I am a member of two creative unions in the entertainment industry.  Without them, I'd have no pension or health benefits.  In addition, without them, employers in my industry (in my case, studios & producers) would be able to exploit my services without crediting me properly - in a business in which your credit & your name is as good as money, in terms of hiring for future jobs.  They would be able to continue to reap financial benefits from my work for years to come, without allowing me to share in them.  These are among the many things being in a union does for me.  I pay dues in proportion to what I make.  The more I make, the more dues I pay.  There are some crazy big money high earners in my union, and they pay their fair share to help level the playing field for those of us in the lower income brackets.

This isn't the only reason I'm pro-union.  Please, will you read more below, and help me out with a reality/fact-based defense of some charges made by an anti-union friend?

More reason for me to be pro-union: I have a close family member who is one in generations of union trade workers in a high-risk area of the construction industry.  I've watched for years as he's seen his wages and benefits slashed, the number of men on jobs cut down, and other enormous concessions made in order for his union to remain competitive with non-union workers.  Every bargaining session, his union gives up something in order to keep the basics - health & pension benefits, seniority rules so that those who've worked the longest get the best jobs, and safety regulations on job sites.  In addition, unions train their workers...my relative has been forced to work side by side with unsatisfactorily trained non-union workers who've endangered the safety of everyone involved.  This is the case in many of the other construction unions he deals with. Yet as his union continues to compromise,  the only concession management ever gives is "permission" for the union to continue bidding for and getting jobs.

It is in this spirit that I whole-heartedly support the Wal-Mart workers.  Not only that, as a business owner with a product, my former company was once screwed over big time by Walmart.  They really stick it to the little guy with a product, if you're "lucky" enough to get a space on their shelves.  They are the 800 lb gorilla and they know it.

In answer to a FACEBOOK post in defense of the workers, I received this response:

Just FYI, these "facts" are produced by the Federated Grocers Union which is in a battle to the death with Wal-Mart. To the extent Wal-Mart's policies are truly predatory (they charge 300% less for a gallon of milk than the best possible competing grocer, simply taking a loss on every gallon to drive out competition) there are already laws in place to govern and punish those actions and they should be enforced. Most of the rest (size, revenues, point of purchase or manufacture of goods) is simply propaganda from the union trying to demonize a non-union shop. Most of the Fortune 500 has similarly outsourced work overseas because unions have driven up the cost of U.S. labor to a level of non-competitiveness. While Wal-Mart may have spent $7.8 million lobbying in 2011, public unions in California alone spent more than $250,000,000 lobbying during that same period of time.
Please, Kossacks.  Help me with a point by point defense of this garbage.  Fact-based only.  

I am sick to death of the anti-union sentiment in this country.  Sick, sick, sick.  The power of all unions - both of mine included - has been whittled away to the bone over the past fifteen years or so.   Some unions can absolutely be obstructionist - I had a horrible experience with the Teamsters in DC many years ago, with them threatening to shut down a low-budget shoot just because they could; a shoot that technically should not have been subject to union rules at all. Have had great experiences through the years with LA Teamsters however; it's not a uniform thing.  That's because union practices can be and are often reformed with inside pressure from members as well as outside pressure from employers.  Corporations, on the other hand, answer to no one unless their feet (they are people, after all) are held to the fire.

Please, help me educate - not necessarily this guy - but others who might read this anti-union propaganda, which has definitely done its job since it began full force during the Reagan years.

Originally posted to hopesprings on Sat Nov 24, 2012 at 07:18 AM PST.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions.

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