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The Right Right, or Wrong Work?

December 11, 2012

I see the party’s started in the Michigan Capitol building.  It’s nice that all those people are out there celebrating a right to work… oh, wait, they’re protesting?  Honestly, I can’t recognize a bunch of lefties protesting vs. celebrating, I suppose.  Okay, I partially kid, but really.  What’s the difference between this crowd and the crowd celebrating the president’s last election win?  Less communist flags?

Anyway, what are we really seeing here?  Michigan is a union state, which means that somewhere just south of 20% of the jobs in the state are union jobs.  I watched the mayor of Lansing arguing with Stuart Varney on Fox Business this morning, saying (essentially) that people could always leave union jobs and get non-union ones if the non-union jobs are that interesting.  While that’s a valid point, it misses that some people don’t want to work for or support a union, and don’t believe it benefits them.

I’ve never worked for a union shop.  Well, not true.  I did a two-week temp job at a union printing shop.  In there, I did whatever they told me, and asked a lot of questions.  Two of the guys thought I was pretty good, and tried to get the union to let me continue to do temp work, but the union wasn’t interested in me.  Honestly, I was on my way back to college anyway, and my experience with the rules and regulations made me think that I didn’t want a job that told me who I could and could not change my work environment.  Beyond that, I’ve worked in places that have cut 70% of their localized workforce in a day, watched my company grow 6x in market cap by expanding an innovative business, and watched that same company have to contract after significant expansion that couldn’t be absorbed by our culture.

What’s part of the union counterpoint?

If the legislation is approved, Mott said fewer people likely will join unions but the unions will have to represent them.

“They don’t have to pay into it, but they reap the benefits.”

Well, I suppose that’s a thought.  But if people believe the union is representing them effectively, they’d likely want to join.  I would likely suppose that workers believe they can represent themselves by their work, and in doing so will get a fair shake from the management.  Sometimes that’s true, and sometimes the management can’t drive a successful company.  But I’d also say that in the latter case, the management also can’t work with unions that don’t have the same goals as the company does, and a lack of management competency just exacerbates the problem… witness Hostess a couple weeks ago.

I can pretty definitively say that I won’t be interested in working for a union anytime in my life.  I understand why some people do, but I also believe that not being forced to do so will likely either make unions better about working for the worker, or make them go away as ancient dinosaurs of an old business model.

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