I’ve never been a fan of unions. I grew up with many grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and parents who belonged to unions. One of my first jobs forced me to join a union and pay dues. Since I was “summer help,” I had to pay full union dues, but I got no protections or benefits from the union. I was told that specifically. I was then repeatedly threatened by union members to slow down my work, even though I was struggling to barely keep up with what was expected.
In Michigan, you are surrounded by organized labor, mostly UAW. Generations are raised only knowing two sides: labor and management. Kind of reminds you of a two-party system in politics, almost like the two are working together to keep everyone in line!
The reality is that we once lived in a time when companies took advantage of workers and did horrible things—locked workers in unsafe working environments. Paid low wages, one could barely survive. Unions had a time and place when they protected workers. Unions no longer do that. Labor is too competitive. The Big 3 vehicle companies now struggle to hire hourly workers. They are getting their lunch handed to them by foreign manufacturers and Tesla.
Union membership is at an all-time low, and it continues to decrease and will decrease because Unions have reached the point where they no longer make companies competitive. In fact, they work in the exact opposite direction. They work to make corporations as least competitive as they can make them without going under, and in many cases, they put them under.
We used to have strikes when companies treated workers like shit. Unions then began to realize strikes aren’t good for business, which is why you barely see them happen anymore. You cost millions, if not billions of dollars, to the companies you are supposed to be partnering with, and that makes the next negotiation really hard. Kind of hard to negotiate for more when there isn’t more.
The UAW knows this, but when you have union leaders who are constantly stealing union dues and doing other bad stuff, you have to take the focus off of your own bad deeds and do something spectacularly stupid, like striking an industry that is going through a major transformation.
But Tim! These CEOs are making millions of dollars per year!
Yep. They are. Do I think that’s right? In some cases, maybe. In most cases, no way. It’s outrageous. Two wrongs don’t make a right, my grandma always said.
We tend to forget that a hundred years ago, when you worked until you were 65, if you lived that long, a company could afford to pay you a generous retirement because if you did make it to retirement, you were most likely dead soon after. That’s a reality. Today, if you retire after thirty years of working an hourly job, you’ll probably live another thirty. Hello, Teacher’s Unions have entered the chat…
Organizations. Companies. Society. Can not survive on that math. It turns upside down where you know 80 cents of every school budgeted dollar going to pay for retirement and benefits of teachers and not educating kids.
What’s the solution? Hell, if I know, but it’s not continuing down this path, thinking that it’s all just magically going to work out in the end. News Flash – it won’t. It ends in bankruptcy. The UAW will eventually bankrupt the Big 3, and all those members and former members who are getting benefits will be high left and dry. I know this because this cycle continues to repeat itself with unions. This is why unions are dying across the world. The system doesn’t work.
The UAW is the walking dead at this point. They fail to realize that the entire auto industry is going through fundamental change, and because these companies have seen record profits, they feel like it’s time for them to get some, which I can understand the desire for. But getting what they are asking for now will hasten the inevitable.
Unions, at one point, could claim they have the most productive and best-trained workers. They can no longer claim this and haven’t been able to in a long time. Now, all they can claim is they have the most entitled workers. I don’t blame the workers. They’ve been taught this by a corrupt complex of people who got rich off their labor. No, not management and CEOs, but their own union leadership.
At some point, the strike will stop. The UAW will claim victory. The truth is they are a dying vestige of time long gone. Because of demographics, workers have the power and will continue to have the power for a long time. Younger generations don’t believe they need older people to represent their best interests for a portion of their wages. That concept seems silly to them. Why give someone else your money when you have the power?