A Word for Unions

I have a problem with Unions, those organized labor organizations.  They don’t seem to do too much, at least not that I can see from where I am.  I realize I live in a “right to work” state, but I still hear and see other things through the grape vine of the Internet.

Unions seem to have forgotten their purpose.  Your job is to protect and represent workers, especially the lowest of the low-ranking workers.  I saw a piece about postal workers some time ago, about how the lowest rung of the postal working ladder got left out to dry.  There’s a lot of bad that comes with Unions, but job security and decent wages are supposed to be two things that a union was good for.  Even if you can’t win your battles, it is your job to fight the good fight and show what you stand for to rally support for the next push.

Unions seem to be content to revel in their glory days of the past, completely forgetting that most of the people living and working today actually did not get to enjoy those perks that were earned so long ago.  Telling us how great unions made the 50’s or 70’s does not help us today; that was nearly 50 years ago.  Most of the people who enjoyed those benefits have retired or will be soon.

On the other hand, we have new young people entering the work force.  Some of them have college degrees, some do not.  All of them are looking for work, and real wages and full employment have been in decline for 50 years.  People are trapped into either working longer hours (if they can find work), or not being able to pick up a reasonable work week.  Who could possibly make do with a 20 hour work week, at the wages we get paid?  And who could reasonably have a full life while working 50 hour work weeks, every week?  Unions claim to be responsible for high wages, but seem to ignore the existence of unpaid internships as “entry level work”, and (as far as I can see) have not even attempted to address the issue.

The main role a union seems to serve today is to defend lazy and irresponsible workers from their management.  I know of it mostly in the postal service or with UPS (the brown shirts).  While representing them is a union’s duty (like a lawyer defending someone he knows is guilty), it gets really annoying knowing that the unreliable workers never go anywhere, and instead their coworkers get stuck doing the work those absent employees can’t be bothered to show up for, while a decent, hard-working person can’t get that job.  I know that’s an ugly part of making the union work, but it’s all you seem to be doing anymore.  It’s like a sausage factory without the sausage to show for it.

It does not have to be this way.  I really would like to see unions championing higher wages and better working conditions, even in places where forced participation is illegal.  But I don’t see it happening any time soon, because the unions have forgotten why they exist.  Unions have stopped trying to improve anything, and are content with the way things are.  That’s why they advertise themselves as “responsible for your high wages” to a generation that’s been forced to work unpaid internships.  They are completely out of touch with the way the world is today for American workers.

That’s why your union participation and sympathy is so very, very low.  I don’t believe it’s a conservative conspiracy; it’s your own inaction.  That’s the problem with unions today; they don’t do anything.  I heard about a strike taking place at Verizon, and another one taking place in India (“The largest strike ever”).  Surely, that’s not the only thing you’ve been up to lately.  Do your job, and let people know what on earth it really is that you’re doing, because you don’t seem to be doing much of anything.



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