Posted April 11, 2012 at 8:00 am, in Free Speech Zone
As the 2012 election year gets underway, we will probably hear Republican candidates attacking unions (as they did in previous elections in Wisconsin and elsewhere). What should we think of such attacks?
I grew up in the forties and fifties in a household with several working women — and working mothers as well. They all belonged to unions and one of them was even a union steward. What I learned from that was that managers would
occasionally attempt to work one sort of injustice or another against workers, and God help the manager who did so against one of these women (He rarely did). The unions helped them to assert their rights and obtain justice in the workplace.
I never belonged to any union. In one sense, I didn’t need to because I learned from my mother and the other women in my childhood home what my rights are and how to defend them. On the other hand, most of the jobs I’ve held were deemed “professional,” on a par with management in many cases. But I was acutely aware of the benefits that accrued to me in companies that had strong unions: salary, health care, work rules and other benefits.
Unions are largely democratic, not socialist. They provide their members with protection against abuse by poor managers and make working conditions better and more productive for both the employee and employer, and help to reveal actions by managers that may be counterproductive, among other things.
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