Why are Americans so anti-unions?

Manmademan

Member
Aug 6, 2018
4,917
You don't see it much on this site thankfully, but every single Reddit thread about unions has a huge debate in the comments and again, and every single time it's someone from the US arguing against them. Why is that? Is there a mandatory anti-union class in school or something?
US conservatives have an anti union agenda that goes back quite a ways.

Some may blame Reagan for this, but Nixon was just as bad. Commonly overlooked is that the big reason unions failed in the south decades before Reagan is that unions tended to require black and white workers to be on equal footing as an organization.

Southern whites pushed back HARD against this concept, preferring segregation and Jim Crow. Anti union forces in the south milked this one as much as possible and unions became synonymous with liberal, "anti-southern" agendas.
 

THEVOID

Member
Oct 27, 2017
8,576
My Father once he retired became a GOP fanatic and would dog out unions even tho he was in one for 4o years and they took care of him when he retired. It’s was depressing to listen to daily. He would watch Fox News all day long.
 

Br3wnor

Avenger
Oct 27, 2017
2,177
Because conservatives are really really fucking good at sheperding sheep

and brainwashing/manipulating our worst tendencies so that we vote against our own interests
Pretty much. You notice that people who are actually in unions tend to love it (I know I do, guaranteed raises, good medical insurance, strict work hour rules, etc.) but it’s easy to convince someone not in a union that they won’t actually help you and just want your dues money. It also doesn’t help that America has the capitalist spirit where the average Joe can think HE’S gonna be the one to strike it rich instead of “settling” for the middle class, comfortable lifestyle that unionizing can provide.

My Father once he retired became a GOP fanatic and would dog out unions even tho he was in one for 4o years and they took care of him when he retired. It’s was depressing to listen to daily. He would watch Fox News all day long.
Tbis pisses me off to no end, I’m sure he still collects his pension though, right? (Not demonizing your dad but I see this shit all the time from retired cops, firefighters, government workers etc. where you get the benefit your whole career of a union, collect a fucking pension in retirement but then shit on unions once you’re done)
 

Manmademan

Member
Aug 6, 2018
4,917
Propaganda, plain and simple.

The people who hold a negative view of unions are generally on the side of the police. That's a union they're OK with. They're much more likely to hate something like the UAW or Teachers' unions.
Not hard to figure out why. Police officers are usually conservative, and more often than not white males that lean heavily republican. This is especially true in the current era where a LOT of police recruiting is coming from ex-military.

Since those unions are conservative and support conservative agendas, Republicans don't demonize them as they do teachers unions or the UAW.
 

Foxhound

Banned
Jun 7, 2019
110
Unlike what people are portraying here, it's because not ALL unions are good.

Some unions are great and necessary (hello teachers unions), and there are some that are just downright corrupt. Additionally, they set a baseline bare minimum for employees which just enables some to take advantage of the system and go full Peter Gibbons. As a previous poster said, it's not a black and white issue. Although my personal stance is that they are more good than bad.
 

Dyle

The Fallen
Oct 25, 2017
8,102
Wisconsin
It's a combination of factors. The large scale reasons are because of corporate propaganda and laws written by corporate leaders that have unfairly demonized and weakened them. On the smaller, local scale unions have wasted much of the potential good will they had and their actions have had more negative effects in the US due to differences in work culture here. Anyone who has worked a job with union workers as a non union worker will see the lost productivity or wasted time, which for some workers who focus on just getting shit done and getting home as early as possible every day, isn't worth fighting for. The somewhat coercive tactics that unions have employed to encourage workers to join unions, shaming non union workers, calling people scabs, etc., has also created more animosity than was intended. But without the larger policy reasons why unions are weak those factors wouldn't have been as damaging
 

Powdered Egg

Member
Oct 27, 2017
10,093
"I see the benefits of unions but they also incentivize people not to work hard since they guarantee raises" - FB friend lol

The US just has to be the dumbest industrialized nation right? We forgot to develop our minds over here.
 

Laser Man

Member
Oct 26, 2017
2,213
I like onions, I'm honestly shocked americans don't. They do give you a bit of a stinky mouth when you eat them and girls are allergic to onions!
 

Furfur

Alt account
Banned
Aug 5, 2019
43
Part of it is the product of decades of successful propaganda and misinformation spread by corporations and conservatives.

But a much bigger reason is that American culture in general is mean, spiteful, vindictive, and takes pride in suffering and misery. Its a product of our nation's puritanical roots.

So when a non-union employee sees the benefits a union employee has (Good healthcare, generous PTO, reasonable working hours, consistent annual raises, and strong job security) they get very angry.; "Why are they working 40 hours when I'm working 80? Why do they get affordable healthcare while I have to pay $500 a month for an HSA with a 10k deductible?" 'Why are they guaranteed a raise every year when I haven't had one in the past 5 years?" "Why do they have 4 weeks of paid vacation when I only have one?" 'Why aren't they suffering like ME?"

Now the normal response to unfair wages and working conditions is to direct that anger at the person actually responsible; your employer. But the American response is instead to be angry at the other workers who have it better than you, because most American's would rather drag everyone else down into the miserable shitpit they are in than lift themselves out of it.
 

DekuBleep

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,672
People who don’t have a union hate people who do because they feel like they have it too good.
People in the south who have experienced decades of job losses due to companies movie away because of globalization are afraid unions will cause more companies to leave.
 

Doc Holliday

Member
Oct 27, 2017
1,500
Not all unions are created equal. The shitty unions give a bad name to the good ones. Not to mention years of GOP bullshit.

My mom complained for years about her union, they would take her dues and did nothing. Conditions never got better but her dues kept going up, it was bullshit.

Teacher unions are awesome for the most part. I know a bunch of teachers who feel they have to put up with awful teachers because they are tenured. Good luck firing a teacher lol

On the other hand look at the video game/fx industry, they are in dire need need of a union but that shit isn't happening.

I would love to see what happens at The Ringer after the workers decided to unionize. Bill Simmons gonna have to start writing bigger checks lol
 

The Albatross

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,721
The foundation of American industry via the 'Puritan/Protestant Work Ethic' contributed to a national zeitgeist against Labor unions. But, don't be misled, Labor started int the United States. Since the dawn of industrialization, the US was the world leader for organization and unionization.

There are two leading trends in the rise and fall of American labor, industrialization and systemic prejudice. When American industrialization rose, American labor rose along with it, as did systemic prejudice. When American industrialization started to fall and then collapsed, so did labor, and instead of blaming the flight of industrialization, labor used prejudice to blame someone else: Women in the workforce, blacks being treated like human beings, Mexicans invading our industries, globalist elites screwing the little guy. It doesn't have to be, but American labor has consistently been racist, xenophobic, anti-immigrant, and nationalist. It doesn't have to be, but it always has been.

If you ignore the relationship that American labor has had with white nationalism, xenophobia, and organized crime, then you're missing a major reason why American labor is weak. American labor historically grew when white nationalism, anti-immigrant sentiment, and organized crime was on the rise; It historically declined when immigration expanded and civil & human rights were extended to disenfranchised people. American labor collapsed at the same time that organized crime collapsed in-part because the biggest labor unions in the country were directly connected to the biggest organized crime syndicates in the country. In the 1960s the struggle for labor leadership was a struggle between organized crime leaders.

Track the various rises and falls of the KKK; Track the various rises and falls of organized crime; Track the rises and falls of anti-immigrant xenophobia; Track the rises and falls of nationalist populism... Along side all of them you can track the rise and fall of American labor. On the reverse, if you track progress in civil rights, gender equality, and immigration, those periods usually correlate to a decline in the power of labor in the country. GIven the hostility to immigration, propensity for white nationalism, and a move towards economic populism ... who knows, maybe American labor is about to enter a new golden age.

Today, virtually all labor unions in the US stand against racism and for inclusion. Their members and rhetoric, though, regularly move towards racist rhetoric and towards xenophobia and systemic gender inequality. America is a racist country and its systems are thoroughly racist, and labor is one of those systems. It's a tough legacy to shake. Still, today, though, American labor has a powerful presence in politics especially locally. Local labor unions are still incredibly strong, often the strongest special interest groups within an area and this is why state and local politicians are hungry to get union endorsements. Nationally, though, labor is as weak today as it has been in ~100 years.

We're pro-labor, but my wife has a tired relationship with her union; she feels as though they reward people who have been in the field longer, who already make more money, on the backs of young people who are financially insecure and trying to break in. She feels there's a lot of vested interests that make it more difficult for her or her peers. She can't ever say that to anybody else though because it would be career suicide. Still, though, in time I could see her pushing to move into a leadership position in her union... she's very involved, lots of social connections, but she doesn't dare share her opinions about how she feels like her peers have been screwed by recent negotiations by her union.
 
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Oct 27, 2017
202
San Francisco, Ca
I wouldn't say most Americans are anti-union. A whole lot of American's have seen unions bad side though.

Im from Ohio, an area that is very union heavy traditionally. Many people, currently in unions or retired, tell stories of multiple individuals who were absolutely terrible at their jobs, but could not be fired due to the union. Theirs a perception that unions allow laziness and inefficiency, because unions will fight for every employee, even those that frankly deserve to be fired.

They like collective bargaining, they like working together for better raises and benefits. But they view unions as a bit of a mafia - pay your dues, and don't question leadership.

The above is my anecdotal takings-in from many union employees in Ohio, not my own opinion. I am not educated enough on unions to give a personal opinion.
 

Hirok2099

The Fallen
Oct 27, 2017
1,156
People who don’t have a union hate people who do because they feel like they have it too good.
People in the south who have experienced decades of job losses due to companies movie away because of globalization are afraid unions will cause more companies to leave.
Union inflexibility can be an Issue. I heard that in Germany the union has to be part of the board of directors so they know when and when they might be asking for too much o or even in case of emergencies when is best to temporarily cut over getting people fired.

I wouldn't say most Americans are anti-union. A whole lot of American's have seen unions bad side though.

Im from Ohio, an area that is very union heavy traditionally. Many people, currently in unions or retired, tell stories of multiple individuals who were absolutely terrible at their jobs, but could not be fired due to the union. Theirs a perception that unions allow laziness and inefficiency, because unions will fight for every employee, even those that frankly deserve to be fired.

They like collective bargaining, they like working together for better raises and benefits. But they view unions as a bit of a mafia - pay your dues, and don't question leadership.

The above is my anecdotal takings-in from many union employees in Ohio, not my own opinion. I am not educated enough on unions to give a personal opinion.
My dad had a similar experience also the union apparently had power over promotion and hiring which led to rampant nepotism and corruption even bribery.

Overall I think Unions are a good Idea but is something you have to keep working on and refining but a lot of Americans have a black and white view of the world.
 
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fuchsdh

Member
Oct 25, 2017
4,061
If your only experience with unions is stuff like the transit union, waste union, and police unions in NYC, you’d probably have a negative opinion of them as well.

Unions by their design are self-interested, so if you run up against those interests you’re obviously not going to be happy.
 

Doober

The Fallen
Jun 10, 2018
2,148
There's been a massive, decades-long effort to demonize unions in this country, helped along somewhat by the tendency of more powerful unions to protect shitty workers.
 

Hollywood Duo

Member
Oct 25, 2017
15,087
I'm not opposed to the idea of a union but I've been a part of several unions and all they did for me was drain money out of my paycheck.
 

Liquidsnake

Member
Oct 27, 2017
6,918
Unions as a concept are not the issue.

The bigger issue is how individual unions behave as well as the idea of larger unions versus specialized smaller unions. I don't like the idea of unions for entire industries because they can be largely unaware of issues affecting people at a given company or area. The idea of a single company unionizing and therefore having closer aligned goals is much preferable IMO.

I have also seen first-hand how unions can reduce productivity and waste resources. It can be incredibly hard to fire a union worker short of explicit malicious behavior and almost never for performance related issues. It also creates an environment that makes it extremely difficult if not impossible to effect changes in workflows or improvements to underlying systems due to things like mandatory trainings for so much as an additional checkbox in a form or computer software.

Just as is the case in many issues in the world, it's not quite as black and white as people would like to believe and many times the idea is excellent but execution can never live up to that idea in practice. As long as there are bad actors in the world, no idealized system will ever live up to the expectations placed upon it.
100.
 

Captain of Outer Space

Come Sale Away With Me
Member
Oct 28, 2017
4,057
I'm not anti-union, but some of them are not great. One of the places I worked at about ten years ago was a union job and they got you onboard with them as soon as you started to start paying dues with your first paycheck, but 80% of the people they hired were laid off by the end of their first month, so you lost a decent chunk of your pay to a union you were never going to be a part of long term anyway. I'm not really a fan of shit like that to exploit new hires for some free money.
 

genjiZERO

Member
Jan 27, 2019
539
Richmond
Peculiar American attitudes towards things like labor unions, universal healthcare, or even accepting faults or saying sorry can all be boiled down to the pervasive cultural sense of individualism that is most acute amongst conservatives (and hence their obsession with Ayn Rand), but clearly present in liberals as well, and by extension strong personal property values whereby it's perceived that taking things from others even for the good of the population is unjust.

More simply because of the dominant cultural notion that selfishness is a good thing.
 

Elandyll

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
3,900
I'm not anti-union, but some of them are not great. One of the places I worked at about ten years ago was a union job and they got you onboard with them as soon as you started to start paying dues with your first paycheck, but 80% of the people they hired were laid off by the end of their first month, so you lost a decent chunk of your pay to a union you were never going to be a part of long term anyway. I'm not really a fan of shit like that to exploit new hires for some free money.
Sounds like a rather peculiar situation though.

Generally (though not always), there is a good reason for Unions to be made mandatory in some work places: it is -afaik- illegal in most places for them to negotiate benefits that non members would not get, like pay raises, benefits or work environment improvements.
Essentially, employees that choose not to participate are skimming off the ones who do.
 

The Kree

Member
Oct 25, 2017
8,739
Why would a country built on slavery be pro-union? Are we supposed to evolve or something?
 

thewienke

Member
Oct 25, 2017
1,572
I think that a lot of the problems with unions could be solved if our country had more workers’ rights enshrined via law and regulation.

If every employee had paid maternity leave, six weeks of vacation, government provided healthcare, equal pay laws, a 35 hour work week, and “a right to disconnect” law to not have to answer emails outside certain hours - then unions could focus on only a few things.

As it stands, Americans have what? Unpaid maternity leave and a 40 hour work week that doesn’t pay overtime for virtually every white collar job? There are a few mandatory break laws but I can’t remember the last time anyone in an office gave a shit about those.
 
Oct 26, 2017
519
I'd consider myself to be pro union, but I also believe that some unions offer far too much protection to those who would game the system. I work at a USPS plant and we have a mail handlers union. It protects our jobs and makes it so we can't be fired for next to nothing, but there's a good 10-15% of people who work there who are there to do nothing more than to socialize (unable to multi task while talking) and collect a paycheck for doing minimal work, which the union protects because they do work, some of the time. Some of these people have been there for years and are just as lazy now as they were when they started, yet because they went unnoticed enough and made it to regular and through their 90 days, they are unfirable unless they do something serious, due to the union. These same people are also the ones who complain the most to the union when they are told to do anything more than what little they do, which the union sides with them over our management.
 

Tater

Member
Oct 30, 2017
289
It does show that unions are not always a positive force.
They can be corrupt and unfortunately when a person faces corruption in one union they tend to asume the same for all.
Then why don't people believe the same thing about corporations? If you do believe the corporations are corrupt as well, then why wouldn't you want a union to protect you from the corporations?

Unions aren't some perfect construct - they're run by people that can be just as shitty as corporations. But if you don't have organized labor, you have no way to push back against corporations, which certainly are organized. And they know that divide and conquer is a winning strategy.
 

tangeu

Member
Oct 27, 2017
595
I'm not anti-union, but some of them are not great. One of the places I worked at about ten years ago was a union job and they got you onboard with them as soon as you started to start paying dues with your first paycheck, but 80% of the people they hired were laid off by the end of their first month, so you lost a decent chunk of your pay to a union you were never going to be a part of long term anyway. I'm not really a fan of shit like that to exploit new hires for some free money.
This is basically my experience. I've only ever interacted with a union once, it was one of my first jobs and it was join the union or not get hired. All I saw was a lowered pay check. And when I tried to take a single day off that was earned and approved and on the calendar for months, yet was scheduled to work that day anyway. My boss said he'd fire me if I didn't show up, and the union rep laughed and told me to quote "Fuck off, kid"
 

real2

Member
Jan 31, 2019
90
workers rights/the work culture in the USA are pretty much laughable compared to rest of the developed world (well maybe with the exception of Japan).

from personal experience, coworkers that weren't in some type of managerial type role rarely take time off for vacation
 

Aselith

Member
Oct 27, 2017
5,262
Anything that doesn't fit into "Bootstrap" logic is basically communism.
Which is total bollocks of course, but is ingrained into people now.
That would be my guess.
The amazing thing is that a union IS bootstrap porn. A group of people demanding what they're due for their hard work by wielding their power.
 

adj_noun

Avenger
Oct 25, 2017
8,029
My experience with unions has been far from positive. I appreciate the concept more than I have my actual interactions.
 

prophetvx

Member
Nov 28, 2017
1,041
Unions have their benefits and negatives. In a country like the US with a ridiculously low minimum wage and woefully inadequate social structure, they should be a lot more popular than they are.

I'd never want to be involved in collective bargaining as it takes away individual merit, however one cannot deny that it historically has helped wage growth and benefits for those who do not have the luxury or ability to negotiate on an individual level.

With that said, no one can deny that unions have also been historically used to enrich their leaders as well. It's not immune from corruption and you're shifting it from business leaders to union leaders who aren't necessarily acting in their members best interests.

Pick your poison, both methods have their merits and significant shortcomings.
 
Oct 27, 2017
11,135
Seattle
You don't see it much on this site thankfully, but every single Reddit thread about unions has a huge debate in the comments and again, and every single time it's someone from the US arguing against them. Why is that? Is there a mandatory anti-union class in school or something?
Honestly I think it depends on the Union, when I was in the union for OPEIU (office professionals), these were lower level hourly jobs, people kind of scraping by on 30k a year. These positions were not extremely technical, and there was never any kind of leverage because no one could afford to strike, it’s not like we were fighting for jobs with great benefits or salary.

Plus we always saw what the salary folk were making, they essentially had the same
Benefits as us, and we had to pay union dues every month and wondered Exactly what happens to that money?

Now specialized jobs like Machinists or longshoremen, or special circumstances like teaching jobs (no loss of salary since, the school Year is pushed back). Are different stories


I think it's more that they are brainwashed to be against anything that could help someone else but them.
When you’re scraping by, definitely not thinking about future generations of office administration job workers