Anyone who’s spent half a minute perusing my blog knows that I loathe unions. Public sector unions in particular are especially ruinous.
You would likely also know that I work in the film and television industry in Hollywood. There isn’t a better city in the world for job opportunities in my…
Dude, the reason why you were paid less before you joined the union isn’t because of the union; it’s because of the employers. That’s why unions exist. You yourself admit that you make more money and have better benefits as a member of a union, so what is your issue here? Yeah, the unions use rhetoric when they speak, and yes, they exist to make money through dues. But you’re discounting the amazing amount of good unions have done for workers rights. Unions helped us get the weekend, minimum wage, pensions, and health care.
What the fuck are you talking about?
First, I have not been making more money since joining the union. Perhaps I should have been more clear. In fact, I was more making more money than my current boss, who holds the position I then held. And, I’ve worked in the union longer than in non-union, where I started from the very bottom. I will amend my earlier post to reflect this clarification.
I’d rather not get into specific figures, but let me explain it this way:
- In non-union work, I was making ($Y).
- Currently, I make ($Y - 30%).
- My boss makes ($Y - 12%).
- The highest I could have made in non-union work was about ($Y + 50%).
- The highest I could make in a very rare, major union gig is ($Y + 400%).
But the reason for this higher ceiling is not because the union is doing such amazing things for me; it’s because of the previously mentioned exclusive stranglehold unions have on all the major studios (which is where the big money is at, naturally). To clarify, I believe it is perfectly legitimate for private entities to unionize. We all have the freedom to associate; and if some individuals feel that doing so would help them, no one should stop them.
The problem arises when government forces private businesses to recognize and negotiate with those unions.
The National Labor Relations Act limits how businesses can react to a workforce that votes to unionize. Specifically, once a workforce unionizes, an employer may not refuse “to bargain collectively with the representative of the employees.” And that limits the employer’s freedom of association, as well as - in those 28 states + D.C. that do not have “Right-to-Work” laws - the freedom of association of all those who did not want to unionize.
For example, if 50% + 1 of a workforce votes to unionize, 100% of the workforce must join the union. Further, just as how employees can quit their job at will, so should the employer be allowed to fire employees at will. If workers unionize and threaten to demand higher wages than the employer can feasibly or comfortably pay, then the employer must retain the right to replace those employees. At this point, he’d be making a trade-off: are the replacements less skilled than his current union workers and are their relatively lower wages worth the potential drop in productivity?
And that’s what liberty is: free people making free decisions and associations on criteria they deem important.
As to what you claim unions have done for the world, allow me to rectify your misconceptions.
The eight-hour workday and weekends off work are a product of industrialization, and Henry Ford - a strong opponent of unions - was instrumental in popularizing them. We didn’t need unions to help a worker’s workload any more than we needed a war to end slavery (hint: we didn’t). Both were inevitable outcomes, and that unions or war claim to have facilitated their emergence is immaterial.
Additionally, I worked shorter hours and never worked weekends when I was non-union. Meanwhile, I have worked 3-5 weekend days a month since September, and regularly work 12-14 hour days. When I was non-union, I went directly to my producers and expressed my demands. They wanted to keep me happy, so they accommodated me. As a union member, my specific demands are laughed at. I can never negotiate for anything as an individual. I get or don’t get exactly what the union “collectively” negotiates.
“Health care,” and “pensions” are simply another form of payment. If I had the ability to negotiate for myself and leverage my skill, talent, and drive against my peers, any perk or form of payment can be considered.
And as for “minimum wages”: they are destructive to wealth, create unemployment, make goods and services more expensive, potentially drive otherwise employable people to illegal activities, boost demand for off-the books hires and thus illegal immigration, among other things. Also, labor unions and progressives pushed a high minimum wage in the aforementioned Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 as a way to punish political and economic rivals in the south - it had little to do with the plight of the worker.
So, dude, the “amazing amount of good” you ascribe to labor unions is actually an amazing amount of destruction to liberty and prosperity.
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- rezby said: But what about the workers? Without unions, the evil bosses will be able to do anything they want to workers, such as firing them or docking their pay or giving them hours seen only in horror flicks about the Industrial Revolution!
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