I grew up in a town where everyone works at the same fabrication plant. The town basically built up around it.
At one point when I was in high school, the company locked out the union members. Just like that. (Yes, there was a brief negotiation but more about that later...)
Anyway, scabs started pouring in left and right into the town so there was basically a war.
Scabs are at least ONE of the lowest forms of human life. But fortunately, the union was built up of hard assed guys who were protecting every bit of their livelihoods. They built that plant and made it what it was for the owners, without doubt, some putting in as many as 45 years before just being locked out.
So anyway, it was basically a war. People carried guns, scabs' tires were slashed en mass, rocks were thrown at the entrance to the plant. Eventually the scabs (most were dolts who took someone else's job because they were too unqualified and uneducated to find their own jobs) started fighting amongst themselves. There were ambulances at the plant every day because none of them knew how to use the equipment properly and lots of fistfights between management and scab.
You couldn't really go out after dark if you weren't in the union as a guy.
Anyway, much like the current health care reform situation, most people who were critical of the unions had absolutely no knowledge of the history of the plant, unions, lock outs or specifically how and why they'd been locked out. And much like many republicans today, they didn't care. They made up their mind because 'unions are bad! Fuck unions!'
Typical in America, to say the least. Usually the ones are who the loudest lack the most knowledge.
So this goes on for 3 years because the case was tied up in court with the National Labor Board investigating. In that time, scabs came in and out but very few stayed long because to be safe, they'd have to live so far away (some up to 2 hours away) just so their homes weren't targeted. I heard stories about some scabs who had replaced upwards of 30+ tires in a year's time.
And as it goes, the National Labor Board ruled in favor of the workers citing about 40 pages of where the company had failed to deal in good faith, broke contracts, broke contract promises, hid profit reports and sharing, denied health insurance, etc. etc. Forty pages of treating American workers like shit and slime with evidence to back every bit of it.
So part of the ruling was backpay. One of my relatives was paid almost 3 years wages and back pay for unhonored insurance debt that the companies refused to pay. The scabs were thrown out, many of the people who brought the scabs in (upper management) had to leave the town and all was good in the world again.
And I reiterate: Everyone is welcome to their own opinions but I've met very few anti-union people who have ever studied unions, their history, why they were necessary, why they might be less necessary these days, collective bargaining, labor boards, etc. As I said, the people who are loudest against things are usually the ones least educated about whatever it is they are against. And that's because when people make up their minds, they usually do so by justifying it with a personal experience and without actually knowing what it is they're against. Study the mine wars, the origins of the union, how unions were the only reason that workers were getting treated humanly at all (yes, we're enjoying now the hard work that went into establishing a fair work environment, mostly by unions).
I'm not in a field where a union is required or would be helpful. But I do know that corporations treat their workers like shit most of the time and the workers take it because they have no balls and they're up to their neck in debt. Wal Mart is a perfect example of exploiting American workers who are frantic for any employment they can get.
But I think it's laughable when people thoughtlessly side with corporate giants who would slit that person's throats for just a few dollars of extra profit. They would take away your lunch if they could, they would cut your wages if they thought they could get away with it and you would certainly not have paid vacations or sick days.
The bottom line in this corporate America is profit. Period.
And anything and anyone who gets between the company and their dollars will be mowed down in so far that they can actually get away with it. Having a watchdog around to ensure that people don't get fucked in the process isn't a bad idea.
Unless you're one of the guys without a soul whose job it is to crack whips and slit workers' throats.
People will work hard if they're happy. They're more productive when they're happy. Somehow, overseas, companies have taken this to heart. In America, it's still line up, punch the card, keep your head down and your ideas to yourself until you hear the bell ring at the end of the day.