I woke up with a start this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. After all it’s not often I wake up at 5am with a blog post already burning in my head, shaping itself further I stumble down the stairs to type it up. I’ve heard a lot of arguments about unions from friends, family, and even my parents (boy, I can’t wait to hear about it when my mom reads this post). “Working with unions makes doing business unnecessarily more complicated.” “Unions support lazy workers.” The arguments I hear are usually unsubstantiated or sensationalized. There’s a wealth of information on Google about the evils and/or awesomeness of unions people can find or ignore at their fancy - but today I want to talk about my belief because I’ve never really articulated this clearly before:
Hate on me all you want, but the essence of why I support unions is simple: it’s because unions put the needs of people before the needs of business.
No argument can convince me that it’s not the ethical and humane thing to do to put people first. The bottom line of a union is the will of it’s membership. The bottom line of big business is its profit. Something has to balance that out, and it sure as hell isn’t going to be the government.
Some anti-union folks concede that unions were important many years ago, but then go on to claim that there is no need for them now. Are you kidding? As long as there are abuses and corruption in the corporate world, there will be a need for unions.
Why I think unions are still important
- They empower workers to sit at a bargaining table with their employer. It creates a power balance for a fair dialogue that would not otherwise exist.
- They help establish a non-discriminatory pay scale.
- They help prevent wrongful termination.
- They help protect employees from religious (or other) discriminations in workplace practices.
Why I think businesses should support unions My thoughts to businesses: Unions could be your ally, if you let them. One of your truest assets isn't the figures in your ledger. Your biggest assets are the human beings that walk in and out of your doors every day, creating your products safely and serving your customers.
I would wager to guess that businesses already offering their employees fair wages and safe, non-discriminatory work environments are not the ones doing most the union busting - because they don't need to.
This cuts to the core of my beliefs. I created Altered Esthetics to be a voice for artists. I maintain this blog because it’s a place for my voice. In the same respect Unions are a voice for workers. In a complicated, crazy world having a collective voice is so much more powerful (and so much more necessary.)
I am not a part of a union in the small business where I work, but I support unions. Not because I’m a democrat. Not because I’m “liberal.” I support unions first and foremost because before I’m anything else - I’m human.
This Saturday at noon I’m going to the Capital in St. Paul to stand in solidarity with my fellow humans. Whether you do so in Minnesota, California, or wherever you may be, I really hope you’ll join me.