My father joined the union when he started teaching and my mother was president of the secretaries union for APS until she retired. Needless to say I come from a pro-union family.
In the 1970's while going through my divorce and getting certified to teach I worked as a security guard and one of my posts was to keep picketing grocery store workers moving and not bothering customers as they entered the store. The chain that owned the grocery stores sold out instead of settling with the union. Dad wasn't happy about what I was doing. The grocery store chain complained constantly to my security employer because I was too friendly with the picketers and horror of horrors even played chess with some of them. Hey it was boring for me as well as for them.
The first year I started teaching I joined the union, and was a building rep at a few schools. Only about 40% of the teachers here belong to the union, but they get 100% of the salary increases the union negotiates and other benefits in the negotiated agreement such as duty free lunches, prep periods, maximum class sizes, etc.
I'm not neutral when it comes to collective bargaining and the power of unions.
Art Levine has an interesting set of facts and figures as to how the proposed Employee Free Choice Act will help our economic recovery and in fact the 30+ years of big business destroying unionism is perhaps the root cause of our troubles now.
Here's my take on what spurred major corporations to so aggressively start destroying unions:
Avis Rent A Car, and United Airlines.
These were the first major EMPLOYEE OWNED corporations. How was it done. The unions took all the money in their pension plan (billions of dollars) and bought up controlling interest in the corporation. All the other airlines shit in their pants. Hertz had a coronary.
Why, why, why this was Karl Marx's Dictatorship of the Proletariat happening right before their eyes. The workers taking over the means of production and sharing the profits.
This is what led to the great outsourcing of almost all manufacturing jobs to third world countries or slave labor mentality southern states who passed Right To Work laws.
Well thanks to nearly forty years of union busting American workers belonging to unions is down to only 13.7% and we've become a country that has stopped producing wealth and only consuming it. Thanks to the fear Big Business has that their major stockholders might be their employees they've killed the goose that laid the golden egg. Oh they managed to stave off the inevitable by credit cards, home equity loans and other tricks, but reality hit September 16, 2008 (the reality that Obama would win the election and there would be someone putting teeth back into the regulatory agencies and the foxes would no longer control the hen house) and the house of cards created by trickle down economics fell down.
What has it just dawned on the wizards of wallstreet that those working for minimum wage can't afford to rent an apartment much less buy a house, or a new car, or eat at fancy restaurants, or pay medical, vision, dental bills. And if they can't buy those things what happens to the Insurance industry that can't sell their life, auto or homeowners policies. Dealerships sitting with a lot full of inventory, upscale mall stores where everyone is "Just Looking" because their credit cards are maxed out and their house is now depreciating instead appreciating and that means no home equity loans. Real Estate agents with no commissions in the near future. China with 20 million workers out of jobs because we don't have the money now to buy the goods manufactured there after those jobs were lost here.
If Wal-mart would double its hourly wage employees salaries they wouldn't have to raise the price on any of the items they sell, but it would reduce by 50% the multi-million dollar salary and bonuses to the Walton Family and top management.
What the CEO's, CFO's, and the 1% of the population that now has hoarded who knows how much of the world GNP that if they want to make even more money in the future they're going to have to start paying the working class more money in salaries and stop fighting Universal health coverage. Unionization will make them more money than reverting back to the company store or feudalism.