My Dad admits it: unions exist to serve a purpose. They protect workers. Plain and simple. But, in his opinion, they are outdated. He asserts that they were necessary back when they originated in the 1800's to protect railroad workers who might face injuries, but now, not so much. In his job at the FAA, he oversees employees who come to work each and every day and sit in front of a computer doing absolutely nothing. The catch? They can't be fired. It's too difficult to hold public employee union workers accountable. My dad has said, "Just about the only way you can fire a public employee is for sexual harassment of physical assault. Otherwise, they're still in work."
My grandmother, on the other hand, contends that unions are there to protect employees from unfair management practices. As a public school teacher, she understands the realities of the workplace. She says that without unions, principals can choose to fire teachers at will, with little or no reason at all. If a principal, say, doesn't like the fact that a certain teacher takes of work to observe Jewish holidays, that teacher might be fired. Without unions, teachers are essentially helpless. And sadly, principals often seek scape goats to protect their own skin. A soft-spoken, quiet teacher who declines to challenge the principal is a prime target for lower-tier students. A principal may choose to put the lower-performing kids in a class with that teacher, and when that teacher is shown to have a class full of under-performing children, she's fired. That is, what my granny explain, what teachers' "tenure" is for. She says, at least in her school district, principals can fire a teacher at any time in the first two years of their employment if they so choose. After that, teachers are tenured and protected. But, is the protection necessary? Do unions really serve a purpose? Do they do more harm than good?
In her old-age and wisdom, my grandmother admitted that both sides have extremes. Sometimes, incompetent teachers are protected by unions when they shouldn't be. By the same token, teachers are often fired unfairly. "Unions aren't perfect," she acceptingly conceded, "but they are a barrier to attempt to aid the lowly-paid public employees of the country".
What do YOU think?