I am the president of the local broadcast union and my term ends on September 31st. I've been President for 4 L O N G years and have seen many a thing, good and bad, about being a union. Now in today's business world I do not think that I would be comfortable in a job without a union. There are many benefits to being unionized (which your bosses won't tell you about), but you mostly hear about the negatives, paying dues, seniority, animosity from the bosses. But it is the protections and guarantees that bring the members together. Don't get along with the boss, he doesn't like your shirt, too bad, let me do my job and leave me alone; company decides on wage freeze or eliminates some vacations, so sad, give me my raise and see you in a week. A union is a "Don't Fuck with me Card", as a worker you are given certain rights, as a union worker, these rights can't be taken away on a manager's whim. In the union hay-day the bosses were making 40% more than their workers, today it is 400% more yet the average workers' salary is crawling up the scale, or running down to Mexico.
The bad rep unions receive is because of that old adage, one rotten apple spoils the bushel. My shop has about 40 workers, now I can count on my hand the number of them that needed help with Real Issues and more than half of them actually deserved their punishment. The average union worker works his/her shift, shows up on time, leaves on time, works some Overtime and gives 100% to their job. We come in, do our job and leave, no fuss no muss. Then there is that 1% of workers who are always unhappy and just looking for trouble. They are always late, but only by 5 minutes; call in sick all the time, but not too much; always has some family emergency when it comes to OT and comes running to the shop steward with the boss looks at him cross-eyed. These people are always in the boss's office, getting letters in their file and getting their fat pulled out of the fire by union stewards. These are the workers non-union people see, workers who should be fired but aren't. They are the ones that define the union, and they are the problem.
We have Red Thursday at our shop, all union members wear red on Thursday to show solidarity. In the beginning it was funny to see the non-union personnel come into our area and marvel at all the red, "Why didn't I get the fashion call last night?" they would ask. "It's union red day" we would reply. "I didn't realize you were ALL union!!!". Exactly, a union worker is just another employee, but one that will come to their brother's/sister's aid whenever needed!!!
Happy Labor Day!