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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Unions have had their time

I'm interested in seeing what other HR professionals have to say about this title. I think that it should spark some controversy (and controversy is almost always good).

Although I don't live in Michigan anymore, the rest of my family does. My professional HR career started here in Northern, VA where I had to take a lot of Union Relations classes to get my graduate degree in HR, but I've never actually had to deal with Union Relations personally - other than through my former spouse who was an Air Traffic Controller.

Personally, I think that unions have run their course and are no longer good for the country. In my very humble opinion, I think that they had their place before the DOL and the FLSA, FMLA, ADA, Workers' Compensation and a myriad of other government regulations on how employers must treat their employees came into being.

I applaud the unions for representing the employees during those times. However, I think that now they tend to lend themselves to abuses of the systems put in place to protect workers and are destroying the very industries (and therefore workers) that they were designed to protect. So many companies and industries are now restricted by union contracts that they can no longer be competitive.

If you look at similar non-unionized workforces (Toyota for example), they tend to be more engaged ( which has a direct impact on productivity) than unionized workforces. Although I'm not going to take the time here to post the several studies that I've read on this...I do know that from listening to my unionized family members, that they are definitely disengaged and are are just doing what they can to skirt a system that doesn't work for their "true" workforce (meaning 'those that actually want to work') anymore.

I'd love to hear more commentary on this. I'm sure it could be a heated discussion. Please post your opinions!

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