Self-serving is probably the only way to describe union leaders. In fact, I dislike them more than politicians.
But I will tell you why in my opinion profit sharing doesn’t work. In theory, I agree with the concept completely. I own a small company and I introduced a profit sharing scheme years ago. I truly believed that employees should be stakeholders in a business in some way. For years we made huge profits and everyone was rewarded handsomely. But in the last 3 years, we have struggled to break even. But staff become accustomed to that income and they want to continue receiving it. They think there is a bottomless pit of money from which to draw on. So when times are bad, they complain that they’re not getting enough money and/or leave. But when times are good, of course they are happy to collect their bonus.
In the context of large unionised companies, the same happens. Look at the case of two of the biggest nickel mining towns in Canada who have been on strike now for 9 months. In 2006, the mining companies introduced a bonus system based on the spot price of nickel so that workers would share in the windfall. All well and good in 2007, it effectively doubled their salaries. Now the price of Nickel has dropped to a 5 year low, but they want their money still.
Profit sharing never works because most employees don’t think in an entrepreneurial way. They don’t understand balance sheets nor do they care about them. And the same applies to union leaders actually. They just go after what they can get. And the sad thing is, they get away with it all too often. Governments step in and bailout failing companies so the taxpayer ends up footing the bill because of the unions’ greed and the governments facilitate it because they’re running scared. GM and Alitalia (to name but a few) should have been left to go bust and teach them all a good lesson. The more unions get rewarded for their actions, the more we risk going back to the 60’s and 70’s and we risk undoing what Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan did for us. My biggest wish of all is that BA cabin crew finally see their leaders for what they really are and send them packing with a bloody nose.