So I wrote earlier this week about how bad management can actually make unions seem an attractive alternative. Then I remembered this article from The New York Times about the American Airlines seat fiasco.

The union says that shoddy work from poorly trained contractors was to blame.

Let me take a look at two streams feeding today’s labor river. First, somewhere around 60 years ago companies for the most part ended apprenticeship programs. My grandfather quit school after the 10th grade and got a job at The Monarch Machine Co. as an apprentice machinist. He leveraged his growing skills into better jobs until he became a production superintendent at a General Motors plant. But companies transferred that training task to schools almost without warning. Schools were unprepared at the time.

Second, I know that some skilled trades unions provide some training for members. What if unions took on more of that task and then marketed themselves as providers of skilled workers? What if they became partners and team players? I know, it takes the other “side” to make a team. But stay with me here. I’m dreaming–or visualizing. What if? Of course, just like all of us, they’d have to continually prove that their training was good and continual. Otherwise it would be empty marketing rhetoric.

Maybe it’s a way for them to be more relevant–and solve a huge problem facing American manufacturing businesses.

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