The positive impact of unions on progressive efforts is beyond dispute, but:
I was posting a response on the other union thread and things got a bit out of hand........
When I moved to Portland in 1980, I had a ten year old pickup with my tool box bolted into the bed. My wife and I drove around Portland every day looking for work, and drove up into the hills to sleep in the truck at night.
During those two weeks I had two disheartening encounters:
I tried out the temp places, where you had to show up at 6 AM and bid against other welders and equipment mechanics for short time work:
"I'll do those two weeks for $9.00 per hour."
"I'll do it for $7.50."
"I'll do it for $6.00."
I walked out in the first fifteen minutes. Very demeaning situation, even if you're really hungry.
I also went to the operating engineers hall and got my Union 101 education:
"I just moved over here from Central Oregon so my wife can finish her computer science education. I'm living in my truck, but here's my resume and references showing that I am qualified for XXXXXX, and I really need the work."
Union guy: "Great, just sign up here, pay us $XXX per month and you are number 1,234 on our list."
"No, you misunderstand, I'm looking for work now."
Union guy: "That's how life is. You may get called for some day work sometime in the next six months."
"I'm outa here."
The rest of my union experience is when I worked "prevailing wage jobs" and had to supervise union crews. That goes like this:
First day, union guys say: "Don't touch that tool, only a member of the carpenter's union is qualified to bolt that frame together."
I sit and watch to identify which two or three members of my crew are actually planning on getting the damned job done. At the end of the shift, I grab those guys and make a plan........
Me'n the boys identify those who will not do anything at all for the rest of the week, but have to be paid as they have "connections". We put three of 'em on a job that should take about four hours for one guy. They spend the entire week doing nothing while my handpicked boys supervise the rest of the crew. At the end of the week we finish up the insiders job.
During the whole time we are sneaking around doing stuff, because we are unwilling to have twenty guys standing around with their thumbs up their butts waiting for an electrician to screw in a light bulb. Once in a while we take an executive decision to plug in an extension cord, but we all collaborate to lie to the head electrician who is driving around in a golf cart for the entire week with a big cigar sticking out of his face.
You see, the head electrician knows that we should have ground to a halt without electricity, and his concern is not that we get the damned electricity, but that we seek him out and go all Monica on him to get our crew going. He knows that we are going around him, but he still sweats us just for fun.
By the last day of job, the union guys and I are happily tossing wrenches back and forth, hauling wall panels up the stairs, etcetera.
Of course we have to bat clean-up for the "decorators" who have been sitting on their dead asses for the past three shifts, and ultimately do nothing at all. We wind up doing thier jobs for 'em as well.
Oh, and for the whole week, I'm being paid $10.00 per hour to supervise twenty + guys making $25 per hour.
I'd love to think that the unions would do a little introspection as well, but as was the case in 1980, I'm not holding my breath.