September 26, 2008, 6:00 am

Unions; Is There Still A Need For Them?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Career,Miscellaneous
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After three days, I head couldn’t take it anymore. Even my manager who came to meet me for a two hours coaching session couldn’t believe it was going on for that long. All day we are hearing whistles. They are about 50 and they are louder than 10,000 ducks going down South. Our branch is located nearby a big hotel and apparently, the ducks are pissed. Every three years or so, they do it: they do down in the street and annoy as many people they can because they are not happy with their job.

In Quebec, about 40% of all jobs have a union organisation behind them. That mostly includes everybody working for the government, teachers, nurses, police officers, firefighters and several other jobs. While some groups are pretty quiet and we don’t hear much about them, some others like to make noise and shout loud and clear that they are not happy and that they will “break” the management in order to get what “they deserve”.

One of my MBA colleague once have half of his staff with a union and the other half not affiliated with any groups. This was the result of a fusion of two branches. Believe it or not, after a year, the employees decided to get rid of the union because they realized they were getting exactly the same benefits than the others but they were paying the union to “work for them”.

I am obviously annoyed to hear all those whistles since the beginning of the week but there is more behind it. I don’t understand the point of pissing off other people because you are not happy. I would seriously never empathize with who are doing such things. If you are really not that happy, just change job!

Honestly, I don’t really see the benefit of having unions anymore. I truly believe that the employment market has exploded enough and there is so much competition that employers now have the responsibility to treat their employees right if they want to keep their business running. Would unions really improve anything? As a worker I don’t want to be protected, I want to be recognized for my work and have the possibility of having promotions, getting bonuses and a nice work environment. I believe that if I work well, my protection will be assured by my value as a good employee instead of having a strong union behind me so I can relax when I feel like it.

I understand that unions were necessary a while ago since employers were treating their employees like dogs. But I think that this time is over.

So tell me, do you find any good point of having a union at work?

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I wholeheartedly agree. Unions originally were created to stop people being exploited by companies. Now we have a pretty good set of labour laws that protects workers from being exploited. The Unions time has past. They seem to be whining now all the time rather than representing people and protecting them from grave injustices.

I couldn’t agree more, i am currently working in france and the situation is even worse here despite there are laws we don’t have in quebec, like if you want to fire someone you have to pay him three months worth of salary. even retired people go to the streets with their whistles.

I remember hearing about a construction company that was going through a hard time. The entire staff was union. He asked the employees for a temporary reduction in their wages while they were going through this patch so he could keep the business afloat.
The union decided that wasn’t a good idea and refused to do anything about it, they may have even asked for more wages.
Well, he shut down the company, created another one that was a non union company, and told all of them if they wanted to come back to work it was as a non union employee.

Needless to say, unions were needed many years ago when they were first created. Now, I believe they are akin to legalized Mobs (unless that title is already taken by record labels, phone companies, and/or banks?).

Just my 2 cents.

by: Billy Pilgrim | September 26th, 2008 (2:02 pm)

Whether we agree with tactics or not, the concept of unionization is still a good one. Whistle blowers (in the annoying sense, rather than the accountability sense) may be annoying, but collective action is still a sensible way for labour to ensure it is being treated fairly. Where personal relationships between ownership and labour exist, it may not be so crucial. But large corporations do have a tendency to attempt to exploit labour (in fact their shareholders practically require it).

At their best, unions hold corporations accountable. At there worst, they can be unreasonable and lead to bad economic reality for a corporation. 90% of the time, the corporation still wins.

Finally, our consumption-based economy requires well-paying jobs for continued growth. Unions push companies to provide those jobs. Do we all want to work for Walmart?

Yep, and I totally agree. I used to work for a company that has union organization. And the result you get is, no matter how hard you work, the bonus is shared across the whole company. It allows people to be lazy, and dependent on other people to do work. You probably need one person out of 5 people to actually do work, cuz the rest just want to get their pay check and then going home. It’s pretty damn sad.

Oh Ye Innocents ! Beware the rogue company! Retired now, but have been royally screwed up the tender spot by knowledgeable shits that spend most their time circulating amongst their own kind, legal and quasi-legal means and methods for culling, killing, entrapping, seducing, fooling, screwing, duping, doping, disenfranchising, destroying, humiliating, deselecting, discriminating legally, disorienting, overworking, over facing, selecting and controlling personnel. Some of these cruel farces are available on the net, most are regarded company secrets. The “Human Resources” person who can “Shape” personnel to suit upper management is a most valued corporate gangster. Machiavelli had nothing on these smooth criminals, who will use entrapment, hidden microphones, former employer interviews, former work mate interviews, credit records, washroom cameras, lunchroom mikes, well paid prostitutes, dope dealers, neighborhood gossips, legal loopholes, and even outright lies to keep their share of the pie, even if it costs you your career! Most people don’t realize the underside of their employment. That’s a good thing! HR professionals like to work in the dark!

it’s good to hear that your efforts are recognised with the security they deserve. I wish it was the same for every employee.

trust me the second that the majority move away from unionization, the second we need it more than we ever did. Especially in the current climate!

i do wish that the unions were a bit maturer though

Please. Come to a right-to-work state and try to make a living here. Housing, food, utilities, and gas are no cheaper than in states where unions are active, but wages are…well, laughable.

Oh. But part of your pay is the lovely weather. Think of all those warm woolens you won’t have to buy.


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While you raise some good and valid points in here, I’m not sure that there are enough people that would agree with you concerning “I understand that unions were necessary a while ago since employers were treating their employees like dogs.” There are still a large number of companies that do just that.

Trust me, unions are a benefit. You’re a professional who wears a suit and tie to work so the extent of your abuse might be getting yelled at or having the coffee machine broken for too long. You can always get a new job with your transferrable skills and clients.

Workers in dangerous environments or where they are being using as “machines” need unions to protect them. Management almost always considers them expendable — not publicly of course, but they always want to see how close to the line they can get.

A resounding YES from two different perspectives.

a) I’ve worked in a jurisdiction where managers LIKE unions. We like to think we are delivering decent employment and all constructive efforts in that regard are welcome. If there was no union, we would encourage its formation.

b) I’ve worked in a jurisdiction where managers hate unions. Frankly I though the managers were close to requiring sectioning. They imagined all sorts of problems and created all sorts of difficulties. They couldn’t get contracts written on time but they could letters of suspension in duplicate for nothing more than a notice to strike.

All unions are doing is working with us. I sometimes they seem militant, I would do an Obama. Sit down and find out what is bothering people. With a bit of effort, I am sure I will “get it” eventually. Employees are NOT my enemy. They have different interests though than I do and than my financial stakeholders do. Organized discussions help us move forward together. Go unions! More than happy to work with you.