This week, the union representing American Airlines called a no job action for the bankrupt carrier, cancelling over 250 flights and reducing flight times and schedules through October. The reason for this? The pilot’s union. The airline is attempting to cut costs by doing what most companies do during difficult economic times: cutting overhead. What is the most costly overhead for this already struggling service provider? According to Reuter’s quotes from the airline itself, pilots increase in maintenance reports and above average sick leave requests all added to increased overhead, leading to the airline making cost cuts when it came to pilots. Add this news onto the already controversial Chicago teacher’s strike and it seems that the single question that begs asking is: Are labor unions out of date?
Some Disturbing Facts About Labor Unions
According to 10 anti-union facts from the Union Free website, today’s unions are multi-billion dollar industries, collecting over $10 billion dollars in dues from their members each year. These dues are used to fund the union’s businesses, not necessarily the welfare of their members. In addition, if you live in one of the 28 Non-Right-To-Work States, unions can order you to be fired from your job. These things hardly seem beneficial to the modern-day employee, promised protection under unionized wings.
Unions Then, Unions Now
In the 1930’s and even through the 1960’s, unions provided a hedge of protection when governmental regulations for employees were non-existent. Today, what unions enforce are issues already largely covered by state and federal regulation when it comes to caring for workers and providing safe work environments. Paid holidays, sick leave and other benefits now come standard at the hands of the government. While unions assuredly helped build that infrastructure years ago, today, these unions appear to be somewhat redundant and incredibly ineffective for the modern-day workforce.
My Experience With Unions
I have many friends who believe unions are still the answer. Yet, when I inquire as to why, none can provide me with a solid answer that isn’t already covered by governmental regulations for modern-day workers. During my time spent in the education industry, the union I was forced to pay into was akin to financial blackmail. I didn’t need it. I didn’t want it, but yet, I was forced to pay my dues. Essentially, it became another tax on my paycheck.
My spouse, working as a civilian employee for the government, has experience with unions as well. He is part of one (out of requirement), and as a supervisor, has to work with union representatives on a regular basis. Our experience with labor unions in today’s workforce has been rather underwhelming.
We paid to be disenfranchised and misrepresented by a service we never needed, forced to pay into a system that was redundant and unnecessary in its platform. In fact, during my four years in education and my husband’s five in civil service, our required union dues surpassed $4,500 — money we could have saved, put into retirement accounts or simply spent enjoying life.
Today, as unions insert themselves into consumer based convenience and requirements for education, I remember that the power of the unions do not come from unions themselves, they come from the workforce. So, are today’s unions out of date? Maybe they are, and maybe they’re not. Regardless, based on the facts about what unions do and don’t do for today’s workforce, it certainly seems to me as if they are out of touch.
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