Well, you'd be more fun to talk to if you'd stop insinuating that any union talk must mean I'm a bad programmer or poorly educated. I am neither.
But of course, you're starting to struggle with the substance of the argument, so you start attacking the person. Fox news much?
Anyway, here is how it works with the classes. First off, you're an apprentice for five years before they set you loose on a job on your own. You have some work (for a lot less money than a journeyman) and some classes -- for free.
Now this "someone has to pay for it" is absolutely true. Union dues might seem like a burden to someone on salary -- but think of the contractor.
How much does that contracting outfit get? Much more than your union dues. When I was fresh out of grad school, I got thirty-five bucks an hour, and that was back in the early 90's.
But the contracting outfit got more than three times that -- for doing sweet fuck-all. That's right, they were charging the company like 125 an hour and giving me 35. Hey it was twice what I was making as a post-doc, what did I know? Fresh out of school.
Now, say you took what the contracting outfit was getting off of your labor -- and split it three ways: you, the union and business.
The business gets a better deal. You get more money. And the other third goes into your dues which in turn goes straight into benefits, training, unemployment insurance and a defined pension plan.
Now think of the person on salary. If he or she joins the union, the benefits are managed by the union, not the business. Here, you and the business might break even if that money the business had to spend on benefits were going to the union instead.
You could say that this would be a case for going solo on a 1099, but the fly in that ointment is health benefits -- with a union you're part of a group with massive bargaining power. On your own, you're just...you.
So...you can take care of yourself, can you? How's that individual health plan workin for ya?