|Riss class Asteroid Base|
The history of the Unioners is intimately tied to Alster. The Shipyard opened in 412 A.S., 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, or have the Rheinland Police take you to Vierlande. 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. Over the years, the base received various upgrades, including a small shipyard module modeled as a miniturized Alster to build and maintain Unioner ships.
The Unioners today are known as some of the most brutal pirates in Rheinland, ranging from the upper Omegas even as far as Texas to the stellar North. Most of their attacks are focused on 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 in New Berlin. Historically their Syndicate is infamous for holding little loyalty to anything but profit, with rumors suggesting that they have proven quite adept at smuggling a vast variety of goods and acting as middlemen for many groups, even those in conflict with each other.