Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Necessity of Unions?

In principle I like the idea of unions, but I think membership should be voluntaryPeople will join unions if they think the unions will provide them a service--in other words, if the unions work to demonstrate their value to the employees and thus earn the employee's membership.  The only places in the US in which unions are thriving is where financial support of a union is required/coerced, so that the union is entitled to employee money without having to be accountable to the employee:
The conceit of the modern union movement is that workers would be clamoring to join if the rules weren't rigged in favor of employers. The reality is closer to the opposite. Witness what happened in Michigan, where new data show that workers fled the Service Employees International Union Healthcare affiliate when their membership was no longer coerced.
Unions have gotten fat, dumb, happy, lazy, and corrupt.  Why would people want to give their money to such organizations?

Have their been any big union victories lately?  Have their been any big anti-union/pro-employee victories lately?  The answers to those two questions tell you all you need to know about the state of unions in this country today, and those answers will not change until the unions themselves do.


maxutils said...

Well, of course employees fled when no longer coerced to join. Why would I pay for something when I can gain the benefits for free? The problem is that when enough people leave, there is no longer the power to gain any benefits. I would love to see campaign finance reform, such that unions, individuals, and corporations can no longer donate to political campaigns -- that would eliminate one of your problems with unions ... but it also won't happen as long as unions, individuals, and corporations can contribute basically as much as they like.

allen (in Michigan) said...

The union experiment is coming to an end.

Back in the 1920's and 1930's unions managed to convince enough people with their carefully contrived rhetoric of the validity of unions in a nation governed by a representative form of government. It was a tough sell since at heart what the unions were asking for was the power of legalized coercion. But with a relentless enough campaign of publicity enough of the public was convinced to overlook or accept union thuggery and unions got their license to steal.

Fast forward a few decades and the public's patience with that thuggery, and the unearned advantages that come with it, are on the wane.

"Buy American" is a terrific slogan, smacking as it does of patriotism, but if it involves paying more they you ought to, forever, it wears thin, splits at the seams, falls off and gets left behind. The question in my mind is how deep that antipathy to unions runs.

Are we going to see a collapse of union political power in the same way as we've seen a collapse of the political power of the gun control movement? An undoing of the great political victories of union power of the 1930's?

It just could be because the public seems to be coming out of its decades-long acceptance of union sloganeering to the realization that unions have no interest in the well-being of anyone other then it's own members. With Michigan, home state of the UAW and modern NEA going at least partially right-to-work, anything's possible.

Darren said...

max, I'm OK with unions' spending however much they want--as long as I don't have to give them *MY* money. And you continue to assume, without evidence, that union membership provides "benefits" of some kind. Ask all those unemployed former-UAW members in Detroit how they're feeling about the so-called benefits their union wrought. Hint: when you use the word "wrought", it's not *usually* because something good happened.

maxutils said...

Average salaries for unionized teachers, on average, are higher than for non unionized. There is also the not insignificant question of legal representation. Frankly, I DO have a problem with unions spending as much money as they want -- it makes candidates beholden to them, or conversely to corporations. It leads to way too much money being spent on campaigns, and candidates and causes being controlled to the detriment of the ordinary citizen. But-- you already get a refund for the portion of your dues used for that purpose, as can anyone else. So I guess I don't see your point...

Darren said...

My point is the coercion, which allows the union to do whatever it wants with my money without being accountable to me at all.

But you know that. So I have to wonder why a libertarian would argue such a point.

allen (in Michigan) said...

Nothing negative about the word "wrought". It just means "made" as in "What hath God made" instead of the more well-known "What hath God wrought".

I'm wondering what principled aspect of unions it is that attracts you. As far as I can determine unions are nothing more then thuggery with a patina of legitimacy applied via the democratic process. Under the patina, and it's a pretty damned thin patina, the thugs and violence are still there just waiting for an opportunity to emerge.

Maybe what you're yearning for is a professional association. What the NEA was before the so-called Michigan Mafia turned it into UAW-for-the-classroom. That was voluntary although pretty toothless due to the nature of the public education system. It might come back and grow some teeth if the public education system collapses though.

maxutils said...

If that was directed at me, it's not the principled aspect of unions that attracts me; it's the economic parity they give to labor negotiations. Beyond that, they shouldn't be involved in anything.