I’m always surprised at how people demonise unions and collective bargaining - as someone who worked (on the management side, at that) in a union environment all my career, the reality of unions is nothing like the rhetoric, for good or bad.
Unions are simply a way of assembling and leveraging bargaining power so that each worker has something balancing out the employer’s considerable power. That’s no different than having grocery chains negotiate bulk deals on Coke or Pepsi and pass the (uniform) lower price onto their customers. If we as consumers each had to negotiate our own price with Pepsi, imagine the angst and inequities and inconsistencies. (Anyone trying to get the best deal for a cellphone contract with Bell or Rogers understands the dynamic)
If union demands or public positions seem extreme, one must recognise, as I said above, that these are political positions made a) to give the members confidence that their union is fighting hard for them and b) as a starting point in negotiating to the best achievable position…..which will involve haggling and compromise….the initial demand reflects what the union leadership believes the members aspire to, it should not be read at face value as what they will accept.
The worst thing that can happen in a major negotiation is buyer’s remorse. If a union, or an employer, leaves the table believing that they left money behind, the resulting behaviour is toxic. So there is a certain amount of drama needed to ensure that both parties have dug as deep as they can, and prioritised their asks very carefully. If a deal happens too easily, it will generally misfire.
If to the outsider the whole thing looks silly or greedy, well, you’ve never bought a car or a house. Would you agree to pay MSRP for a vehicle? I hope not. In saner real estate markets, asking prices are high and bidding prices are low. If the dealmaking process isn’t excruciating, the underlying gut level confidence in the deal isn’t established. Logic and rationality only gets you so far.