Sep 11, 2007

Do Unions Still Matter?

Imagine going into work one day after being at your job a few years and moving up and being told, “We’re paying you too much. You’ve done a good job, but now you’re fired.” That’s what happened not that long ago to 3,400 workers at Circuit City stores across the country. Jim Babb, a spokesperson for Circuit City:

"Retail is very competitive and store operations just have to contain their costs. We deeply regret the negative impact that was had on these folks. It was no fault of theirs."

Some people say that unions don’t matter anymore; that unions aren’t relevant. A union provides job security. When you go home at night, you can expect to have a job the next day. In a world where sales giants like Circuit City fire the workers that have been the most loyal, what role do you think unions play?


Amber said...

It seems like in areas where a lot of younger people work, like retail, they're especially vulnerable to losing their jobs just like the people at Circuit City. It just shows that everyone can benefit from the job security that a union provides--even if you don't plan to work someplace long term.

Dominick Tunzi said...

Absolutely Unions still matter.

If they didn't, you wouldn't have some politicians and some Corporate giants spending millions of dollars trying to convince workers that they shouldn't form or join a union.

Unions are just as important today as they were 40 years ago. Perhaps they are even more important.

Joining together with your fellow worker in the hope of achieving better working conditions is a smart thing to do. It was good for your Grand Parents, and it certainly makes sense for all of us in 2007.
Collective Bargaining still beats begging. Something for everyone to think about.

xblessing said...

The Unions are just as importnant as they were back then.But I feel they dont enough in the right towork states like nevada. This is a big union town las vegas.But the union here as far ufcw is weak. We get paid crap now if your a new hire the old union members dont care and they only care about themselves that s why have a contract like we do. I want to be a union rep but i dont think they want me as one. I mtoo hardcore and are more for the people like the union supposed to be for.The union office here is pathetic compared to the one in los angeles.We should get better pay with tripleon holidays and in 5 years should have 3 weeks vacation and 2 weeks in 2 years and get paid time and 1/2 on sundays. If anyone reads and want to chat with and unite with meon gettintg something done in las vegas email me at a union president reads email me more to i want to get more involved

renee said...

The union, especially in right to work areas, is only as strong as the members. Because unions are important, people like you need to sign up all thier coworkers and make sure everyone knows their rights in the workplace. If you want to get involved, you should tell your steward, rep or union president. Even if you can't be a steward right now, maybe there are some other things you can do.

xblessing said...

i m the steward at my store but its not like union let s me know when they are making a visit to my store.I do try to get people to sign up. We dont have meeting for stewards or anything.

tamara said...

The problem is that young people nowadays aren't informed about what a union can do for them outside of protecting them from unfair discipline. It is the job of the unions to educate young members about unions. This can be done by going to career days at local high schools, having your stewards or BA or BR meet with new employees within the first two weeks of their start date or sending a flyer to new workers.

It also means changing our collective thoughts about unions as being "old." For example, I recently attended our Labor Day picnic sponsored by the AFL-CIO. I was one of the youngest people there at 30 years old and for musical entertainment they had a polka band. Tell me, how many 21 year old folks do YOU know that would go to a picnic to hear a polka band? Even if there's free beer?

Michael Gist Barret said...

To my younger brothers and sisters,

I'm a retired UFCW member with 38 years in retail.

Unions are more important today than they've ever been. They were born out of the strife workers were put through by employers who put money above humans, and that thinking hasn't changed.

One of the most important things you can do is go to your union meetings!! Read your union constitution and by-laws. If the employers know that there is a large turnout at the meetings they will be less inclined to force a strike when contract negotiations come up.

When i first started we were fined if we didn't come to a monthly meeting. Our meetings had large turnouts. This changed over the years until toward the end of my career hardly anybody went to the meetings, and they were held quarterly instead of monthly. I blame some of this trend on union leadership, some of whom would rather not have a bunch at a meeting. When was the last time a business rep. came by your work place and told you to come to a meeting? Think about that.

I could go on and on, but i will only say for now that "Solidarty Works!!!!"

And to those who think unions aren't important, remember that even non-union workers wouldn't have what benefits and salaries they have if someone in the past hadn't given their life for their rights.

Sincerely, mike barret

Union Guy Frank said...

I am a steward for UFCW 1995 in Tennesseee at a kroger store. A kroger employee for 40 years aand a UFCW(old Retail Clerks) since day one.
Yes it is hard to get new members to join the union. We are a right to work state in Tennessee too.
I have found though that so many young people have to learn about unions and be given the information. chools only gloss over unions and how and why they have come to be. Education, perseverence and staying on focus about what the union does and show by example on even non members the union works for everyone. It is a long hard road, but we must travel it in order to win.

xblessing said...

I m the union steward in las vegas.I think the unionneedc to change to our generation stop playing bob marley at parties and need to play black eyed peas Can you guys Michael and renee and union guy frank give me your emailor email me at

SolidarityDesigns said...

great site and great discussion.

unions are ever so important with the pressure big corporations and ill-informed (or just plain uncaring) leaders/legislators) are putting on America's workers.

most of the basic employee rights and safeties some of us enjoy (40 hr wks, vacation, safety conditions) came through the sweat, labor and sometimes blood off union workers stretching back through the years. big corporations didn't just give us these things - workers demanded them as rights.

And there are still so many issues that require strong unions to standup for, protect & help us.
From disappearing jobs, dwindling benefits and the wal-mart-ization of america lately - we need strong unions to be able PUSH BACK.

Somebody in this discussion mentioned education and the lack of labor history talked in school. they are so right! along hose lines, I also think we need to educate ourselves, families and friends.

my father is a retired policeman. and I have heard him take shots at unions - typical "overpaid...corrupt...lazy". I reminded him that every raise, benefit & perk he got came through his cop-union one way or another-they fought for him. I think he had sorta forgotten that-maybe just from hearing all of the misinformation that is out there over the years...he seems to be more open-minded about these issues now.

I remind him how hard it is to be young and just starting out and how companies can be arbitrary at best-and downright nasty too. I think some of this is sinking in!

小小彬 said...