Why Labor Unions Still Matter: Beyond the Abuse

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Teflor Lyorian
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Why Labor Unions Still Matter: Beyond the Abuse

Postby Teflor Lyorian » Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:45 am

When we talk about two people doing the same job just as well, but one makes more than the other, we usually have a small pile of words to help describe the situation: racism, nepotism, sexism, etc.

But we're not talking about any of those. In this case, we're talking about a union. When multiple employees decide to form a labor union in accordance with either local, state, or federal law, they can not only force their employer to negotiate with them as a collective, but also drag unwilling fellow coworkers into the bargaining process with relative ease as provided by things like card check - an undemocratic process of open ballots (where your vote is not a secret kept from others).

So with unions promoting inequality, destroying basic democratic rights such as secret ballots, and denying the ability of individuals to make employment contracts with their employers on their own, why do labor unions matter enough for me to care about their survival?

Really, what's the difference between a union and an outsourced function? I mean, when you hire a contractor to perform a business process, you're essentially bargaining with the vendor to provide certain services, much as you would when you previously would have hired employees and had them handle it.

Well, a vendor probably won't picket your facility when you fire it, and scream 'scab' at the next vendor you hire.

So where would a labor union actually help?

Imagine a community where there was only one major employer for 50 miles. An employer that was geographically anchored - for example, a resource recovery operation, or something to that effect. Employees would either have to work for this employer or muster the resources required to move somewhere far away, most likely to another place just like the one they left. Market forces here weigh completely in favor of the employer - who has a captive audience.

That captive audience, and others like it, had better collectivize if they want to be able to both do good and do well. They'd also better make sure that other people don't abuse the union protections that they rely upon for a fair shake.
"You see, the devil haunts a hungry man.
If you don’t wanna join him, you got to beat him."
- Kris Kristofferson (To Beat the Devil)

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