How many of you guys are in a union where you work? We have been contacted by a union that represents library workers throughout our state. I know unions aren't perfect, but it appears to be the only way for us to stand up to the County Council. We were forced to take furlough days this year, and the feeling is that it will be worse next year. Unfortunately, our director (and the administration) will not look out for us - he's too concerned about sucking up to the County Council because he's still holding out hope to get a new library. Like I said, unionizing might be our only option.
On the one hand, I like collective bargaining, and sticking up for yourselves - especially in the face of otherwise overwhelming odds, and bad conditions.
On the other hand - I see them as hurting many of our manufacturing options, driving up costs, and stagnating quality. The few print jobs that I have had to reject and send back have always been union shops...whose prices were higher, and didn't do them right. But we had to use them since they were political materials. I have never had a union print shop give me a competitive bid, or show me print samples that made me think they justified their markup.
They do have their role (unions). But it's a fine balance, and the unions themselves need to be better about policing their members to ensure quality. I'm sure many unions do this (teachers, for instance) - but the ones I've had closest contact with (theater tech/carpentry and printing) have not convinced me that they make sense across the board.
I know, Jamie. Another option is perhaps trying to band together with the other county employees that are/were affected by the budget crunch (the more, the better) - everyone EXCEPT the Board of Education, the teachers, and police and fire. I can see the teachers and police and fire, but there are people that work out at the BOE that do NOTHING and make big money doing it. Oh, and of course none of the County Council members were affected either - from my understanding, it's a part-time position and most of the members have other income.
I think one of the sticking points is going to be the issue of part-time employees - i.e. whether or not they'll be covered by the union, or whether most of those positions would turn into full-time. Those are things that need to be addressed. A good friend of mine (she's the director in a neighboring county that has also been targeted by this union) pointed out that libraries can't exist without part-timers - usually pages and people in circulation.
To give them the benefit of the doubt, this union does seem on the up and up. If we do decide to unionize, we will have contracts - that way entities like the County Council can't do anything that violates it. For example, one of the options this past year was a 'temporary pay reduction' (i.e. cutting our already low salaries). However, they wouldn't be allowed to do that because our salaries will be spelled out in our contracts. Right now we're powerless.
As far as dues go, they are pretty high. However, as the union person I talked to pointed out - 'what you get back far exceeds what you pay in.' And that was echoed by a library worker that's in this particular union. So, I figure that's pretty good.
The biggest problem I have with unions is in order to get fair wages for employees far to often they institute policies like your 35 cent/year pay increase that kills incentive to perform with merit. If you know you will get a raise regardless why should an employee perform exceptionally? Unions need to structure their contracts more to help the employer by providing incentives for improved employee performance, enabling employees to get better paying jobs.
Also, I wonder whether seniority of responsibility should be directly tied to how long you have worked for a company rather than on the merit of your performance with that company.
Part timers at my place only have to pay into the union if they are regular part time. Meaning here that they work a normal amount of shifts and show up regularly. We have a couple part timers that are trained for the job but only work now and then if their full time job and an open shift match. Those employees are not required to pay into the union.
I never grew up a union guy but living in Detroit lead to getting a job with one. My take on the situation is that unions are only needed if you have:
A) bad management
B) you are lazy, or
C) you have an on the job alcohol of drug problem.
Don't expect a quick resolve if you decide to go union. There will be anti union meetings from your employer then contract negotiations to go through, our last negotiation went two years past the end of our last contract.
The only fear I would have is that the union might be corrupt, even Mafia owned. Northeastern and California unions are infamous for this. Rudolph Giuliani made his prosecutorial bones fighting for clean unions and then horse traded with the dirtiest for votes in his presidential run. The oldest and most famous unions have been looted by corruption and underworld control; pension funds are in horrible shape from misuse and graft.
I hear Service Employees something something is the most recent honest union; it's theirs to screw up these days. I also hear there might be unions coming on a European model which resemble political PAC's in some ways and don't necessarily have "shops"; anyone can join. Sounds a little like moveon.org to me.
Some unions are corrupt. Others do a great amount of good not only for their workers but for the community. You are not assigned a union, you pick who you want to represent you. Personally, I was much happier when I had the benefits of the union backing me up, got paid enough to become part of the middle class too.
I'm from a Union based family so perhaps I cannot see this in equal terms on both sides.
If your place of employment is fair to you, then you don't need one.