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.