There was a union push recently at one of our manufacturing facilities. It was fairly soundly defeated, but there was a lot of management effort put into convincing the people to vote the union down. And once our management learned of the union defeat, there was much rejoicing and congratulating.
All of which sort of made me feel conflicted.
From a management perspective, I realize that in many cases unions make life difficult. Terminating sub-par employees is much harder, as is promoting the good ones. Everything is seniority-based. And then there are contracts and negotiations and strike threats, etc.
But my liberal heart fully acknowledges the importance of unions. I mean, without them, there would be no middle class in America. Wages would still suck. There would be no health benefits. Workplaces would still be unsafe, and we wouldn’t have weekends and some holidays, etc.
The plant where I work has a union, and it really hasn’t been all that difficult to work in. We’re all just trying to make money so I am fairly free to do whatever I want. And they haven’t gone out on strike in a decade so that’s good.
Looking at the particular situation at our new facility, I really didn’t see the need to unionize. We are safety-focused, have decent benefits, pay is ok, there are new equipment investments and there aren’t really any concerns that need immediate fixing. I guess that’s why the union push ultimately failed.
But in general I don’t take joy in seeing a union fail. Unions are losing power all over the country and many states basically don’t even allow unions to organize. And as union power wanes, so does the middle class.
And don’t get me started on the shrinking pool of skilled labor in America! I mean, why try to become a machinist or mechanic when you can get paid just as much for stocking shelves at Aldi?
I know I’m pretty fortunate to have the education and job that I have. But how much longer will it last? How much longer will manufacturing last in America? When will the wage disparity become so great that it sparks a revolution?