Posts Tagged 'education'

Unions In Todays Workforce

I’ll try not to be too political either way in the article and it shouldn’t  be difficult as I am quite torn on this topic.  Let me first state what I don’t like about Unions.  In the past some unions have taken the power of collective bargaining too far.  Through frequent strikes and other sanctions they managed to bargain for wages and benefits that were far beyond the standard for the area.  Also a work stoppage never really seems to cause inconvenience to the workers or the company – it seems the customers typically suffer the most.  I’m reminded of a big UPS strike several years ago that caused a lot of big problems for people shipping packages.  The employees and UPS managed to survive without too much disruption.  I’ve also been stranded in remote areas of the country when the airline I took to get there suddenly went on strike.  And they will typically do these strikes at the most inconvenient times for the customers.

Still – I believe there is a place for Unions in this country.  Right now the battle is being fought in teachers unions that are publicly funded.   One only needs to compare the educational rankings of union states vs non-union states to see how important they are.  Also, I don’t believe the teacher unions have over stepped their boundaries as far as compensation and benefits are concerned.  The main gripe from these states is that these are federal employees and shouldn’t be paid more than the private sector.  On this note I do disagree.  In my opinion, education is vital to the success of this country and you get what you pay for.  As for the argument that poor quality teachers can’t be fired – I believe there are ways of dealing with that issue without having to dismantle the union.  Again – just my opinion.

But what about the private sector?  Are unions good or bad?  Well I can only comment on my own state of FL where we do not have private unions except for a few national unions like UPS.  Here we have some of the lowest wages compared to similar jobs in other parts of the country.  We also have a very high cost of living by comparison to other states.  I have lived here for 20 years and have always received glowing reviews for my work (in the IT field) yet I struggle to get by with my modest lifestyle.  Through the years after more workload and no pay raise, I’ve tried several different approaches to asking for a raise.  All of them were met with very negative results from management.  The sad truth here in Florida is that they don’t care.  They know the workers have no bargaining power and so they pay the minimum they can in the market.  We also seem to be the birthplace of scam business because the cost of doing business in Florida is so much more appealing without union wages.  In my opinion, Florida could benefit from more unions.  The consumers and employees here really do need more protection from the corporations.  But it’s not likely to happen.

So there are pros and cons to unions in today’s workforce.  As I said, I don’t have a firm answer on the topic but would enjoy hearing comments from readers either way.

Back To School?

Many people who are in the job market – either by layoff or just for a career change – often look first at going back to school.  A better education is never a bad idea, but there are some things you should consider before you enroll.

  • Today’s higher education can be prohibitively expensive – especially if you plan to attend a good quality accredited school.  How will you pay for your classes and books without a job?  How long will it take you to re-coup those costs?  Will you really get that much higher salary?
  • Technology is changing fast affecting many jobs very quickly.  When you finally get that new degree it may already be outdated.
  • A higher education takes a lot of time – time that you won’t be working and making money.
  • Cheaper on-line classes might not be as accepted as a “real” education.  You might just be wasting your time.

On the job training (OJT) may be a more effective way to enhance your career or train for a new career direction.  The hardest part of OJT is finding an employer that is willing to take the time and effort to train you – but it might not be as difficult as you would imagine.  Many employers would rather have a person trained in the specific way they do business rather than bring on an employee with a head full of preconceived ideas.  Most companies know the value of OJT and are more than willing to provide the opportunity.

Your past experience is your biggest asset when seeking on OJT position.  An employer needs to be able to determine that you are the type of person that will learn quickly with the appropriate ambition.  If you don’t already have years of experience you will need to be able to convince a prospective employer that you are that type of person.  Practice several different ways of conveying that information in an interview – before you go to the interview.  Be sure you can provide specific examples either in your professional life or private life that prove you are able to adapt and learn quickly.

The down side of OJT is that you may need to take a pay cut.  You can’t really expect to get paid a full salary without the full training.  But weighed against the amount of money you would pay for a quality education and the difference in cost to you could be substantial.  OJT is your ticket to self improvement and career advancement at a fraction of the cost of higher education.