At a recent visit to a Victoria school, a teacher spoke up at a meeting: "I'm not pro union or anti union, but when it comes right down to it, the union is the only group of people looking after my interests."
Despite the rhetoric in the press, it is generally true that unions look after the interests of their members, but also the collective interests of citizens, in many cases. The labour movement brought us the weekend, maternity leave, and an uncountable number of other advances in workplace rights. But the labour movement also represents a voice to advocate for democracy, public services, social justice.
A new research study confirms these ideas: unions make us happier (both individually as union members and collectively as a society) because they look out for the collective good.
Here is the abstract from the article at: http://www.springerlink.com/content/04j80x3512k33n86/
"While a growing literature demonstrates the impact of socio-political factors on citizens’ quality of life, scholars have paid comparatively little attention to the role political organizations such as labor unions play in this regard. We examine labor organization as a determinant of cross-national variation in life satisfaction across a sample of advanced industrial polities. Our findings strongly suggest that unions increase the life satisfaction of citizens, and that that this effect holds for non-union members as well. Moreover, we also find that labor organization has the strongest impact on the subjective well-being of citizens with lower incomes. We confirm these hypotheses using both individual and aggregate-level data from fourteen nations. We show these relationships to have an independent and separable impact from other economic, political, and cultural determinants. The implications for the study of life satisfaction and of labor unions as political actors in general are discussed."