By Sahid Fawaz

1. Unions are no longer necessary

Wage stagnation and a decline in real incomes for middle class families has become one of the biggest problems facing the country. The middle class is shrinking and college graduates are putting off buying homes and cars because of low salaries. Meanwhile productivity is higher than ever and corporate profits are through the roof. So where is the money going? Instead of to the worker, more and more of it is going to corporate execs and CEOs, leading to increasing income inequality.

2. Unions are undemocratic

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, one could argue that unions are among the most democratic organizations. Unlike a corporation, for example, unions are bottom up organizations where the members elect their officers, approve bylaws, and vote on contracts. Each union has member committees, member meetings, member-driven elections, and so forth that help to ensure that the opportunity for member participation is available to all.

3. Unions pay their officers and staff obscene amounts

Union salaries are determined democratically, often with the salaries approved by delegates and set forth in the bylaws or constitutions.

The reality is that most union officers are local officers. They get paid very little especially when you take into account the hours that they put in when it comes to negotiations, union administration, and contract administration. And many don’t get paid at all.

Some officers and staff at the national level get paid more but it is far from obscene. They often work long hours in cities with very high costs of living, such as DC and New York, where many unions are headquartered. And when compared to their peers in corporations, and some non-profits, their pay is often low.

4. Unions increase labor costs, leading companies to send jobs overseas

This allegation is completely refuted by recent history.

If a highly unionized workplace was, as the argument goes, the cause of companies sending jobs overseas, then the absence of high union density should lead to very few jobs going overseas, right? Well, union density in the private sector has been declining for decades and is currently less than 10%. Yet for the last few decades, American businesses have shifted millions of good paying jobs overseas, despite the huge increases in productivity at home and the stagnating wages.

It's not unions that lead to job loss. It's greedy corporate executives who simply don't want to share the fruits of higher productivity and profits with American workers - unionized or not.

5. Unions lead to lower productivity and worker laziness

No. Not even close. Studies show that productivity in unionized American workplaces is actually higher, with a meta-analysis noting that ""a positive [association between unions and productivity] exists for the United States in general and for U.S. manufacturing in particular."

Is there one that we missed? Let us know in the comments.

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  • Guest - Marilyn

    I cannot believe that some people still think this way. I worked for a non-union company for many years. We faired well, the boss faired much better. Always looking at the bottom line for increase profits. When the globalization became an option, the company moved operations overseas. That had a devastating effect in the community. If nothing else, unions protect employees and their jobs, as they keep watchful eye on revenues and expenditures. Unions make employers treat employees fairly.

  • Guest - Mike

    As a Stewart, and as a contract negotiator. I have not been paid one dime, my pay comes from the knowledge that I am doing a little to keep unions alive. One day unions will come back, when people stop wanting big gov to come save them. Take back what's due us, stand together. Corporations are not the problem, the government is. It gives people the false hope someone has their back. Polititions are in the pockets of buissness.

  • Guest - Diane Karaba

    The workers here in SC at the Boeing plant are being told that if they allow the union in, that the Seattle Boeing workers will come and bump them from their jobs.

  • Guest - Mark Kennedy

    Union bashers have never read any facts about why workers organized and the hardships they endured. Nothing has changed for the blue collar worker. We are still building pyramids for the wealthy, the pyramids just look different. Retired UAW MEMBER.

  • Guest - Mark

    How about "Unions reward bad workers and punish good ones"?

  • Guest - Matt Kirby

    number 4 is the only one I believe is somewhat true although I do believe unions are necessary I do not believe believe wages they demand are always justified for the job they do

  • Guest - James Ortiz

    #6. Union Dues monies are used for political purposes. This is absolutely NOT true. It is against federal law for Unions to contribute to political campaigns from the union treasury. Many Unions, like the Teamsters, do accept VOLUNTARY donations that are used for political purposes. Keyword - VOLUNTARY. The Teamsters has a program called DRIVE, an acronym for Democratic, Republican, Independent Voter Education. One must sign a form to have automatic contributions deducted and contributed along with regular dues money. It is 100% voluntary and they are absolutely no repercussions should a member decline

  • Guest - Jenny

    People believe that teacher unions (NEA) gets money from local school districts and the states. I've been a local district president. All the money that supports my state and local association comes from the dues members pay. In my state, we have some influence with the legislature due to lobbying, but KEA doesn't receive or control funds. I don't know where people get these ideas.

  • Guest - mike finney

    I belonged to the UAW for almost two years when I worked at CAT. I believe that the public's mistrust of (and sometimes disdain for) the unions is due to some "over-reach" in the 60s and 70s. But more importantly, the public sees no need for (nor the constitutionality of) the unionization of federal, state, and municipal employees.

  • Guest - m1ckDELTA

    Perhaps, "Five misconceptions", would have been a better choice of words. Don't imply that people who don't know much about us are "dumb". We would like them to be on our side or, better yet, active members in the ongoing labor movement.

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