Myth #1: Unions Make America Less Competitive
- This statement is disproved by our own history. America’s most prosperous economic period came when union density was the highest, because unions stabilize and strengthen the middle class.
- The way to boost competitiveness is to invest in labor, education, infrastructure, and research, not take away the rights of workers.
- In the 1950’s-1970’s when unions were stronger, the US did not run significant trade deficits. It was only when unions got weaker that the trade deficit exploded. Countries with strong unions and high wages like Sweden and Germany run trade surpluses.
Myth #2: High wages and benefits are job killers
- High wages are job creators. The more workers have, the more money they will spend. This leads to economic growth and job creation.
- Consider Walmart and McDonalds in recent news: In Canton, OH Walmart Associates are raising money to support each other because their extremely profitable employer doesn't provide them a living wage and benefits. Walmart Associates are some of the top beneficiaries of tax payer funded state subsidy programs, bankrupting many of these programs that are intended for the needy. Allowing these companies to continue underpaying their workers is a drain on American systems. Unions are helping workers get a fair wage and keeping them off public assistance rolls. Consider also McDonalds who gave budgeting tips to their employees with advice like getting a second job or “selling their stuff.” Jobs should be a source of real income that enable workers to provide for themselves. When workers can provide for their families, they spend more money which leads to job creation.
Myth #3: Teachers Unions are ruining public education
- The country’s education problems reflect the country’s social problems. Income inequality leads to school funding inequality and homes which struggle to prepare kids to learn. Educators and unions are the scapegoat for such problems when they really are a key part of the solution. The more stable and supported our teachers are in their jobs, the more they will be able to support and educate our kids.
- Educators know what it takes to improve schools - they are in classrooms, keeping students engaged, and providing school lunch programs. Without unions, teachers' voices are easily overshadowed by the administration and bureaucracy above them. A union contract is the only way to guarantee that real students' needs are heard, otherwise teachers and support professionals can be silenced when their voice is needed most.
Myth #4: Unions Collect Dues Just to Line their Pockets
- Unions collect dues so they can provide the best possible representation to their members. Unions work to balance power between the employers and their workers, and the employers have a lot of money to fight with. In order to successfully support their workers, unions need funds to back up what they say in the face of the opposition. Their goal is to put more money in workers’ pockets, not their own.
- Unions spend tremendous amounts of time training our members through apprenticeship programs, HAZMAT and safety training, conflict resolution, negotiating and more, so that workers' futures don't stay stagnant. This is just one way unions give back to their workers.
- We negotiate and arbitrate cases with some of the largest multi-national corporations in the world whose attorney’s make more an hour than I take home in a week. We need to put up a real fight against people with such power and money.
- If this myth was really true, why is it that unions, in industry after industry, support converting part-time jobs into full time jobs even though this means less dues money?
Myth #5: Unions are Dinosaurs
- Unions are needed now more then ever. Income inequality between the rich and poor is at its highest in a century. This is greatly attributed to the drop in union membership. As the rich get richer, the more power they have to fight the few institutions that give power to the people. Without unions, the people cannot balance the power held by those at the top. Unions level the playing field for all of their workers.
- Workers will always need a collective voice to speak on equal terms with their employer, whether the employer is a “good” employer or “bad” employer. If you spend your time working for a person or company, you should have a voice in how that business is conducted. Unions are an organized way for workers to affect change at their job.