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Huge disparity found in union wages is not sustainable model

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

Diana Lacey of Belmont, president of the state employees' association of NH/SEIU Union, Local 1984 waxes unhappily regarding the compensation of labor in America. I have a Labor Day wish as well. Visionary union leaders to replace the incompetents that have led labor over a cliff for the past 50 years.

Some thoughts and observations:
Samuel Gompers founded the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1886. Interestingly, he is buried within yards of one of the most successful business leaders of all time, Andrew Carnegie. Death silenced both men but that isn't much of a solution to the deep differences that still exist between labor and management. If only both sides would simply stop trying to harm each other, every person in America would benefit.
American industry thrives. Businesses are more profitable than ever, but unions have struggled for a half century. Employers in the early 1900s lacked the foresight to provide basic benefits and proper safety for labor, a stain that remains on business to this day. Unions deserve full credit for for righting that wrong. Despite those victories, unions are a dying breed, with good reason. Union membership peaked in 1979 at 21 million or 34 percent of the workforce. Today, membership is about 11.4 million or 11.3 percent of the workforce.

Why the unending slide of almost 50 percent? Answer: the average wage of a union worker in 2012, including benefits, was $53,552. That number is $12,000 more than non-unionized workers. Government union workers earned an average $81,637. Is it any wonder government employees like those at the IRS want only to EXPAND GOVERNMENT payrolls. Diana mentions selfish CEOS, lets talk about GREEDY, ARROGANT, government UNION employees always trying to stuff their pockets at tax payers expense. Their actions are just as egregious as anyone's.
This huge disparity of wages is not a sustainable model, as has been proven over past decades. Union jobs with high wages put EVERY UNION job at RISK to be eliminated FIRST by every business and business owner who now has to compete, not just locally and domestically but globally. Some union leaders FINALLY SEE IT. Richard Trumpka, president of the AFL-CIO said recently " to be blunt our basic system of workforce representation is FAILING to meet the needs of Americas workforce by every measure". In 1924, Gompers gave his most memorable speech saying "no lasting gain has ever come form COMPULSION". Gompers believed labor should be inspired by "the spirit of service" in order for the movement to be respected and successful. Compare that thinking to the words of SEIU union president Mary Kay Henry last month: " Our PRIMARY GOAL is to help workers BOOST WAGES". That narrow objective is a universe away from Gompers lofty goals. For some incomprehensible reason, union people still think their jobs are safe. Despite the huge membership losses they have already sustained and the flood of machines, robots, computers and technology, let alone cheaper labor in other countries ready to REPLACE THEM.
IF union leaders like Diana Lacey truly want to turn the tide on the fate of unions on this LABOR DAY, they will let Gompers words guide them. To uphold the "spirit of service", unions could at long last help, not hinder employers to become more competitive while demanding work force retraining required to elevate labor skills. Unions have to stop defending poor labor performance when it occurs. They must embrace productivity, not obstruct it, to the advantage of both sides. Simply demanding higher wages will only result in further DECLINING UNION MEMBERSHIP and fewer people who respect what unions stand for. Gompers had it DEAD RIGHT.
Recent rabble-rousing by paid SEIU workers demanding a DOUBLING of wages for McDonald's employees to $15 is the PERFECT EXAMPLE of how UNIONS KILL JOBS. Not only does higher wages with no increased output harm buying power, it eliminates the DOLLAR item MENU. The children's "Happy Meal " becomes the "UNHAPPY meal " at $10 instead of $5, with millions FEWER BOUGHT. Further, it ignites individual store owners operating on razor thin, fast food margins to replace high paid labor behind the frylator with a robot and the counter person with a self service I -pad like touch screen for ordering as fast as possible. The speed and intensity at which labor is sought to be removed is directly proportional to its impact on profits. The only question is will union honchos like Diana Lacey ever see the logic before unions truly become extinct.
Tony Boutin