The history of the Unioners is intimately tied to Alster. The shipyard opened in 412 AS, specializing in commercial transports and heavy lifters. Conditions were appalling in the yards, worker safety being merely a tertiary concern of the owners. Coupled with the excessively long spaceside rotations, the workers’ morale gradually deteriorated until a major accident killed several hundred workers in 512 AS.
Three months later, the workers formed the Alster Union. Because of their highly specialized skills, the management had no choice but to capitulate to their demands. During the next century the union gradually strengthened and eventually included the dockworkers on the Altona Station above Hamburg. By the end of the 80-Years War, the union demanded increasingly high wages and progressively fewer annual hours. The system was out of balance. Republican was no longer competitive with Kusari shipbuilders.
With the war over, demand for ships plummeted. The bloated headcount of Alster was now a sore point for Republican Shipping, desperately trying to restore profitablity. Management was now back in the driver’s seat after almost 200 years of acceding to union demands. They fired tens of thousands and won major concessions from the remaining workers, who lost centuries of gains in a matter of days.
As unemployment rocketed towards 30 percent in Hamburg, a radicalized version of the union reformed -- more of a revolutionary cell than anything. The presence of Freeport 2 in Bering proved alluring to the nascent Unioner movement of Rheinland during the unsettled times. Following the popular uprising of 702, the station’s population exploded. In 720 the Zoners laid down the ultimatum: Take your criminal activities somewhere else. They would sell basic supplies to the rebels, but no more. So the Unioners carved their Pacifica base out of an asteroid in the Tanner Belt.
The Unioners range from Bering to New Berlin. Most of their attacks are focused on the Altona Outpost and the Alster Shipyard in Hamburg, which has alienated them from some of their still employed brethren. The bulk of their Trade Lane raids are directed against Republican ships traversing the Independent Worlds. Their main commodity is Diamonds, which they run from Kreuzberg to Dawson. Unioners are often spotted buying supplies on Freeport 2.