Believe me when I say that I will be doing a full write-up of Waiting for Superman the moment I get my grubby little paws on either a movie ticket or the disc through Netflix - love Netflix. But, I wanted to take a moment and talk about Unions.
I come from a state where Unions - at least for the most part, as it's a big state - are sort of rare. Growing up I didn't even understand what a Union was, honestly. All I really knew about them was that Sally Field really, really wanted one. Now, I say that I come from an area of the country where Unions were sort of shunned, as we were an at will state and most employers would just go hire somebody else if you tried to unionize. However, I also have the unique advantage of having been in a Union. And, let me just say...
Unions = #Fail
Having a Union is sort of like having tenure at a college. When a professor has tenure, he or she is afforded certain advantages. One must have 'just cause' - which can be interpreted in a myriad of ways in some cases - to be terminated from your job. Being in a Union provides tenure-like protection against being fired. You are guarded by rules and guidelines put in place by the Union through negotiations with the employer. You never have to deal with management, in a perfect world, and are rarely in serious trouble of being let go.
Advantages to be sure. Those that work in Unions typically get paid at least 11% more than those not in a Union doing the same exact job. Their hiring and promotion procedures are determined more by those that get promoted than by those doing the promoting. You typically get more time off and work shorter shifts for greater pay when working with a Union. Benefits such as medical and dental are typically negotiated to be better as well.
Though, to be fair, life is not all rosy with a Union. Labor forces must follow these Union rules as well. If you are the young, smart upstart, learning quickly and doing your job impeccably, you might as well slow down or change jobs, because it could very easily be 5-10 years before you have an opportunity for promotion. Also, you pay the Union out of every paycheck, whether you like the work they're doing or not. But, the biggest issue is when your Union goes on strike. If you want to enjoy the benefits of you Union, you must also enjoy the time when everyone is out of work, because your stewards are negotiating with the employer.
But, back to my problem with Unions, though you've probably already guessed it: Everybody keeps their job. Everybody! (Yes, that is an over-exaggeration. Not everyone remains employed, but most do for the most part.) It is so difficult to be reprimanded, written up, or terminated when under Union protection that even the laziest, most incompetent employees can remain employed. The ones that could care less about the job they're there to do are the ones there the longest. It breeds a culture of people that feel overly entitled to a shorter work day, extra money, and the ability to skate around trouble.
And, in some industries, this might not necessarily be a problem. In retail situations, or really any situation where one is engaging in capitalism, consumers can simply choose not to hire or patron an establishment where those working are lazy, incompetent, and overpaid for simply being there. If you know the plumber does a bad job, then hire someone else. There are resources online now where you can look up businesses and see customers' reactions to the services provided.
But what about our school system, fire department, justice system, medical system, etc.? What happens when you're dealing with a police force that is tenured? What about teachers that don't have to worry about being fired for doing a bad job? In my own experience, I recall a few individuals that could care less about the reason we were helping kids in trouble and more about the swag. The sheer amount of vacation time one can accrue in some Unions is so unbelievably ridiculous as to be laughable. One guy I worked with literally only worked 9 months out of the year. The other 3 months were spent on vacation due to the vast amount of vacation time he received. Likewise, he really didn't care too much for the job.
And, it's frustrating hearing about situations like this, because we have no choice in the matter. What about the educator that is 'tenured' by the Unions and doesn't get terminated despite ever-lowering test results by his or her students? What is the bigger tragedy: that someone is out of a job or that a generation of children are becoming illiterate?
I think it is fantastic that Unions are able to get a better wage for their members. People work hard all day and very few of us get paid enough for doing so. We scrimp and scrape by and save what we can, and it just never seems like some of us get ahead financially. Better healthcare and vacation time and sick leave and bereavement all mean that we are more content clocking in and clocking out everyday. But...what about the flip-side of those benefits? Are we really okay with having subpar employees creating subpar education, justice, healthcare, and safety systems? We're really just fine with having a Union employee getting paid thousands of dollars more per year to do half the job of a non-Union employee who has to work their ass of to get ahead?
What do you think? I see the benefit of Unions, but I'm not sure their downfalls outweigh the benefits. Let me know your thoughts via Twitter, email, or a comment below!
Love and Lyte,