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Unions produced the middle class

Published: Wed, September 21, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

Unions produced the middle class

Kudos to Chuck Altiero for his response to Bill Johnson’s Sept. 4 column about how unions are costing us jobs.

Unions gave us better working conditions, better wages which made it possible for us to buy homes, buy cars, buy better clothing, vote for school levies, police and fire levies and pay higher tax increases. Unions are what made the middle class, which made us the great country that we are.

Now the answer is to lower our standards down to the standards of the slave labor countries. Why do we see unions as the problem but not the companies that are actually the ones who close and move to other countries for cheap labor? These are our neighbors and families that they are putting out of work that actually buy the products they are selling.

Yes, we do need the so called “job creators,” but they also need us, the buying public. When they take from us, we take from someone else. We all need each other to do well for all of us to do better, but it seems as though the CEOs feel they are they only ones that count.

Joseph Lenefonte, Youngstown


1republicanRick(1454 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Unions did help create this country. But they have not changed with the times and they are destroying companies and communities with their outrageous demands.
The author of this letter shows stale, outdated thinking and woe-is-me, the sky is falling mindset. Open your eyes to the new world and quit living in the past old-timer.

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2card64inmyrtle(26 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago


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3paulparks(235 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Public sector unions are now destroying our country.

Unsustainable perks and bennies are sucking the private sector dry.

Vote yes on issue 2 to keep more money in your pocket!

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4Philo(99 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Although what Joseph said has a great deal of merit, I have to agree with Paul's comment when it comes to Public Sector Unions. I really don't care what the private sector unions do because I can vote with my feet. I can either choose to patronize, or not patronize the companies that these private sector union members work for. Not so with the Public Sector unions. Personally, I don't believe SB5 goes far enough. Public sector unions should be outlawed entirely. If working conditions and or pay get so bad then the public sector workers can quit and come to the private sector. At that point, the law of supply and demand will kick in and public sector wages and benefits will increase to a level that will attract the appropriate workers. Vore yes to keep SB5 the law of the land.

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5300(573 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Supply and Demand isn't applicable to public goods.

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6paulparks(235 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago


Supply and demand is applicable to employment - both public and private.

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7300(573 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Employment is "labor market", which is not the same thing as a public good.

Philo simply doesn't realize that he is 100% dependent on public goods, and that he could not survive without them. Public goods cost money, however, and must be paid for.

To try to apply the labor market model to firemen, police, teachers, prison workers, etc. doesn't work as smoothly as some might like. Under Philo's condition, we'd face a destruction of public sector services. He thinks this would lead to some sort of equilibrium, but that would never happen in reality. What we'd have is an educational system like India, a judicial system like Russia, and a fire fighting system like those clans in Gangs of New York.

I know it's become trendy to use economic terms to support one's political leanings, but the problem is that most people don't seem to understand what these terms are or how they're applied to real situations. That's why it takes students 6 years of studying this stuff full time even to reach an entry-level understanding of economic principles.

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8AnotherAverageCitizen(1176 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

11% of our workforce are union workers. On Sept 11, 2001, 20% of those who died in the WTC were union workers. Why such a high %, because the UNION FIREFIGHTERS and POLICE went INTO the buildings to assist others getting out. They put their life on the line for us and GAVE thier life for you But, many still think they get to many bene's and perks for giving thier life.


Many of you want to blame public unions for running the state broke. Why do I not see an outcry from you folks when kasich gave his staff double didgit raises? There are THOUSANDS of public workers that BOE's, kasich and township trustees can start making payments toward their retirement. Union workers pay toward their retirement, the administrations are the ones that put zero dollars and collect the pension. They are the ones citizens should look at more closely.

Union workers built this country to what it is today. Our roads, infrastructure, bridges, buildings, are made by union workers.

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9jmagaratz(180 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Organized unions have existed for over one hundred years in the USA.

It is only in the last 75 or so years that they achieved most of their goals viz-a-viz collective bargaining and the use of strikes. This is what created the underpinnings for a solid middle class.

Their biggest mistake was in letting President Reagan succeed in firing the PATCO air traffic controllers. That was the time for all unions to shut the country down in the interest of preserving their hard won existence.

It was President Reagan who successfully used "divide and conquer " as a strategy for a new form of class warfare--Government Employees vs. Private Employees.

Now it is up to the unions to regain their leverage by focusing on targets of opportunity to defeat their opponents at the house and senate levels of government. They don't need the President of either party. They only need the legislatures.

If they fail in this, they deserve to die out.

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10paulparks(235 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Economics does not apply to public goods, eh?

Would those cops in Boardman still come to work if they made 60k rather than 90k? Would the professors with those cushy 100k + jobs still come to work for 80k? Would 70k gym teachers still come to work for 50k?


There has to be a dose of common sense economics injected into the "juiced-up" public sector compensation packages.

Call it "public goods" or "public services," there comes a point where the price exceeds the value of what is being provided.

Everybody instinctively knows this. And that is the dirty little secret that will make SB5 successful this November.

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11paulparks(235 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago


Who cares? They got paid, didn't they? And very very handsomely... overpaid!

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12charms(228 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Go get 'em paulparks!!!

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13charms(228 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago


Is this all you've got? Scare tactics? You're the one in fantasy land.

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14Woody(469 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Unions hold people back. They dictate the wage a person has to be paid. You could be the most productive, dependable, and indispensible worker a company has, but if you are in a Union shop you make the same as the guy that shows up late and loafs through the day.

And lets stop the BS about the Union providing for a 40 hour work week. Companies were doing that well before the unions showed up. Was it across the board, no. But Henry Ford and others, in the 10s and 20s, long before '35 when the NLRA took effect, before the unions, had 40/48 hour work weeks. He used it to attract the best workers he could.

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15Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Does anyone know what happened to Youngstown Sheet and Tube ? They dont seem to be around anymore . . ..

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16rocky14(766 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago


Why don't you try and stop the BS.
The Unions didn't have anything to do with the 40 week?
Workers in the 10s and 20s worked at least 12 a day.
Do you like your holidays off?
Do you like your 2,3,4 weeks of vacation?

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17charms(228 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Unions have outlived their usefulness, rocky14. Only the union thugs believe otherwise.

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18VindyPost(436 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

OH NO!...
I see Charms, PaulParks, and probably Streetsmart made it back from Pluto, aka dwarf planet. Did you see Kasich there? Life on Earth's been great w/out you.

Vast Majority of Ohioians Dems and Teapubs All Agree,
** An Overwhelming VOTE NO on ISSUE 2 ! dead and buried.

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19rocky14(766 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Isn't it funny unions only make up 11% of workers,
but still gets blamed for EVERYTHING?

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20VindyPost(436 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

^^ Yes, Rocky14, ^^
Exactly what AAC states in
Comment #8.

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21Woody(469 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago


reading comprehension is something you are not good at. I didn't saw all companies had 40 hour weeks in the 10s and 20s, I said a few had, and the trend was going that way, Unions or not.

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22rasims(9 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

As unions have declined, so has the standard of living and the middle-class standing in America. That is an indisputable fact. Management has become wealthy off the backs of workers.

Why do you think management and HR people HATE unions? They want absolute power and all the money for themselves.

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23charms(228 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago


Love the history lesson but what have unions done for me lately? You're living in the past.

Unions got everything they wanted long ago - now they make no sense.

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24rocky14(766 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago


I don't think you ever worked for a union or you would never say that.
What have the Republicans done for you lately?
Oh yea--they want to tale away Medicare Care and S.S.that you paid into.
Good Deal!!!

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25jojuggie(1607 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

"Unions produced the middle class." That's past tense folks.
Unions were necessary 70 to 80 years ago, because they worked for the little guy. Today they walk with communists, socialists, anarchists etc.
The foreign auto makers, in the United States, down South, have proved that unions are obsolete. These auto workers are happy, get paid well, and produce a pretty good product as witness their auto sales.

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26rocky14(766 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago



Both Rick Perry and Eric Cantor said they will do away with both Medicare and SS.as we know them.
They want to privatized them!!
Maybe you can put them into the Stock Market like Dubya Bush and the Republicans wanted to do
That would work out!!

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27jasoninohio(119 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Unions suck. Only union employees get a raise becasue the calendar turns another year. For the average joe, if oyu don;t do a good job, you don't get a raise. If you work in a union you get a raise no matter how hard you do or do not work.

To call the unions the backbone of the middle class is a joke. There were hundreads of non-union small businesses that have done it the right way for over 100 years.

Do the right thing Ohio and vote yes on SB 5!!

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28VINDYAK(1822 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

There seems to be a huge disconnect over what SB 5 is all about. Who is telling us the truth here?

Forget me for saying this, but SB 5 isn't about getting rid of the unions... It's about having them pay their fair share towards health care costs (15%) ... and 10% towards their retirement, just like regular citizens do. This sounds more than fair to me, as I pay more than that!

No where does SB 5 say they will eliminate Unions.

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29rocky14(766 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago


You may also recall Ronnie Reagan also made the statement that the United States of America should become a Service economy.
This is because his Sect. of Commerce said American companies could make more money if they took their companies overseas.

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30rocky14(766 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Where did he cut $500m from Medicare?

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31charms(228 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago


What I find most amusing about SB5 furor is that public sector unions are already going backwards and defeating SB5 will just put them in the same lousy position they are already in.

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32rocky14(766 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago


Maybe you would like to live in one of those right to work states.
The top 10 states that has the most poverty are right to work states.
Yea---they have a lot of jobs.Dirt poor jobs.
But guess what? No unions!
Isn't that just great?

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33jojuggie(1607 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

rocky, you are such a liberal you cannot see past your nose.
Texas, Florida, Virgina, North Carolina (these are all that come to mind) are Right To Work States. It seems to me (although I might be wrong) that North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa are also RTWS.

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34rocky14(766 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

The top poverty states in the nation.
LA.,Miss.,Ala,Ark,N.C.,S.C.,Texas,Arizona,New Mexico and Georgia.
All right to work states--all southern states.
You can have as many jobs you want for about $6 bucks an hour.LOL

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35charms(228 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago


You are confusing the public and private sectors. I am not against unions in the private sector, just the public. And I think we can have good jobs in Ohio (both sectors) even if Issue 2 passes.

I think the anti-Issue 2 people are using a lot of scare tactics.

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36Dan_Moadus(33 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

"saveourcountry", How about take a few minutes and tell us just how SB5 will cut the salaries of 3/4 million workers and cause another 150,000 to lose their jobs. You got my curiosity aroused. Or did you just make that up?

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37snydro0108(61 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

I was in Liberty the other day, talking to a Union worker who is putting the bridge up and the on-ramp to I-80. How long has that construction been underway? Any guesses? Do you think those Union workers are Union workers from the Mahoning Valley? No. They are staying at the Super 8 Motel and it is TOTALLY paid for. They arent even from OHIO!!! So, good on ya, Youngstown for contracting your work out to NON Ohio taxpayers, Non Valley Workers, and you want to talk about no work in this area? We are basically importing union workers from Kentucky and New York to build OUR bridges and roads. That makes sense!!

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38charms(228 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago


Where is your proof that once public sector unions are gone, private sector unions are too?

How many states have no state public unions and still have private sector unions? I would imagine there are some.

Public employees still don't get it. People haven't just seen their take home stagnate, it has lessened.

Roll back the raises in the public sector - of the past few years for a good start. Then go from there.

90K cops in Boardman, 100K+ professors at Youngstown State, 70K first grade teachers... stop the madness - vote YES on Issue 2.

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39vor2011(14 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

Keep fighting with eachother while the filthy rich become the filthy richer! Apathy, Ignorance, and Misdirected anger - the three tools we all give the upper 4% to keep the bottom 96% right where we are. Newsflash - it doesn't matter what party are elected officials are in, none of them give a damn about any of you, your future or your interests. Quit arguing over ridiculous crap like teacher's salaries, the people who handle our most valuable resource and have more required education than everyone you know besides your doctor and lawyer, and start demanding that the damn politicians make some decisions that help the majority of us. All of you who argue back and forth with non-sense spoon-fed by the media and politicians are no better than fat cats on Wall Street or the greedy politicians?

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402muchtax(650 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

.Most people have no problem with private unions, it is all the public unions that have been too greedy for too long and now the majority of private sector people are getting real tired of paying for these unbelieveable perks. one of many examples are how OHIO STATE PATROL retire after only 20yrs work to go double dip as a ohio state truck inspector or how all the fireman and police can etire, then work another 3yrs while all the 3 yr pay goes into a separate fund while you collect your retirement. The private sector is finally waking up to 5 & 6 thousand dollar pensions for teachers reitiring in their 50's. The vindy should see how many people in from the county and city are on disability or retired below the age of 55 I think we would all be shocked.

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41Bigben(1996 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

You really think a cop , fireman or teacher should be on the job into their 60s or 70s . You want a 70 year old fireman to carry you out of a burning house ?

Get a grip.To many fire fighters in Youngstown have had heart attacks on the job some dropping dead in their 40s . This is not an old man's job. Neither is the adrenaline pumping police job.

As for double dipping I agree.

See who is really screwing you in the private sector -banks/ corporations with a bought off government. They stole pensions from teachers too. Now they want to get it all. Don't pull others down see who is screwing everyone so you can pull yourself up.

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42snydro0108(61 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

There will NEVER be a candidate for public office, who will be Anti Union in this area. True story....two union members report to work at 11pm. At 11:32 they leave the premesis, go to McDonalds, rent 2 movies, and come back to work. They said they didn't do this....They swore this didn't happen. The Union went to bat for them, saving their jobs for them. The only issue was there was a camera at the gate where these guys came to and from work and it snapped a picture of their license plate when they left and when they arrived again. Even WITH this evidence, the men were suspended 1 week WITH pay and that was the only thing that happened. Sounds like a PAID WEEK VACATION to me. Now, the funny part of this story isn't the stupidity of the workers who actually did this, but what was the funny part is....when they went in for their hearing, they were asked their stance on Issue 2, SB5. They, BOTH, had no idea what it was, but said if it was good for the union, then they would vote for it. They had NO idea what the bill involved, yet they said "if the Union says it's good, then we think it's good." Now if I left work, got CAUGHT leaving work, lied about it, still collected pay WHILE I was at the movie store and at McDonalds, I would lose my job INSTANTLY and maybe have a lawsuit against me. These two guys, both 15 year Union Members, got PAID to not go to work. That's YOUR Union at its best!

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43republicanRick(1454 comments)posted 3 years, 10 months ago

The number one problem with unions is what snydro says above -- the unions protect the crooks within them.

If the unions just policed thier own kind and got rid of the bad apples they would be light years ahead of where they are now. Unions should show pride and insist on quality from their members - instead they just let the crooks and lazy guys run amuck.

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