The Instigator
brian_eggleston
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Cliff.Stamp
Con (against)
Winning
19 Points

Scabs must not benefit from collective bargaining deals

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 5 votes the winner is...
Cliff.Stamp
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/24/2011 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,734 times Debate No: 14909
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (13)
Votes (5)

 

brian_eggleston

Pro

Scabs, or "strike-breakers" as these perfidious parasites prefer to call themselves, are treacherous employees who cross official union picket lines and continue to work during strikes.

In so doing, scabs dilute the impact of the industrial action, thus making it is easier for the management to resist workers' demands: the old adage "United We Stand, Divided We Fall" means absolutely nothing to these forelock-tugging class traitors.

By refusing to show solidarity with their fellow workers, and instead collaborating with the management, the scabs know that they are in a no-lose situation.

During the strike action, they will continue to be paid, whereas strikers will not, yet if the strike action forces the management into negotiations that result in an agreement to meet or some or all of the union's demands, the scabs will benefit from the better pay and conditions that the collective bargaining brought about.

That's why the law should protect union members from selfish and unscrupulous strike-breaking scabs by ensuring that any deals unions negotiate on behalf of their members should not benefit non-members.

Thank you.
Cliff.Stamp

Con

The central arguments from Pro are that "scabs" should not benefit from any deals which result from a strike based on the lack of solidarity and weakening of the movement to strike. Now on first glace this seems perfectly valid, and beyond that even obvious that it is wrong for workers to claim benefits from the result of a movement which they not only did not participate in but actually directly opposed.

However consider the following - a worker who believes that the request for benefits are just and reasonable however is unwilling to go to strike as they feel that is unjust. They will support the union in any other way but will not refuse to work. This has happened locally years ago when hospital workers went on strike and I can personally remember having to cross a picket line with my family as my brother needed an operation.

There were workers inside who did not want nor wish to cause strife and aggravation nor harm the cause of their fellow workers and they believed the benefit request was fair but they did not believe it was just to cause harm to others by refusing medical service for their personal gain. Is this justly treated by preventing them from the benefits of bargaining from a union which they had supported previously and paid their dues for some over a dozen years?

Second, workers can refuse to strike because they feel the union is putting forth an unjust demand, an unreasonable claim. Yet towards the end an agreement could be reached where the same worker, seeing the reduced demand would actually agree that was in fact a just cause and now would have not opposed the strike. Is is also now in that a just case to again punish them?

Third, consider a worker who simply can not afford to strike, they are living day to day, they need medical attention, shelter - it is beyond hard, they passed that some time ago. They can not strike, it is not an option for them. They want to support the union, the care deeply for their fellow workers, but they simply can not go without the pay for this period - it is not an option. Again, is it just then to deny them the benefits of bargaining for a union they have supported and will continue to support in any way they can.

In short, Pro has painted a picture of workers who refuse to strike with a very shallow and one dimensional brush, almost to the point it is a caricature. The reasons for strike refusal are not so simply and thus neither can be the result of the action. While there is obvious merit to the resolution, it can not hold as a general principle in all cases for the reasons noted and the obvious myriad reasons which logically follow.
Debate Round No. 1
brian_eggleston

Pro

I would like to thank Cilff.Stamp for his rebuttals and would like to address each of the three points he raised in turn, as follows:

Firstly, the primary objective of strikes is not to cause harm or inconvenience to customers, although this is often unavoidable, rather they aim to hit employers where it hurts them most: their profits.

Businesses and their shareholders do not care about people's wellbeing unless those people can afford to pay for their goods or services – businesses are not charities and their primary concern is making as much money as they possibly can - and any problem that harms their profits must be resolved at all costs; that is why strikes in the private sector can be so effective.

Secondly, no employee is forced to take part in a strike if they do not wish to, or even be a member of the union. Furthermore, all union members must be balloted on any proposed industrial action and a strike can only be called if the majority of union members support it. That is democracy in action, and in a democracy a minority of dissidents must accept the will of the majority, although they are permitted to put their alternative view forward at any time.

Should an employee decide not to support strike action, and kick his fellow workers in the teeth by crossing the picket lines, he cannot reasonably expect to benefit from better pay and conditions agreed in return for the strike being called off – he has made the wrong call and must, therefore, suffer the consequences.

Finally, I would like to address the issue of the financial hardship strikers and their families endure during a strike. This is something I had personal experience of as a child: my father was a shipyard worker when the Conservative Prime Minister at the time, the notorious and much-reviled, bitch-troll from Hell: Margaret "the milk-snatcher" Thatcher launched a spiteful and vindictive attack on the Labour-voting working classes of Britain by decimating the country's heavy industries - and families such as mine, who struggled to make ends meet at the best of times, suffered enormously when the main bread-winner was on strike.

However, our suffering wouldn't have been so bad if the bosses hadn't had access to scab labour to weaken the resolve of the strikers and to dilute the industrial action's impact on their profits. Of course the scabs would have suffered if they joined the strike, but if they weren't prepared to make that sacrifice, they could hardly complain if their wages were cut and their working hours increased, or if they lost their jobs completely because the strike action failed due to a lack of solidarity.

In conclusion, because scabs make it more difficult for workers to press home their demands for fair pay and working conditions, they should not benefit from any collective bargaining deals that they did not support.

Thank you.
Cliff.Stamp

Con

"...their primary concern is making as much money as they possibly can - and any problem that harms their profits must be resolved at all costs"

Exactly, this is a capitalist solution to a capitalist problem. The employer suffers a loss due to weakened (or halted) production, the employee suffers a loss due a direct period of non-payment. It is therefore in the interest of both parties to resolve the situation and move forward with a balanced perspective and in the end the argument should be resolved on capitalist principles.

"However, our suffering wouldn't have been so bad if the bosses hadn't had access to scab labour to ..."

Here is the crux of the problem, emotional arguments on both sides put aside, we have essentially a negotiation and in any negotiation the optimal balance will be achieved when both parties have equal leverage (ability to lose and potential to gain) [1]

Before unions the employer had a imbalance of leverage and thus negotiations went in their favor frequently and workers were frankly abused - both pro and con are in agreement on this point. However, the contention comes over supplementary (scab) labor.

Imagine a senario where the employer can not use non-union labor, where there can be no forced legislation to return to work, there is now a imbalance of power in favor of the employee not the employer who now has no leverage in the face of a strike.

"In conclusion, because scabs make it more difficult for workers to press home their demands for fair pay and working conditions, they should not benefit from any collective bargaining deals that they did not support."

This is true, no contention, they do weaken the position of the union, but this is necessary to retain a balanced negotiation and prevent an abusive situation. The employer has just as much right as the employee to maintain an equal balance of power.

First, unions are not supposed to be about personal power, they are supposed to be about creating a fair and just working system for the employees, by attempting sanctions against "scab" labor they are in fact regressing to the abusive employers that forced the creation of unions and segmenting employees into those that are rewarded and those that are not, i.e., a caste system.

Second, the supplementary labor are just workers trying to make a living the same as the union employees, they are not evil villains, they are just trying to work and support their families, same as everyone else - it is not like "scab" is their career, often they were union workers who are now out of a job and have no other choice. They are part of the system and need to be integrated into it and further segmenting the factions into an us against them also prevents successful negotiations[2]

[1] Negotiation Genius, Deepak Malhotra and Max. H. Bazerman

[2] Getting past no, Negotiating in Difficult Situations, William Ury
Debate Round No. 2
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by sadolite 6 years ago
sadolite
When I grow up I want to be a union scab. I heard it said so elequently. A union worker who thinks he or she is paid to little, is being paid to much, for he or she could not possibly make the same amount of money without the union. If a union worker thinks they are being paid to little should quit and look for different work that pays more if in fact that is their goal.
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
Brian, as always enjoyable debate.
Posted by brian_eggleston 6 years ago
brian_eggleston
Thanks for that debate, Cliff. I couldn't have wished for a better opponent.
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
"They're basically forced to be a member."

There are several unions here of the same, dues are an automatic deduction and jobs have to go to union members, you can not work without being in the union.
Posted by mattrodstrom 6 years ago
mattrodstrom
Secondly, no employee is forced to.. even be a member of the union.

Well... NYC teacher's union is gonna get dues from all teachers Regardless of whether you want your name on their Official List of Members..

ALL teachers also have the benefit of getting represented by said union in court... and get all other benefits of membership..

They pay dues... and get the benefits.

Even though they don't have to be an "official" member.. They're basically forced to be a member.

so there! 8P
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
Brian, we have a different version locally, but I can defend that as well.
Posted by brian_eggleston 6 years ago
brian_eggleston
Thanks Cliff - that is a very generous comment.

Just to be clear, by the way, a "scab", as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary is "a person who refuses to strike or join a trade union or who takes the place of a striking worker".

http://oxforddictionaries.com...
Posted by Cliff.Stamp 6 years ago
Cliff.Stamp
Brian, I had intended to make an absurd argument based on several factors including EQ influences of passion on negotiation, but since you wanted a more serious rebuttal I will rewrite and put it up shortly.

Excellent resolution as usual, you definitely add a unique and valuable contribution to the site.
Posted by Ore_Ele 6 years ago
Ore_Ele
I'm thinking about it (on a more serious note), though my arguments would be purely hypothetical, on the importance of having scabs (and so they should receive some of the benefits).

I'll look more into it later, if it is still open.
Posted by brian_eggleston 6 years ago
brian_eggleston
If you want to do funny, that's cool - but I was really thinking of the struggles working class people had in the 1970's and 80's to protect their jobs, pay and conditions in the face of government-sanctioned, union-bashing bosses.

They were typically miners, factory employees and shipyard workers (such as my father) and they didn't usually enjoy the luxury of seats!
5 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Vote Placed by socialpinko 6 years ago
socialpinko
brian_egglestonCliff.StampTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Both sides brought excellent arguments so I couldn't choose one over the other. In this case they were equal. S/G was basically the same as far as I could tell. Conduct goes to Con as Pro was inappropriate on a few occasions. Sources also goes to Con as he provided some while Pro provided none.
Vote Placed by CiRrK 6 years ago
CiRrK
brian_egglestonCliff.StampTied
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Reasons for voting decision: I bought the argument that unions are supposed to be fundamentally grounded in a notion of fairness. As such, it would be unfair to take away benefits from people who might need the wage.
Vote Placed by BillBonJovi 6 years ago
BillBonJovi
brian_egglestonCliff.StampTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con made the better arguments
Vote Placed by BangBang-Coconut 6 years ago
BangBang-Coconut
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Reasons for voting decision: As I read each speech I wanted to vote for whoever's it was I was reading at the moment, but where persuasive and both where logical, but Con won me in the end talking about how labor unions are supposed to be fair and it's unfair to deny these "scabs" benefits. Con also gets the recource point as he's the only one who used any outside source.
Vote Placed by mongoose 6 years ago
mongoose
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Reasons for voting decision: I feel that Pro used more pathos than logos, and did not specifically address Con's examples. Con also had actual sources.