Safer working conditions – already present. There is no need to bring a union in to ensure we aren’t sending 13-year-olds into mine shafts for their 14 hour shift. We have more than enough laws in place and organizations that enforce them. If I had a nickel for every time I heard “OSHA-approved” during my time working for a private non-union contractor I could pay off student loans. Not to mention my grandfather is the Vice President of the National Safety Council: http://www.congress.nsc.org/NSC2016/Public/SpeakerDetails.aspx?FromPage=Sessions.aspx&ContactID=59 (Links to an external site.) If there’s one man that knows safety in the workplace, it’s him. (He would make me wear a neon reflective vest if I wanted to go on a run before the sun came up).
Increased wages – maybe. Yes, it was crucial back then that employers didn’t magically cut wages in half to make a profit. But you know what makes it hard for companies to do it now? The Department of Labor and their miracle child called minimum wage. Chances are, if you’re digging ditches or flipping burgers for a job, it means you probably aren’t paying student loans or trying to learn a new skill set for your career. If you are, great! However, there is a reason it is called “unskilled labor”. Flipping burgers is not something you should make a career out of, nor is it worth getting paid double the current minimum wage, so stop complaining. McDonald’s has its own college for employees to develop their skills if they do wish to make a career out of it. Here’s the magical part about Unions promising higher wages: it’s subject to negotiation with the employer anyways. Usually you sign a contract when you begin working that says how much you will get paid and how well you need to perform and for how long in order to get a pay raise. And to top it all off, most unions require monthly dues like a fraternity that average about 2.5 times your hourly rate.
Job Security – Now that you have a union representing a group of employees, they are much harder to fire. Not saying that it’s cool to just lay people off, but no matter what industry you look at, there’s bound to be several employees as useful as paperweights. For example:
Non-union: Bob shows up to work late consistently and has poor work ethic. Bob does bad things at work like photocopies his genitals. Result? Bob is fired. Fellow employees decide not to be stupid like Bob. Company continues to be efficient.
Union: Bob shows up to work late consistently and has poor work ethic. Bob does bad things at work like photocopies his genitals. Result? Bob keeps his job because he pays dues to a third party union that gives him an opportunity to continue working for a grace period while he can kiss ass for a month until he’s not in trouble anymore. Bob resumes his poor work ethic knowing he has job security. Company is now a bureaucracy that keeps employees based on seniority and not job performance. Fellow employees know they have same job security and decide to act like their untouchable. No work gets done. Morale is low. Company loses money and has to sell out to bigger company. (How do I MLA cite 6.5 years of work experience working with Bob’s?)
Companies are now less competitive – That last scenario with Bob working in a union happens all too often. Unions drop off a box of pamphlets to non-union establishments promising these things like job security and higher wages and protection. In a nutshell, the modern Union is just a third party sticking its nose into a company’s business, hyping up the employees by pointing fingers at higher up and promising magical free stuff, and charging the employees to join. All this does is complicate things by paying someone to play telephone between employees and employers.
Ever heard of FedEx? Of course you have! I bet you didn’t know that they are proudly Union-free and are running very efficiently. I would love to work for them, but I can’t. They avoid the bureaucratic BS of “who you know” be not letting family members work together. My father started working for them years ago starting off as a dock worker stacking boxes and has climbed his way to where he is today because of his work ethic. FedEx treats their employees fairly and continues to have strong communications between leaders and subordinates. They are able to take immediate action with safety issues of employees as well as attending to the needs of their employees. Unions add the extra step that make it harder for the employer to help their employees.
Ever heard of Yellow Freight? Eh, maybe not… If so, great! But you don’t seem to see as many of those yellow trucks on I81 do you? They used to be extremely competitive with FedEx but is slowly dwindling and going under because of their inefficiency. Surprise! They’re completely union. They aren’t able to do anything for their workers without going through that magical third party. So It takes longer to get things done in a industry that needs to act fast to meet the demands of its customers. I give it a few years before they’re bankrupt.
Labor unions had a crucial role in getting our industries out of some bad places, but they serve no purpose in today’s world for some of these industries (there are exceptions). Much like the New Deal got us out of the Great Depression, its policies would prove inefficient in today’s economy.