Why do people hate unions?

If you are not from the US you may not realize that people in the US hate unions nowadays, but now they do. Hate unions.

You know, those organizations that brought you child labor laws, the 8 hours day, the minimum wage, the weekend, and more? They hate them.

They see union members as time servers who want to base everything on seniority and feel entitled to bully younger people.

That is why you, if are a union or even a guild member, should yourself behave in a democratic and not an autocratic fashion.

Why, besides false consciousness and ideological manipulation, do you think people hate unions?


13 thoughts on “Why do people hate unions?

  1. Well, they have been lied to. Not just about unions, but the world is a hard place in which, if one is not constantly vigilant, one will be lied to and taken advantage of. There is no free lunch, there is nobody who means you well pure and simple.

    So when people are told that there is this organization, this institution, that exists only and purely for their benefit, to increase their power, they think it is another lie meant to take advantage of them. And of course the employer will confirm this at every turn. So yes, it is ideological manipulation but it’s made easier by the hostility of the world at large.

  2. I see … they can’t believe it. I had not thought of this.

    This post was motivated by behavior of an actual person or two which affirms such disbelief.

    It all fits together — makes sense.

  3. I think maybe there’s another piece of it too, which has to do with people’s reluctance to talk about or even think about power. I have had this conversation many times:

    Them: Why do we need a union?
    Me: Because it will give us more power and rights.
    Them: [shrinks back] But why would I need that?

    Something about the idea of having more power is sometimes actively repulsive or frightening to people. I am not sure I entirely understand why. Maybe it is because they do actually understand more deeply than they seem to in this very basic-level conversation, that you can’t obtain such power except by taking it forcefully from someone (in this case the employer) who already has it. And that is certainly a scary prospect especially if you do not consider yourself to be part of a common group of interest, a big crowd of people who will stand with you.

    I guess that’s another thing: people think they walk alone in the world. Though that’s another example of ideological manipulation in our country.

  4. Right – Americans do not want to think about power and they believe they can insulate themselves from politics, that nothing in their lives is political unless they choose that, or something.

    Having power is not polite unless you are someone like Romney, in which case you deserve it, and if we do not like that then we are “envious” … it is all part of the alleged Christian foundations of the country, I think.

    And yes, Americans are convinced they do all things alone, and they do not believe they deserve power and rights — only to invade other countries as a country, and only if they are corporations, do they believe this. They do not believe in it for individuals except to excuse libertinism and so on.

    But also, I think they see unions as one more authority, one more place they have to pay dues and follow rules and have a boss, and they are just tired.

    I am having to jockey with some lefty types who use that mantle as cover for abusive behavior and who also, while claiming to be for faculty rights, are really just interested in maintaining their own positions. I saw in a flash why people dislike unons and do not respect AAUP — I would not, either, if these people had been the first face of such things I had seen.

  5. Went to “Won’t back down” on Friday which was the first day for the movie in North America. Will post on this anti – union screed after I’ve done a bit of reflection. Favourite line from film:

    Teacher union boss, ” I’ll worry about school children when they start paying union dues!”

    Great marketing coup for the conservatives.

    1. Fascinating. There is a movement here to boycott it but I will look forward to your post. What an amazing line.

      Our union style boss, though, actually does that. “I will defend the rights of the untenured so long as they bow down to me.”

      1. Or is that last really true? I wish I could tell what is really going on, what is behind peoples’ manner sometimes.

  6. I was a union organizer for a while and I can say that I got very disillusioned with that particular union because I witnessed these really manipulative, aggressive, bullying tactics that were used against the people within the union. Now there is a union at my current university and they have offered a meeting but I’m simply afraid to find myself in that bullying environment once again. Unions do very important work and I believe in them passionately. But at this point, it isn’t worth it for me to find myself in a bullying environment once again.

    1. Although it is important to remember: the actual enemy wears kid gloves and hides their face, y la mejor cárcel es la que no se ve.

      1. Yep. I’m a GESO organizer. I still believe in the union and its goals. And I still consider the time I spent as a GESO organizer as the only redeeming time of my entire grad school experience. But the union did become overrun by rich girls and boys who’d go on retreats and then come back and teach everybody about the articles they read on being poor.

  7. Another reason for American resentment of unions is the unique degree of historical corruption of their unions unlike other advanced industrial countries like Canada or Britain. One take on this is a book called “Solidarity for Sale” by Robert Fitch and here’s a link to a review of the book.


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