Upon conducting research into labor unions and talking with family members who are part of a union it became clear that they inspire a lot of mixed feelings. On the one hand labor unions can be touted as a great way for workers to receive representation and have their concerns addressed when they may otherwise have been ignored by management. On the flipside unions can sometimes engage in activities that may be viewed as either unreasonable or impracticable. Two of the biggest takeaways you can discover is that people often do not strictly fall into a pro or anti union camp and that the history of unions has been contentious. One of my parents, who is a member of a public sector union, is quite fond of the saying “the union protects bad employees just as well as it protects good ones”, and often laments how difficult it can be to fire poor performers, despite the fact they are generally in favor of unions overall.

When deciding whether it is wise to join or organize a union there are a few big factors that have to be taken into consideration in my mind. The principal of these is how responsive management at the business has been, as a business who has shown a willingness to be cooperative and collegial with its workers fosters a lot less need for the creation of a union. Beyond that there are a series of concerns such as workplace safety, the likelihood of job loss, and unfair treatment of certain employees among other issues. Depending how prevalent such problems are I would be increasingly inclined towards either joining a union or otherwise helping to organize one. In an ideal world workers and management at a company would be able to maintain workplace conditions acceptable enough to both parties that there would be no need for a union. For now it seems like serious workplace disagreements aren’t going anywhere, and in the meantime I plan to keep my mind open to unions just in case the situation calls for it someday.