this notion that we are “promised” ANYTHING.

    Time to put on the big-boy pants. If Harley wants to move their operation to North Korea, then go ahead, be my guest; I guarantee you, there will be someone to step up to replace them- always has been in this country, always will!

  22. 22 Brian Nov 30th, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Unions, like many other organizations have a terrible reputation because of their management. It’s a big corporation. The management is out for itself and the members are at their mercy. There was a time when there was a need for labor unions. Just like there used to be a need for buggy whips. But that time is long gone.

  23. 23 cycleguy Nov 30th, 2009 at 10:03 am

    It’s no mystery why the middle class’s buying power has steadily declined over the last 30 years to the point we are today, a middle class that has a fraction of the buying power it had 25 years ago and heavily in debt.
    Union labor is even more important today than 30 years ago. The largest and most sustained economic growth in the history of the world was the US during the 40,s 50,s and 60,s, at that point 40% of workers were unionized, today it is less than 7%. 45% of tax revenues were corporate now they are less than 12%, top marginal tax rates of 70+%.
    A healthy economy is sustained by demand, demand is generated by wages, not low corporate overhead and profits. A perfect example is our current situation, wages are at an all time low (comparatively), productivity at an all time high, the lowest tax burden to corporations and the top 2% yet no demand.
    We better wake up and realize that the health of our middle class is the key to our success, not low corporate or low income taxes to the top 2%, or low worker wages, but just the opposite.

  24. 24 Jeff Nicklus Nov 30th, 2009 at 11:03 am


    Very, very well said! I would vote for you as President!

    Over & Out,


  25. 25 rebel Nov 30th, 2009 at 1:16 pm

    I say take all the warning labels off, stop ALL the social programs and stop ALL foreign aid until we can pay our own bills, and take care of your damned self and your family, stop making excuses, stop having babies you can’t support, and if you get married stay married and tough it out. Man what a pile of b.s. everything has turned into, oh yea, and i’ve ALWAYS (30+years) heard the union guys around me brag about how much they can layout and get away with and nothing can be done about it, maybe times are changing but the damage has been done. And change the world trade rules to one dollar in-one dollar out, see how fast that “deficit” number drops.

  26. 26 union steamfitter Nov 30th, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    As far as free market goes. It’s not unheard of for our Union contractors to beat the open shop guys on a bid. Capitalism exists for us as well despite what many seem to think. Two guys came into our local from the open shop environment and not made it because of their poor work ethic, however, they’re the exception. I’ve also learned a great deal from guys who’ve came into our local after spent several years learning the trade outside the Union.

  27. 27 just my opinion Nov 30th, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    The pro union people on here have shown just what is wrong with unions.

    Unions insure equal pay for everyone.

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but if I work more than the other guys I want more pay for doing so, That just seems fair to me. If a person does not want to work, that is his right to do so, but don’t expect me to pick up your slack without being paid more for doing so. The only workers that are worse than the union guys are the government workers.
    Sorry if this offends you but , It is what it is

    Jeff; You are 100% correct one lazy worker can infect the whole business. We call it cancer in our business. When one person is or becomes cancerous they are cut out fast before it spreads to the rest of the employees. The other side of that coin is we do give bonuses and more pay to those that deserve it.
    That, I believe is the American way.

  28. 28 just my opinion Nov 30th, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    One more fact for those still not convinced.

    If a worker slacks off for just 15 minutes a day.
    In a years time he has cheated his employer out of more than 60 hours work.

    That union iron worker Jeff talked to, he sits for an hour each day costing his employer 6 weeks pay each and every year. Over a twenty year span that equals more than two years he was paid for work he did not do. There is nothing honorable about that. Sounds like theft to me.

  29. 29 Dave C. Nov 30th, 2009 at 6:50 pm

    My wife is a teacher (union) and I am a self employed builder in the great (choke) state of NJ. There is certainly a time and place for unions. Some forms of regulation are necessary (think of your favorite monopoly). That being said, most union guys I know work way to slow for my taste, or they flood the market with out of work union guys taking work for cash. I can’t compete with that.

    As far as Harley goes, I will keep riding my pan so the future for Harley doesn’t worry me too much. I find the motor co. concerned with image too much and dealers are dealers. If you don’t want to buy a new bike then they have little interest in you. This is not anything new.

    Its all about balance.

  30. 30 nicker Nov 30th, 2009 at 10:02 pm

    J & Rebel just about nailed it.
    Union or non-union…… the time for slackers is over.
    Get it done or get out.


  31. 31 BOB Dec 1st, 2009 at 3:51 am

    I’m glad to see Harley dealing with the unions in this matter. It would be easy for them to just pack up and go to Mexico American workers are going to have to wake up. Look what the Unions have done to the auto industry. Way to go Harley!

  32. 32 Jeremy Dec 1st, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Another intelligent article by Cyril to start a useful debate. Unions were good but I think they belong to the past. Too much politics, too many abuses. Unions destroyed many corporations by creating paralysis and fear.

  33. 33 union steamfitter Dec 1st, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Mr Just My Opinion,

    I appreciate your right to your opinion but let me clear up something for you. The Union contract I work under dictates the “minimum” wage for a Journeyman, Apprentice, Helper, Laborer. The contractor is free to pay more and that often happens. Merit and work ethic do in fact, play a part; especially when the layoffs are necessary. My Union isn’t unique in this respect either. In fact, we’ve negotiated to freeze pay increases and to work certain jobs at a reduced rate of pay to stay competitive in the bidding process. Don’t let the facts get in the way of your “opinion” & I’d respectfully suggest you be a little more careful generalizing about such a large group of people.

  34. 34 just my opinion Dec 1st, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    Mr. union steamfitter ; As I said above, I was only telling of things I have personally seen in the past.
    I have not seen or read your contract but I have seen and read plenty in the past and most had a minimum for all workers as you said, but the contracts never said nothing about being able to cut pay for slackers. Represent or defend your union all you want. After all that is your right to do so. But I have seen the things I speak of, and you disagreeing with me will not change that truth. Like I said I was not trying to offend anyone but the truth hurts sometimes. And of course not all union workers are lazy but a large portion of them are and that is just a fact. The unions do protect lazy workers and that is one of the main reasons I don’t like unions. As I said above if I work harder and faster than you or someone else I want paid more for doing that extra work. I think that is fair. And that is the problem with unions they lump every worker in to the same mold.

  35. 35 gtlover Dec 1st, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    I’ve grown up non-union, and I manage a non-union shop and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Now, if I was responsible for 600 employees instead of 6, it would might be a different story. Organized labor and big business can indeed partner well together; and there is a history of both parties abusing their power to the detriment of the other. The most critical thing for everybody in an increasingly global economy is that labor becomes a commodity that can be “imported” or “outsourced” almost as easily as any other material or component. Is labor an interchangeable part? It depends on the product.

    Our primary responsibility, then, if we are loyal to our country, is to offer the best possible product – whether it is finished goods, raw materials, or simply labor and service. Employers are, in fact, customers of labor – union or otherwise, and if the customer is unhappy with the product they will go elsewhere. For many of us, providing quality service to our employers is nearly indistinguishable from providing quality service to the customers of our respective companies.

    Our secondary responsibility is to buy quality, and to seek a domestic source for it whenever possible. Money talks, how do you spend yours?

  36. 36 union steamfitter Dec 2nd, 2009 at 8:04 pm

    I’m forced to belabor the point yet again. Cutting the pay for slackers is negated by many Union contracts that allow terminations for “lack of production”. ie: you don’t have to keep them on the payroll if they’re not up to your standards which is just a wee bit more efficient than just cutting a man’s pay. I’ve been in a Union for a long time and have yet to see this large portion you speak of but I’ve certainly seen abuses and they catch up with the employee especially during these tight economic times. I don’t disagree that you’ve had negative experiences, just the unfair generalizations. How is it that I get paid well above my fellow journeymen if I’m in a Union??How does a guy come to our job and get laid off 2 days later for being a slacker?? According to you, these things don’t happen. I understand you don’t like Unions and can appreciate that and you may be surprised how many Union guys echo some of the same sentiments about the other Unions.

  37. 37 Jeff Nicklus Dec 3rd, 2009 at 10:48 am

    union steamfitter,

    ……”How does a guy come to our job and get laid off 2 days later for being a slacker??”…

    Couple of key words in this sentence: 1. “laid off” …. he should have been FIRED because now this idiot who fucked off for two days and was “laid off” and not fired he can now collect unemployment. Please don’t deny this is true as I have been there and done that! 2. “Slacker” the definition should read “worthless”

    I just love it when a company is successful it is due to the “working man” and when a business fails it is due to “bad management” …. bullshit! In truth it is always a combination of the two. Unions, in my humble opinion, have out lived their usefulness. The character and performance of the individual worker should say it all. If you are one of the hard working and caring employees, as you state, then you are also one of the people who would be successful without the union. Just a thought. Have a good one.

    Over & Out,


  38. 38 union steamfitter Dec 3rd, 2009 at 1:56 pm


    I couldn’t agree more; he should have been canned outright. One reason that it usually ends up being a layoff is that things have been slow and I think they’re just too forgiving/soft. That’s just how it turned out in this instance. We don’t see many terminations and yes I’ve had plenty of good paying welding work outside the Union but it’s up and down. Just trying to dispel some of the generalizations on here about Unions. Trade Unions in the South vs. the North seem to be a completely different animal from what I’ve learned. I’ve had a couple great paying full time jobs outside the Union as well and the Union environment isn’t for everyone.

  39. 39 union steamfitter Dec 3rd, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    Looks like the guys at the HD York plant have made a good decision. Good for them. I hope they keep the good will between the employees and the management going.


    couldn’t possibly agree more

    ….”Organized labor and big business can indeed partner well together; and there is a history of both parties abusing their power to the detriment of the other……”


    ….”he can now collect unemployment. Please don’t deny this is true as I have been there and done that! ……”

    That’s not true. You absolutely won’t qualify for un-employment from a contractor in the State of Ga having only worked for 2 days at a job unless you made >$3200 in those 2 days.They wouldn’t legally qualify as your last employer BTW so I’m not sure that he’ll get it at all unless he still has benefits left from his last period of unemployment.

  40. 40 Jeff Nicklus Dec 3rd, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    union steamfitter,

    I owned another company once years ago and we were doing a project on a shopping center in Des Moines IA. The project was union therefore I could not use my people on the project and I was forced to employee union workers. Therefore I had the Iron Workers, Glazers and Carpenters Unions on the project. In every case they were a bunch of lazy bastards that were good for nothing. I digress ….. In most cases we used the Iron Workers and Glazers for about three weeks each. When the project was over EVERY ONE of the workers filed for unemployment and did in fact receive benefits contrary to my objections with the state. I had to go through the Union Hall to get workers, and I am sure the people they sent me were guys just standing there at the time. None of these people were interviewed by me nor were they employed on a full time basis by me, however, they did receive unemployment insurance from me! That is screwed.

    Over & Out,


  41. 41 just my opinion Dec 3rd, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    union steamfitter
    Funny how you as a union man know all the rules and laws of unemployment. If you were such a hard worker as you are claiming you would have no need for unemployment. I worked as a subcontractor for 27 years and never had a day off due to lack of work. WHY? because every company I did work for knew if they gave me the job it would be done right and on time, even if that meant working all night to get it done. As a result I never needed unemployment. You union guys jump from job to unemployment Then when your benifits run dry you work long enough to get unemployment again. It is kind of like being on wellfare but you do work part time.So please don’t try to tell the real workers how unfare we are by judging what we have seen with our own eyes.
    Try not to strain yourself going to the mail box to get that unemployment check. I am not sure but I have heard that when the unemployment runs out you can get on wellfare.
    Have a nice day.

  42. 42 union steamfitter Dec 3rd, 2009 at 7:17 pm

    “Mr. I had to work all night”

    Wow, your obviously threatened to make it so personal. I guess I struck a nerve when I debunked your “Union man can’t get fired” and the ‘All Union guys make the same rate’ theories. I haven’t missed a day of work in years barring one trip w/wife to the doc. So we jump from the job to unemployment only long enough to get benefits?!?! We have mortgages just like the rest of America and I don’t know anyone that has money management skills like that. You seem to like slinging the insults when someone has the gall to illustrate exceptions to your generalizations.

    Working all night? Wow, you raging stallion. Steamfitting all over the world involves working shut-downs…. ie: working until you’re done,often for a couple of days. Please forgive my failure to cower when you celebrate your manhood with the “I worked all night bit”. That’s funny info that may not have inferred as much machismo/work ethic as you’d hoped.

    Once again I’ll ask you ……

    How is it possible that I make more than my Union peers given your statements regarding Union pay? Didn’t you say we all make the same pay?

    How is it not possible, or even complicated, for a contractor to terminate a Union man? According to you it doesn’t happen. Come on big boy, your words.

    If we’re just working long enough to get back on unemployment ; then how do we accrue enough time to qualify for these “undeserved” pensions?

    Thankfully, I had Union teachers teach me grammar including the use of comma’s, how to spell benefits, unfair, etc.

  43. 43 just my opinion Dec 3rd, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    union steamfitter ; Looks like someone got their little feeling hurt. For all your talk of my comments being generalizations you sure got your panties in a wad. Only when you are the business owner will you understand both sides. Until then you are seeing things as an employee “one sided”
    Go ahead and wave that union flag. But we both know that most union workers are union because they are to lazy to go find their own work. Let alone do the job once they have found it.
    As I have said at least twice now, I was not trying to hurt your feelings but I do find it amusing. You could very well be the exception and not the rule for union workers but that would still not change the FACT that the largest majority of union workers are slackers at best.
    Hey maybe in your next rant you could tell us all what a great job the union has done for HDs York plant and then explain why they agreed to a pay cut for those slackers. Then maybe you could explain how the unions have helped save the auto industry. Go try those union lies on someone else steamfitter, because I am not buying this bs union crap. Although the line about how you work two days straight on a regular bases may explain those delusions you are having.
    Have a nice day [;-}

  44. 44 just my opinion Dec 4th, 2009 at 2:27 am

    union steamfitter ; Sorry I forgot to answer your questions so lets do that now.

    How is it possible that I make more than my Union peers given your statements regarding Union pay? Didn’t you say we all make the same pay?

    NO you are the one that said all union workers are given the same rate of pay.

    I appreciate your right to your opinion but let me clear up something for you. The Union contract I work under dictates the “minimum” wage for a Journeyman, Apprentice, Helper, Laborer
    …………….meaning the same starting pay……….I would hope that with time you would make more than the helpers

    How is it not possible, or even complicated, for a contractor to terminate a Union man? According to you it doesn’t happen. Come on big boy, your words

    Thats not what I said so pay attention here;
    they do get fired but then the union stuart comes back and whines and gets them their job back. or they are sent to another job to slack there. How is that fair to either contractor? I have seen it with my own eyes, if you say it does not happen then I know you are either blind too what is happening around you or lying.

    If we’re just working long enough to get back on unemployment ; then how do we accrue enough time to qualify for these “undeserved” pensions?

    If you work the minimum hours which is very few and pay those union dues you get the pention. It has nothing to do with job performance.

    Thankfully, I had Union teachers teach me grammar including the use of comma’s, how to spell benefits, unfair, etc

    I am sure you do know how to spell BENEFITS being you collect plenty of unemployment BENEFITS and make claims of how UNFAIR things are at work.
    Sorry I misspelled those words but I did not know this was a spelling bee or I would have proof read my home work and again I am sorry I hurt your wittle feeling but I had no clue you was so sensitive. I thought a big tough union man like you, that works two days straight could take a little Criticism but I guess not.

    By the way YOUR FIRED

  45. 45 union steamfitter Dec 4th, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Wow, the grammar is slipping even more. You’re pretty excited. Where do I start? You seem to know so much about me. The fact that it stated clearly that I haven’t missed work in years would be your first clue that I haven’t collected unemployment except one week in ’97 and I gave 1/2 of it back because I got another job unexpectedly. When have I made claims about how unfair things are at work? I’ve never even filed a grievance. My company treats me pretty well, got no complaints. You blustering about having worked through the night to finish a job had the guys at work laughing by the way, especially the non-union guys. You walk to school barefoot in the snow too? Look back at your posts to see who started the “Oh-my-God I even work through the night to finish the job bit to understand the humor. Let me offer an internet “pat on the back” for you having to suffer and finish the job

    I’ve only seen one guy ever get his job back after a termination in our local but racial epithets had been used so that’s another issue altogether. I have seen several guys in the CWA & heard about guys in the UAW get their jobs back after a well deserved termination and it made me sick to be fair. That’s absolutely unfair to the Contractor and the Local he/she represents.

    There are definitely abuses by Unions that contribute to the decline of the affected companies; my point is that there is very often a flip side to the coin. I would also agree that the UAW significantly contributed to the decline of the domestics.

    My theory on the HD plant is that the two sides came together and compromised on what’s mutually beneficial for both management and the workers to keep the company prosperous. If the owners shared your view of their workers; why wouldn’t they just re-locate without any negotiation at all? Then, they wouldn’t have those “slackers” to worry about.

    An employee can and often starts at various rates of pay in my particular local as long as the minimum is met. We have voted and accepted lesser rates of pay when times got tough to stay competitive. Unions aren’t immune from the laws of Capitalism

    The minimum for our pension is 1600hrs and that has everything to do with performance because if you’re let go during a slow time of the year, you may not reach the minimum.

    Please remember that I’m actually in a Union so I’m in a decent position to separate your “facts” from the truth

    I don’t take any of this as personal criticism. However, I refuse to be categorized as a slacker/bad employee just because I belong to a Union.

    You’re right, it’s not a spelling bee. However, your grammar and spelling speak volumes.If you’re showcasing the ignorant grammar in caps; please at least know the difference between your and you’re (you are) LOL.

    Since you’re so eager to tell me about myself; I’ve a little observation as well. After 27 yrs as a sub, you’re looking around at the Union guys that have something to show for all those years and the bitterness has really, really, set in.

    Jeff Nicklus,

    I can appreciate your position and that’s sounds like a mess. It would probably explain at least part of the lack of comm/industrial construction these days. I’d probably feel the same way to be honest. That iron worker should have his a** terminated

  46. 46 just my opinion Dec 4th, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Since you’re so eager to tell me about myself; I’ve a little observation as well. After 27 yrs as a sub, you’re looking around at the Union guys that have something to show for all those years and the bitterness has really, really, set in.

    Tell us now about the mansion you live in.
    You already told us that 60,000 a year was more than you earn.
    Subcontractors can make that in a month. That must really piss you off.
    now go get your little union cookie and go to work.

    I may not be the best speller but I would compare paychecks or bank acounts with you anyday.
    That is if you wish to see how bad the union really has treated you.

  47. 47 union steamfitter Dec 6th, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    No, I definitely don’t live in a mansion. Make well in excess of 60K (Please show me where I said otherwise Mr. reading comprehension) Looks like I struck another nerve. Poor little ” I sometimes have to work all night” boy doesn’t appreciate someone theorizing about his life. Pot, kettle…black. Despite our differences, I think it’s great that there are subs doing well because there are many that don’t.. Unlike yourself and some of the anti-Union bunch, I don’t begrudge someone else their success.The most qualified people doing the best work will succeed regardless of their affiliation.

  48. 48 union steamfitter Dec 6th, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Mr Blevins,

    “”…….Labor unions are dinosaurs, there is no longer a need, (hasn’t been for many years), for their existence. There are agentcies (OSHA, NIOSH, IMSHA, EPA, etc) now in place to help protect workers from hazardous working conditions, and enforce fair hiring practices……..””

    Not too long ago, an illegal alien was driving a 20 ton packer and ran over a Geologist at a power plant in N. Ga, he didn’t speak English, nor did he have a driver’s license AND his SS# was also being used by 2 others in the Midwest. The same company is still there with the same employees. Which Govt agency will look out for me again?? When I get a high Carbon Monoxide count on my air monitor and I’m told to keep working or they’ll find someone who will; What agency feeds my family?? A good friend of mine (non union) that works for a major GC is told he’ll be fired for working >8hrs without prior written approval yet he is told to do whatever we ask him to do, OT or not. They’ve backed him into a corner. It’s an incredibly naive person that count’s on the Govt to enforce a safe working environment & fair hiring practices. The Govt has done such an excellent job of protecting us from the illegals flooding through the borders haven’t they? These same illegals are real quick to get the Govt involved if they’re not making a fair wage I’m sure. I’ve been on jobs where people are killed; Where was OSHA before it happened? You may not need a Union to ensure these things but it’s laughable to think the Govt will

  49. 49 Michael mjdart Dart Jan 3rd, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    The more jobs this country discontinues, the less chance we will ever see a real economic recovery which can pay back the money the current government is spending. Americans earning union wages purchase goods and pay taxes, it’s as simple as that. Should H-D & their Union work together during these tough times – Absolutely. Should the Union make large scale concessions without clear justification – No

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