I was pleased to see Jocelyn Hunt take on unions ["Unions have lost their purpose," Jan. 13]. While she makes good points, Hunt fails to present a clear alternative to many of the problems unions still solve in society.
The near-collapse of the major automotive companies in North America is a good example. The autoworker unions increased their demands year after year and when it came time for restructuring their actions nearly left them with no jobs, rather than the pension cuts they would have faced.
Hunt identifies these concerns. Unions prevent the market from quickly adjusting to necessary reforms. Countries around the world are currently experiencing the problems that occur when the public sector isn't agile to changing markets.
Still, unions do have a purpose. Perhaps not in Alberta or even Canada, but around the world. Workers are taken advantage of every day. They are forced to accept low pay and poor conditions-- without unions they won't be able to rise above their conditions.
Further, our choices matter. Programs like Make Trade Fair allow consumers to make a difference in the lives of workers around the world. The only way such efforts are possible is when a group bands together to claim, with one voice, that change is necessary.