Weighing the pros and cons of a labor union

News

In less than 10 days, Boeing employees will vote on whether or not they want to be part of a union. Unions can be in any industry, so News 2 dug deeper into what it means.

Right now, multiple commercials are on the air to convince Boeing employees to vote for or against a union in Charleston. Leading up to next week’s vote, they will be on even more frequently. All of this conflicting information can get confusing, so  College of Charleston Business Professor Mark Whitte helped to break it down. He says one perk of unions is the power to negotiate higher salaries and better benefits.

Dr. Whitte says, “When the union negotiates, it’s not just a worker negotiating, it’s the whole workforce negotiating. And an employer can find a new employee, but they can’t find a whole new workforce.”

But on the flip side, you may not be rewarded for better performance.

Whitte says, “You’re going to get the same raise as everyone else gets. The best performers are often times going to get the same raise as the lower performers.”

He says you also lose some flexibility because there are stricter rules under a union.

Whitte says, “Often times you can have a discussion with your boss and say, ‘I’m going to my daughter’s preschool tomorrow, is that okay?’ Within the confines of a union there’s a code that structures how you can take paid leave and how you have to announce that leave. It’s different.”

But unions can make the workplace better if you feel undervalued or unsafe.

He says, “If you feel like for some reason the firm is not necessarily looking out for your health and safety, is not following labor laws, and is willing to fire people for reasons that seem absurd, then that is a reason to put a union together.”

He adds, because South Carolina is a right-to-work state, even if Boeing unionizes, employee can’t be forced to pay dues.

Whitte says, “In right-to-work states, the union has to make more of a consistent appeal to it’s members to say, we’re worth it we’re worth your dues because they know you can easily say ‘I’m not going to pay my dues, I’m not required and I could use that money myself’.”

The vote at Boeing will take place on February 15th.

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