By Staff Writer James Mellen.
Unions—what are they? Why are they relevant? Are they good? Am I being misinformed about how unions work by big corporations that don’t want me to unionize my workplace? Should I unionize my workplace? All of this and more to be answered in this here newspaper article.
A union is the collection of workers banding together in order to achieve a common goal.
Sometimes these goals are achieved by striking (which is probably what went through your head when you read the word union), but most of the time unions get what they want through something called collective bargaining.
Collective bargaining is when the union and some lawyers get together with the boss and negotiate how the workers should be treated. Collective bargaining is done sometimes with the threat of strike, but businessmen usually have incentives to keep their workers happy and collective bargaining is a tool to discuss how that best can be done.
Some people will tell you that unions ruin business. However, if a business fails under the pressure of a unionized workplace, it deserved to fail. What is bad for business isn’t always what’s bad for society.
Henry Ford put a lot of horse salesmen out of business because of something called competition.
In The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith defines self interest as one of the main tenets of capitalism. After all, it’s in the self interest of workers to unionize.
It keeps competition up, which is good capitalism; the invisible hand of the market gets forced by a union sometimes.
Unions are, however, bad for business owners, because they force them to spread the wealth that their business generates with their workers.
This is why they spend billions of dollars to run union smear campaigns against unions and to hire politicians to make a state, a “right to work” state.
Unions have been in the news recently for doing two excellent things so far this year.
First, the trend of teachers striking has continued, but this time in Los Angeles—the biggest city in the 7th biggest economy in the world.
The teachers were not organizing for their own pay or job security, but instead for the rights of their students to have good public education so they can be successful in the real world.
LA teachers want smaller classes, more councillors, more nurses, and more books for their children.
While not technically a union strike, TSA workers re-opened the government by using a union tactic called a sickout.
A sickout is exactly what it sounds like: a bunch of people calling out sick so that the boss has no workers.
This was slowing air traffic and ended up getting the government to reopen because without airplanes there isn’t an American economy.
Union workers overall are paid more and report more satisfaction with their job, which is why you should not unionize your workplace.
Even if your job is “good” or you aren’t personally invested in it.
In nearly every workplace in America, there are people whose entire lives depend on that job.
It’s work or die in this world, and since people don’t get a say in whether or not they work, they should get a say in how their workplace treats them.
Since college is our workplace for the next few years of our lives, an easy way to imagine this would be if there was a student union.
Imagine if students could bargain collectively with Chancellor Johnson or Vice Chancellor Shannon Finning?
If we could voice our concerns and actually be heard instead of told that they know how to run the university, if we could use our collective power to negotiate the parking or the Dells, think about how much better UMass Dartmouth would be for students.
This is exactly how labor unions can work but for your workplace.
UMass Dartmouth should, for the record, give more thought to what the students have to say.
Almost every student I’ve spoken with feels personally disenfranchised and ripped off by the administration, as all they do in response is slap a Band-Aid like Shake the Ship on our valid complaints.
It’s only a matter of time however, that these types of administrative policies get the better of them and the university’s reputation starts to seriously suffer from it.