The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

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What People Think of Unions

courtesy of Chris Long and Unsplash writers strike out front of Paramount studios

In recent times, labor unions have taken center stage due to the Hollywood and auto worker strikes, setting off a discussion about the impact of labor unions in today’s society.

According to data from the Pew Research Center from Sep. 2021, 55 percent of Americans view labor unions as having a positive effect on the nation.

Tyler McClure, a secondary education history major who is currently trying to unionize his workplace, said, “I believe that they (unions) are a force for good and empower and protect workers in our society. Without proper protections and organization, it is easy to be taken advantage of by the systems we have in place even when that is not the expressed intent of any party.”

Sharing related sentiments, 18-year-old Penn State Abington Student, Edwin Lackey, states, “I find labor unions to be positive for workers. Specifically, the fact that they improve the conditions of the workplace and ensure a safer work environment.”

A Union Officer for the Bucks County Community College Federation of Teachers and Language and Literature Professor Jennie Diaz comments, “People unionize when they feel too vulnerable and unappreciated by their employer when they have low wages and lack benefits. Frustrated workers band together, realizing that workers’ power is strength in numbers.”

Over the past few years, companies like Amazon have held an anti-union mindset because they feel it will affect their business.

When asked if unions hurt businesses, Shiloh Ruiz, 18, a nursing major from Levittown, said, “Absolutely not. They encourage camaraderie among workers and give them rights.”

Lackey also commented, “In economics, there is a trade to any action. When people unionize, it does mean that there are resources being pulled away from other places. Such as when petitioning for better working environments which include the monetary resources being used to create better working environments and resources being pulled from the company to better the workers.”

“There is always a lot of bloat in management or administration–too many unnecessary leadership positions and too high of pay compared to the workers’ pay,” commented Diaz.

“The gap has widened, and the businesses and schools can afford to put more money into the workers who actually carry the workload rather than merely supervise it. This sharing of profits with workers improves morale.”

According to the Associated Press, the Hollywood writers’ strike ended on Sep. 27 after almost five months. Striking actors have also recently started negotiations with studios.

The United Auto Workers started their monumental strike on Sep. 15, and in the following weeks, both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have shown up to endorse the strike.

“It is commendable that the auto workers are striking in support of the tiered or temporary employees who do the same work but have less pay and benefits,” stated Diaz.

Diaz added, “This hiring of contingent or two-tiered workers is a disturbing trend that you see in many businesses, even here at Bucks and other colleges, where part-time faculty earn less, have less benefits and less job security for teaching the same classes as full-time faculty. This inequity will be addressed in our upcoming contract negotiations,”

McClure said, “Good for them I hope they get a fair deal, all the big companies have admitted they’re losing money.”

Sharing similar feelings, Ruiz says, “I believe they are completely justified and I hope for them to succeed. More workers need to stand up for their rights and stop tolerating things that make their workplace miserable.”

Data from the Pew Research Center suggests that the number of American workers in unions has fallen from 20.1 percent to 10.1 percent in the past 40 years.

When asked if the Hollywood and auto worker strikes could inspire anybody to form a union or go on strike, Diaz said, “Seeing what kind of gains strikers can get should inspire workers both to unionize and to go on strike.”

Diaz continued, “When you negotiate, you need leverage, as you are trying to get something management does not want to give. A work stoppage is a way to bring your issues into the public and to not allow work to happen until conditions are improved. Strikes are working these days, unions are forming, and we should keep the people’s momentum going!”