Using you example here. This is false. Tradeskill unions tend to offer training courses and discounted industry training plans to keep their members current on the latest technologies. If a guy was trained up as a Layer 1 installer back in the CAT3 (or earlier) days, at some point he would have had the chance to learn the proper installation procedures for CAT6 and Fiber. The union would have set up either a training voucher with a company or developed a course. If there was no union, the poor guy may not have enough money to pay for the courses themself. Tradeskill unions work in this case.
I theory, sure. In practice though the individual union workplaces tend to oppose modernization though. Classroom training is one thing, on the job experience is a whole different thing and has a lot more to do with the end skill level of the worker. When union workplaces actively block introduction of newer technology into the workplace, especially if there are any efficiency improvements (cause efficiency costs jobs), workers will tend to continue to use increasingly outdated equipment and technology to do their work. In addition to just making the workplace inefficient, it also means that the workers have little or no experience with anything newer.
3. The union tends to hold it's members back in progression as well. The union will only authorize training if that training is directly related to job the individual was hired to do.
Which ties into what I just wrote about. If the workplace doesn't update its equipment, then there's no need to train the workers on the new equipment. But the employer is going to be hesitant to spend the money on new equipment if it's going to sit idle for months until enough people are trained on it to use it. Catch-22, right? This may seem like a minor effect, but it builds over time. Moving from the markI widget maker to the markII probably isn't that hard to do and can be accomplished with minimal training. But if you delay (for any of a number of reasons) your upgrade, it may be that now the markII is obsolete, and the markIII, and markIV during the time you waited to get the right approvals and whatnot to move forward with buying the new equipment. But now the training costs will be prohibitive and the workers just wont be able to muddle through with the markV based on their skills with the markI. This often results in the employer just throwing his hands up and sticking to the existing equipment rather than deal with the now very expensive upgrade, which may not result in any increase in productivity at the other end anyway.
I've seen the end result of this progression. It really isn't pretty. I remember running into a guy in the late 90s who'd been working in a shop for like 30 years doing government contract work. He was the computer expert from that site until it closed down. He knew everything there was to know about 20+ year old computer equipment. Which dipswitches to set, how to load reel to reel or paper tapes, swapping out ancient memory modules, programing in proprietary languages no one used, etc. There was no reason why they couldn't update their equipment and tech as advancements came along, but they didn't. In workplaces like that there tends to be a strong belief that you should just keep doing things the way you've been doing them. Change is bad.
This was a guy who had a degree in electrical engineering and at one time was on top of the most cutting edge technology. And when I met him, he was completely unhireable. Not only that but pretty much every piece of technology or equipment he knew how to use was so out of date, that it was incredibly difficult to even train him. He simply had no understanding of how computer technology had changed over time. He could use computers. It wasn't like he'd lived in a box the entire time. But he had never spent any time or effort keeping his skills up to date. He knew almost nothing about the internal components of personal computers, newer workstations, or servers. He knew nothing about the internal workings of newer operating systems (and by newer, I'm talking about anything after the invention of micro computers). It was strange because he was very knowledgeable about certain things (stuff that didn't change), but completely clueless about how to use the equipment currently being used in the workplace.
While I'm sure that's not a typical case, I've seen enough that are similar but just lesser in degree to know that this is a feature of union-like operations (not just unions, but those that have the same sort of pay structures). This is why I strongly feel that it really is better for the workers if they are forced to compete for their jobs in an open labor market. When that is the case, they know that their job skills will remain sufficiently marketable that they don't lose any power in the labor market. When you have to compete for a job, and your employer can terminate you at any point if he thinks you aren't worth what he's paying you, you're going to be much more likely to be worth what you make and to be able to get another job in your field if you want. And that's a really good thing. I think that unions seem like a great idea when someone is first starting out in a given field, but they aren't so great 15-20 years later. Unfortunately, by that time, the worker is stuck.
Just 3 quick ones off the top of my head. Again, in the commercial world I believe there is a place for unions yet. They need to clean up their collective acts to keep viable but they are still needed based on companies past performance with dealing with employees. But for US Gov workers, I see no need for unions at all. Any protections the unions feel they are needed for, their are already federal laws on the books that protect workers.
More or less agree. I think government unionization is a really really bad idea. I don't have a problem with unionization, but it needs to be done freely and without coercion and in a fair market. If there's sufficient need for a union, one will be formed by the workers. If there isn't then it wont. Trying to force outcomes, or pass laws that require unions, or otherwise make joining a union less of a fair choice is wrong IMO. Edited, Dec 14th 2012 4:49pm by gbaji