Recently I was having a conversation with a friend about the amount of protests that have been happening around here lately where a lot of different organizations have been in the middle of labor disputes in an attempt to renegotiate contracts for the employees. The biggest one happening here right now is with a telecommunications company known as Telus. Another event that has been up in the air is how school teacher’s may also go on strike for issues such as salary increase and smaller class sizes.
With this particular friend, he was very vocal and blunt in expressing his thoughts where he feels that a union is a complete waste of time because he felt that it is mostly just a tool that people abuse in trying to demand for things that should be earned. Not only that, but he feels that if someone felt that they were not being treated or paid appropriately in a particular company that they should simply leave and pursue other opportunities elsewhere because if you are truly worth what you are demanding for then there should be thousands of other companies and organizations who would want to hire you.
As a person who has experience both as a regular employee who was working hard for very little compensation and a business owner who must be fully accountable in driving profits and managing expenses, I have developed a more open minded opinion in regards to the positives and negatives of a unionized structured organization. I personally definitely agree on the values and equity that unions promote as many times the smaller people need to have a voice to ensure that they are being treated in a fair manner. While it is easy for some to tell others to just pack up and leave for another company if the one you are currently with is bad, I personally think that is a fairly one sided view of the matter as one has to factor in other circumstances that would make it so much harder for one to do so. For example, if someone was married, had kids and has pretty much established their lifestyle with their career, it can be an extremely difficult thing to do. While it is doable, not everyone necessarily has the personality to adjust to drastic changes. You’re dealing with real people with lives outside of the workplace and not robots that are programmed to turn on at 9am and shutdown at 5pm.
On the flip side, sometimes the demands of a union that I see are also in my opinion a fairly one sided one as well. The most common issue that is brought up has to deal with the fact that people believe they should be making more money for their current line of work. The main argument to justify it is that the company makes so much money that it could afford to pay people more and therefore it should. I think what people tend to overlook is the amount of risk and sacrifices that the original starters of the business had to go through in order to make it the success that it is today.
Imagine this…..let’s pretend that you and a few others decided to literally build a house from ground up with the intent of selling it to make money. All of you had to borrow money from the bank to buy the necessary material, had to give up extra curricular activities and worked night and day to get things done. Afterwards, you required help to clean up the inside and to do some touch up and so you hired some outside help to do so for a set amount of money. Everything is now done and the house is sold which made you and your original partners a six figure income. All of a sudden, the people whom you’ve hired to clean the house up turn around and claim that they should be entitled to more as you made more than enough to sustain a livable lifestyle. Would you think that would be fair?
I hope in the future people will try to look at these types issues from both sides of the fence.