Unions have been a part of the American landscape for many many years and of course as with any thing else they have their pros and cons.
The Service Employees International Union gets a lot a heat on conservative talk radio of late. The phrase "SEIU thugs" is heard often on such political commentary shows as Rush, Hannity and others. The assertion is that "SEIU thugs" show up to various meetings and events to intimidate and cause a ruckus. This is verified apparently during an incident that got out of hand in Missouri fairly recently. Be that as it may, there are very legitimate reasons for someone wanting to affiliate with this union. Take for example those in the private security industry. This industry is rife with rip off companies that pay the minimum wage, have no benefits and regularly demean those in their employ. Guardsmark Security, one of the major players, has recently been citedfor transferring female officers from one site to another because the client wanted male only security officers. A clear legal violation of course. U.S. Security Associates and Allied Barton also have an extremely bad reputation. These companies are major players in the security industry. In a post 911 world site security is of premier importance. These companies are responsible for security at some very sensitive locations and the level of security actually offered is a joke. For instance, U.S. Security Associates has a contract to "guard" a sensitive research facility in the Houston area where explosives are tested. The officers are of course, unarmed, underpaid and frankly unqualified for the position. With the proper training and wages these employees would be much more qualified to perform their duties as they should be performed. The turnover rate would of course be much lower and the officers would have a sense of pride in their work. This type of scenario is widespread. Any chemical plant in this nation has security forces that are not up to the job. No fault of the employee. Proper training and wages, as previously stated, would solve the problem. Would this be a guarantee against a terrorist assault? No of course not. The facilities though would be much more secure however and just possibly any assault minimized. It is certainly understandable why those in the security field would want and probably need representation.
Those in the hospitality industry are in the same boat as those in the security industry. Underpaid and demeaning working conditions are often the norm. Aramark and Sodexo are notorious problems. Anyone who has worked for these "fine" organizations will have horror stories.
If there was ever an industry that needed organizing it is chemical trucking. These drivers are subjected to long hours, low pay, hazardous conditions and frankly, in many cases, a lack of proper training. For instance hauling molten sulfur is a dangerous task and there are some companies that will give a driver no more than one or two days training before sending them to load and unload this product. They are on the roads with your family. I personally have seen drivers injured and expensive chemical spills occur due to a lack of training on this product alone. A related issue would be "tank cleaners" who job is to well, clean trailers of hazardous and non hazardous chemicals. This is at the minimum a two man job when hazmat or any tank entry is involved. Groendyke Transport actually at one time had one man, working at night, cleaning trailers at one of their facilities. This is well known and easily substantiated. People have died because of this type of unsafe scenario. Yes if there ever was an industry that needs organizing it is HazMat trucking.
The NEA and affiliates are often lambasted for being too involved in the political arena and there are many who blame them for the decline in the public school systems across this land. They may have a valid point. One must remember that this organization came upon the scene because teachers were underpaid and under appreciated. Still are. School districts would pay people as little as they possibly could. It is understandable why teachers organized and continue to do so. Teaching is, after all, a profession that is as important as any and more so than most.
Now the flip side is that these unions have become very powerful and it is dangerous politically for those in public office to trifle with them. SEIU, for instance, is an advocate of overturning the well thought out and actually quite benign Arizona "immigration law." This in itself is reason for the greater public to distrust them. This is a red flag to the ultra leftist bent of this organization (and others like it). Of course the goal is to organize illegal aliens and add their contributions to the union coffers. That is unfortunate and quite possibly borderline treasonous.
With that being said however, it is certainly understandable why those in the service industries feel the need for organization and SEIU is the most powerful force. It is the same for truckers and Teamsters as it is for teachers and the NEA.
It is all about personal economics after all.