Prominent Misconceptions about Labor Unions

There are more to labor unions than people think. To help settle the score, we’re busting seven myths about labor unions and union workers that we’ve heard over the years.

MYTH #1: Labor Unions Are No Longer Needed

Labor unions began as a way for workers to be heard and treated fairly. With a shrinking middle class and more college graduates postponing home ownership because of debt, productivity is on the rise. Recent economic recession, stagnant wages and job uncertainty have also pushed more adolescents to labor unions and the trades, increasing the need for union worker benefits.

MYTH #2: Unions Are Not Democratic

Simply not true. A democracy is by the people, for the people; so is a labor union. A key benefit of unions are the governing bodies driven by the participation of union workers. Members elect officers, approve bylaws and vote on contracts. Each labor union is also made up of member committees that host meetings, elections and other activities to ensure complete member involvement.

MYTH #3: Unions Send Jobs Overseas by Increasing Labor Costs

Cheaper manufacturing costs pushed jobs overseas, not labor unions. When goods are too expensive to be sourced and made in the U.S., American companies turn to other countries for cheap labor. Unions then suffer from hiring freezes and job loss while product quality takes a hit. Meanwhile, productivity of unions remains high. A more pro-union attitude will help union workers continue to deliver quality services and a better product at a higher rate.

MYTH #4: Productivity Is Lower with Union Workers

Don’t let one bad apple spoil the bunch. Labor unions have been the butt of laziness jokes since the beginning, but the simple fact is that union workers are not lazy. A benefit of working with unions is the unlimited access to some of the hardest workers that perform many valuable skills that the average 21st century person disregards. Union workers complete the job correctly the first time because they are trained as craftsmen that never accept less than the highest quality, and that’s good for workers and for business.

MYTH #5: Labor Unions Are Only for the Working Class

Unions are widely known as “blue collar.” While this is true, it fails to recognize the other side. Unions have grown to now include more types of industries and even white collar workers. Issues of mistreatment, outsourcing, and stagnant or declining wages transcend no matter what your profession may be. That’s why many have felt compelled to join a union, and that interest of representation is growing steadily.

MYTH #6: Workers Are Forced to Join Unions

It really all comes down to personal choice. If presented with the opportunity to join a union, any worker can decline without risking the loss of his or her job. There is no legal obligation. In non-Right-to-Work states, those who object have to pay only a fair-share fee that covers the costs of representing them at work (the amount varies depending on the union and year-on-year accounting financials). While it is beneficial to join a union, someone who is directly and passionately opposed to joining a union will not join and just simply pay the fee.

MYTH #7: Labor Unions Are Self-Serving

Unions set out to serve the common good and protect workers’ rights. They are heavily involved in maintaining their purpose, but that does not mean it stops there. Unions provide great benefits for members and represent many ideas and visions of the middle class as a whole. Union workers share many of the same struggles as the majority of America that’s trying to provide the best life for their families. That’s why there’s immense solidarity and fervent union support of charities/organizations that are striving to achieve the same ends for deserving, hard-working individuals and families.