So, are unions good? Bad? Does it matter? What do you think?
Unions have their flaws, some more than others, but they've racked up enough accomplishments to be counted among the good guys most of the time. (For details, see the 36 benefits listed below and the text below that.)
Do a little research into what workplaces were like before unions existed-- 80 hour weeks, no breaks, child labor, dangerous or unsanitary conditions, very low pay or in script that could only be spent at company-owned stores, violence and murder-- and one appreciates what unions have accomplished all the more.
But of course, the best reason to appreciate unions, besides virtually every workplace benefit that exists today and the 10% to 30% higher wages that union workers get, is that Republicans often detest them.
Today, corporate employer positions are strong since mass unemployment remains so high. That makes wages stagnate or shrink as worker bargaining power gets weaker. Collective bargaining makes workers more powerful and able to negotiate higher wages. And things like labor markets with level playing fields and fact-based economics are the last things a powerful Republican wants.
It depends on the company and the situation, but in general if I had a choice between joining a union and not joining, I would probably join the union. So far I've never worked anywhere that had one, so I've never had to decide.
All breaks at work, including lunch breaks
FMLA (The Family and Medical Leave Act)
8-Hour Work Days
40 Hour Work Weeks
Compensation increases and Evaluations (Raises)
Child Labor Laws
Occupational Safety & Health Act (OSHA)
Workplace Safety Standards and Regulations
Worker's Compensation (Worker's Comp)
Employer Health Care Insurance
Collective Bargaining Rights for Employees
Wrongful Termination Laws
Civil Rights Act (Prohibitions against employer discrimination)
Sexual Harassment Laws
Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011 (Requires employers to pay men and women equally for the same work)
Whistleblower Protection Laws
Employee Polygraph Protect Act (Prohibits Employer from using a lie detector test on an employee)
Veteran's Employment and Training Services (VETS)
Employer Dental, Life, and Vision Insurance
Pregnancy and Parental Leave
The Right to Strike
Public Education for Children
Laws Ending Sweatshops in the United States
"Union membership in the United States has declined significantly in recent decades. The number of union members peaked in 1979 at an estimated 21.0 million. In 2003, an estimated 15.8 million workers were union members. As a percent of employed workers, union membership peaked in 1954 at 28.3%. In 2003, 11.5% of employed workers were union members. Most studies find that, after controlling for individual, job, and labor market characteristics, the wages of union workers are in the range of 10% to 30% higher than the wages of nonunion workers. The wage premium is generally greater for less skilled, less-educated, and younger workers and larger for private than public sector workers. Union members generally receive better or more generous fringe benefits than similar nonunion workers. Job tenure tends to be greater and quit rates lower among unionized workers. However, the wage premium may have declined in recent years.
"Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) show that the level of union membership varies among different groups. Union members are more likely to be male, white, middle-age, work in the private sector, and have a high school degree or some college. The rate of union membership is greater among men than women and higher among older than younger workers. In 2003, 12.3% of men were union members, compared to 10.5% of women; 14.7% of workers ages 45 to 64 were union members, compared to 5.0% of workers ages 16 to 24 and 11.3% of workers ages 25 to 44.
"Although the level of union membership is greater among white than black workers, in 2003 15.6% of black workers were union members, compared to 11.0% of white workers. Also, although union members are more likely to be employed in the private than public sector, in 2003, 37.2% of public sector employees were union members, compared to 7.2% of private sector employees. In 2003, 12.6% of workers with a bachelor’s or advanced college degree were union members, compared to 6.6% of workers with less than a high school education and 11.9% of workers with a high school degree or one to three years of college.
"In 2003, almost three-fourths (73.6%) of union workers with a bachelor’s or advanced degree worked in the public sector, mostly for state and local governments. The largest percentage of these employees (43.6%) were teachers. In 2003, unionization was greatest in New York, Hawaii, Michigan, Alaska, New Jersey, and Washington. Unionization was lowest in North Carolina, South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, Arizona, and South Dakota. Finally, in 2002, the most unionized occupations were precision production workers and operators (18.3% and 17.6%, respectively). The most unionized industries were public administration (32.3%) and transportation, communications, and utilities (27.4%)."
(Quoted Text Source: Congressional Research Service)
I belong to a union. I got nothing but good things to say about my union and it's members. On more than one occasion the union has been there for me and my family.
Most unions expect you to gain employment first before they accept you as a member. Most of the time jobs are found through the "Good Ol' Boy" network but I once walked into a job site and was hired on the spot and got into the Service Employees Union in New York City. From there I networked and managed to get a job working HVAC and got into their union.
Most union's offer Pensions and Annuity's. They also offer low cost health coverage upon retirement.
I get that they are not as powerful as they once were but they are evolving. At least the one i belong to is, with training and education in the field our members are in; which is an incentive for employers to keep us on the job.
I've been in a union. They helped me out when my bosses were making me work for less than my job position paid. They also tried to make me do two jobs for the price of one. I believe the union people kept management from treating us like dogs. You know, it was hard to part with my union dues, but I was glad I did. And, at this job, getting support from the union didn't hold back my career development because the managers had learned to accept the union as a 'necessary evil.'
At my last position, I was bullied to skip breaks and do homework and it became a huge problem between me and my boss. If there had been a union at this position, my boss would never have had the balls to try that crap.
I would join a union just for the protection from management.