I thought that it might be instructive to share how I've come to discuss unions with my father, since there are a lot of people out there who hate them (obviously not so much on DK, but I'm sure we all know a few). As I wrote in my intro diary, I was raised in a pretty conservative (and fairly poor) household. My parents split, and while they would have been probably around middle class together, they certainly weren't when they were apart. My dad was a mechanic by trade. He had gotten his degree in biology, then started working on diesel vehicles. Mainly though, he wanted to farm.
He bought a 40-acre farm, and basically quit going to work. He was good enough at his job that they didn't just fire him; of course, this didn't go over with Mom very well. After a while, she was tired of working to make farm payments, and he was tired of her not shutting up and doing as she was told (I think that's how it went roughly).
Shortening the story a bit, we can cut to the chase: my dad quit a solid-paying job to grind out a living on a small farm. It was a crappy existence, but he hated working FOR someone, having to be on the clock, and showing up every day.
He has a fairly rabid dislike of unions. I wouldn't call it a hatred exactly, but something that gets him fired up. His dislike doesn't stem from some strong personal convictions against unions, but from jealousy, more or less. He chose a hard life, while they chose a hard life with retirement.
A sample conversation goes like this:
"I was talking to this teacher. She makes $60,000/year, and she's going to retire in 3 years! And all she does is TEACH! And then she's going to go back to work for the government AND STILL COLLECT RETIREMENT.
He's pretty offended by the idea of someone else having such a sweet deal while he grinds out his hours on the farm.
Instead of letting him troll me, I've taken to framing the subject when he goes off.
Dad, I'd love to teach. I'd be a good teacher, but I won't teach for 3/4 of what I can make as an accountant. They go to school as long, or longer than me. They're expected to either have a masters, or earn one quickly, for a job that averages less than I'm making as a staff accountant (I know that's maybe not the BEST source, but it's what I came up with. Also, Montana teacher salaries kind of suck). They are professionals, who are teaching our kids! They have also negotiated the retirements! They take crap pay, okay benefits, and a solid retirement! That teacher you're upset about? I WILL BE OUTEARNING HER IN FIVE YEARS! WITH NO MASTERS!So, step one: I directly attack his idea that union members are somehow horrible people who are filthy rich because UNIONZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
More below the flapjack.
Well, the Unions may not be that bad, but the presidents and union administrators make too much! They're getting rich!I end up trying to frame this as well.
Dad, these people are basically an HR department. They're basically executives. They're running a bunch of guys, ensuring they're taken care of, and administrating.This tends to slow him down a bit. Finally, he tends to fall back onto the "business-destruction" aspect.
Well, that fine, but you see these auto-guys, they work on an assembly line, then retire! They aren't doing work that's all that hard! Why should they be able to force the company to pay them the way they do?!
This one is a bit weird: I don't TOTALLY disagree with him, in terms of the complexity of the work, but it is hard work. Here's how I respond:
They may not have the most complex job, but it's hard work, and they negotiated the deal that they negotiated. They took crappy pay in exchange for a nice retirement. Plus, they didn't hold a gun to the company's head: the company negotiated the deal to save money on wages up front! Unions are important! If one man gets in trouble with his company, he's at the mercy of HR. If he is a union member, unless he truly did something wrong (as opposed to pissing someone off), he will be protected!He hasn't exactly fallen in love with unions as a result of our discussions, but he's a bit less rabid. I dunno if this is helpful, but it helped me to give him a chance to present his issues and refute them, rather than simply arguing back something like, "Well, unions are good and companies are bad!"
I welcome your feedback. How do you talk about unions with friends and family members who tend to breath the "Unions are BADUHHHH" line?