The Deckhands Union Responds to My Anti-Union LTE

Dear Everyone;

One of my recent published LTE's to the Chronicle - with affiliation - was about the labor dispute because Horn Blower which is non-union was awarded the Alcatraz ferry contract and it got a riposte in the specially created web site for the union fight over the Alcatraz ferry : and that web site is posted on the Industrial Workers of World web site:

Ron Getty
SF Libertarian

For the record my grandfather was a real long time member of the Switchmans Union associated with the Brotherhood of Firemans and Engineers while he worked in the yards in Cicero for some 30 odd years. During the Depression to support his family - hey they were tight times - he worked part-time as a tail gunner on one of Al Capone's beer trucks in Cicero.... :slight_smile: ( for real ) My father for awhile was also a postal clerical worker and a member of the postal workers union - yeah I know unions.

This is a copy of the LTE published in the Chronicle:

Editor -- Jack Heyman's statements would be meaningful if it weren't for protective union legislation (Open Forum, "The challenge to labor," Dec. 4). Economic studies show the economic cost of protective union legislation over the past half-century is $50 trillion. Wages are generally lower for everyone because the economy is one-third smaller than if there had been no unions.
Unions use higher minimum wages to leverage increased pay for union members -- at the job expense of nonunion entry-level workers.
Unions have a place, with workers freely forming associations to obtain better pay and working conditions when they have free-market bargaining powers without coercive legislative interference.
RON GETTY, chair Initiatives Committee
Libertarian Party of San Francisco

WELL - apparently someone over at the deckhands union took umbrage and sent a way too long riposte to the SF Chronicle and then also responded to a Craigslist posting which also slammed unions from somone posting on Craigslist - no not I.

Ah yes - good old unions - can't live with'm - can live with out'm
Deckhand Steve Ongerth responds to Libertarian Party Initiative's Chair Ron Getty
Submitted by intexile on Sat, 2006-12-09 00:26. Alcatraz | Editorial | Hornblower
The following letter is intended for publication to the San Francisco Chronicle in response to this op-ed piece Libertarian Party Initiative's Chair Ron Getty:
I am one of the workers that Terry MacRae has deemed "unqualified" (even though I am a high-speed qualified deckhand with eight years maritime work experience). I am also one of the workers that Libertarian Party Initiatives Committee chair, Ron Getty seems to think would benefit if my union, the Inland Boatman's Union of the Pacific, didn't enjoy protective labor legislation. I find his comments both factually inaccurate and deeply insulting.
Mr. Getty claims that, "Economic studies show the economic cost of protective union legislation over the past half-century is $50 trillion." Which statistics might these be, imaginary "facts" from his Ayn Rand fiction collection perhaps? It's hard to be certain, because Mr. Getty doesn't name his source.
He would also have us believe that "Wages are generally lower for everyone because the economy is one-third smaller than if there had been no unions." Poppycock!
The real facts are these:
There is no industrialized nation in the world that doesn't have labor unions;
Industrialized nations with strong labor unions and strong labor union protection have better working conditions, more benefits for workers, and a higher standard of living across the board than industrialized nations with weaker labor unions and weaker labor union protections.
When labor unions and protective labor union legislation were strongest in the United States of America (1937 - 1973), The United States experienced the largest sustained period of economic growth, and the greatest sustained increase in workers' wages relative to inflation.
Of course, during that period, workers wages increased at a greater rate than the income of CEOs and upper level management executives. The ratio of executive compensation to workers wages decreased during that period of time.
After 1973 (the last year where workers wages consistently kept face with the rate of inflation), the US Government began to attack labor union protection. Since then, workers wages have not kept pace with the rising rate of inflation, union membership has declined (as has the standard of living for US wage earners), and the ratio of CEO pay to workers' wages has increased dramatically.
Unlike Mr. Getty, I will name my sources:
One of the best sources is -
However the raw data is taken directly from the US Government's Department of Labor.
Of course, economics are mostly theoretical, and how one defines "good" and "bad" is a matter of perspective. To the employing class (and its uncritical apologists in the Libertarian Party), anything that benefits workers and challenges market fundamentalism is "bad" whereas to workers, anything that increases the intensity of class warfare on workers is "bad". The strength of the economy depends upon which side you are on.
Finally, on a personal note, I would like to see Mr. Getty try and perform the work I did (until the National Park Service and Hornblower stole my job) enduring non-union conditions. My bet is he wouldn't last a week, let alone eight years.
Steve Ongerth
Former Alcatraz Ferry Deckhand.

Statistical Aberation
Submitted by intexile on Sun, 2006-12-10 00:14.
My post (above) illicited an asinine response on Craigslist. Here is my response to their response:
You wrote:
Firstly, the unions rode the economic wave; they did not drive it.
You wanna bet?!? Throughout the 1910s and 1920s a wave of militant unionism gripped the industrialized world, particularly in the USA. This wave was caused by angry, pissed off workers who created the wealth in the roaring '20s, but were denied the fruits of their labor by the greedy capitalist class. The market fundamentalism of the times lead to a speculative boom which resulted in the Great Depression. Unions grew more militant and began to turn to radical political tendencies, including socialism and communism. By the 1930s, unions organized general strikes, including the 1934 waterfront General Strike in San Francisco.
In order to co-opt the wave of rank & file union militancy, politicians passed protective union legislation. Unions took advantage of these protections, but they had created the conditions that led to the protections in the first place. Unions demanded (and gained) improvements to working conditions, including higher wages and shorter workweeks, but these gains took as many as two decades to finally come to fruition. The increased pay and shorter workweeks won by workers led to an increase in consumer spending. That gradual wave led to much greater expansion in the economies of industrialized nations, though the results of these gains didn't take full effect until after World War II.
Secondly, your source is pro-union, and my Forbes and is as unbiased as your source, and draws on the same statistics.
EXCUSE ME! The Department of Labor is an agency of the US Government. It is illegal for that agency to produce statistics that are biased in either direction. However, you and I both know that the vast majority of government officials are members of the EMPLOYING CLASS, so if there is any bias in the DOL, it is likely to lean towards the anti-union direction.
As for, that is the product of notorious industry lobbyist and PR flak Richard Berman, a known liar and shill for the most egregious elements of Corporate America. Berman’s campaigns have attempted to relax drunk driving laws, argue obesity is not a public health issue, prevent increases in the federal or state minimum wage, and attack advocacy groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). He is also a close associate of Jack Abramoff. Now ask yourself, is this REALLY the type of person you would trust to provide YOU with reliable information?
Fact is, unions are dying because their dumbing down of relatively dumb people is offensive, and often illegal.
NO SIR!!! Unions are not "dying" at all. Union membership in the US is in decline proportional to the number of US citizens, but that is due largely to the outsourcing of traditionally unionized jobs to other countries with weak or nonexistent labor laws. In those nations, unions are growing DESPITE the threat of repressive government sponsored, anti-union violence (sponsored by our very own US Government no less; makes one just so proud to be an American doesn't it!). In the most rapidly growing employment sector in the US (service workers), unionization is INCREASING (again, read the DOL statistics).
Therefore, the only reason why it seems like unions are "dying" because they under sustained ATTACK from the likes of the employing class, liars like Richard Berman, and fools like yourself.
Courts are now hearing whether the unions can scam their members for forced contributions to union legal causes, even when the members don't support the causes.
This is nonsense. Union members have the right to file an individual exemption in opposition to their union's use of dues money on political causes. You are operating under the assumption that silence equals dissent. It doesn't. You need proof? Every time someone has tried to float a ballot initiative in order to require unions to follow the types of restrictive rules you propose, they have been overwhelmingly rejected.
Meanwhile, shareholders have no recourse over the way their corporate boards of directors vote; is that any more fair?
We all know unions are one of the largest Demcortatic (sic) contributors,
No we don't. Corporate donors to Democratic politicians far outweigh union
. . .and your statement that corporations buy the gov (sic) contracts is as valid as corporations statements that unions buy politicians for pro-union business and kickbacks.
No, my statement is more valid. Pro-union business legislation and kickbacks are illegal. Corporate lobbying isn't. Every time grassroots movements try to pass laws limiting corporate donations and corporate lobbying, the corporations file lawsuits claiming "infringement of free speech!". All because some jackass Supreme Court justices decided that "corporations are individuals" at the end of the 19th Century, the courts are forced to agree with that interpretation. If union had any real power like you claim, they would have helped pass a Constitutional Amendment abolishing corporate personhood decades ago. It hasn't happened, pal.
It works both ways, but one is capitalistic, the basis of the formation of our country, and one is socialistic, the basis for the decay in the "most industrialized countries have unions" statement by you.
No, it doesn't work both ways, Holmes. Labor creates all wealth. Capital creates nothing. Capitalists simply appropriate (I would stay "STEAL") the product of workers' labor. That is why you cannot find a capitalist country WITHOUT labor unions, except for dictatorial police states. In any case, it was the "socialistic" labor movement that rebuilt the US economy after your precious "capitalistic" economy totally destroyed it in 1929.