On another forum I frequent, a discussion about unions started up. Also, I'm bored at work today, and it's Friday. That means I'm going to start a flamewar about unions, hahahaha!
Back in the industrial revolution days, unions were necessary. Most people were forced to choose between incredibly dangerous death-defying labor and abject poverty. Even with the death defying labor, their financial situations were still pretty bad. Unionizing the labor was the only solution at that time. By teaming up, they made life livable. By forming unions they made America what it should be. The economic and technological situation prevented people from attaining life, liberty, and a pursuit of happiness. Unionizing broke the economic lock and allowed the pursuit of happiness to continue.
Nowadays we have things like OSHA, Medicare, Medicaid, 401k, social security, etc. Just about every decent job gives health benefits whether you are union or not. In the United States people can easily maintain life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness without joining a union. There are so many investment options available that nobody who is smart and saves money should have to worry about retirement. Thus, labor unions in the US are largely obsolete, and have outlived their usefulness.
But not only have they outlived their usefulness, they are actually now harmful. For the most part, unions benefit only two groups of people. One group of people they benefit are the union leaders who get mad moneys from the unions. The other group of people they benefit are people without any marketable skills who would be unemployed without the union.
What groups of people do unions hurt? First, they hurt their employers. They restrict their employer's freedom to conduct business in the manner they see fit. Imagine owning a store with some employees. Now imagine if the employees unionize and force you to decide between letting them run the business, or not having the business. It's the same dilemma that the evil companies of the past once forced on the exploited workers. The unions are in fact engaging in exploitation, the very thing they exist to stop. It doesn't help the fact that the government has laws preventing exploitation of the workers. Thus, the unions do not really need to exist to fight exploitation, the government is doing a fine job of it.
Who else do unions hurt? Customers of companies with union labor. Imagine a company that develops a new machine allowing it to produce better widgets in half the time at half the cost. Now a union prevents that machine from being put to use in the factory because it will mean fewer jobs for union workers. However, it also means customers continue to get overpriced shitty widgets. How about convention centers. The fact that convention center labor is union jacks up prices to insane levels. You literally have to pay the BCC a large fee for every power outlet you use because technically only union people can plug things into those outlets. The convention center could be making a lot more money, but their prices have to be set inordinately high due to the union.
Who else do unions hurt? The environment. Take the case of the more efficient factory machine above. That machine also require less energy to run. Oh well, unions blocked it. Take the example of an office building that wanted to install waterless urinals in all the men's rooms. It would have saved an incredible amount of water as well as lowering the water bill significantly. Too bad it would mean fewer jobs for the plumbers union, so they prevented the building from installing it.
Who else do unions hurt? Non-union employees. Let's say you go to apply for a job somewhere. You come to an agreement with the employer. They want to hire you, you want to work for them. You like the terms of employment they are offering. Wait, there's a union! They force you to decide between joining the union or not working there. Now you have to pay union dues and participate in this group even though you are perfectly happy without it. Imagine if you went to a store and the owner offered to sell you something for $5. You also agreed, and got out your wallet. Then suddenly someone comes over and forces you and the store owner to either change the price to $10 or not conduct the sale. That's what unions do to non-union employees.
Who else do unions hurt? Union employees. Imagine you join the carpenter's union. You do your union carpentry at your job, and you make your union paycheck. Then you also want to do some extra work on the side and remodel some kitchens. The union doesn't let you do it. They restrict the freedom of their own members to do what is best for them on an individual level. Of course, this group of people doesn't get much pity. They knowingly agreed to sign the union contract, thus they agreed not to do work on the side. However, the existence of the union does prevent them from achieving their maximum potential in life.
The only dilemma I have with unions is this. On one hand, ideally, I think we need to strive for technological and scientific progress in all things. We should conduct business in the most efficient and cost effective way possible. However, if we achieved this ideal in the United States right now, it would mean a ludicrously high unemployment rate. Everyone but the most highly skilled laborers would get decent pay, or jobs at all. Unions are one thing which prevents this potential situation. However, it is also a dilemma in that they help prevent a potential economic collapse by making things shittier for everybody else.
Let me just add one more note about freedom. I believe strongly that people should have the right to unionize. If workers want to form a union, let them. I just also think that unions should not be allowed to restrict the freedoms of others. That includes the employer's freedom to fire anyone, at any time, for any reason. I think that people should be able to unionize all they want, and if it works out great. However, if it doesn't work out, tough shit.
In conclusion, I submit that labor unions in the United States of America have lived too long. For all the good they have done in the past, and for what little good they do now, they presently do much more harm to society than good. I respect people's rights to unionize, but I would be much happier to see them go. In my life I have never been part of a union. I never have needed, nor will I need, a union. And many times in my life, the existence of unions has made life worse for me.
So let's get flaming! I know for a fact that at least some of you are in unions. I'm willing to bet that at least some of you are pro-union. Bring the heat, save my workday boredom.