The Pros to Joining a Labor Union

Thanks to labor unions, wages have improved, the workweek is shorter and the workplace is safer.

However, employers sometimes complain that unions are harmful to business and to the economy. From an employee standpoint, is being a union member beneficial? Here are some pros of union jobs.

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Better wages. The median weekly income of full-time wage and salary workers who were union members in 2010 was $917, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. For nonunion workers, it was $717.

More access to benefits. Some 93 percent of unionized workers were entitled to medical benefits compared to 69 percent of their nonunion peers, according to the National Compensation Survey published last year by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The survey represented about 101 million private industry workers and 19 million state and local government employees.

Unmarried domestic partners — same sex and opposite sex — also had access more often to these benefits if they were unionized. Workers with union representation also had 89 percent of their health insurance premiums paid by their employer for single coverage and 82 percent for family coverage. For nonunion workers, the comparable numbers were 79 percent and 66 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And 93 percent of unionized workers have access to retirement benefits through employers compared to 64 percent of their nonunion counterparts.

Job security. Nonunion employees are typically hired “at will,” meaning they can be fired for no reason. There are exceptions. Employers can’t terminate a worker for discriminatory reasons such as race, religion, age and the like. Nor can they fire an at-will employee for being a whistle-blower and certain other reasons.

However, workers with union jobs can only be terminated for “just cause,” and the misconduct must be serious enough to merit such action. Before an employee can actually be fired, he or she can go through a grievance procedure, and if necessary, arbitration.

Workers who know they can’t easily be fired, will be willing to speak up freely.

Strength in numbers. Unionized workers have more power as a cohesive group than by acting individually. What you gain is the muscle of collective action. Through collective bargaining, workers negotiate wages, health and safety issues, benefits, and working conditions with management via their union.

Seniority. Rules differ among collective bargaining agreements, but in the event of layoffs, employers usually are required to dismiss the most recent hires first and those with the most seniority last — sometimes called “last hired, first fired.”

In some cases, a worker with a union job who has more seniority may receive preference for an open job. Seniority also can be a factor in determining who gets a promotion. The idea is that seniority eliminates favoritism in the workplace. Ultimately, the chief advantage of seniority is it is completely objective.

YOUR TURN

What benefits do you see in being a Union Member? Sound off on the Union Built PC Facebook Page, on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds and don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly #UnionStrong email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Eight Wealthiest Men Own the Same Amount as the Poorest Half of The World

A new Oxfam (Oxford Committee for Famine Relief) report confirms many of our worst suspicions about about inequality, that it is horrible and getting worse. Eight men, many have the same wealth as the poorest 50% of the world, or 3.6 billion people, according to the report. It was published to coincide with the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the world’s largest gathering of leaders and business heads.

The poorest half of the world owns own the same in assets as that group of eight, $426 billion to be exact. The group of eight is led by Bill Gates, Amancio Ortega, the founder of the Spanish fashion chain Zara, and investor Warren Buffett. The others on the startlingly short list are Carlos Slim Helú, the Mexican telecom tycoon, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison of Oracle and Michael Bloomberg, former billionaire mayor of New York and founder of Bloomberg news and financial information service.

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Photo Credit: Rui Duarte/Flickr CC

This information would be frightening enough on its own, but gets even worse when compared to 2016’s data, when a whopping 62 owned the same in assets as the poorest half of the world, partly because new data shows that poverty in India and China is even worse than reported just last year. Such a steep drop should be troubling to anyone concerned the scourge of economic inequality. Oxfam’s report certainly didn’t mince words, calling the data “beyond grotesque,” and advcates for “a new economic model to reverse an inequality trend that it said helped to explain Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election.”

“From Brexit to the success of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, a worrying rise in racism and the widespread disillusionment with mainstream politics, there are increasing signs that more and more people in rich countries are no longer willing to tolerate the status quo,” the report said.

It’s not enough, and in fact, is probably counterproductive, to make these eight men the poster boys for economic evil though they are the beneficiaries. As Mark Goldring, Oxfam’s CEO writes in a Guardian Op-Ed explaining the report, many of the top eight are also among the world’s most prominent philanthropists. Goldring continues,

this is not an exposé of eight people, but of a broken economics. Narrowing the gap between the richest and the rest requires us to take on a more challenging task than asking eight men to change their behaviour. It requires us to create a more human economy; one that does not result in 1% of the world’s population owning the same wealth as the other 99%. One that encourages and rewards enterprise and innovation, yes, but one that also offers everyone, regardless of background, a fair chance in life and ensures when individuals and businesses succeed, they do so for the benefit, rather than at the expense, of others.

Even the heavyweights at the World Economic Forum in Davos know this, as in a study published ahead of the gathering, 700 experts said inequality is the number one threat to the global economy. One way to begin might be to address this threat, aside from a fundamental cultural shift in values, would be to limit tax avoidance, which Goldring reminds us “costs poor countries more than $100B annually that could be used to provide clean water, lifesaving medicines or education. Rich countries, including the UK, lose countless billions more. Yet governments, anxious to defend their own corporate sectors and perceived national interests, have failed to adequately respond to companies’ use of tax loopholes, corporate power and new technology to avoid paying their fair share.” Also contributing to the inequality are policies allowing aggressive wage restraints.

If any of the World Economic Forum Davos attendees were serious about fighting this threat they would do well to read both the report, and and Goldring’s commentary.

Oxfam is considered the world leader in the delivery of emergency relief and implements long-term development programs in vulnerable communities. Today, there are 19 member organizations of the Oxfam International confederation. They are based in: Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Ireland, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Quebec, South Africa, Spain and the United States.

YOUR TURN

What would you do to begin to shift the unequal distribution of wealth in this country? In this world? Sound off on the Union Built PC Facebook Page, on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds and don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly #UnionStrong email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

 

Source: Additional reporting and statistics provided by Alternet

 

5 Hidden Ways to Boost Your Tax Refund

While Americans may disagree on how their taxes are spent, at tax time, most of us are looking for ways to pay no more than we owe, or even boost our tax refunds.

Pressing save on taxes key on keyboard

These five strategies go beyond the obvious to give you tried-and-true ways to reduce your tax liability:

1. Rethink filing status to boost your refund
One of the first decisions you make when completing your tax return, your filing status, can affect your refund’s size, especially if you’re married. While most married couples file jointly — 95 percent did in 2015 — a joint return is not always the most beneficial way to boost your refund. Married-filing-separately status requires more effort, but the time you invest offers tax savings under the right circumstances. Calculating your taxes both ways will point you in the higher refund direction.

The IRS uses a percentage of adjusted gross income — AGI — to determine whether some deductions can be used such as medical and certain miscellaneous expenses. Filing separately gives each spouse a lower AGI. If one of them has a lot of medical expenses, such as COBRA payments resulting from a job loss, computing taxes individually allows that spouse to reach the needed AGI percentage based on his or her own income.

Or, a spouse who spends a lot of time on the road and in the air might have travel expenses such as baggage fees that merit separate filing. Expenses can add up for an unemployed spouse looking for work — long distance calls, resume preparation, career counseling and networking — and could be a sleeping miscellaneous deduction that reduces taxable income. However, choosing to file separate returns has drawbacks, such as losing credits available to joint filers, that you must weigh to maximize your refund potential.

Tax reductions from claiming dependents can cut a single parent’s tax bill when he or she files ashead of household. You need to have one or more children who lived with you for more than six months, and paid more than 50 percent of the cost of keeping a home. Those costs include mortgage and rent, utilities, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, repairs and food.

Single taxpayers who care for a parent may also qualify for the more advantageous head-of-household status if they paid more than half of the cost of maintaining that parent’s residence for the whole year. Your parent need not live with you; when you pay more than half of their cost to live in a home for seniors or rest home, you can claim head of household.

2. Don’t shy away from tax deductions
Keeping a trip log for your volunteer work, job-hunting and doctor’s appointments may seem like a waste of time, but those miles add up and represent deductions. Parking, toll and bus or taxi receipts support your claim, while a record of the miles you drove lets you write off the cost of using your car through the standard mileage rate. Good travel records could help you reach the needed minimum percentage of adjusted gross income for miscellaneous deductions.

Moving for a new job 50 miles or more away can boost your tax refund because you can deduct moving, storage and travel expenses related to your relocation. You have to work full time at the new job for at least 39 weeks the first year; however, you can take the deduction in the year you move if you expect to meet this time test within the following tax year. You don’t have to itemize to get this tax break to lower your adjusted gross income. Simply figure your total using IRS Form 3903 and attach it to your 1040 return.

Charitable deductions can help your refund cause, too. Record keeping lets you add up the dollars spent doing charity work, in addition to claiming the market value of any clothing or household things you donate. When you bake for a fund-raiser, the cost of your ingredients can be deducted, but not the value of the time you spent baking.

3. Maximize your IRA contributions
You have until April 15th to open a traditional IRA for the previous tax year. That gives you the flexibility of claiming the credit on your return, filing early and using your refund to open the account. Traditional IRA contributions reduce your taxable income. You can take advantage of the maximum contribution and, if you’re at least 50 years old, the catch-up provision, to add to your IRA. If you contributed to a Roth IRA, you may be able to claim the retirement savings contribution credit that also lowers taxable income and result in a larger refund check.

4. Timing can boost your tax refund
And while this line item may be a day late and a dollar short, it’s good to keep in mind for next year. Taxpayers who watch the calendar improve their chances of getting a larger refund. If you can, pay January’s mortgage payment before December 31st and get the added interest for your mortgage interest deduction.

Schedule health-related treatments and exams in the last quarter of the year to boost your medical expense deduction potential.

Paying property taxes by New Year’s Eve could make the difference between itemizing and taking the standard deduction, and thus, a bigger refund. If you’re self-employed, you can pay your fourth-quarter state estimated taxes in December, rather than in January when they’re normally due, to increase your itemizing potential.

5. Become credit savvy and refund happy
Credits work better than deductions as refund boosters. For each credit dollar, your taxes go down a dollar. Yet, 20% of eligible Americans don’t claim the earned income tax credit. If you’re working and meet the guidelines, you may be eligible for EITC even if you’re single with no children. If you have kids, the child-care credit may help you.

For those with children in college, credits related to higher education expenses, such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit, could provide tax relief. We spoke with CPA Miles Brkovich of Bennett & Brkovich, LLC in Latrobe, Pennsylvania and he says; “The American Opportunity Credit is great because up to $1,000 is refundable. That means you could receive as much as $1,000 even if you had no tax liability. The total credit is $2,500 and applies only to the first four years of undergraduate higher education expenses. If you’re in grad school or beyond, you may be eligible for the Lifetime Learning Credit.”

Tax laws change frequently, and credits come and go, so staying informed can be financially rewarding. Credits for home improvements that save energy keep more money in your wallet throughout the year and at tax time. For example, an investment in an alternative energy heating system for your home could let you claim 30 percent of the cost through 2017.

YOUR TURN

Do you have any tips to add to this list? We want to hear from you! Sound off on the Union Built PC Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly #UnionStrong email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.

This article is for general informational purposes designed to help you put these valuable deductions on your radar. Union Built PC employees and principals are not certified accountants. Please be sure to check with your tax adviser to see if you qualify for a particular credit or deduction.

Union Members Defend Working People Targeted by Trump’s Aggressive Immigration Raids

Working people deserve to go to work every day without fear for their safety or being harassed. They deserve to go out the door and make a living without worrying about their lives being upended. These are sacred tenets people and their unions value.

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Hotel workers, farm workers, teachers, taxi drivers, airport, construction and retail workers have been making their voices heard in Los Angeles; Phoenix; Austin, Texas; New York City; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and many points in between over the past week. Why? We are defending our neighbors, co-workers and friends who are being swept up in a series of immigration raids. Working people understand in our bones that when the government terrorizes people who are simple living their lives and going to work each day, we all lose. When we allow ourselves to be divided, we are weak, when we are weak, standards erode for all of us.

The early weeks of the Trump administration have sent alarming signals that its law enforcement priorities will target and punish working people, rather than those who steal their wages, harass them on the job and expose them to dangerous working conditions. Such strategies make people afraid to go to work and take their children to school, let alone take action to demand better working conditions or speak up when they encounter abuse. Moreover, they drive down the pay and protections for all working people—immigrant and non-immigrant alike.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, sometimes in collaboration with local law enforcement, has arrested hundreds of immigrants, regardless of how long they have lived in the United States or how strong their ties to the community. These highly visible enforcement actions make working people far less likely to exercise their rights at work or to cooperate with law enforcement in their communities. Worse, we hear accounts that racial profiling tactics are leading to collateral arrests and that detainees are being denied due process and access to counsel—further chilling the exercise of fundamental rights.

The labor movement calls on the administration to rein in the tactics that terrorize immigrant workers and fail to make our communities safer or our jobs better. Cities and states around the country have shown a better way forward by committing to ensure basic rights and protections to all members of their communities. The labor movement will stand proudly and firmly with all local leaders who support workers’ rights and prevent exploitation. We know these communities are defending our right to organize to lift standards and cracking down on abusive employers who retaliate against working people.

These are core values of the labor movement.

Like Union Built PC on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn. And don’t forget to subscribe to our monthly #UnionStrong email newsletter for articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox.

Answers To Objections About Joining A Union

The more members in a Union, the more effective the Union becomes. The power to achieve positive results in collective bargaining or individual disputes is directly linked to density (the percentage of members in the workplace).

Most people who haven’t joined Unions have never been asked. Recent research found that over 70 percent of non-members have never been asked to join a union.

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But there are also those who have been asked and have objections. Here are some great ways to handle those most common objections:

NOTE: The staff of Union Built PC, Inc. have been members of the following Local unions and Labor organizations over the course of many decades. For the sake of this article we will be using IBEW as an example.

  • CWA Local 9503 and 1101
  • USWA Local 3844
  • IBT Local 838
  • UAW Local 889
  • IBEW Local 17
  • UWUA Local 223
  • The Greater Kansas City Labor Council
  • Michigan Labor Press
  • Midwest Labor Press Association

Objection:

“Why should I join the union when I’ll get exactly the same wages and benefits without joining?”

Possible Answers:

  • “Right, you get all that the rest of us get. But we could get so much more if we didn’t have nonmembers. Aren’t you interested in further gains? Well, these can be won only if enough of us want them and are willing to work to get them.”
  • “If every worker felt as you do, we would have no union at all to bargain for us or to represent us in grievances. The longer you remain a nonmember, the more difficult it is for the union to improve your wages and working conditions.”
  • “Here is a card. Won’t you sign it so that you too can help to make possible the improvements we are all entitled to?”
  • “If everyone belonged, the benefits would be greater and the cost would be spread among more people.”
  • “As a nonmember, you are automatically on the side of the employer against the union at the bargaining table – you are agreeing with them that the demands made by the union are not proper, and that you are not entitled to any improvement in wages or working conditions. I’m sure you want to join with us to help make improvements possible rather than be counted as one who is against better wages and working conditions.”
  • “The union needs you. Your involvement and participation will make the union more effective. By not being a member, you miss the sense of belonging, the friendship, the feeling of being fully accepted by your fellow workers.”
  • “Each person has an obligation to share equally the cost of supporting the organization that wins the benefits. It’s just downright unfair to accept benefits that others are paying for. Suppose your next door neighbors paid no taxes on a house and yet sent their children to the public schools and used the roads and other public services. Would this be fair? Of course it wouldn’t. Nor is it fair for a person to realize all the benefits of unionism and not pay a fair share of the cost of gaining these benefits.”
  • “As a nonmember, you have no vote on whether to strike; and you have no voice in contract ratification or in election of representatives.”

Objection:

“I can’t afford to join. I’ve got a family to support and my check just isn’t big enough.”

Or, “The dues are too high.”

Possible Answers:

  • “You can’t afford not to belong. It doesn’t cost to belong to the union. It pays in the form of job security, better wages, and improved benefits.”
  • “Everything of value has a price. What you should do is to compare the value of a thing with the price you have to pay for it. If we do this with the union dues, I’m sure you will agree that union dues are a sound investment.”
  • “Compare the cost with your returns on this investment. Your return each year is far greater than the annual dues. And understand, we’re just talking about wage increases here. We haven’t begun to talk about the advantages of increased job security, seniority, better working conditions, such things as this. These are all extras that you get in return for your dues investment.”
  • “Did you ever stop to think how much less money you’d be making if it were not for the union? I’m sure that neither you nor I could afford to work for this employer at what we would make without a union. If it weren’t for IBEW, our wages would be far less than they are, and we would receive no fringe benefits. You owe it to yourself as well as to us to set aside a small portion of your higher wages to help raise wages even higher in the years ahead.”
  • “You say you have a family to support. You owe it to your family, above all, to be a member of a union that ensures job security, wage increases, and fringe benefits. Your family benefits directly from all of these.”
  • If the nonmember makes a specific reference to an inability to pay bills, mention the counseling service of the union (if this is available) and how union members with financial problems are afforded help.
  • If the nonmember pleads debt problems, mention the availability of the credit union, if you have one, and how a union member can borrow money at lower interest rates than are obtainable from a bank or finance company.

Objection:

“I don’t believe in unions.”

Possible Answers:

  • Point out what unions have done historically. Describe how things were in American industry before unions. Workers were fired at the whim of management or arbitrarily at the age of 40. Describe the extremely low wages, long hours, no fringe benefits, no unemployment compensation, no social security, no workers’ compensation. Stress not only the contract gains but also the efforts of labor to enact better laws and create better communities.
  • “Unions are just associations of people banded together for mutual protection and benefit. Everyone – farmers, merchants, bankers, lawyers, utility companies – everyone joins together today to increase their effectiveness. Why not workers?”
  • “The newspapers do their best to make unions look bad, and this is understandable since employers spend a lot of money on ads. But prove things for yourself – join us, come to our meetings, and then decide whether unions are good or bad.”
  • Try to find out the specific reason behind this objection, and then try to correct the false impression the employee has.

Objection:

“I don’t need a union; the employer is fair. The employer will take care of us without a union. I get along fine with my boss. What has the union gotten for us that we wouldn’t have gotten anyway?”

Possible Answers:

  • “This is a good place to work now, and the union played a big part in making this so. But of course, this is no reason why we shouldn’t try to make it an even better place to work. Your job has been made more pleasant and secure because of the union representation afforded you on the job. Your supervisor has to treat you fairly since the contract requires that he or she do so. The employer is fair because the union is always looking over its shoulder. Even so, almost every employee at one time or another has a grievance or complaint. That’s where the union comes in.”
  • Rely on history, and point out the job security clause in the contract including the final step of arbitration. Explain about conditions of work, including low wages and poor working conditions before IBEW. You might want to call in an older worker to give a firsthand account. Discuss the history of bargaining in the specific bargaining unit. You might contrast the first offers of the employer versus the final settlement and show the difference in terms of cents per hour or dollars per year. Point out that the employer often admits that the union forces them to grant more than they would like to grant. You might want to use a prepared sheet showing union gains over the years. Also point out specific grievances the union has won (use cases that you personally are familiar with).
  • “The employer will treat you well so long as this is the profitable thing for them to do. But you’re like the rest of us. We’re merely numbers on a page. There’s no room for sentiment or humanity in this employer or any other giant firm today. The union provides protection from arbitrary and unfair treatment by the employer.”
  • “You never know when you might need the help of the union. The union has been able to get a clause in the contract that assures employees fair treatment if the need should ever arise. If too many people felt the way you feel, there would be no union and no protection for anyone.”
  • Point out that very frequently personality clashes arise between employees and supervisors. Ask: “What would you do if this should happen to you? What would you be able to do to help yourself if the employer fired or demoted or otherwise mistreated you?”
  • “Individuals may not know their rights under the law and under the contract. In today’s complex world, organizations of all sorts are necessary to achieve any important objectives. This is the reason for the union. The union has to be able to bargain from strength in order to adequately protect employees from arbitrary treatment, to get better wages, longer vacations, more adequate pensions, and so on.”
  • Point to the article in the contract which makes IBEW the sole bargaining agent. This means that the employer as well as the government recognizes that only IBEW is able to speak for all of the employees. The employees can’t by law deal directly with the employer.

Objection:

“I’m only going to be working here a short while (on a temporary or part-time job).”

Possible Answers:

  • “Even if you do leave within a few months, you are receiving all the benefits that all the rest of us pay for while you are here, and we think it only right that you pay your share while you remain on the job.”
  • “While you are with us, we want you to be one of us. We want you to fit in with the group and be an equal. You will enjoy it more and we will enjoy having you.”
    “Whether you stay here six months or thirty years, you’ll get full benefits and full protection while you are employed.”
  • “Who knows, you might decide to stay on, or you might decide to return a year or five years from now. You know that we have a leave of absence and job return policy. You can get a withdrawal card from the union if you do decide to leave.”

Objection:

“My spouse would divorce me.”

Or, “My parents don’t like unions.”

Possible Answers:

  • Find out why the spouse or parent objects. Offer to sit down and talk things over. Offer to go home that very evening with the nonmember to discuss the matter with the relative. (House calls are very successful.)
  • “Your (husband, wife, father, etc.) lets you work and accepts your contribution to the household. They should let you do your part to make your job more pleasant and better paying. You’re the one who is working on the job. You put up with the working conditions. You get the paycheck. You know better than anyone else whether a union is good for you. Let me visit your home and discuss this matter with you and your family this very evening.”

Objection:

“The union doesn’t do anything for you (as in, grievances are not settled satisfactorily).” Or, “I don’t like the people who are running things in the union.”

Possible Answers:

  • Insist upon specifics – the specific grievance the nonmember has in mind. Check out the problem, obtain the facts, and report back to the nonmember. Concede that the union can make mistakes, but point out that many grievances have been won, again being specific.
  • “Officers and stewards do their jobs the best way they know how. If you or someone you know has not been treated fairly, tell us about it so that it can be remedied.”
  • “Your local officers and stewards work for this employer just as you and I do. They need lots of training, experience, and help from you to do the job well. Your signature on this card will give you the right and the opportunity to help in running this union better.” Point out that the members have an obligation to replace those officers and stewards who continue to do their job poorly.
  • “You are the union. You can get involved and run for office to help change the things you don’t like.”
  • Enumerate the contract benefits – choice of hours, vacations, sick benefits. Remind the nonmember that these didn’t come automatically.
  • Discuss the need to use the grievance procedure properly. Frequently some of the complaints we have about grievances occur because the proper procedure was not followed.
  • “Hundreds of grievances are settled satisfactorily. But with 100 percent membership, we could do an even better job of investigating and processing grievances.”

Objection:

“I can’t afford to strike. How can I be sure I won’t be out on strike? I don’t believe in strikes.”

Possible Answers:

  • “It’s up to the members to decide whether to strike. Of course, if you’re not a union member you will have no say whatsoever in the matter.”
  • “When unions are weak, employers force them to strike or else accept low wages or poor working conditions. But if unions are big enough to hurt the employer in a strike, management will offer more and thereby avoid a strike. In short, if workers are unified, a strike is less likely.”
  • “Strikes are very infrequent in this union.”
  • “Do you know about the union’s defense fund? If workers are forced out on strike by an impossible employer position, this fund exists to assist members in meeting their more important bills. We now have millions of dollars in the defense fund so that no one will go without or be badly hurt if we are forced to strike.”
  • “Year after year, less than one-fifth of one percent of all working time is lost by strikes. Now this is only a small fraction of the time lost through layoffs or industrial accidents or other sickness. You read in the newspaper about strikes because, of course, strikes are news. You never read in the newspapers about the hundreds and thousands of negotiations that are settled without the necessity of a strike. What I’m trying to say is that strikes are really very unusual.”

Objection:

“I can handle my own affairs. I can take care of myself. I’ll make my own decisions. I don’t intend to stay on this job forever; I’m looking for a promotion.”

Possible Answers:

  • “This may be true, but the chances are that you might need help somewhere along the way. Besides, all your fellow employees aren’t as fortunate. They need help. They need your help.”
  • “You are working in a large industry and necessarily are a cog in a very large machine. Unless you fit into this machine, you are not a desirable employee, so your future depends in large part on your ability to get along with everyone, including your fellow workers.”

Objection:

“My religion doesn’t permit me to belong to any outside organization.”

Possible Answers (and yes, this can be a sticky one):

  • “I’ve never heard of a faith that bars membership in a union. I would like to discuss this matter with you and with your pastor so that we can clear up any misunderstandings. Unions have always worked closely with churches. Our goals are similar: to help our fellow human beings.”
  • Follow through on this. Contact the pastor or minister. Verify the church’s policy and report back to the nonmember.
  • “Your religion and all other religions teach you to love your neighbor, to be responsible for your brother’s welfare. And that is what the union is designed to do. There is no conflict between the goals of unions and religions.”

Objection:

“My boss doesn’t believe in unions. I’ve seen what happens to union members.”

Possible Answers:

  • “It used to be that many supervisors didn’t like unions, but most of these have either changed their ways or have been transferred.”
  • “At one time, supervisors were virtual dictators with power to hire or fire you on the spot. Now they must live up to the contract and treat people with respect. If a supervisor can’t do this, management will get rid of them.”
  • “The law, the contract, and public policy guarantee you the right to join and engage in union activity.”

Objection:

“I don’t want anything to do with unions. They’re all corrupt.”

Possible Answers:

  • Show the nonmember a copy of IBEW’s constitution and point out how the constitution assures democratic procedures and membership control of the union.
  • Point out that membership in the union gives you a right to choose your own officers and to correct abuses.

Objection:

“I don’t know enough about IBEW or the union movement.”

Possible Answers:

  • “The officers of the local union and I will be glad to sit down with you anytime, any place, and tell you everything you might want to know about IBEW and answer any questions you might have. After you’ve learned some of the history of the union and how it operates, I’m sure you will want to become a member of IBEW.”
  • “What do you need to know about IBEW? IBEW is a large union; it is honestly run; it is efficient; and it is democratic.”

Objection:

“I’m not interested. I just don’t want to join.”

Possible Answers:

  • “You can’t afford not to be interested in the union. What happens in the union and between the union and the employer affects you; it affects all employees. Contract negotiations, grievances, etc., concern everyone in one way or another.”
  • It might be necessary to go into a general explanation of the reasons people join unions.

YOUR TURN

Have you come across these or other objections? We want to know how you handled them! Sound off on the Union Built PC Facebook Page or on our Twitter or LinkedIn feeds. And don’t forget to sign up for our monthly #Union Strong email newsletter for articles like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Microsoft Admits Windows 10 Has A Serious Problem

There’s the thing about Windows 10; you give up control. Control over updates and control over privacy, but Microsoft has finally admitted the latter is a serious problem and is taking action…

In a blog post Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of the Windows and Devices Group, said the words millions have been waiting to hear:

“Many of you have asked for more control over your data, a greater understanding of how data is collected, and the benefits this brings for a more personalized experience. Based on your feedback, we are launching two new experiences to help ensure you are in control of your privacy.”

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Arguably even more important, however, are two changes being made to the Windows 10 Creators Update when it is released in the next few months (and yes, it’s still a stupid name – ‘Windows 10.2’ would be fine!).

1. Overhauled Privacy Settings On Install/Update
Say goodbye to the rubbish ‘Express Settings’ screen on first install, with the Windows 10 Creators Update you’ll get clear but simply worded explanations and toggle switches. Users upgrading to the Creators Update will also be prompted to use after updating.

2. Simplified Diagnostic Data
More detail is needed here before judging the benefits but three collections levels are being cut down to just two: ‘Basic’ and ‘Full’. Basic will have only “data that is vital to the operation of Windows” which Microsoft defines are central to “keep Windows and apps secure, up-to-date, and running properly”.

Again you’ll be prompted to review your choice after installing the Creators Update.

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New Windows 10 ‘Basic’ privacy settings deliver more user control
Image credit: Microsoft

Why So Long? And New Questions On The Horizon

It is said the first step towards admitting you have a problem is admitting you have a problem. But Microsoft has skipped this by both (finally) admitting its problem and coming up with some solutions in a single step. That’s commendable, though we’d prefer to have had an admission much earlier and a “We’re working on it!” message.

On top of this, the Creators Update looks set to raise as many questions as it answers due to something it will add called ‘Dynamic Lock’. This uses your PC’s web camera to monitor when you are sat in front of it so it can be automatically locked when you step away. Users will be able to disable Dynamic Lock, which solves my concerns, but it is likely to start a whole new wave of conspiracy theories.

Furthermore, Microsoft must still address the issue of control over Windows 10 updates. The Creators Update introduces the option to delay the installation of non-security updates for up to 35 days, but only Windows 10 Professional, Education and Enterprise versions qualify.

This means Microsoft recognizes users’ need for control but the company continues to treat mainstream Windows 10 Home users as guinea pigs for the stability of new updates before they are provided to big business. That needs to stop and users of all versions deserve the right to have control over their PCs, should they want it.

Despite all this, it is clear Microsoft is making significant steps in the right direction with Windows 10. It just shouldn’t have taken so many obviously wrong ones in the first place.

YOUR TURN

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