Southwest Airlines
Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

Labor Actions: Necessary or Selfish?

Three strikes and you’re out?

In a perfect world, everyone would receive fair compensation that they deserve for working on the job. We do not live in a perfect world, though; and what is considered to be just compensation can be subjective — especially between the employer and the employee. This brings the question: are labor actions necessary or selfish?

Labor Actions: Necessary or Selfish?

Walking a picket line and going on strike are two forms of labor actions: one generally involves holding up signs to alert anyone who is interested as to the grievances of employees, who could still be working their jobs; while the other is when employees refuse to work until an agreement is reached…

…but labor actions typically only happen when employees are backed by a union, whose supposed function is to protect the rights of its members and get them as much compensation and better working conditions as possible.

Currently, the personnel at four different airlines are unhappy:

  • Pilots from United Airlines were on picket lines in ten different cities, stating that increases in their wages are past due by four years.
  • At least 111 flights were proactively canceled by WestJet Airways for today, Thursday, May 18, 2023 as negotiations between the airline and the union which represents the pilots are inching closer to a deadline.
  • On Friday, May 12, 2023, pilots at Southwest Airlines almost unanimously voted to authorize a strike.
  • The union which represents flight attendants are currently in tense negotiations with American Airlines; and an authorization for a strike is possible.

Additionally, industrial actions in countries such as Germany, France, and the United Kingdom seem to recur on a regular basis.

The problem with labor actions is that they can affect the very customers whom they serve, which could be considered selfish. When a labor action occurs, the product or service is either only available to customers on a limited basis — or not available at all. In the travel industry, labor actions can significantly impact the plans of travelers.

Some people would argue that the general public is not actually owed labor by anyone — especially if a contract had not yet been reached.

Others would say that labor actions are necessary to pressure the organizations for whom employees work to improve compensation and working conditions.

Final Boarding Call

I have never been a member of a union; so my choices were limited to either bear with what I was doing at the compensation that I was receiving; or quit and find something else to do. A third choice was to speak to whatever decision maker had control over my compensation.

The flight attendants of Delta Air Lines are still not members of a union — although attempts to change that have happened numerous times.

Companies should do whatever is reasonably necessary to ensure that their workers are happy enough to not resort to inconveniencing innocent customers — and perhaps some employees should find employment positions which are better for them elsewhere. A balance of that combination should theoretically prevent labor actions from occurring…

…but again — we do not live in a perfect world…

Photograph ©2022 by Brian Cohen.

  1. When you join a company, you know what you are letting yourself in for. Taking time off work for labor actions, if you are still paid for it, is stealing. Even if you are not paid for it, it’s selfish whichever way you cut it. It’s very said that some people never learn to accept that things don’t always go their way.

  2. Making $200k per year but still demanding more and being very willing to hurt others in order to get it is shameful. If the “Quality of Life” is so horrible then QUIT. Work at Home Depot where you’ll be home every night. Sure you won’t make that exorbitant salary which enables you to provide a lavish lifestyle for your family. Life is all about decisions and trade-offs. People make sacrifices to pay for their children’s college or forgo that vacation to buy a new car.
    Pilots can make trade-offs….just like the rest of us.
    They’re obnoxious and greedy.

  3. So very selfish!!!

    No one should feel forced to do work they dislike or to do work they do not feel well compensated for – they are free to quit and find employment elsewhere.

    But choosing to inconvenience others while having their tantrum is unacceptable.

    Then “laborers” should feel ridiculous for their actions… and should be removed from their position.

  4. A company never increases compensation out of the goodness of their heart. It is the friction to their bottom line that gives them the impetus to increase wages to keep with the increasing cost of living. It’s a race to the bottom without it. That is why for decades as productivity from labor has increased, real wages have stagnated killing the buying power of the middle class. It happened to coincide with the dismantling of unions in this country.

      1. They are not doing middle class jobs. I don’t like unions but 200K is not unreasonable for this type of job.

    1. Unions are a hiding place for mediocrity.

      No one seeks to do their best when they travel in a pack using their quantity to manipulate and do everything in their power to work less. Anyone who believes in their own abilities and strengths would be sacrificing those to join a union.

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