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trying to become educated

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Mar 5, 2002
Let me predicate this question.

I have worked with both union companies and non-union companies, aviation and other. At the present time I am working for a non-union 135 sched. pax operation. And, to show my low stature we fly props, yes it's true piston pros at that.

The question I would ask is this.

In the opinion of the esteemed readers of this string.

1; What are the diffeculites of organizing an non-union shop?
(I do know that there are those that hate the idea of unions
and those that do not. )
2; What can be said for the two unions available to the small
company operators? ALPA, Teamsters.

I ask this simply because I am ignorant of the hardships of organizing. When, in the past, I have worked in union shops,
the contract was inplace.
I have talked with ALPA members who are very unhappy with the organization, and those that are very pleased with it. The same holds true with Teamsters.

When the gosip starts Iv'e heard all of the stories about how a contract will protect the workers, and better wages. I don't think that I have a bad gig at the present time and don't know that a union would provide anything I don't have. But I know very little
of this matter.
Enlighten me please.

Also, on bit different note. I have been told that my previous postings my have been a bit over bearing, due to having used a caps lock on the entries. If I have put anyone off or insulted any of you. Please accept my apologies, I lack some social and typing skills.

No offence intended.

I'm going to reply with my opinion, and some very limited experience in this area. There are others on this board with a great deal more specific experience, who will be able to offer sound advice.

In my experience, unionization or organization of small companies is difficult at best. It comes down to a matter of supply and demand. Once a union is in place, especially affiliation with a large organization such as ALPA or the teamsters, the company is stuck. But getting there is another matter.

With small companies, there is not a large employee base in any given area, significant enough to effect the leverage needed to bring about change in the company. In most cases, management establishes the grounds for discussion, and in most cases, there is little or no discussion. A strike, for example, in most cases would be out of the question.

I won't advocate rolling over and playing dead, but I abhor a union. Many small companies operate on a very thin margin. If the issue is vacation or pay, there usually isn't much room to play with. If the issue is maintenance, there are methods to bring pressure to bear, but again, thse can have an impact on employabilty at the time, or in the future. I have simply departed a company, in one case, when issues were too unacceptable. In such a case, pressure could be brought to bear using the FAA and other means, or we could have organized and refused to fly. In the first case, they would have shut down the company and reopened under a new certificate (which they did not long after I left), and on the second hand, they would shut down the company, let everyone go, then reopen under a different name. Again, which they did.

The bottom line is that in my opinion, in small companies (especially lower profile companies), there is far less room to maneuver with respect to organizing, and negotiating. Others may have a very different view.
Avbug is quite right.

The company I currently work for is fairly small, 10 planes and about 30 pilots. The owner is on a shoestring budget at best and does his ample best to borrow from peter to pay Paul just to keep our birds maintained to a level so, if the FAA ramped us in some out of the way airport we’d at least be able to fly home.

If we started to talk of union he would simply shut the op down and move, reopening under another name.

Unions maybe fine within a large corporate op or airline but for smaller operators it would mean the unemployment line for the pilots. Besides, most owners of such ops know that a pilot who is hire on today to fly a Chieftain will at best be on his payroll a year maybe two then their gone, onto the next level.

The company i am flying for though not a major, is not as small as one may think. 49 airplanes, 100 to 120 pilots and about 600 employees total.

I am not by any means trying to get any type of sales pitch, I would just like to gain some knowledge.

Thanks for the replys.

Let me qualify this post by saying at the outset that I am not an expert on unions. I do have a few basic comments that might prompt others to expand on them.

As you might guess, management will try to discourage employees from organizing. Discourage may be putting it mildly. Management may threaten employees with loss of jobs or other things, some of which may be rather sordid. I believe that most states have laws that forbid employers from threatening employees who want to organize. In other words, at least in theory, employees' jobs are protected. The Taft-Hartley Act is the federal law that governs union activities.

I believe that notification has to be given to the National Labor Relations Board that employees wish to hold a union election. I believe the term for that is a "white card." As soon as the NLRB receives that notification, jobs are protected.

I am really not sure how the mechanics work on implementing the union as collective bargaining agent after workers approve a union.

Some states have laws which say that a company which has a union is a "union shop," meaning you have to join the union to work at that company. "Closed shops" are illegal. Other states may be "right to work" states, meaning that while a company has a union you don't have to join it to work at that company. The federal Railway Labor Act regulates union activities involving air carriers.

Hope some of these points help a little. Let me recommend this book, Every Employee's Guide to the Law, by Lewin G. Joel, III, ISBN 0-679-75867-4, available at a bookstore near you. The book is well written and well-documented and provides good information for employment, generally. It has a chapter at the end on unions.
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big biz vs. small

avbug is right on. As a small biz owner for about 20 years I can attest to the fact that most small and independent businesses operate on a thin margin and unionization would just force them to close their doors.
Because of my background and growing up in the South I have to admit to an anti-union bias, but I can see a need for them in SOME big industries, esp. on safety related issues. But as for wages, the market should regulate itself. The Soviet Union tried managed economies. They didn't work. The market will ultimately prevail.

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