Yes, America Is O-V-E-R Unions

When they helped the poor, abused, underpaid, overworked masses, unions made sense. Child laborers, sweat shops, and indentured servitude were just plain wrong.

We are soooo far from those days it’s not even funny.

Mexico, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, all have to worry about worker exploitation. Other countries like Zimbabwe should just make it a priority to not kill people.

In America, we have problems but bad work conditions, unfair wages and maltreatment are not some of them. The Economist says:

The waning popularity of unions is not just a recent phenomena. The UAW unsuccessfully attempted to unionise my fellow students and me when I was in graduate school. They launched an impressive lobbying effort, playing on the left-wing tendencies of the students in the humanities and social sciences (not the economists of course, they didn’t even bother with us). At the time I figured things must be pretty bad for autoworkers if the UAW had to turn to graduate students for union dues.

But it’s not just the UAW that has fallen out of favour. Teachers unions are a popular target, too. They’re held responsible for perpetuating failure in public school systems by opposing accountability standards and performance pay. When New York City transit workers went on strike even the most left-leaning, upper-west-side-dwelling New Yorker wanted Roger Toussaint’s head. Now if the actors strike (just when we need entertainment the most for pete’s sake), I don’t anticipate them getting much sympathy either.

Unions remain too powerful in America to disappear anytime soon. But I wonder if this recession will have the opposite effect of the Depression, and may make unions less relevant.

Have some freaking perspective Union bosses and workers. When the average union worker makes more per hour than an accountant or nurse or teacher, people feel a wee less sympathetic. When union benefits rob companies of maneuverability and productivity, the small businesses that support the big giants get frustrated. There are new products and innovations out there and the Unions strangle the life out of them because of their rules and regulations. When small business people pay huge taxes and expect to work until they’re 65 because 1) they love their work and 2) they have to, it rings hollow to hear some young 50 year old retired union worker bitching because he might lose his pension benefits. Um, hello? Get a freaking job!

Anyway, union sympathy has come and gone. It will be a huge mistake if the Screen Actors Guild decides to strike, but I kinda hope they do. Hollywood sucks on a good day. There is no better time than now to break a union.

Cross-posted at

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