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Fortress Unionism

Posted by marshallz10 z9-10 CA (My Page) on
Sat, Jun 15, 13 at 8:16

Most Americans have little learning about the history of unionism and labor organizing overall, just lots of prejudices on many sides of the issues. Rich Yeselson has written a long article on the decline of unionism in the US following a vast wave of union strikes and other work-related activities following WWII, culminating in the passage of the Taft-Hartley bill in the latter part of the 1940's. Membership in unions stopped growing for the next two decades, newer workers were less inclined to join unions as they experienced decent working conditions and incomes during those years. Essentially they were riding on the coat-tail of unionized workers.

Union membership plummeted after 1980, especially in the private sectors while workers' incomes stagnated and actually fell relative the the gross national product.. Does unionism have a future in this globalized economy.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fortress Unionism


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Fortress Unionism

I meant to add that the comments appending the article add some good criticisms and insights about what is to be done to protect the rights of workers. Of value as well is a more technical article with interesting graphs by Dr. Gary K. Busch.

Here is a link that might be useful: Labour Movements and the Politics of Globalization


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A good subject, thank you, Marshallz... and good sources of information on the global picture of labor today and the failure of our representatives to actually represent us, the laborers who make it possible for those upper echelon capitalists and investors to actually realize the fortunes made off the backs of our labor.

I was never over enthusiastic about belonging to a union, but then I worked union jobs during a rather prosperous time in which wages hadn't been in such stark contrast to cost of living, very decent benefits were a normal part of that workplace, and manufacturing jobs were plentiful and open to those without any college or trade school education.

Greed and corruption, emphasis on special interests and personal gain, a lack of simple ethics and integrity have overtaken any thought of through who, and how, that massive gain is made possible.

Education is critical to maintaining fairness in the workplace, and should be a normal, or mandatory subject for study and discussion in public schools, given that a good portion of students will end up in the workplace of labor.

We're at a point where global organization is the only way to manage such a thing, with any hope of keeping some semblance of fair play, equality, and safety in the workplace.



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There is a lot of stuff in there I didn't know.

Around here, the last 'vestiges' of private sector unionism benefits are with the mines - the hours, wages, benefits, etc are by far and away the best you can find - and guys in their 20's manage to earn a very decent income w/o any college education.

AFAIK, none of the mines are union. And I'd be surprised if this new generation of miners knows the role the unions played in setting the bar.


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"She spent her days serving up Happy Meals, but when it came time to get paid, Natalie Gunshannon says a local McDonald's franchisee gave her an unhappy deal.

The Shavertown McDonald's forces workers to be paid only one way: with a payroll debit card that burdens workers with hefty fees to obtain their hard-earned cash, according to a lawsuit filed Thursday on behalf of Ms. Gunshannon and other McDonald's workers.

Ms. Gunshannon, 27, Dallas Twp., and an untold number of current and former employees had no option to receive a traditional paycheck or get paid by direct deposit, she and her attorneys said in the class-action against franchise owners Albert and Carol Mueller of Clarks Summit.

Ms. Gunshannon, who worked at the Shavertown McDonald's for a month after being hired April 24, refused to activate the payroll card after reviewing the fee structure, quit the job and reached out to an attorney to see if the practice was legal.

Attorney Michael J. Cefalo of West Pittston and his law firm then drafted a class-action lawsuit against the Muellers, who own 15 other McDonald's locations throughout Northeast Pennsylvania.

Filed in Luzerne County Court, the suit accused the Muellers and their limited partnership of violating the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Act and unlawfully boosting profits with the payroll card "scheme."

The suit seeks an unspecified amount of monetary damages on behalf of employees and asks a judge to award punitive damages against the company.

Beth Dal Santo, a spokeswoman for an association of McDonald's franchisees in the region, said the Muellers had not been served with the lawsuit Thursday and would not comment.

Ms. Gunshannon said the manager of the Muellers' Shavertown location refused to issue her a paper paycheck or pay via direct deposit, saying, "We only pay on the card."

The J.P. Morgan Chase payroll card carries fees for nearly every type of transaction, according to the lawsuit, including a $1.50 charge for ATM withdrawals, $5 for over-the-counter cash withdrawals, $1 to check the balance, 75 cents per online bill payment and $10 per month if the card is left inactive for more than three months.

Here is a link that might be useful: Example of why unions might make a comeback


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I certainly hope they do make a huge comeback, and that global organization can be realized. It's blatantly obvious that too many employers will jump at any chance to take advantage of workers/laborers in order to grab the most gains.

The evils of avarice...


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Man! I never heard of being paid by Cash Cards rather than by check or direct deposit or cash. These are, so it seems, debit cards with the abundant set of fees for their use.


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Walmart has been doing it since 2009 - the two options for employees being direct deposit or the debit card. The fees? No problem for Walmart with their employees being nickeled and dimed - they were probably paying check cashing fees anyway according to some financial guru.

Money savings in eliminating the paper checks? Walmart can't (or won't) say, but they will say they're saving 257,572 pounds of paper a year.


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I applaud the environmental stewardship, saving all those trees while contributing mightily to the environmental degradation of innumerable sweat-shop nations.


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Some schools were doing that debit card thing with student loans as well, getting kickbacks from the banks.

Something that commie, socialist Obama and his mob of union thugs at the consumer financial protection bureau are looking into.

Here is a link that might be useful: link


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  • Posted by ohiomom 3rdrockfromthesun (My Page) on
    Sat, Jun 15, 13 at 15:14

Unemployment is also administered via "bank cards" with fees to the users ... even if you have a bank account you cannot have your unemployment direct deposited to your bank.

Here is a link that might be useful: source of course


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About 25 years ago a client gave me a check for services due at delivery. I took the check to his bank. The teller asked if I had an account with the bank and I said no. I was told there would be a fee for cashing the check. I told the teller the bank could debit the account for the fee but I would need to be paid the face value. He said that would not be possible. My response was something like this:

"I can't tell the bank what top do, but here's what I'm going to do if I don't get face value for this check. I'll make an attempt to contact the check writer and give him the opportunity to redeem the check with cash. If I do not have the cash by 2PM, I will leave the check with the prosecutor to begin the process of hot check collection. Either way, I doubt your bank customer is going to be happy with your banking services."

A supervisor suddenly appeared and the check was paid.


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From the article linked by OM... "However, the vast majority of jobless claimants do have bank accounts and could often save money by having their unemployment benefits deposited directly into their bank accounts, instead of receiving benefits by way of debit cards."

Many people on unemployment had (and still have) bank accounts before joining the ranks of the jobless... I don't read that that segment of bank account holders are suddenly forced to accept the debit card route.


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pls, that's exactly right. We have a branch here of a large bank (Sovereign) that has that same indefensible policy. Someone was just telling me the other day that they were charged a fee to cash a check drawn on that bank because they themselves did not have an account. They should have made the same assertion that you did, which is more or less what I told them. It is entirely against regulations, to have that policy.


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"A supervisor suddenly appeared and the check was paid."

Funny how that works, isn't it?

Off topic, but...

I'm not a fan of most financial institutions because of their ability to lie to customers, taking full advantage to gain fees or commissions.

I do believe I should not have to have an account at a bank to have a given check cashed drawn on that bank by a customer, especially one in good standing. All I should require is the ability to prove I am the person the check is made out to, and the one signing it to get it cashed.

The idea that a check issued by that bank requires a 10-14 day holding period in order to cash it at that bank is a ludicrous one, as the teller can immediately check the balance and issue the cash as it appears in the account. And yes, I'v been told that very lie by a bank teller.

I know some operate on commission gained from opening new accounts, or that's how it would appear... as I was actually told by a bank that I had to open an account in order to cash a check drawn on that very bank by a customer in good standing. The odd thing was that the amount I could take with me at that moment, while leaving the remaining amount to "clear" changed three times during the conversation with the teller. It was all very interesting, and we finally walked away with cash, and a bad taste for that particular bank in our mouths.

The lengths some people or institutions will go to never ceases to amaze.

"I applaud the environmental stewardship, saving all those trees while contributing mightily to the environmental degradation of innumerable sweat-shop nations."

And we arrive back at the topic... labor and the organization thereof to maintain a fair and safe working environment.

Labor in America fought so hard to gain the laws we have that keep working environments safe and fair, and then we go and get all apathetic and think we do not need such organization any longer... or so it would seem. I'm sure that corruption within unions is partially responsible for any negative views on unions, but how can we think that management will never go back to taking advantage of the labor force if we don't keep our eye on such things?

And now, there's a need to globally organize as commerce is global and so is greed.


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As a young man I had a poor outlook on unions. They often supported inflexible rules that had a negative impact on efficiency and production and they seemed to be ripe for corruption. But there is a good side to unions. At times they are the only effective means to prevent abuse of individuals by companies that have a more or less monopoly on employment in a given area.

Unions probably serve little purpose where there is a competition for skills and labor. But that works only where there is mobility for individuals to move from an unfair employer to one that is better.

There have always been workers who live from paycheck to paycheck. For these people even a minor bump in the economic road could result in a downward spiral where they lose everything. Such people are on an economic treadmill they can't get off. I sometimes think of them as economic slaves. Without any resources, they have no mobility. And I think the number of people in this situation has swelled over the past 10 years to a point where employers now have too much power. Perhaps we will see the reemergence of unions.


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Did I miss something? In the examples of both pls8xx and pnbrown - why didn't the check receiver cash or deposit the check at his own bank as opposed to going to the bank of the check issuer? I don't get the concept - Aunt Miranda in North Dakota sends your kids a birthday check - take a road trip to cash it at her issuing bank?

I get the idea of certain funds being "held" for a few business days if the balance in your account is insufficient to cover the amount of the new check, or you're trying to cash out a check over 10k, etc etc.


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I may be wrong, but it is my understanding that the reason Banks insist that the person cashing the cheque has an account is in case the cheque bounces. If that should happen the bank then debits the account of the person who cashed the cheque. Checking the balance on line doesn't guarantee that the funds will be there by the time the cheque clears.

I believe it is now possible for many banks to immediately debit an account but I don't believe all banks have this ability.


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duluth, As a small business owner, I found it easy to get in a situation where I spent half my time collecting accounts receivable. It was better for me to quote a firm price where I could demand payment on job completion even though that sometimes resulted in a loss on the job.

By immediately cashing a check I avoided an insufficiency in the account when my bank put the check through and also prevented any stop payment of the check. Nothing beats having the money in hand.


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Does unionism have a future in this globalized economy.

No. Not with such a high percentage of voting reactionaries in this country who refer to a small, tiny fraction of workers who remain unionized as socialists, communists, and thugs. Pretty much the same group who refer to teachers as thugs.

Our future is serving fries with whatever it is your eating...along with part-time, minimum wage, no benefits entitlements.

-Ron-


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part-time slaving for pitiful wages as defended by the slaves; the capitalist's wet dream come true.


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When you walk into the bank upon which the check in your hand is drawn, they must cash it if the funds are in the account. It's dead obvious. What the heck is the point of writing a check if a person can't cash it immediately at the check-writer's bank? A check is a form of cash, as we know when clerks ask us "cash or credit?" and when we write a check it falls into the cash category.

It is sheer thievery for the check-writer's bank to charge a fee to cash that check, and I'd bet dollars to doughnuts it's not allowed. They simply get away with it when the recipient doesn't question it.


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In all my years, I've never tried transacting check cashing business at a bank or its branches where I am not an account holder. I always figured that banks, in their mysterious fee happy ways, would impose a penalty if I were a non-account holder. That seemed more obvious (something I often tend to have an uncanny grasp of) than thinking I could go to any bank or credit union and, as a non-account holder, transact business sans fees even though money should be regarded as money in whatever repository it sits.

Declining revenues and a more restrictive regulatory climate - you get bank fees for everything they can get away with to make up for any of their perceived "shortfalls".


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Typically, there should be no fee or required account for cashing a check at the bank it originates from, or is drawn on. If someone gives me a check in payment, I go to their bank and ask to have it cashed. I sign the check, show I.D., and the teller should cash the check with no fees required, nor should I have to have an account at that bank.

I do believe there are FDIC regulations that cover this...


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Typically I would agree with you. Lot of shoulds there - but will they cash the check without fees and annoying you with attempts to get you to open an account.

The FDIC kicks in and covers all deposit accounts, including checking and savings accounts, money market deposit accounts and certificates of deposit at $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank. It doesn't regulate a non-account holder transacting business without a possible fee.


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'Membership in unions stopped growing for the next two decades, newer workers were less inclined to join unions as they experienced decent working conditions and incomes during those years. Essentially they were riding on the coat-tail of unionized workers.
Union membership plummeted after 1980,"

Seems like a funny way of looking at it.

You're saying that membership in unions declined because working conditions improved. But, somehow, it's still the unions, " Essentially they were riding on the coat-tail of unionized workers.", that were the cause of the improvement.

Sounds like we could get even better working conditions if we were to cut out even more unions? Maybe keep one going somewhere for the coattail effect?

OSHA wants to take credit for it, of course....

"In four decades, OSHA and our state partners, coupled with the efforts of employers, safety and health professionals, unions and advocates, have had a dramatic effect on workplace safety.

Since 1970, workplace fatalities have been reduced by more than 65 percent and occupational injury and illness rates have declined by 67 percent. At the same time, U.S. employment has almost doubled.

Worker deaths in America are down---from about 38 worker deaths a day in 1970 to 13 a day in 2011.

Worker injuries and illnesses are down---from 10.9 incidents per 100 workers in 1972 to fewer than 4 per 100 in 2010."

Maybe there's another explanation for improved workplace safety that doesn't involve unions, OSHA and Jimmy Hoffa?

Maybe?

Hay


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plsxxx:

Unions probably serve little purpose where there is a competition for skills and labor. But that works only where there is mobility for individuals to move from an unfair employer to one that is better.

Jodi:

" the laborers who make it possible for those upper echelon capitalists and investors to actually realize the fortunes made off the backs of our labor."

That's so 1800's.

Mobility? Catch the bus going the other way.

Your back? Certainty not YOUR back. You have trouble getting out of bed, remember?

We send the backbreaking jobs to China and you're still arguing that?

That's so 1800's.

Hay

This post was edited by haydayhayday on Sun, Jun 16, 13 at 18:53


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So, what was the driving force in the creation of OSHA rules? I doubt that manufacturing companies were leading; perhaps the liability insurers? Perhaps the tort lawyers? Nahhhhh.


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" I doubt that manufacturing companies were leading;"

Why do you doubt that? Other than your ingrained dislike of business?

Two companies. One safe, one not so safe. Which one would you choose to work for?

Does it ever benefit a company to make their employees miserable if there's another way?

Hay


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More myth-making, Hay-less?

You have an odd idea of my attitude toward business, as you do of my politics. I've been in business for myself close to 40 years and run a couple of enterprises even now. (Good enough reason to keep me off the dance floor!)

Chinese mining and manufacturing, at least as reported in US media, is a prime example of caring management seeing to the safety of its work forces. Chinese business men learned from their Western counterparts.


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In today's climate, hay, is there really a choice? A lot of people who are employed will put up with much to stay employed. The mobility issue rearing its ugly head. I'm not putting too fine a point on it, but many companies will do miserable things to keep their bottom line from being affected - chances of getting inspected by the few remaining safety inspectors are iffy - and being able to ignore violations because they have no teeth is a risk some outfits will take.

For those of us who spent our working careers in air-conditioned, well lit, ergonomically appointed offices, it's hard to imagine people knee deep in offal or manning machinery that could mangle limbs or mining deep underground or working around unsafely stored chemicals.


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"I've been in business for myself close to 40 years and run a couple of enterprises even now."

Yes, and tell your employees that, if you don't treat them right, come see me.

"Chinese mining and manufacturing...."

You forgot about Bangladesh, India, most of Africa,... much of the world now that I think of it.

I've said it before. One more time can't hurt:

What these people in Bangladesh and China need is a good union organizer and suddenly, overnight, their lives would put us and our misery to shame. Where's Hoffa when the world needs him?

Hay


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Warning:

A brief interlude simply because I found it interesting. Perhaps you will, too if you want to click on the link and look at the pictures of a Chinese toy factory.

Here is a link that might be useful: A Toy Story


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I would prefer the cheaper route which would be a new generation of empathetic managers whose compensationa were tied to bottom lines that included treating workers well in a safe working environment. Socializing the true costs of doing business is still socialism. Or, with assistance of government, still fascism.


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Countless times I have cashed checks in the bank written upon, without being an account-holder in that bank. It has nothing to with accounts other than the one the check is drawn upon. Isn't that simple to understand? When someone writes you a check, they don't place third-party restrictions on you. Like pls said, if the bank won't cash it, it's actionable against the account-holder.


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"I would prefer the cheaper route which would be a new generation of empathetic managers...."

That simple, huh?

A few union organizers and a few lessons in empathy and this starving Haitian kid will be well fed by tomorrow?


Don't look at the picture. It's a malnourished kid in Haita. Typical kid who is starving to death because of a lack of unions and empathy. Really, do trust me.

I strongly suspect his dad would prefer a job in a factory like the Chinese have, dangerous as it might seem to YOU, than all the Do Gooders with nothing but good intentions that you can send down.

I suspect, too, that his father would be happy to take just about any job in the USA, no matter how awful YOU might think it is.

"knee deep in offal or manning machinery that could mangle limbs or mining deep underground or working around unsafely stored chemicals."

Those included.

Hay


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Self employed Haitian miners. Trash miners.

Who can they blame for their miserable lives? Not the lack of unions. Self-employed, remember? Not the lack of empathetic managers. Self-employed, remember?

Marshall, got any more ideas?

Hay

This post was edited by haydayhayday on Sun, Jun 16, 13 at 18:45


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Such a curse to be self employed and not beholden to the likes of Hay-effect for jobs. Among those "trash miners" in Haiti are likely future entrepreneurs. Only in your imagination are they leading miserable lives. Honest work doen't interest the Hay-field apparently. :)


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"Only in your imagination are they leading miserable lives."

That's a joke, right?

Hard to know with all you say.

I have a slow dial up and I'm just now seeing the misery in the factories of China that you're always talking about. Compliments of Duluth's link.

If you did look at the kid in Haiti, (perhaps it's his father in the trash mining business), do you suppose that kid, if he grows up a bit ,would find such a factory job horrendous in his mind?

Suffer as a kid in a Chinese factory or be a kid in Haiti.

Which would you choose?

These Chinese left the countryside for these jobs. Glad for the opportunity.

Hay


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Speaking of Chinese leaving the countryside for city jobs, I found the article at the link amazing -

BEIJING - China is pushing ahead with a sweeping plan to move 250 million rural residents into newly constructed towns and cities over the next dozen years - a transformative event that could set off a new wave of growth or saddle the country with problems for generations to come.

The government, often by fiat, is replacing small rural homes with high-rises, paving over vast swaths of farmland and drastically altering the lives of rural dwellers. So large is the scale that the number of brand-new Chinese city dwellers will approach the total urban population of the United States - in a country already bursting with megacities.

This will decisively change the character of China, where the Communist Party insisted for decades that most peasants, even those working in cities, remain tied to their tiny plots of land to ensure political and economic stability. Now, the party has shifted priorities, mainly to find a new source of growth for a slowing economy that depends increasingly on a consuming class of city dwellers.

The shift is occurring so quickly, and the potential costs are so high, that some fear rural China is once again the site of radical social engineering. Over the past decades, the Communist Party has flip-flopped on peasants’ rights to use land: giving small plots to farm during 1950s land reform, collectivizing a few years later, restoring rights at the start of the reform era and now trying to obliterate small landholders. snip

Twelve years, 250,000,000 new city dwellers. I thought they hadn't caught up with the ones they had already.

Talk about human migrations.....

Here is a link that might be useful: move to town, like it or not


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Hay, you can throw up all the propaganda images you care to post. The dining hall is wonderful with focal depth focused on one woman, everyone seems to have brought a meal in plastic bags of different colors, with exactly the same meal of rice with sides of veg.(?). Even the containers seem identical. I posit that the meals were there set out and the workers were invited in for purposes of the photograph and were expecting to take away leftovers in their plastic bags. Probably the best meal for them in quite some time. At least that is my interpretation as to the real story behind the meal.

David, that is an awesome display of central governmental power. China is expecting massive droughts over the hinterlands and excessive rains in the south with climate change. Better to move the population now to constructed cities than to deal with uncontrolled internal migration.

They can all become happy workers in sweat shops cheered on by the Hay-cap.


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"A brief interlude simply because I found it interesting. Perhaps you will, too if you want to click on the link and look at the pictures of a Chinese toy factory."

Very interesting. You sure fooled me, duluthinbloomz4. Never would I have imagined that you were a propagandist for the Chinese.

Marshall is full of..... surprises.

Hay


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In support of Hah's support of women worker's rights in Asia, let me be the first to post this small story about the value of garment industries to Bangladesh.

Here is a link that might be useful: Linky


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Propaganist for the Chinese? Hardly and only If you think the word "interesting" is editorializing.

The link was a glimpse into just one of the many Chinese factories that produce 75% of the world's toys and which may or may not have been staged for the benefit of the photographer.


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"may or may not have been staged for the benefit of the photographer."

May? I have it on good authority that it was all staged. It was the plastic bags that gave your little ruse away. Shame on you!

(I like the picture of a couple of people sleeping on the job. What makes you think they need a union? They're doing just fine.)

"In support of Hah's support of women worker's rights in Asia, let me be the first to post this small story about the value of garment industries to Bangladesh."

Not to worry. A little empathy and a little union organization and the women will be just fine. The union organizers, with a little empathy, will clean up that nasty water supply in no time at all while they're at it.

Tomorrow the women will be just fine and they'll all be back to shopping at Saks.

Hay


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Oh, how sweet.

Hoffa may actually be coming back!!

And we are given a reminder of what the union really is all about.

Thugs.

"The FBI has theorized that Hoffa disappeared after going to the restaurant for a reconciliation meeting with Anthony (Tony Pro) Provenzano, a mob-connected New Jersey Teamster official, and Anthony (Tony Jack) Giacalone, a Detroit Mafia captain.

The FBI thought Provenzano and Giacalone had Hoffa killed to prevent him from regaining the Teamsters presidency, ending the mob's influence over the union and its easy access to Teamster pension funds. Hoffa ran the union from 1957-71."

THUGS!

Hay


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"I would prefer the cheaper route which would be a new generation of empathetic managers...."

Hey!!!

Why don't we just send over that mobster on trial in Boston, James ‘Whitey’ Bulger, and let him lead the Bangladesh people to a better life.

We can avoid the expense of a trial, the expense of jailing him and the Bangladesh people will be forever grateful to us.

Brilliant, don't you think?!?!

Win, win, win.

I'll do my part and buy the ticket. You want to chip in a bit, Marshall?

Hay


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Hay-massif, you are truly the Dancing Master!


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Haiti is a good example for this thread. Would unions solve the problem of a population that has over-run and utterly destroyed its environment?

Were unions successful in the US and Canada in large part because of immense natural resources and comparatively small populations?


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"Haiti is a good example for this thread. Would unions solve the problem of a population that has over-run and utterly destroyed its environment?

Were unions successful in the US and Canada in large part because of immense natural resources and comparatively small populations?"

How were unions "successful"?

Successful meaning that they were good at extorting the rest of the population? Extorting the business owners? I'd imagine that sort of behavior is "successful" in so many other places on so many levels. I'd imagine the same thing happening in Haiti.

"Successful" in the sense of adding to the wonderful bounty of life? We'll ask Jimmy when we find him.

Interesting question in general, when do groups like the Mafia gain the upper hand in a society? What causes the power of the unions to wax and wane? How was Rudy able to knock the breath out of the NYC Mafia? Why does Mexico have gang problems? Is it at all related to the wealth of a nation? To its population density? Off the top of my head, I'd guess not.

While I'm writing this, I'm wondering: Did the rise and fall of the unions in this country coincide pretty much with the rise and fall of the Mafia? When was the Mafia at its peak?

Hay


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Speaking locally, the rise of the unions coincided with the mining boom. So you'd have 'piece work' in the mines - so many tons of ore / day - and they'd keep bumping that up. Immigrant miners paid in script to be used at the company store and to rent company housing. Workers in perpetual hock to the mining company. Unsafe working conditions, injured workers and families were just thrown out of their houses, TB and other lung diseases were rife, and then the union organizers came along.

So the mining companies hired thugs to beat them up, got the governor to send in the national guard to break up the strikes.

At the link is a wiki description of the Ludlow Massacre, which describes the working conditions at the mines and the strike - worth a read. There are plenty of descriptions of the massacre around, but this one is relatively objective.

The Ludlow Massacre was a watershed moment in American labor relations. Historian Howard Zinn described the Ludlow Massacre as "the culminating act of perhaps the most violent struggle between corporate power and laboring men in American history".[3] Congress responded to public outcry by directing the House Committee on Mines and Mining to investigate the incident.[4] Its report, published in 1915, was influential in promoting child labor laws and an eight-hour work day.

Here is a link that might be useful: link


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Excellent example of why the rise of unions and organized labor was needed in this country.


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" Is it at all related to the wealth of a nation? To its population density? Off the top of my head, I'd guess not."

By "it" I guess you mean the common presence of unions vs rarity or absence? If so, I would again assert that there is very likely a correlation between unionism and population density. It makes perfect sense that when there is a high population density vs very unequal control over resources unions will gain little or no traction. When you have a relatively low density, as in the case of the example of most mining regions, unions have a good chance of getting established, though of course not without considerable strife.


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When I read that Ludlow piece, I see Extortion. We've discussed it before and I think I likened it to being dissatisfied with the lawn mowing kid that I tried to fire and having him and his family set up a camp at the beginning of my driveway and refusing to allow any other kid to come through to replace him. Doing that for more than a year. My lawn!

Mobility, Pls8xx?

These miners were very mobile. They moved out of the company provided housing and set up tents where they lived. Trains were coming through according to the article. Hop on a train and go where the jobs were more to their liking. Couldn't afford it? They could afford to be on strike for more than a year!!

There were apparently mobile people, the scabs, who were more than willing to move in and take the jobs these people were not satisfied with.

pnbrown, how does the fact that the biggest concentration of union power today is in government jobs, things like fire departments, police departments and school systems in that low density place called New York City fit into your thesis?

Hay


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RE: Fortress Unionism

Hay, all I have to judge by are my own personal observations on the general circumstances of the working poor in my area.

First off, there a lot of them, maybe as much as 25% of the population. They have jobs, sometimes more than one. But their income (and any available welfare) falls short of providing the basics that I and most people would find acceptable. They have no money reserves to cover even minor financial emergencies, none. They are renters with little hope of ever becoming homeowners. Nor are they credit worthy. Few ever seek credit because they know all too well they could never pay off a debt.

This is a semi rural area with no public transportation. To hold a job one must have a working vehicle. Most employers won't hire you if you don't. With very limited resources, many obtain a car from a one man used car seller. One can get a car for as little as $200 down (the price the seller paid at a junker car auction) followed by weekly payments. Miss a payment and the car goes back. Th people that buy these cars seldom drive them beyond what is absolutely necessary, knowing they have a limited life and there will be no money for repairs.

Renters in Arkansas are at a disadvantage. After 10 days of nonpayment of rent a landlord can invoke a criminal eviction. No court action is required. Since it is a criminal matter, all that is needed is an affidavit with the local prosecutor.

Thus many of the working poor can not risk the consequences of going two weeks without a paycheck. They can end up homeless without even a car. And the safety net of unemployment will come too late to avoid those consequences. The situation is ripe for employer abuse. It is to the employers advantage that the workers remain in this financial condition. It's a form of economical slavery.

Now Hay, you suggest that mobility is as simple as "Catch the bus going the other way". Even a bus costs money, if there is one to catch. But I suppose jumping on a freight train or hitch hiking is still free. Does one not need to consider the fate of dependent children or others left behind? Your words of advice to the working poor remind of something I've heard before .... "Let them eat cake".


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RE: Fortress Unionism

Speaking of mobility, our poorest region of the state with one highest unemployment rates in the state is an urban area with a very good job market.

Transportation isn't an issue due to transit, taxis and walking/biking distance.

The big employment barriers (for those seriously looking for work) are education (40 percent drop-out rate in the local school system), experience, work ethic, soft skills and ability to pass background checks, drug tests, aptitude tests, physical fitness assessments, probationary periods etc.

Many don't have a driver's license so they can't even get a job delivering pizzas, nor many other jobs which require driving.

Many of those that have a driver's license can't pass a DMV check as they have too many driving violations.

When we run DMV checks the job applicants often don't realize that their license has been suspended.

Due to the shortage of employable local workers many of the jobs in the area are performed by workers that already have a job or two, or out of town commuters.


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RE: Fortress Unionism

"Let them eat cake"

You don't need to tell me the reality of being poor in a rural community.

Cars? No car in my family ever in my years of being at home. My mom finally got one after I graduated college. I can still see images of me hitchhiking in the pouring down rain. Finally picked up by some drunk. Poor little Hay.

Indoor toilet? Third grade, but you had to flush it with a pail of water. The hillside was better for me. You learn how to recognize poison ivy very early. Poor little Hay

Times when the ONLY food in the house was some canned peaches. No cake. Poor little Hay.

I know rural poverty as well as anyone.

In the picture you paint, there probably wouldn't be much advantage to being able to move to the next town over. McDonalds around here pay around the same as the ones in Arkansas.

There is indeed a lot of poverty in this country. Unions aren't going to help you with that.

Detroit just needs even more unions?

Hay


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RE: Fortress Unionism

Another issue we see with mobility is that many poor and low income residents that live outside the cities refuse to move to, or closer to areas with more jobs, public transit, walking/biking distance to jobs/shopping etc.

Since there aren't many jobs in many rural areas many without transportation, or with limited transportation end up working low paying part-time, temporary, seasonal or underground economy jobs closer to home, then applying for numerous welfare benefits.

The numerous welfare benefits allow them to live well in areas with poor job markets and/or transportation challenges.

Many say "we can't afford to move", however the truth is many can't afford not to move. Many that don't move are forced to move when they're evicted often losing many possessions they can't transport/store in the process.


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RE: Fortress Unionism

Hay, you have my sympathies for the austere lifestyle of your childhood. Considering your opinions of the working poor I wonder if you view your parents as deficient in providing better. Were they lazy, unwilling to do what was needed?

You have my congratulation for your rise from that background. I wonder if a better than average intelligence played a roll. For every person with a higher than average there must be one of lower. So, is it only right that those of minimal intelligence be doomed to a life of poverty?


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RE: Fortress Unionism

"Hay, you have my sympathies for the austere lifestyle of your childhood."

I wasn't looking for sympathy. I did want to let you know that this was not one of Romney kids talking.

Considering your opinions of the working poor I wonder if you view your parents as deficient in providing better. Were they lazy, unwilling to do what was needed?"

I don't know quite what you mean by "my opinion of the working poor", but I think, in my case, some of the reason was deficiency. We don't need to go into detail or make this about me though.

"You have my congratulation for your rise from that background. I wonder if a better than average intelligence played a roll. For every person with a higher than average there must be one of lower. So, is it only right that those of minimal intelligence be doomed to a life of poverty?

There is no doubt that intelligence played a role. A big cast of players though and intelligence was just one of them.

I am grateful for the people that helped me along. I'd still be more than OK without the help, but I'm eternally grateful to my aunts and uncles who gave me a helping hand. I'm eternally grateful to the teachers who helped me along the way. I'm eternally grateful to the church people who brought us food. I'm eternally grateful to the church funded college that gave me aid. I could on and on.

I'm grateful for the local factory that made a point of hiring the poorest kids to work in the non union factory that supported most of the town so I could have spending money for school. I could go on and on.

Somewhere in there, the government played a role, I guess. I went to a public school after all. But other than that sort of thing, most of my help came from private people doing what they could.

So, is it only right that those of minimal intelligence be doomed to a life of poverty?

That statement gets to me a bit. The sentiment gets expressed around here a lot. A LOT. A LOT.

Just because I'm against YOUR LOUSY IDEAS about how to get people out of poverty does not mean that I don't want to help people get out of poverty. I exaggerated with the LOUSY IDEAS emphasis, but I hope you get the idea.

"Progressives", Liberals and the like do not have a monopoly on caring.

Personally I think most of the "progressive", liberal ideas will cause MORE poverty and MORE misery.

Try to keep that in mind when you judge my ideas.

So, is it only right that those of minimal intelligence be doomed to a life of poverty?

No, I hope I can contribute to the ideas about how to eradicate poverty. I care.

Thanks.

Hay


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RE: Fortress Unionism

Thank you for the response Hay. When you're not so cryptic your ideas are easier to understand. I share some of your views on the downside to unions.

I am a firm believer that our capitalistic system is far better than socialism, but it does need controls to work right. There is a balance where things stay on track without handcuffing business. It is debatable where the proper level of control lies.

For the sale of goods and services we have laws on monopolies and price fixing. Such laws are necessary to curb an inappropriate level of business power over consumers.

Controls in the area of the cost of labor are minimal, though a minimum wage law does have an effect. We should be vigilant that business, like with monopolies and price fixing, does not gain an unfair advantage. Where government can't get the job done, I think we have to look to labor unions for a solution even with the history of corruption unions have.

Even reasonable men can have a disagreement on what constitutes an unfair advantage. And if it exists, it may be limited to a particular industry or locale.


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RE: Fortress Unionism

"pnbrown, how does the fact that the biggest concentration of union power today is in government jobs, things like fire departments, police departments and school systems in that low density place called New York City fit into your thesis?"

By way of noting that in densely-populated areas unions mostly have power only in government jobs. Government cannot be seen to be union-busting. Do the much more numerous cleaners and building attendants have unions?


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RE: Fortress Unionism

I thought most of the office cleaners, security officers, food service personnel would be unionized under SEIU (Service Employees International Union). Cleaners and janitors would be in the property services sector. The other two areas of SEIU focus are health care and public services (local and state govt. employees). SEIU is the fastest growing labor union with over 150 local US branches.


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RE: Fortress Unionism

Brown: "Government cannot be seen to be union-busting."

Hah. Two words: "Scott Walker."


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RE: Fortress Unionism

I wonder if the union negotiations for government employees have much to do with why many municipalities are bankrupt?


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RE: Fortress Unionism

Municipalities go bankrupt for a variety of reasons. From what I've seen, it generally involves gross mismanagement and / or corruption.

Currently, the big hue and cry around the country is over union-bargained pensions and how they put a strain on budgets. Largely absent from the discussion is the role of the Great Recession - hammered all the pension fund investments, hammered gvt revenues. But its so much more fun to blame the union than to blame sharks on Wall Street conniving with rating agencies under the benevolent gaze of under-funded regulatory agencies run by pseudo-Libertarian ideologues.


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RE: Fortress Unionism

"I wonder if the union negotiations for government employees have much to do with why many municipalities are bankrupt?"

I've wondered about that, too. I know some cops and teachers with some pretty sweet benefits. And then there are other classifications of government workers who get...well, not so much.. ;-)

I'm sure it varies wildly by region, city, town, etc.


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RE: Fortress Unionism

Pls8xx:

For the sale of goods and services we have laws on monopolies and price fixing. Such laws are necessary to curb an inappropriate level of business power over consumers.

Controls in the area of the cost of labor are minimal, though a minimum wage law does have an effect. We should be vigilant that business, like with monopolies and price fixing, does not gain an unfair advantage. Where government can't get the job done, I think we have to look to labor unions for a solution even with the history of corruption unions have."

Unions want to be the monopoly that you are speaking against. Rather than allow companies to hire whomever they want, the scabs, the unions will do all that's in their power to make sure that you only buy from them, the entrenched workers. Workers who will unite to fix the price. You wouldn't like to tolerate that behavior with the business owners but you'll applaud it when you see it with the "workers"?

pnbrown:

"Government cannot be seen to be union-busting."

...

"I wonder if the union negotiations for government employees have much to do with why many municipalities are bankrupt?"

David:

"Municipalities go bankrupt for a variety of reasons. From what I've seen, it generally involves gross mismanagement and / or corruption.

Elvis:

I've wondered about that, too. I know some cops and teachers with some pretty sweet benefits."

How many of you really read the fine print in your contract with, say, the credit card that you use? How many of you can even understand it if you do read it?

If you're an employer, you've got to watch out for kickback schemes. If you're the buyer for anything in an organization, you can pretty much expect that you'll be offered a kickback along the way. It may take the form of nothing more than the salesman treating you to an expensive lunch, but it's always there.You're choosing where to spend the company's money and sometimes a little money under the table can make a big difference to the employee buyer. It's the employer's money that the buyer is spending, after all, not the employee's.

As an elected official, you're the Big Buyer. Your kickback? Getting elected is the start. We spend a lot of time talking about lobby power and the corruption of government officials on this forum.

So, you've got these people, a big part of the community, the government employees, the cops, the teachers, the transit workers, the firemen, the garbage men who can make you look really bad to the people who hire you, the public. People don't like to walk to work with no cops on the stench filled street, their kids in tow while their houses are burning down. Not the way to keep your nice job as Mayor.

A little kickback in the form of a lucrative contract with the union, the monopolist in town, hidden in the fine print that the voting public will never read makes your political life a lot easier. Make a big part of the kickback in the form of a nice retirement package and you, the mayor, will be long gone before anyone is the wiser.

Meanwhile, someone spending their own money as a business owner is not quite as easy a target for this kind of extortion/kickback scheme. Just ask the miners at Ludlow and John Rockefeller.

This illustrates, too, one of the problems with Socialism in general. I watch MY money very carefully. When it's mostly YOUR money, not so much.

Hay


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RE: Fortress Unionism

Good post, Hay.

At the other end of the economic spectrum, the owners and other wealthy would have little incentive to contribute a larger share to the workers and communities without some push back from either organized labor or "progressive" governments.

WalMart manages to profit from a system steeped in socialism: food stamps and other welfare contributions collected by underemployed and under-compensated employees/


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RE: Fortress Unionism

Does corruption exist? I think it does. But is corruption any less where municipal "buyers" work with private business rather than unions?

Hay does seem to be more than a little upset on the issue; perhaps due to the conditions in his area? I would suggest he take some of his "mobility" advice to abused workers, move to someplace better.

marshallz brings up a good point on Walmart. I do agree that the system is a public subsidy of Walmart's labor cost. What would be the solution to stop it? Should we cut off all aid, causing the workers to starve or quit? Maybe it could be done with a higher minimum wage with no loopholes for part time workers. Or should we encourage workers to organize and demand a reasonable wage above poverty level. Some other solution?

We may never have the perfect balance of power between business and labor but a strong advantage to either is bad for society in general. Organized labor can play a roll in this balance and the need for unions will wax and wane with conditions. The vast redistribution of wealth over the last 10 years from the many at the bottom to the few at the top probably has changed the dynamics to favor unions. Just my opinion.


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RE: Fortress Unionism

"Should we cut off all aid, causing the workers to starve or quit? Maybe it could be done with a higher minimum wage with no loopholes for part time workers. Or should we encourage workers to organize and demand a reasonable wage above poverty level. Some other solution?"

Sounds like you have a well thought out solution to the problems that you see. You should run for public office.

Personally I like the idea of raising the minimum wage. But, let's not dilly dally and just do it right this time around: Raise the minimum wage to something on the order of $50 per hour.

The Walmart workers will be able to support their family, buy cars and still have money left over to go to the seashore.

Since more taxes will roll in to the government, I can be assured that Social Security and Medicare will always be there for me and I can stop working and go to the seashore.

See you all at the shore!!!

Hay


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RE: Fortress Unionism

Speaking of Walmart, we know a lot of Walmart workers - the majority of which are voluntarily under-employed.

Of these workers, the majority are younger childless workers living in middle/upper middle class households with parents, so taxpayers aren't subsidizing them.

Many of these workers have 2 or 3 jobs with flexible hours.

The other voluntarily under-employed Walmart workers are single mothers with multiple kids.
They don't want full time jobs, or will never move up the ladder as they're unwilling to work various hours, various days, nights, overnights, on-call hours, at other stores etc.

Due to being single and having young kids, these mothers would have to make $20 plus per hour to be self sufficient "if" they worked full-time year round jobs.

Many job seekers can't find well paying full-time jobs as they lack education, knowledge, skills, experience, work ethic, driver's licenses and can't pass background checks, drug tests, aptitude tests, physical fitness assessments, DMV checks etc.


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RE: Fortress Unionism

Marshall, you mention you gave been in business for yourself and run a couple of enterprises even now. What average hourly rate do your employees earn in the current enterprises?


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RE: Fortress Unionism

markjames said:

"Many job seekers can't find well paying full-time jobs as they lack education, knowledge, skills, experience, work ethic, driver's licenses and can't pass background checks, drug tests, aptitude tests, physical fitness assessments, DMV checks etc."

What does that say about our culture that produces so many of these people?


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RE: Fortress Unionism

jmc01, I would rather not be specific about financial details of my businesses, the wages vary depending on longevity, job description and other considerations. $12-15 to start, upper end in the low $20s with a monthly amount added for purchasing "insurance". Time-and-a-half for over 40 hours/week.


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RE: Fortress Unionism

"Many job seekers can't find well paying full-time jobs as they lack education, knowledge, skills, experience, work ethic, driver's licenses and can't pass background checks, drug tests, aptitude tests, physical fitness assessments, DMV checks etc".

What does that say about our culture that produces so many of these people?

Poor parenting, mentoring, teaching, discipline, responsibility, motivation, mental/physical fitness/toughness - too much to list.


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RE: Fortress Unionism

More on Walmart. From feedback we're getting from job applicants at soon to open SuperCenter it seems they're hiring mostly temps.

Apparently they'll work as temps for 180 days with an unknown number of scheduled hours.

We helped 5 apply that were rejected by numerous other employers, yet hired by Walmart, although 2 now don't want the jobs.


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RE: Fortress Unionism

"too much to list" doesn't begin to address the problems; just iterations of symptoms of a deeper dysfunction in society.

I can't find enough fit people to work for me, much less motivated ones. Few people know how to work with their bodies, work smart and not hurt themselves.


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RE: Fortress Unionism

I can't find enough fit people to work for me, much less motivated ones. Few people know how to work with their bodies, work smart and not hurt themselves.

This is why more and more businesses have pre-employment physical fitness assessments.

One of our employees recently had to pass two different physical fitness assessments - strength and cardio, plus she has to attend lifting and restraint classes before she can work with mentally retarded clients.

Apparently they had many workers that were hurting themselves and clients as they were in terrible shape.

If you have a high school diploma, a clean driver's license, can pass a drug/background check and are in good physical shape you're almost guaranteed a job.


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