This is in response to the recent letter from Paul Crossley.
Striking, like any other action, can serve a useful purpose. It can draw attention to an issue and the group of people around it. It can disrupt the flow of service, or it can demonstrate unity (or lack of it). Going on strike is just one option that unions may have, but I feel it is far from asinine.
However, I do feel that it should often be a last resort, as meeting and talking face to face can and should be a much more favourable way of resolving labour issues. But for anyone to say that “union membership could be a degrading experience” is like saying that an orange may be sour or bitter (anything is possible). The fact is, nothing is ever perfect, and for the most part we only get out of an experience what we put in to it.
Try looking for the good in things and this includes unions. Over the years they have made valuable contributions to society and they have also had their growing pains and even made some mistakes, but let’s not dismiss all the good that they and many other organizations have done. No one forces anyone to join a union even though it may be a requirement with many employers.
Furthermore, unions are not the only organizations who have mandatory enrolment, some of which many of us have joined (or financially supported) over the years. One would be ICBC, a requirement in this province to drive legally on B.C. roads, and the other would be B.C. medical insurance, the latter of which you really don’t have any choice in. So yes, union membership and their actions can be a challenge at times, but as times change so do the goals of these organizations. Unions (sometimes through the actions of a strike) have made living conditions for their membership and the surrounding community better by bringing to light some issues that affect us all.
Over the years they have addressed long work hours (The Nine Hour Movement), child labour practices and pay equity for all sexes. Unions, like any other organization, are only as good as the people in them, so rather then condemn them, let’s work to guide them and to educate society in the hopes that one day we wont have a need for actions such as “strikes” in the labour movement.