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DigitalBlue's avatar

Why are some people so strongly against labor unions?

Asked by DigitalBlue (6679 points ) March 13th, 2014

As asked.

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21 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

The same reason why so many Germans were “so strongly” against Jews.
Years of constant propaganda.

Yetanotheruser's avatar

A lot of it indeed has to do with years of propaganda. Many of the propagandists want us to lose sight of the main reason for the existence of unions, which is collective bargaining.

I was in training at a telecom company in the late 1990’s, and the instructor said something to this effect (paraphrasing):

We here at (the telecom company) appreciate our employees and the work that they do for us. We would rather deal with your needs on a one-to-one basis than to have some third party come between you and us.

Translation: We would rather have our army of employment lawyers dictate what can be offered to you than give you any say in negotiating.

rojo's avatar

@ragingloli nailed it.

I know the main argument I hear is how corrupt union officials are but when you ask for concrete examples they are few and far between. The GOP have done an outstanding job of both demonizing unions and disseminating disinformation.

The main problem I have with them is that there are people who take advantage of any given situation and the union will protect the incompetent, lazy and even criminal just because they are “union members”.

I believe everyone should get their grievances heard but at some point you have to be able to say “You were at fault in this one and we can’t in good conscience condone what you did and continue to support you just because you are a member of the union”.

DigitalBlue's avatar

Sometimes I hope there is a better answer than “people believe bullshit.” It’s disappointing when that’s really what it boils down to.

hominid's avatar

Great answers. And like @rojo mentions, there is always the “corrupt union officials” horsesh*t. Whenever there is corruption exposed related to a union or government, everyone rushes to condemn the existence of both and limit their power. But when private power is engaged in shenanigans, we hear calls for less regulation.

zenvelo's avatar

Part of it’s because in many industries, unions had control of jobs, and if you weren’t in the union, you couldn’t work. Also, unions prevented people from moving ahead through merit; rather, they tied it all to seniority.

JLeslie's avatar

I don’t like unions for a few reasons. One, they are their own entity just like a business. The business wants to survive and the employees of the unions want to keep their jobs, and the unions want employees to unionize, because then they collect the fees from the laborers. The union also has a money interest, not just an interest in helping employees, so it is a little tainted. Some unions are better than others. Some have more integrity and work hand and hand with the business to help ensure a prosperous business.

Dealing with a union can be a pain in the sense that a lot of the time union workers are forced to only do their specific job as described in writing. They are less flexible in helping out where help is needed, even if the individuals themselves are oriented towards that type of teamwork, the union can make it difficult.

When I lived in MI I could not believe how much factory workers were paid and their incredible benefits, and incredible pension plans. Completely unrealistic financially, and obviously was part of what has harmed our auto industry. The stockholders and the C-level was too greedy, to blissful in their thinking that the revenue would continue to pour in, and the union also was in the mindset of wanting high salaries and benefits when revenue was amazing, but then as the business started to slow and market share was being lost still the union and managers all ignored reality. Both were wrong.

Like anything big, union, corporations, government, can begin to get corrupt or lose sight of the original intent. Sometimes making demands and decisions that sound good, but in the long run aren’t.

It’s a much nicer feeling to be paid fairly by an employer and not be unionized. The union creates an adversarial relationship. Unions can also hold back innovation. They are reluctant about anything that will result in fewer employees and lay offs. Teacher’s unions are stubborn about how they do things. What other job in America do you get a guarantee you will have your job until retirement age? And, your pay increase is not tied to merit? Some of this is changing now.

With all the negative, I think unions were necessary when they first grew in great numbers in the US, and if companies don’t stop treating employees like shit, which in my opinion the last 5 years that has been rampant in many industries, then I think employees should organize. It will be a backlash to company greed and abuse. Unfortunate if it comes to that.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

I think the main problem is how the Union Leaders use the union dues money. many times not to benefit the workers but to give to political causes and elections. In union run States the workers have no say in how their union dues are spent and many times are not supporters of the political choices the Unions give to. They (the workers) have to zip it if they want to work.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m going to answer from another able, my previous answer was my own personal view. Some people are against them because they see them as a liberal evil aligned with the Godless elitists of the country. That fighting for workers to receive higher wages and and better benefits is in the same ballpark as redistributing money. The same way they are against raising minimum wage they are against unions, it all kind of fits together.

DigitalBlue's avatar

@JLeslie your perspective is one that I can at least understand.
The people like those you describe in your second answer are the type that I really can’t wrap my head around. That is the group that I tend to assume is more likely to believe anti-union propaganda. I think it’s very difficult to justify feeling like you can treat people so badly unless you are able to dehumanize them. Like what happens with the idea that poor people are lazy, useless, unmotivated, and those are exactly the kind of people who want unions, so they can take all of our pay and all of our taxes to just go on being lazy and conniving while good Americans go on being hard working and honest and carrying the loser masses on our backs.

1TubeGuru's avatar

Because safety in numbers is bad except when you let corporations band together and form groups like ALEC in order to create legislation behind closed doors and subvert the legislative process for the benefit of the corporations?

Cruiser's avatar

This is why I have a sour taste over unions :“VW workers say UAW bribed employees to sign union cards”

The result stunned many labor experts who expected a UAW win because Volkswagen tacitly endorsed the union and even allowed organizers into the Chattanooga factory to make sales pitches.

VW workers voted no to the UAW union and Union feathers got ruffled….tough titties. Let the workers decide what is best for them without union thugs threatening or bribing them.

JLeslie's avatar

@Cruiser I would have been shocked if the VW employees had voted in the union.

Cruiser's avatar

@JLeslie For a moment it looked like union clout would win, but the heart and minds of the workers spoke and shut down that power play.

JLeslie's avatar

@Cruiser I wonder if the union had been contacted originally by a VW employee, or is the union just targeted the company on its own.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

There is no simple answer to this since each situation with a union is different. I’m pro-collective barganing but against the big unions. I have seen good things come out of organized labor and I have seen big powerful unions completely F!@* things up. Usually the large unions cause the most problems and generally to the point where it’s really hard to get any work done. It would be a long rant for me to comment on this further. Too exhausting at the moment.

Cruiser's avatar

@JLeslie The South has always been a brick wall to the major unions and this was supposed to be a huge win for them and turned into a huge defeat to the UAW. They banked all they had on securing this win at VW and lost. Not sure what their next move entails other than licking their wounds.

JLeslie's avatar

@Cruiser From what I understand the plant paid better wages than most other employers in the area, so I don’t see why the workers would bother with a union of that is the case. Plus, the south is so right wing that anything associated with democrats and liberals is the boogy man. Having lived in the south and other parts of the country, I can honestly say the wages in the south generally suck. The whole mindset is the rich should get richer and the poor don’t deserve more, and the lower middle class is convinced they will do better in a system where the government and unions don’t interfere.

VW probably easily can pay good wages compared to most businesses in the area, so I am guessing the wages are good there relatively speaking. For those reasons I just could not see the union getting voted in. Never mind, that I myself am loathe to let a union in and I don’t even generally think like the right wing southerner. I think most people who are unaccustomed to unions are afraid of them. Things need to be really bad I think for the union to get voted in these days. It would be interesting to know how often they are voted in in the last ten years.

filmfann's avatar

As a career union member, I have seen the workers get routinely fucked by the union.
That said, I have also see my company fuck the (non-union) managers much, much worse.

Harold's avatar

I have been a member of two unions, and resigned from both in disgust. The National Tertiary Education Union NTEU was the last one, and our campus union rep was a dictatorial idiot who was after her own aggrandizement rather than the good of the staff. Unions have destroyed the manufacturing industry here in Australia. We will no longer manufacture cars after 2017, just to name one industry gone due to greed. They virtually own the Australian Labor Party, and dictate all their policies. Never again.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Unfortunately I’m going to agree with @filmfann, not everyone has good experiences with unions. My hubs got completely screwed over after getting hurt on a job.

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