There is much animosity toward unions out there which isn't surprising given the relentless assault waged against them by populist politicians and their mouthpieces in the corporate media, I even see it among my fellow coworkers demonstrating just how effectively we have been propagandized these last 30 or so years.
I'm not going to list all the accomplishments that unions have made to all our benefit that's not what this post is about, besides the list is so long I'd be in serious risk of contracting carpal tunnel syndrome.
We've all heard the lies,they're greedy, only in it for themselves, lazy malcontents who force jobs to move off shore as well as irrelevant and no longer necessary etc.
Greedy as opposed to whom, their bosses and the very same politicians who demonize them, all the while giving themselves huge pay raises,solid gold pensions and golden parachutes.All the workers ask for is enough to buy a modest home, pay for their kids education and hopefully have enough left over not to have to eat cat food when they retire, if that's greedy then so be it.
As for lazy, a union shop is no different than any other workplace in that some coworkers are hard working some not and yes some who are lazy. I have worked in both union and nonunion workplaces and it has been so in nearly everyone. As for unions protecting the lazy and incompetent,it is not only their job but their legal obligation to protect their members. They accept a fee for a service and must provide that service. This doesn't mean that unionized workers can't be fired, they can and are, all the time,it just means that the employer needs to justify their actions and follow agreed upon protocols.
As for making companies uncompetitive again this simply is not true. Unionized workplaces tend to have very little staffing turnover which is of great benefit to the employer who needs to spend less on training and enjoys the increased productivity that an experienced workforce provides. Yeah but what about all those jobs being sent overseas you say. Unionization is not a significant factor in this either, companies offshore jobs for several reasons.
Low wages are a part of the equation for sure but ask yourself this, are you willing to work for a couple of bucks a day and if not then your wages are now considered uncompetitive even if you are making minimum wage. Other reasons include a lack of environmental,labour and safety regulations. Merely being able to dump your toxic byproducts into the nearest river makes for one significant cost saving.
Which brings us to they're only in it for themselves and are no longer needed. I group these together because in my mind they are related.Unions constantly advocate for non union workers,lobbying for improvements in EI so that everyone is treated equally, such as part time seasonal and contract workers. They also led the charge for the fair treatment of workers forced to use temp agencies none of whom are likely to be unionized.
Unions are at the forefront of the battle to protect our pensions and most importantly our precious health care system. Do you honestly think that the corporations and the neoliberals who govern us are going to step up and fight to protect these important institutions. Of course not, in fact they wish to see their destruction,hence the demonetization of Unions, one of the few organizations capable of standing in their way.
There is perhaps one other area where we will need the Unions and it is a very important one. As our governments continue to sell out our interests to the corporations, ratchet up the security state and institute their austerity agenda (that is austerity for me and you, not them), there will come a time when we will have no choice but to fight back. This is when we will require their experience and ability to organize.
Unions have been doing this since their inception, rallying their members around causes that benefit us all, whether as mentioned earlier protecting our pensions and heathcare or fighting the trade deals that have put us in a race to the bottom,to fighting against the corporate tax cut agenda,welll you get the idea.
In closing I ask you to try something some day, the next time you see some workers on strike or as is increasingly the case today locked out, stop and talk to them. You just might find out that they are no different than you and are facing the very same struggles that you are.