i don't dislike unions. if 2 private groups want to contract amongst themselves then they should be free to do so
Agree with this. The argument for a union shop has often been, and with great validity still, that if a business needs to sign a contract with its customer or client, why should that same business be reluctant to sign a contract with its employees? Flipping that question around, we can also ask that if a company does not want to sign a contract with its employees, why doesn't it also refuse to sign a contract with its customers or clients? This is a rhetorical question to which we all know the answer, but don't want to admit it.
ut just because unions ONCE served a purpose doesn't mean that their impact on safety is anything more than a passage in a textbook. other bodies have emerged to regulate workplace safety and to protect workers
Workplace safety is but one issue concerning a union shop or non-union shop. With a union shop, safety issues can be addressed with OSHA or the state agency without fear of retaliation by the company when the company is reluctant or refuses to address safety issues. Blue collar industries have taken decades and decades to learn that a safe workplace is a profitable workplace. Some companies still haven't learned this lesson and believe that a safe workplace is too expensive and cuts into profits. Safe working environments are as necessary to making widgets as are having the components to manufacture that widget. My original point is that unions made it possible for the emergence of these "bodies" to enforce safe working conditions.
i don't want some union boss restricting what i can earn, how i get promoted, etc
I wouldn't want that either, and that's not the way it works. What you earn and how you get promoted is based on job skills or job responsibilities and plant (company) seniority in the unions with which I have been involved. This is to prevent age discrimination and job promotions based on either "I like you." or "I don't like you."
As long as there are companies which do not treat their employees with dignity, respect, and fairness, there will be unions. Companies have come a LONG way in the last 60 years in learning this lesson. Union membership continues to decline because companies have finally figured out that the best way to avoid a union shop is to create a workplace where a union is not necessary. And yes, I will admit that there are and have been union abuses as well as corporate abuses. Just as with politicians, when one side gets the upper hand, you will see these abuses emerge. Any reasonable union member will tell you that they want their employer to remain profitable. Without profit, there is no job. Just don't believe everything you have been told by those who are anti-union. They just may not have ever "been there/done that". Sorry for the long winded post. It's just that I do have years of experience in dealing with both sides of the issue.