Labor Unions Are Useless Essay

2446 words - 10 pages

I have been involved with labor unions on three occasions throughout my lifetime. The first occasion occurred, when I was a high school teenager and began working as a box-boy at a grocery store. A condition of employment was that I was required to join the stores labor union, which was a state law in California. According to Bernard D. Meltzer, a leading scholar of Labor Law at University of Chicago Law School, “Union security provisions in labor contracts have required membership in, or financial support of, the signatory union by employees, as a condition of employment by the signatory employer”(2277). This is called a closed job which meant that only union members were entitled to work. Therefore, I had no choice but to join the store union. I immediately noticed that the union would collect membership dues every month, but I never received any benefits from being a union member. According to the union’s work rules, management was supposed to give its employees a minimum of six hours notice if the employee was scheduled to work. In my case this would rarely happen. I was constantly told at the last minute that I needed to work, and if I did not come to work I would be fired. I would protest to the union shop steward (who was my union representative), but nothing ever changed. I complained to the union management and I was ignored and dismissed. I became frustrated and angered with the union’s propaganda claiming that they fought for all workers rights, when I knew for a fact that they did not. This was about the time that I began to question whether unions really cared about its members or whether they only cared about themselves and its member’s dues, and if unions were still needed in today’s society.
What is a union? According to Brian Farmer, a contributor for The New American Magazine who quoted Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary that defined a Union as “an organization of workers formed for the purpose of advancing its members' interests in respect to wages, benefits, and working conditions” (2). Therefore, unions should strive to keep its member’s best interest in mind when negotiating with employers.
Prior to the industrial revolution in the United States, workers including men, women, and children were compelled to work long hours for low wages, in inhuman working conditions with no rights. Business owners and their appointees had the ability to hire and fire its employees at their leisure with no regard for their employees welfare. It was for these reasons that labor unions began to form in the United States. Their purpose was to combat the ills inflicted on workers. As reported by the union “Knights of Labor” in its Constitution of 1878, that documented numerous proposals intended to help workers. The Constitution included equal rights for both men and women, eight hour workdays, safe working conditions, as well as a host of other benefits designed to help worker’s (2,3). The ‘Knights of Labor”, along with...

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