Posted March 14 2005 - 06:11 AM
| Unions here are not nearly as powerful as they have been in the past, and are often reviled, even by workers as sone sort of evil, or unjust compensation for less work, or for menial work. |
An image we have in the UK is that a lot of American unions were (or are) corrupt, being in the pay of the Mafia etc. I assume that this is factually incorrect?
FWIW, Brit trade unions have also declined in power. By the 1970s they were tremendously powerful, particularly the miners, train drivers and car manufacturing unions. Eventually a Conservative government (our equivalent of a Republican government) brought in legislation curbing the powers of the unions. Some of it was arguably draconian, but other bits of legislation were arguably fair (e.g. votes for strikes had from then on to be by secret ballot - previously workers could be intimidated into voting for a strike because votes were taken at open meetings where everyone could see who voted for or against the union leadership's arguments). Now unions are relatively quiet.
However, unions aren't necessarily evil. It's important to remember that a key function of unions is to protect indivuduals from harassment, work for them in cases of compensation, etc. Also, in many industries, unions and management have discovered that - surprise, surprise - if workers and management get together and work for the common good, they all get richer. The idea that unions are just there for the workshy is I'm afraid, rather wide of the mark.