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Do We Still Need Unions?

This column was written by CBS News Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith.

As union membership shrinks across the land, fewer of us will stop and pay tribute to those who fought for representation in the workplace, better wages and safe working conditions. It all seems kind of quaint now. But people got their heads bashed in for it not so many years ago.

Unions face plenty of obstacles these days: hostile business owners, a business-friendly government, globalization, and, quite frankly, union corruption and shortsightedness.

With real wages dropping and health insurance all but impossible to get, the doors are wide open for organization. But for that to succeed, unions need to understand that productivity trumps job security. That's a hard sell in some shops. A Teamster pension helped keep my mother in her home after my father died. My retired in-laws can see the doctors they want to and they get their prescriptions filled free, thanks to a union.

Do we still need unions? I'd vote yes.

Harry's daily commentary can be heard on many CBS Radio News affiliates across the country.
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