I live in Texas; a right-to-work state. Unions here are mostly a joke. I like it that way. Unfortunately they still have too much power in some industries and in other states.
Back during the industrial revolution there was definitely a need for the birth of unions. Workers were being forced to deal with inhumane work environments for ridiculously low wages. Capitalism was taking off and the large business owners were trying to keep their overhead as low as possible to line their pockets. I understand why unions were needed. They had a long-lasting effect on the American workforce by raising standards and expectations.
Over the years unions have become more and more powerful. Recently a snack food giant, Hostess, closed its doors forever because of a greedy union asking for too much and refusing to budge. Now I’ll admit that the executives for that company are at fault a good bit too. They made damn sure to get massive bonuses before it was officially over. Greed was present on both sides of the fence here, but the unions were simply not being reasonable in any way.
Let’s consider the delivery company that my father has been employed by for 28 years. The drivers there are members of Teamsters. I’ve heard stories where people have gone out on workman’s comp, missed their required doctor appointments, had photos of them taken by private investigators showing them engaging in physically demanding tasks, and been fired for basically ripping off the company. Those stories usually end with the Teamsters filing a grievance and getting the driver’s job back. “Let’s ignore the fact that the driver was a crook; he has rights!” NO! He’s a crook! He doesn’t deserve to have a job. I’ve also been told that my dad now has to supply Gatorade and fruit slices every morning for his drivers to help get them properly nourished before they start their routes. My question was “Are you managing a bunch of adults that are paid well above average incomes to perform physically demanding tasks or are you coaching a soccer team full of 7 year-olds?” Can’t a grown man bring his own hydrating beverages and electrolyte filled snacks to work with him? Isn’t it our own responsibility to keep ourselves hydrated and properly fed? There is a water fountain and snack machine in the building that would take care of their needs if the drivers forgot to bring something of their own. Unions were designed to keep the corporations from mistreating their employees. In this example, who’s going to keep the Teamsters from mistreating the company? Instead of keeping the company from abusing the employees the union has taken it so far that now they have the company babying the employees and letting them get away with whatever they want. There’s no accountability for their actions.
For my next example I compare 2 employment situations that my wife has been in recently. For 5 years she worked for a communications company as a collections rep and was a member of the union. That union was a real joke. They were weak and powerless in almost every way. My wife paid union dues for 5 years and got basically nothing out of it. Everyone got the same pay raises regardless of how well or how poorly they performed. The health benefits got increasingly worse with each contract negotiation. Still, the benefits were a lot better than most other companies offer and the pay wasn’t bad for the mind-numbing, repetitive job she performed. The company she worked for would have had to offer similar pay and benefits for anyone to even consider applying for the job my wife had. The union basically did nothing in this instance other than cost the company lots of money during the negotiation process and collect lots of money from their members. They were also good at putting fear into the very people they represented and created a bit of hysteria. She had the option to have union stewards go with her to attend meetings with management, but it never made any kind of difference in the resulting outcome of the meetings. If anything it just created animosity between the managers and the representatives. Now she works for a company where she is not unionized. Her benefits are a lot better and pay is comparable. The relationships between management and their employees are a lot healthier and company just genuinely seems to care more about their employees. Raises are given based on performance which has created a situation where the employees try harder to excel. The company doesn’t have to waste money to deal with the unions and therefore they take better care of their employees resulting in a happier workforce that wants to try harder for the company. My wife couldn’t be happier with her new job. She has actually told me that if we stay in this city she will retire at her current job.
Then there is the issue of unions in politics. Unions tend to back the liberal candidates for the sake of maintaining their power. There are countless numbers of news stories and articles documenting the corruption of politicians by unions. We all know that unions are lining the pockets of politicians to influence lawmaking in their favor. As a result the unions are gaining more power and tax dollars are being wasted. Teachers in New Jersey can either be a part of the Teacher’s Union and pay $730 a year in dues or pay 85% of that $730 just to get out. In Oregon, government unions provided 90 percent of the $4 million spent advocating two ballot initiatives to raise personal income and business taxes by $733 million. According to campaign records, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) has contributed $87.5 million to help Democrats in hotly contested midterm races. The AFSCME’s money comes from union dues automatically deducted from public employees’ tax-funded salaries. There are thousands more examples like these where unions are misappropriating dues to back politicians in order to gain or maintain their power so they can carry out their agenda. The resulting corruption and waste of tax payers’ money has got to stop.
Bottom line….unions need to die out. There is enough legislation in this country to prevent companies from abusing their employees now. The time and money wasted by companies to constantly deal with the unions could be better spent. People have a choice in who they work for and if they don’t like the way a certain company does business or can’t handle the job they have available then they should find a position that is a better fit for them instead of unionizing and making absurd demands to the company. Unions have created a situation where employees can screw up royally without too much fear of losing their jobs so the quality of work done by employees is on a rapid decline. When they aren’t costing companies unnecessary time and money to squabble over ridiculous demands they are funneling money into the government to carry out their wishes and, in turn, wasting tax money and influencing the creation of ridiculous laws and standards. Unions may have served a purpose at one point in time, but that was long ago. Let’s make them a thing of the past so we can have a better future.
EDIT: I felt the need to make it known that I work as contractor and am no way affiliated with any union. I receive no benefits or even paid vacation and I’m in danger to lose my job over any trivial thing. I have no protection whatsoever other than the fact that I’ve provided outstanding service for 4 years while rarely missing work. I choose to continue working in this position. I don’t expect someone to run to my aid and force the company I work for to give me a bunch of stuff I haven’t needed for the 4 years I’ve been doing this work. I knew what this job would be like when I accepted it and I chose to take it anyway. I’m still quite happy with this position. I feel that if my colleagues decided to unionize then many jobs would be lost and our pay would go down to justify giving us benefits. I’d rather make money and work 5 days a week almost every single week of every year without rest. In my scenario, union greed would destroy what has become my bread and butter. I’ll continue to take care of myself. I don’t need anyone else’s help.