To the chagrin of some of my more liberal friends, I have become very anti-union over the years. As a young demonstrator, I was very and unequivocally pro-union and anti-corporate. Now, I'm anti-both to some degree. In both I see elements that are corrupt and greedy, and tribalistic in their protectionism.
As for unions, a few experiences and some cursory research put me on this bender:
- My mom was almost fired by her union for changing a light bulb (which was another union person's job)
- Friends who are managers have been sued and incredibly inconvenienced trying to get rid of poor-performing union employees, and
- Finally, I believe in a strict meritocracy in the workplace, so a person should be protected largely by their own competency. Unions, or so the saying goes, largely protect the lowest common denominator, people who would be fired if it wasn't for their union backing.
Her response: Why not?
She then proceeded to give me the living wage argument, about how jobs with benefits are so hard to find, and that as long as a company can pay someone well they should. That was an interesting take.
Regarding when my mom got in trouble for doing custodial work, her argument was: If they let my mom do this seemingly minor task that "belongs" to someone else, she and other people might do it all the time because they could do it faster than the custodian. Then, that person would lose their job. Or, if a company had full ability to hire or fire anyone, they would eliminate everyone they could and overload all the employees with these tasks. It would devolve into a sweatshop, and people would then have to fight for fairer working conditions. So it's better to fight for the less-efficient union scenario than the unprotected workers slaving themselves model.
It's meritocracy vs. good jobs. I'm not sure I agree, but it's certainly a different viewpoint.