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In the course of my life, I’ve been exposed to the undeniable malignant effects of large scale labor unions and — whether in the form of the massive teacher’s unions, public sector unions, or countless others — they all seem to have more or less the same ultimate effect. That is to say, burdening the companies and governments with whom they “partner” with vast and unreasonable entitlements that they cannot hope to meet over the course of time.
The influence the labor union is undeniable in today’s political landscape. Almost every conservative campaigner has something to say about unions being an undue burden on the state and the taxpayers. This is good. Scott Walker, in particular, has some first hand experience deep in the trenches of this particular war. And he has won battle after battle in this war.
On principle I agree but, In my work, I’ve come to realize that the idea of a union can be helpful. Let me back up for a minute. I’m an Actor. I know for a fact that without a union backing up my efforts to work as an actor there is no way that I’d be paid anything close to a living wage for my work. My affiliations with AEA and SAG have allowed me to make some king of a living in my business. Rob Long may have something to say about this as well, as I’m sure he is or has been a member of the Writers Guild (WGA).
Now since the recession began, I’ve worked outside my profession a number of times due to necessity. This last year I have been employed between gigs as an Uber driver. Here’s where I run into my question for the day: what should my conservative principles guide me to when I have been taken advantage of by a corporation or employer? Details? All Uber drivers are independent contractors. This gives us the ability to work for ourselves under the Uber platform, but also gives Uber the ability to not provide benefits (something that, while nice to have, isn’t necessarily a deal breaker for most people – especially since Obamacare has saved us all… er… well…) and to drastically cut our pay from time to time. Over the past year I’ve seen my pay from Uber cut nearly 55%. That pretty egregious. The problem is that the gig is so flexible and convenient between acting gigs, that it makes no sense to leave even if I have to work almost twice as much to make my bones for the week.
On principle, I can’t argue much with Uber’s business practices as they are growing exponentially, but I can see that I’m being taken advantage of on a couple of different levels. There has been a great deal of chatter on social media about Uber drivers unionizing, and I suppose the idea sounds nice, but I can’t see it actually being a good idea in practice.
So, what should I do? How ought I reconcile this situation in my mind? Can a conservative justify union membership or support? Where do we draw the line on unions being helpful versus harmful. Is there such a line?Published in