What have the unions ever done for us?

Tiistai 21.6.2011 - Mother Bear


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This time the NOPSY survey included a question to those who answered that they are not union members:

     “The reason why I do not want to be 
      a union member”

I’ve taken a look at the replies, and one typical answer has been

     “I don’t see any reason to be a member”.

Another typical reply is

I feel it’s sufficient that I pay the unemployment insurance, and I see no value add in belonging to any union.”

A vast majority of the NSN employees in Finland do see the value, because they do belong to some union. On a personal level, the value exists only if enough people belong to the union, because only then the union has any power to negotiate. That’s why I feel everyone should be a member. The unions do add value, and those who don’t belong, get the negotiated benefits at the expense of the others.

In Finland the majority of the senior salaried people belong to some union. This situation is fairly rare in the world. As a result, only in the Scandinavian countries and in Germany we have statutory salary increases also for the senior salaried employees. In most other countries, only the blue-collar workers get the statutory increases, if at all. That’s one value add of the unions, but there’s more.

There’s an excellent, funny video in YouTube, dating back to 2007, but still valid, titled “What have the unions ever done for us? They speak Australian English, so it’s a bit tricky to understand. Once you do, it makes you both laugh and feel humble. I don’t think all the work of the unions is done yet.