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.