I'm not that familiar with how workplace negotiations (or business-level labour deals) between employees, unions and employers (and trade organisations, as counterparts to unions) function in the US - I do know that the role of labour unions has long been different from what it is in many places in western Europe - so I'll just make two general points and leave further arguing to others.
Many of you are misunderstanding the point Retribution is trying to make.
He is simply saying that while a union has a responsibility to advocate in a rational manner in support of its constituents, it often is only doing an injustice to the industry, and to the net sum of industry employees, when it goes about defending union members for clearly biased reasons.
Let me give you two examples:
1) For many years now, public school (and many private school) teachers were granted automatic salary raises for getting a Master's degree. However, extensive, decades-long research has shown that teachers with master's degrees are no more effective at improving student achievement, as compared to bachelor's degree educated teachers. In other words, many administrators were suggesting that these salary raises should be going to the teachers who are good teachers (whether they have a Master's or not), and who are actually helping students improve academically. The union was in an uproar over this idea for some reason. (Try convincing a business manager to give you an automatic, no questions asked raise for your M.B.A., even if your sales figures are the same as a guy straight out of high school). For many, many years the unions tried to defend this, but now, finally, many teachers unions have slowly acknowledged legitimacy of this line of reasoning, but you'll still see unions advocating this.
I have never understood why the teacher's union supports this, considering that it actually helps good teachers by being able to earn higher salaries while avoiding the added student debt of pursuing a Master's degree.
It's not the union's purpose to further what company managers, bosses or trade organizations want. That's not why people join a union; the union is there for the employees and should aim to be evenhanded and ready to defend its members, especially in circumstances where the individual member/s would soon be in a tight spot if they tried to take on their employing firm or agency on their own.
I think you're missing, too, that it can be hard to find real, objective measures of how much students are taught or the kind of success they derive from their school. Most of us pick things up from, and evolve from, other sources than just what we're exposed to in class or what we did as homework or school projects. You dislike academic inflation, that's one point you have often returned to here, and I agree, but how about grade inflation
? Some schools build an unofficial but (to applying students) very audible reputation that "it's fairly easy to get good grades at that place, their teachers want to stay in tune with the times and build a nice trademark for the school, so they are not overly strict, they don't make you bite your nails to get a good grade." That kind of rep will pull students in, because ultimately what counts to many students and even to employers (or on the next rung in the education system) isn't what the student has learnt and really brought into himself on the road, it's the grades and the exam diploma.
So in a competitive market, schools and colleges will sometimes tend to push their own amount of high grades upwards, both to give an impression of "excellence" and to attract incoming students the next year. A teacher who refuses to engage in this likely won't be seen as "honest to God and committed" but as someone peeing on the parade.
A large number of teachers having MBAs or postgrad degrees doesn't have to mean they all work wonders for their students, but it's at least a more objective yardstick of high ambitions at the school than a larger-than-average share of top degrees being given to the students.
In addition, I think some of you are incorrectly viewing the right to a fair trial as being a special benefit provided by the government, when in reality, it is a core tenant to even the basic functioning of the American judicial system. In other words, it is not some sort of perk or privilege, but an integral Constitutional clause for our court system to even function in a fair manner.
As someone said, "there's a bloody wide gulf between being right, having the right to something in theory, and getting your dues acknowledged
". A "core right" in abstract often don't amount to diddley unless it is backed by some strong agents - unions, a public watchdog, etc - who have the spine to formulate professional and academic goals and the muscle to get through a trial for you, to weather attempts to break your backbone economically before the fight is even halfway through, or to counter attempts by the employer or somebody else to smear the person they are trying to get rid of in the public media. Or even smear him inside the courtroom.