When I first got into law enforcement we had a part-time union representative. He was a forty plus hour per week deputy and a one or two day per month unpaid union representative. Every three years when our contract came up for a vote the county's lawyers and county Supervisors TOLD our part-time union rep what the contract was and we could take it or leave it. If there was any pushback on our part they came back to the next meeting with a half dozen take-aways and no gives. The union spent the entire negotiation fighting to keep the take aways and in the end we voted on the contract the county first presented us with.
A good friend of mine was eventually voted in as union president and the first thing he did was work on a proposal to create a full-time union president position. Every deputy in the county gave up some of their own vacation hours to "donate" to him so he could be paid the full-time wages of a deputy while working for us. After it was approved he eld a union meeting and asked us to each give $35 per pay period to create a negotiations fund so he could hire a forensic accountant and a labor attorney to represent us at the next negotiation. The labor attorney polled all of the counties in our state and found that although we were the sixth largest county in the state we were almost the lowest in pay. The county always said they had no money but the forensic account found that the county had been squirreling money away for years and had more than enough to make our pay commensurate with other counties our size in terms of population and tax revenues.
After taking it on the chin for far too many years the first year under a full-time union president and with the help of a labor attorney we saw one of the largest three-year pay increases ever. And just so you don't think all we ever did was take we actually gave up quite a bit when the county got hit with a financial crisis about 12 years later. We took unpaid furlough time, paid more for our health insurance, reduced our sick leave, and paid more into our own retirements. And for anyone that thinks it's a free ride I'll tell you that on my last check 55% of it went for taxes, insurance, and retirement.
I too feel that there are good unions and bad unions. Some of our state's unions have almost bankrupted the state with the pay and benefits they demanded and the state caved in and give them.