Do we still need unions?

by Linus

There was a time in this Country when unions were very important to our development, when they fought to protect the rights of their workers, when they instilled fear and trepidation into the hearts and minds of the managements they went up against.  Today they are a mere shell of what they once were, with union managements looking out for themselves more than the members they were elected to represent.  Gone are the days when they would fight for equal rights and fair treatment, now they are overrun with greed and selfishness and exist for no other purpose than to be the monkey in the proverbial wrench.

The origin of unions’ can be traced all the way back to the 18th century.  We were a society that was growing rapidly and we needed more bodies to sustain our appetite for goods and services, so employers looked to put women and children to work.  We needed to put something in place to protect their rights and so unions were born.

Today however, we are not living in an era where people lack the ability to self-govern themselves, at least to a certain degree, and we are certainly not living in an era where people lack the ability to go out and do their jobs with a reasonable degree of competency.  So why do we need elected officials who are in charge of negotiating their working terms for them?  Why can’t someone get hired for a job, be offered a competitive salary and fair working terms, and then go out and do the job to the best of their ability?

The answer is that we are and will always be living in a society where people will look out for themselves first, and others second.  If that is indeed the case, are union leaders and unions they work for still effective?  Labor laws exist today to protect the unlawful employment of underage children, and women seem to have their rights protected just as men do.  It would then seem that unions are no more than fraternal orders that collect dues to shake up already stable environments.

I once worked alongside a union member who would consistently do work that was less than average.  When I asked him if he was afraid of being fired, his response was “no, the union will find me another job.”  I was I my early twenties when that encounter occurred but I could still spot a person that didn’t care.  To me, his union had help to breed a lazy person that didn’t care about the work he was doing because he knew that instead of being fired, he would simply be shipped off to another job site.

In 2008, Michelle Rhee, the former Chancellor of D.C. public schools attempted to make some radical changes within the D.C. public school system.  One plan of note was that she wanted to offer teachers larger salaries in exchange for removing teacher tenure, versus offering them smaller pay raises with tenure rights retained.  The union leaders who are usually in favor of change and shaking things up, failed to even bring this motion to their constituents, they voted it down on the spot.  Why if unions exist to protect their workers was that motion not brought up for a public vote?

Teachers are one of the few professions that I know of that virtually guarantee’s you a job, in some places in as little as three years.  Were the union leaders afraid that their constituents would vote down that motion and then they would perhaps see some of them let go, which would ultimately mean that they could lose a re-election?  Whatever the reason was, the unions failed.  It is not their job to be a parent to the union members; their job is to offer advice but then to let the member decide for themselves on a course of action.

Unions have run their course in this Country; we are no longer a developing nation that needs to be babysat in every aspect of our lives.  We already have one set of elected officials that are inept at their  jobs, we don’t need another.