This question is an interesting one. I am a manager in charge of quite a few union employees in a massive company. While we have a fairly good relationship with the union, I often find myself wondering whether or not the union is a necessary thing anymore. Most issues covered by unions, and that unions were created to stop, are no longer really issues.
Unions, in part, started to help insure that a company wouldn’t mistreat their employees; long hours, low pay, abusive treatment, etc. These types of issues are now so litigated with companies on the losing end of the vast majority that it hardly seems necessary to have a union as a third or fourth layer of protection. What I see, in my daily life, is actually quite the opposite. Unions are perhaps holding back the good, honest, hardworking employees from being able to receive special benefits.
The Union Ball-And-Chain
Employees that excel and would, under normal circumstances, be given raises or bonuses as well as other ‘perks’ like leaving early, excused and paid days, or just easier jobs at times are now banned from being able to receive that treatment. In the union environment, you just simply cannot treat people differently or there is mass outcry; that is essentially the point of the union. This, however, helps only the bottom 15% of workers. Essentially, as I see it, the union currently does the following:
It protects the bottom 200 of workers who would be immediately fired without it.
The middle 60 would receive more or less the exact same treatment.
It holds back the upper 20 who could receive more but cannot because managements hands are tied due to the union rules.
The only people that are winning in today’s union environment, or benefiting from the union, are the ones who probably shouldn’t be being rewarded for the work they are doing. Everyone else is just paying fees and going along because they don’t have a choice in the matter.
Who Decides What Is Unionized?
Where should unions stop? When will they make it into the professional jobs? What does a paralegal do that would exempt them from unionizing? Can servers at restaurants not form a union and demand even pay and tips for all? Where does it all end.
At some point, the meritocracy has to come back to this country in certain sectors. Sticking to my two previous examples, if the average paralegal salary were to raise by $10 per hour due to a paralegal union forming, what would happen to attorney prices? Who would pay for that? A servers wage going up would increase the price of food.
These are all things that need to be considered: businesses costs go up, their prices go up, the consumer pays more. That is the way the world works, and I feel that unions are, in part, contributing to rising prices by forcing companies to run less efficiently due to a portion of their employees being protected by antiquated unions.
AmPulse writes for a website on law careers, jobs, and other things. How long does it take to become a paralegal you ask? Check out his website.