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 - Melissa Tomlinson

    Teacher unions gives teachers a job for life.

  • Guest - Peter Brown


    In case you're interested in the level of corporate profit over the last 30 years, please see the here.


  • Guest - Daniel Sutton

    You forgot to mention that under a union contract, ALL workers play by the same set of rules. There are no "pets", women are paid an equal amount as men, and disputes are not settled by the whim of the employer, but rather by a valid committee of union and management personnel.

  • Guest - ed kocur

    The training is much better look at what IBEW local 103 is doing

  • Guest - June

    Unions do a great job protecting their member, even the ones that deserve to be fired.

  • Guest - Mondo

    As a former union member (I've since left for non-union waters, and have enjoyed dramatic improvements in both the workplace and home as a result) I can say that most of this seems pretty sketchy, if not outright wrong.

    Unions are far from democratic, for starters. All I experienced under my union was extra rules and laws being passed down from the top with no chance of input at all. I don't know how much my union's employees were paid, but I see no reason that they should've been paid anything. Ideally, a union would be purely volunteer work if said work was truly necessary. And while I can't really blame it on the union with any kind of proof, productivity at my union job was dismal. There was maybe a single employee per department that didn't spend a quarter to a half of their shift doing absolutely nothing.

    Worse than all that, though, it ignores many of the actual problems with unions, like forced membership. If unions are still necessary, why are you forced to join? Shouldn't it be a logical choice? And especially in a union like mine, where many workers don't support the union's actions in the first place, why are we forced to subsidize its employees? We can agree that wage stagnation and income inequality exist, but I have yet to see unions do anything to fix that.

    And hey, maybe all of you guys have great unions that offer a ton of support to their employees, but mine was complete garbage and I resent their very existence. I may have only given them $600 over the years, but given that I received absolutely nothing in return (except a two year wage freeze) I'd really rather I had that money back.

  • Guest - Steve

    In most of the construction trades the unions offer training and specialized training in their crafts to help contractors in safety and production.

  • Guest - Susan. Dodge

    Melissa Tomlinson, teacher unions do not give teachers jobs for life. That is completely false! First of all, it is the state law that determines when a teacher receives a continuing contract. In Ohio for example it is after 7 years of teaching and upon earning 30 additional graduate hours betond a bachelor's degree. Up until they receive a continuing contract they are an at-will employee and can be let go for any reason or no reason. Once they receive a continuing contract, it simply means that they have due process rights before they are terminated. A continuing contract keeps the employer from terminating for arbitrary and capricious reasons. However, if a teacher is not doing his/her job, and the administration documents that through the evaluation process, they absolutely have enough data to terminate that teacher.

    The cause of poor teachers remaining in the classroom is due to administrators who don't do the job they need to do to show the deficiencies. In districts with good administrators poor Teachers don't stick around.

    And as I said... This isn't the union, it's state law. The union just makes sure the administration follows the law and doesn't harass and fire good teachers who the administrators just don't like. With proper documentation by the administrator, the union can't do a thing to save a job...and we wouldn't want to. We don't want poor teachers working with OUR students either.

  • Guest - kevin piazza

    Why do officers in unions get blame for management

  • Guest - Andrew

    Completely false. I work along side the UAW and these are some of the laziest people you will ever meet. I've seen workers sit for over and hour and just stare into space. I've seen workers walk away from their work station for over two hours and chat with other union members.

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