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Unions provide a voice

Letter to the Editor | Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In his letter, “Unions Cause More Harm than Good,” (April 2) Mark Easley asserts that collective bargaining is simply a way for employees to bully their employers into unreasonable contracts. However, this is not the case. What Easley fails to notice is that workers don’t seek unions when they are satisfied with their relationships with their employers; they seek them when they feel disrespected and their needs are ignored. Employers, not employees, are often the bullies, firing workers without reason, cutting hours so to avoid giving benefits, not respecting seniority in layoffs, firing employees before pay increases, and showing a general level of disrespect. The function of a union is not to be a “mob set out to bully the employer,” but to provide a platform on which workers and employers can negotiate on equal footing.

It is very possible for unions and employers coexist peacefully, and many businesses are doing well with unionized workers. What I found most appalling about Easley’s letter was his assertion that if workers want to make more money, they simply need to, “get a second job, increase their skill set by going back to school, or look for a better career.” The naiveté of this statement is astounding. For most low income workers, none of these suggestions are even options. First, many people work multiple jobs and still find themselves living lifestyles far below middle class comfort, often in poverty. Also, the suggestion of a low wage worker going back to school is unreasonable. School takes time (meaning they can’t have that second job Easley suggested) and money, which low wage workers simply don’t have to spare.

A union is a way for workers who feel slighted at their place of employment to bargain for fair wages, benefits, and better working conditions, so that they don’t have to get a second low wage job and can maybe even spend time with their families and try to live a comfortable life.

Liz Furman



April 8