I thought this might go sideways. 😉
I'm torn on the union issue. They've been done poorly, but they have brought about changes and benefits that we wouldn't have. Don't forget, just like you'd rather have the ability to make your own decisions, and you'd rather spend the money on xx, so would the company, or rather, management. They don't necessarily want to take care of you in many cases. It's easy to say the market would work this out, but really what would happen is the "good" employers would get their choice of employees and those not chosen suffer. Unions could be better, but that being said, not sure how you can make it work.
So, it seems training is a big issue. Lots of people would like that. I'm not surprised, most companies want us to do it ourselves. Maybe we should, and as Gus mentioned, just go for more pay, make the investment ourselves and get paid back.
Ergo chairs, it's not necessarily ego. good equipment is important. That being said, a fair point about us investing in ourselves.
Vacation - The US is behind here. And we make it hard to take it. My wife is on PTO today, with my daughter, and people are calling her, expecting her to take care of things. IMHO, the US needs to readjust itself a little and understand that if something gets put off until tomorrow, it's not the end of the world. We need to allow people to get away for a few days here and there and deal with it.