Once upon a time, our nation was smack in the middle of an economic revolution. New inventions, and technologies were developing practically by the hour. Couple that with a mass influx of immigrant labor to meet the increasing demand and the end result was an industrial community that was virtually un-regulated and a labor force that was ripe for exploitation. With no labor laws or regulations to protect the worker, the American worker had little-to-no way to obtain justice in the event they were injured or taken advantage of by employers.
To remedy this, the labor force organized and formed unions to give them leverage and a political voice. Eventually, the work of unions lead to legislation that provided safety regulations and a whole host of laws and agencies that provided the worker with some recourse for justice and a generally better work environment. This of coarse is a very basic explanation of the original purpose of labor unions.
In the year 2008, now that the American worker has the luxury of a list of options to find justice in the workplace, unions have all but run out of legitimate things to complain about. In stead, today they spend much of their time bullying corporations into giving them yet another week of vacation per year or adding aroma therapy treatment to their health care plan. Essentially, unions have gone from providing workers with a sorely needed path to justice, to transforming the once proud American work force into a bunch of cry-babies that think bullying is a legitimate method of problem solving.
Personally, I think it boils down to differing philosophies. One philosophy tells us that when a man opens a business, it is his business. He is the one who makes the daily decisions of how the business is operated. Who to hire, and who to fire... How much to pay, and why... And what benefits (if any) are supposed to be the decision of the owner. An employee has the right to work for that individual and the right to quit as well. As far as "collective bargaining" is concerned, the employee has the right to accept the wage offered under the terms presented or go else wear to work. Considering that the employer has to abide by the labor laws of the land, and the employee has the right to quit, file charges or litigate in the event of a dispute, this philosophy puts the prerogatives in their proper place.
The free market likes this philosophy because it provides it's own natural boundaries. If an employer treats his workers too poorly, he will find it hard to keep his doors open due to being sued, prosecuted, or plagued by bad publicity.
The union philosophy is much different. After having NOT taken the financial, and personal risks and sacrifices involved in starting a company, unions seem to be under the impression that they are entitled to make the business decisions at that company. If the owner of that company disagrees, the unions simply strike until they get what they want. Much like a baby throwing a tantrum until they get a bowl of gummy bears for breakfast, unions see no problem with irrational behavior or even good old fashioned bullying to get their way.
If an employer has enough and hires outside of the union, he runs the risk of litigation and even violent confrontations on the picket line. On his own property no less!
Probably the most frustrating thing about unions is the irony of their existence. The present day purpose of unions is to gain higher wages and more benefits from the employer. The problem is that the end result of union intervention commonly leads to what we see today in the auto industry...failure.
You see, the point of owning a business is to make money. When that is no longer possible, there is no longer a reason to keep the doors open. Part of making money is finding the correct balance between your cost of operating and your profit. Here comes the irony.
Unions tend to drive up the cost of operating the business while simultaneously driving down quality and production.
Think about it. How long can any company expect to remain profitable when unions continually force them to pay out more in benefits and wages, while demanding that the employees do ONLY what their contracts call for? It is not unusual for a typical union worker to have a minimum of five weeks vacation per year and pension plan that allows them to retire five to ten years earlier than employees of non union companies. This is all hashed out in negotiations between labor and management, all at great legal expense to the company. Yet union workers are always the most surprised when the company they work for ends up shutting down or going out of business all together. Basically, they end up "demanding" themselves right out of a job.
Then there is the general mediocrity that union labor generates. When you know getting fired will require your boss to jump over a whole marathon of legal and procedural hurdles, you tend to not worry so much about the quality or quantity of your production responsibilities. Compound that attitude company wide and your product can only suffer. Plus, with more money going to union demanded benfits and wages, there is less money to be put into research and development of the company product. Pretty good deal for the competition huh?
Let's not forget the political angle. Unions can always be counted on to support Democrat candidates, regardless of how the union worker or employer happens to feel. Did I mention that unions support these candidates with the dues these workers pay and by propagandising them in the workplace? That's fine as long as you're a union worker that happens to be a liberal Democrat. That's also fine as long as these union supported candidates don't draft legislation that will harm your company's profitability. You know, like higher taxes or more regulations. There's nothing like having union dues taken out of your pocket, only to have them given to the guy who is going to take more money out of your pocket via taxation. That's kinda like paying someone to rob you every two weeks.
These are just some of the finer bullet points of why unions are ruining industry in this nation, but trust me, there are plenty more where they came from. For now, remember to look for the union label. That way you'll know what products not to buy.