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Workers Unions: Godsend or Dinosaur?

By Alf Gordon(13,356)

Posted Wednesday, March 26, 2008
View All Blog Posts submitted by Alf Gordon

This is the 21st century.  The United States is a major world power with one of the most advanced work forces in the world.  So maybe somebody can explain to me exactly why the average working person needs a union?

Don't get me wrong.  I'm not against unions in certain instances.  If you're in a line of work that requires you to put your life on the line every day, then I believe unions are for you.  Police, firefighters, coal miners, and the like need somebody watching out for them, especially in a time when companies are examining the bottom line with a magnifying glass.  But for Joe Workingclass?  What's the point?

I never could understand the union mentality.  "Somebody has to stand up for the little people!"  What?  You're not able to stand up for yourself?  Is that your belief, or is that what the union is telling you?  I've been union-less my entire working life.  I'm the one who's been responsible for negotiating salary and benefits for every single job I've ever worked.  While I'm no gold-star mediator, I'd say I've done pretty well for myself.  At certain times it meant realizing I needed additional education to further my career and increase my salary, and so I did.  It meant I have to stay abreast of the latest developments in my career field so that I know what's coming in the way of technological advances and job and employment trends.  Basically, it means I've had to work.  Hard.  But it's been worth it.

For somebody who wants nothing more than to work in unskilled labor positions with no education and no career possibilities, a union might seem attractive.  He can get salary increases for doing nothing.  He doesn't have to go back to school ("It's too expensive!  I don't have the time!") or learn a new skill ("It's not in my union contract!") or improve himself in any way.  He just walks in the door, punches his time card, picks up his hammer, and works mindlessly for eight hours until it's time to go home.  And for this he wants sizeable salary increases.  (I am SO in the wrong field of business!)

There's been a push over the past year or so to start a workers' union where I am employed, and it's very nearly in place.  I recently applied for a new position only to learn our company is in the middle of a hiring freeze.  Because it's likely the union will demand salary increases across the board, the company doesn't want to put people in positions and then immediately have to raise their salaries.  The union isn't even active yet and already people like me are paying the price.

When the union does go through, I know I'll see some changes.  A few of the ones I'm expecting:

  • I will probably see a salary increase.  (PRO)
  • Because my salary will increase, my company will offset the additional expense by reducing the amount it pays in healthcare benefits, increasing my monthly benefits cost.  (CON)
  • I will have to pay monthly dues to the union, an additional expense, before I can see any increased benefits because of the union.  (CON)
  • Because my salary will increase, I will most likely be bumped into the next higher tax bracket, requiring me to pay more in taxes.  (CON)
Lord knows I'm happy...

With few exceptions, the union is a dinosaur in the age of mammals.  It offers little protection and ends up costing the worker more than it gives back.  And yet people still want them around.  Well, thanks Mr. Union Man.  You've certainly made my future look more prosperous!  And I know yours will be!

This Blog Post has been read 205 times.
Posted to ProBlogs.com on Wednesday, March 26, 2008
View other posts by Alf Gordon

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