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Greg Worden

Entrepreneur and Adjunct Professor of Sustainable Business, Worden Associates

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Are unions in the US still relevant?

Hostess is closing eliminating 18.500 jobs due, in part, to 5,000 bakery union members striking while the Teamsters had already accepted a deal. True, the company had been mismanaged but this appears to be an example of a union cutting off its nose despite its face. The US has some of the best worker-protection laws in the world. Is this an example of good union leadership or is it an example of unions acting as though it was still 1905? Are unions still relevant in the US today?

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  • Nov 20 2012: I have been employed by big multinationals in the past. Two of them went through Chapter 11s, in part, to get rid of the unions that had held them hostage. "Held hostage" describes it perfectly. Internal documents within one company demonstrated how for each part that they make in the US, they incur a loss of x$. I have also heard horror stories from European coworkers who went to the US on a business trip, and witnessed the shocking laziness of union workers, or saw how well-paid they are, compared to highly qualified white-collar workers.

    In theory, unions have a good role to play, when employees are dealing with oppressive employers. For example, joining one company might severely affect your employability in another company that works in the same domain. http://www.theverge.com/2012/1/27/2753701/no-poach-scandal-unredacted-steve-jobs-eric-schmidt-paul-otellini However, these days, when I look at unions, I see just another corporation that wants to milk its victims dry.

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