Friday, January 07, 2005

The Problem with Unions

I was discussing our work situation with some co-workers over lunch. "The problem with working for the state is...." was the start of several comments. Such problems include not being appreciated, it is hard to get ahead unless you transfer in and out of departments, and the inability of the management to hang on to good people because of the way the civil service is set up. When there was a break in the conversation, I suggested that the problem lies largely with the fact that we are all union workers. Whether or not you are a member, you contribute and are part of the union. While it legislates certain benefits for us, it also takes away our ability to be productive individuals. Here's why: when your pay raises are legislated and across-the-board regardless of merit, and your ability to lose your job is minimal, what need is there to move ahead? Why work hard, when you are going to get a pay raise anyway? Mind you, unions have their place, and to a certain extent, we still need them in some areas of the labor force - physical labor and industry needs them to some degree. Reality is that I will receive 4-6 pay increases over the next 2 years, just because I work for the state. It has nothing to do with my production. To fire me, they must document, warn, counsel, suspend, and make sure every "i" is dotted and every "t" is crossed before dropping the bomb. What are the chances, unless I do something really heinous like murder a co-worker on company time? When you take away an individuals ability to feel productive, you take away their pride in themselves. It is in our nature. And if we have nothing outside of our jobs that gives us satisfaction, it can lead to lack of production, depression, and bad work behavior. There are all kinds of benefits to working for the state: excellent benefits, easy time off, a certain level of social clout, and job stability. And if you are a strong enough person to maintain your work ethic regardless of external motivators, you can still have pride in your work. I honestly think in many arenas unions have over-stayed their welcome. That is not to say I don't enjoy the benefits of having a union - but there are downfalls, and I'm not sure the benefits outweight the negatives.