Then President Barack Obama was quoted:
I think that's true for workers generally. I think if I was a coal miner, I'd want a union representing me to make sure that I was safe and you did not have some of the tragedies that we've been seeing in the coal industry. If I was a teacher, I'd want a union to make sure that the teachers' perspective was represented as we think about shaping an education system for our future.
In fact, I have been a member of three unions during my working life: two teachers' unions and the musicians' union. (Two of them were affiliates of the AFL-CIO.)
Let me tell you something: I've worked union jobs and I've worked non-union jobs and I'll take the union jobs any day. As a musician, I've been hired to perform in non-union situations where the working conditions were simply appalling. (Once an orchestra pit for an opera company I worked for was so filthy there was a dead rat in it.) I also sometimes had trouble getting paid and, let me also tell you, when you're in the "starving artist" category, you can't very well hire a lawyer to go to bat for you. When I joined the union and started working those jobs, everything changed. Appropriate conditions, no forced un-paid overtime (par for the course in non-union jobs), decent pay and, most of all, respect. Having representation and recourse when there's a problem makes all the difference in the world.
Do we sometimes find corrupt politics in unions? Well, yes. The thing to remember is that without unions, the corrupt politcs will all be on the side of management. (Ponder that one for a while.)
I've also been on the receiving end of union-busting intimidation techniques and, I assure you, that's no fun. I still get a little sick to my stomach when I remember it.
This Labor Day, thank the unions. Even if you've never belonged to a union in your life, unions have benefited you hugely. Because of unions we have, in this country, the following:
And, if you don't have the above in your work, you probably think that you should. That's the influence of the union movement on societal values.
40 hour work week
On the job safety regulations
Reasonable job security
Protection against abusive employers