Let’s play a game of “what if.” There aren’t many rules, but the most important one is that we will accept a hypothetical situation to be true, without question. And then we imagine what happens, and underline similarities and differences with today’s situation. Sometimes anomalies tell you more about the rule than standard cases.
What if worker unions in western first-world societies had too much power?
Let’s say that they do. That it is possible for a union to overstep their boundaries. It’s a taboo thing to say because pretty much everyone (even the unemployed) are with a union and will actively murder to defend it. But let’s assume.
Would there be some kind of alarm going off, somewhere? Would there be the slightest of indication that things have gone too far and the “victories” accomplished by our beloved unions are actually damaging our economy enough for them to backfire in the long term? Would there be any union leader watching the charts to raise his hands and say, “That was our mistake, sorry about that. Here’s that thing back that we obtained that day.”
If they actually were, would the leadership recognize that the basic rights they fought so hard for, are actually privileges, and the best thing to do is to take a step back and let the employers decide on which of these privileges need to go in order to restore a company? Would their members agree, would they stay, faithfully waving their union’s flag like they did on the strikes? Or would they desert and join another color, one that will fight the possibility of more work and less pay until their dying day?
What if the damage done by a strike would cause more damage than the advance would justify? What if the method of going on strike was outdated and harmful? Would there be any indication, would people listen, would sanity prevail?
Do you think that maybe, the Danish woman who died in the Belgian hospital on Monday 22nd of October 2015 because her surgeon couldn’t make it there in time because of a small union in Wallonia disturbing the whole god damn country’s train network and blocking off roads- Do you think that she might be a first “indication”? Or do you think she is just the tip of the iceberg, that the anti-social behavior of disgruntled employees fighting for their so-called “rights” is actually the incessant bitching and moaning of little children, still incapable of governing themselves but blissfully unaware of it?
Do you think that these god damn idiots can justify the state of Zaventem airport that day, where I watched the hundreds of exhausted faces of the international travelers blink in confusion as the electronic signs all contradicted each other. Many of them ended up in completely the wrong city, lost in a country that they don’t know, fucked by a union they have no quarrel with.
Allow me to finally drop my pretense of objectivity here. I’m sure you could deduct my opinion from the text above but I want people to think deeply about this, and not just shoot my story down for some misplaced obedience to their imagined representatives.
This is a slippery slope, people. Strikes allow for a group of workers to force a decision from their employer, after which they use the same tactic to maintain their position. Blind to the massive damage they do, not just to their employer but to the society, they block others from going about their day, paid by the union- with money collected from people on the other side of the country, who don’t know any better than to join because it is expected of them.
I am sick of it. That Monday I was inconvenienced for the hundredth time, taking 4 hours to get home instead of 1, but this was nothing compared to the misery of hundreds, thousands of people stuck on train stations, in traffic, trying to get to their job application, exam, or loved ones.
J’accuse! You, the unions! You are a disgrace! Where you were once necessary, you are now greedy! Where you once fought for our rights, you now fight for trivial little things that you call victories, that no-one in the world can relate to, but they tolerate it because of how loud you scream.
Your necessity, your relevance, your progress, your history. You scream so loudly, lest we stop believing in them.
Well I’m done. As of today, I literally can’t think of any more excuse for your actions. If there was a group to oppose your existence, a union against unions, I would join it.
What if there was a better way? A better way to strike, like continuing to work but giving away your services and goods for free, so that your employer pays double for them? A better way to fight, like picking up the ones left behind, in companies too small to unionize? A better way to act, as human beings, respecting each other’s need to work and transport ourselves?
How about we get along and join hands, so we can fight together instead of against each other? What if that was an option, would these drunk idiots dressed in their plastic bags choose to be part of it?
That would be the day.