Leave it to Jacobin to disinclude nuance from their "polemic".
I don't have experience inside a union. I do have experience out side a union looking in (as an engineer in a factory).
Growing up with a dogmatically leftist father, and a teacher's union member for a mother, I've always had a soft spot for unions. Especially with regard to teachers, salaries tend to be quite a bit higher in union states, although I'm not sure whether there is a correlation with the quality of education received by students from union to non-union schools. Anyway, that's beside the point here.
So there I was, a white collar kid in a blue collar job setting. My view of the union dimmed markedly during that employment. Pretty much everyone I met who was UAW was a giant jerk off to me personally, and none seemed interested in building a working relationship. It was adversarial. And it had nothing to do with me. That's just the way things were done at that plant (and from talking to a lot of people over the years, I don't think it was unique).
The question is whether to let my personal feelings of the union men and women with whom I worked affect my feelings toward unions generally. Of course, there are a lot of data out there showing that unions lead to higher wages and more power for workers. Historically, I'd say unions have done a lot of good, but I'm not sure they are a good way of operating in the 21st century (obviously, we have things like OSHA, e.g., that didn't exist in Reuther's time). To me, the best companies are ones that operate from a position of mutual respect between all levels. I think the best way to accomplish this is via revenue sharing or some form of worker co-ownership. Why would a worker need any better motivator to succeed than a bigger paycheck and more job security? If you have stock, bonuses, or dividends on the line, then you bet your ass you're going to care. Ownership = pride, IMO.
I was glad to see GM pay extra large bonuses this year to the line workers (and I can tell you first hand they only paid partial bonuses to white collar employees--70%, I believe), because maybe it signifies that union and management had a wake up call after 2009-2010, and that the union can start to repair its image as a giant road block to progress.