Unions are a one size fit all blanket for employees. Too bad not all employees are the same size. Like Marxism, there is no individual in many labor unions. That’s why they favor collective bargaining–someone else “represents” you, and bargains for what they think you want. Modern unions are somewhat of a middle-man between employees and employers. Many labor organizations have a tin ear to the desires and welfare of employees and their employers, and just play mob-like politics.
Now before I’m assailed with assumptions that I have never worked a day in my life, let me disprove that charge. At my first job, I was actually part of a union. When I was 17, I started my first job at a grocery store in central New Jersey. In accordance with New Jersey’s union-friendly politics, joining the International Food and Commercial Workers Union was mandatory. The day I was hired I was told if I did not become a member, I would not be given the job.
At first, I figured it would be a good thing. Unions meant benefits and representation right? Well, just a couple weeks in, I saw the ineffectiveness of my union. As a high school student who worked no more than 14 hours a week, the initiation into the organization was economically strenuous for me. While I had to pay $20 a week in initiation dues, I also had to pay $10 a week in regular dues. Those first few weeks I was only working about 8-10 hours, so over half my paycheck was going to the Union and the Government. I could hardly afford to finance the trip to work, as my 1998 Isuzu Trooper wasn’t the most fuel efficient vehicle.
With these staggering fees and dues, you would think I would have had a great job. This was not the case. Pushing shopping carts for hours in the winter air was not fun, and for minimum wage, the Union wasn’t coming through. I wasn’t even granted a break or allowed to wear a knit cap in the snow! Even the medical benefits the union promised wouldn’t have been available until I completed my third year at the grocery store. Did they really expect a high school kid to last three years at a job? I was paying into something that would never offer me any return on investment.
Friends of mine who worked at other grocery stores have had similar complaints about their unions. One friend who worked at ShopRite for a summer job had to pay the staggering initiation dues again after starting his second summer of work. I guess that the weekly dues from his first summer of work just went into the pocket of the union boss. Had he had the right to bargain individually rather than collectively, there would be no “reinitiating”.
I understand that workers need some type of protection and representation, but large one size fit all labor organizations are not prudent in modern times. The days of child labor, 14 hour days, and foul working conditions are long gone. Sweatshops are no longer found in America, and unions are no longer needed. Workers and employers deserve more rights and power. Our economy and job market should not be dependant on big labor and mob-like politics. The way to put power in the hands of job creators and individual employees is to favor right work legislation. Had I lived in one of the 23 “Right to Work” States, I would have had the freedom to choose not to join the union. As an American, why should I be forced to join an organization I do not wish to be a part of? Maybe the IFCW would be great for a worker with different circumstances, but for a high school student, individualism and Right to Work is more favorable. Since leaving my old job as a cart boy in disgust, I now hold a job with higher pay, negotiable hours, and a guaranteed break, all with the absence of a union. With my current job, I feel like a person. As a mandatory member of the IFCW, I felt like a loser in a Ponzi scheme.