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Unions, necessary or not?

Unions were created during the Industrial Revolution to give workers rights. They needed these rights to combat the monopolies of the time. As a result we have, in America and several other countries: a minimum wage, collective bargaining, safe working conditions, and several other rights.

They were necessary during that time, as business had carte blanche over the workers. However, during this day and age, are they needed?

Do the unions do more to hurt businesses and consequently hurt the economy? Or are they necessary for the continuation of worker's rights?

Are unions necessary or not?

  • Sep 24 2011: Definitely Yes Andrew. I work for the Executive Branch of Government and Union protection is absolutely necessary. If our own Government requires unions to operate efficiently I am sure they are needed elsewhere. People are not flawless and emotions dictate owns actions more often than not. Some personnel actions can ruin ones career indefinitely and cannot be amended easily if at all. Checks and balances don't always work but it's the best system I'm aware of.
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    Sep 22 2011: Under certain circumstances, I think unions are necessary. For example, unions that represent workers keeping in mind that the point is not to put more money into ones bank account and forget that you present people with needs.
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    Sep 21 2011: first the corrections:

    1. unions were not at all created to combat monopolies, but rather, to represent the worker class.

    2. we can not be sure that minimum wage and the other stuff are a result of unions. unions pushed these things, but at the same time, technological progress allowed better working conditions, and competition on the labor market pushed things into this direction too. we don't know whether such benefits would've come about with no unions at all. "what if" is a problematic question in history. but we assume that sooner or later the market equilibrium is reached, with or without unions.

    now about the unions. originally unions were voluntary organizations of workers. in that case, if workers insist having unions while it is actually hurtful, that is an error. and errors are fixed sooner or later. someone tries the other way, and finds out that it is better. the rest follows.

    but today, unions are granted special privileges by government. that is clearly unethical, unlawful and harmful. the current situation hurts those the most, who the government promised to help: the unproductive, unskilled workers, who are the most vulnerable.
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    Sep 21 2011: My father was a person who banged the heads of GM unions in one of the most militant union cities in North America. There were times when in union negotiations between contracts that one of the union demands was that he be fired. Even he, believed that unions were necessary. All forces, especially ones with control over people's livelihoods, should have an opposite to keep them in check. Corporations with their special societal position as now equal to people need checks and balances.
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    Sep 23 2011: Since people are selfish and corruptible in nature, unions are not snow-white anymore. On the other hand unions are one of the key reasons for improvement of labor rights. People used to work nearly as slaves in the beginning of industry revolution. While the technology not only improved their conditions but also transferred most of their skills to machines. So unions are necessary as long as men invent machines that take manpower's abilities and increase unemployment. I sound like a commie right? Maybe I am.
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      Sep 23 2011: machines causing unemployment is an old sentiment. old, but false. machines actually move workforce into the area, not out of it. it happened with the weaving machine for example, which increased the number of workers in the weaving business tenfold. machines also increase wages and standards of living in general.
  • Sep 21 2011: They are both necessary and not necessary. It depends on where you look. For example IT industry does not need unions because workers can easily move to other job if they feel unjust treatment and are more likely to know how to defend themselves.

    On other hand employment in health care needs unions in order to protect workers from management that sometimes ruthlessly imposes "rules" and restrictions on workers to make them work unreasonable shifts or under hard working conditions.

    The real issue I think is that most unions "over protect" workers to such a point that employer cannot easily let go unproductive workers or does not have flexibility to move workers around.