I believe that with everything in life there has to be balance. The topic of whether unions are ideal for those who slack off on the job exists because of abuse of privileges that come with being part of a union.
So, does one throw out the concept of unions altogether simply because there is an abuse of the system? Well, the reason unions even began was because there was abuse on the other side of the equation. The problem began when employers demanded more of their workers for less. To me, whether or not I am pro-union depends on the industry. It is not cut and dried.
Unions in Public Sector Jobs
For careers in the public sector, in believe unions are important. Front line workers such as police officers, firefighters, nurses and other medical professionals need a level of protection. Government are always trying to cut funding for those industries and because of universal standards, there may not be a way for one employee to get a leg up over another by simply working harder or being more reliable. Whether or not teachers need unions is debatable. I’ve seen too many cases where poor teachers can continue in a lifelong career despite the incompetence because administration simply can’t fire them. The occupation of teaching is somewhat subjective compared with a nurse or firefighter. It’s easier to find ‘just cause’ to relieve a front line worker of their duties for failing to meet a standard. However, I still can’t pass judgment on every profession in the public sector because I am not an expert. Most teachers go into the profession because they care and want to do their best to educate. They need some protection because it’s not an easy job by any means.
The other public jobs outside of what has been mentioned are those where employees are working for a government agency, city, town or county. I don’t really have an issue with unions here. These workers provide an essential service to residents. If an employee feels like they should make more than a fellow worker because they bring more to the table, they are free to find another job in the private sector. They will probably make more money.
Alternative Jobs and Unions in the Trades
Are you in situation where you feel like someone in your company is slacking off and should either be fired, or at the very least make less money than you. If you do not have an alternative to go find another job that pays you more for what you are worth, then you may be in an industry that needs a union. Even I that case, unions need to have mechanisms in place to prevent abuse and prevent tax payers waste.
Unions in the trades is another area that needs a good looking at. Welders, electricians, plumbers and a myriad of other trades are all governed by industry codes and standards. I question whether unions in this industry benefits harder workers over slackers. You can always go freelance with your expertise or find another non union company that pays more. However, the trade is one area where unions are so prevalent (and with the greatest history of abuse) it may be better to abolish them from this industry to give workers more freedom to excel and earn more. The problem is when unions monopolize a trade. There are fewer opportunities for a person to find another job that pays more. In fact, finding a non-union job in the trades could result in less pay because unions have this industry locked up.
Protection of Employees
On a final note, one area where all employees need protection is the issue of gender. It’s common knowledge that women make less than the average man for the same work. This can also happen with workers of different ethnicity. Here, a union provides protection. But I’d like to think there has to be a better way to do this than to blanket an entire company or industry with a union structure.
Freelancers don’t need unions because we can charge what we want and make a premium dollar because we are better at what we do than others. Or perhaps willing to be work longer hours to accommodate clients. With freelancing, better talent often equates to better pay. Working smarter and investing in building a vibrant freelance business can pay off to attract more clientelle.
The positive thing about being a freelancer is the freedom that comes with being an entrepreneur. The downside is that it’s “all on you” to succeed. Some people don’t like that insecurity and that’s ok. Each to he or her own, union or not.
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