I simply don’t see the need for unions today. Safety in the workplace is enforced by law. Wages, salaries, and benefits are determined in and by an open job market. Unions serve no purpose but to intimidate employers into paying more than they might otherwise. Give the union what they want or they’ll strike! (Sure, who wouldn’t like to get paid more, but where’s the logic in threatening the very existence of the employer who pays you?)
The UAW (United Auto Workers) comes to mind. Our Big Three automakers are begging for financial aid from Washington to keep them afloat for a few more months. And part of their problem is the UAW having wrested/negotiated/extorted from them wages higher than were justified in today’s market.
The UAW also has a “jobs bank” whereby, as the media explain it, laid-off workers continue to draw up to 95% of their salaries. What kind of deal is that? You get paid for not working — and with the understanding that you’ll be rehired at some point? Give me a break.
In the real world you’d be taking a pay cut in order to keep your job, if you were lucky, or you’d be getting fired outright. You might get cut because you have less seniority or didn’t perform as well as the next guy. Or maybe because you’re a thief, a drug user, or just a total incompetent. Or because your employer is “right-sizing.” Employers have the right to hire you or not; you have the right to accept their offer or not. They have the right to fire you; you have the right to quit. Employers have these rights because it’s their company, their investment, their job to offer — or not. You’re the employee; you don’t get to call the shots. You don’t have a “right” to a job that otherwise wouldn’t be there or that an employer can’t afford to make available.
Now the UAW is offering concessions to the automakers. It’s a little late, isn’t it? The union may finally have managed to kill the goose that laid the golden eggs (not to be confused with “laying an egg,” which is what American automakers seem to have been doing).
I suppose I might feel differently if I’d grown up in a family of union workers, or if I were currently drawing a fat union pension fund check. But I didn’t and I’m not. So shoot me. I still think unions are outmoded institutions whose only purpose today is enriching their members at everyone else’s expense.