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Employer & Union... Partner or Adversary?

From Issue: Volume XX - Number 24
11/30/2012


By Taylor Ramsey

I thought I would start this column off with a little quiz. What do all these “job” situations that I experienced have in common?

* I was asked to pay an initiation fee to work in one part of town on a new job. A week later when my new employer decided to move me 15 miles away to a different office in another county I was required to pay the same fee again.

* I was invited to attend a meeting on my own time and when I did not attend I was assessed a fine.

* When a fellow employee of mine who was caught stealing (and admitted it) from a customer and the company we worked for, the company was convinced by some rather persuasive people to move him to another position and allow the thief to keep his job at a higher rate of pay.

* I was employed on a base pay plus commission basis and after working on a day off to increase sales in my territory I was scolded and appraised a fine.

* I was reprimanded for consistently doing more work than my co-workers in an 8 hour day.

* The same people who reprimanded me for dong too much work and were in the same job classification as me, actually made more per hour than me while sleeping on the job because they had more seniority.

* I showed up at 7:00 a.m. for my first day of work at a new employer and was denied access to the driveway to the property by beer drinking, TV watching and a “let’s tip the box car over” group of soon to be new co-workers.

*When finally being allowed access to my new job some of my co-workers who were actually working in the plant on the “tip the box car over” day were mysteriously injured on the job that shift.

* I was not allowed to negotiate for higher wages based on what I considered I was worth.

* I arrived at a location just after a delivery driver deliberately drove over another worker’s legs.

* While working as a management employee to help craft people complete a job with a deadline, I worked all night and the very next day a complaint was filed.

* When picking up a piece of discarded paper that missed the waste basket, I was admonished for doing someone else’s job.

* And of course….all but one of these jobs required me to pay a monthly fee to stay employed.

Right, you guessed it…….I worked for companies that required me to belong to a Union, three different unions to be exact. The first thought you might have would be to tell me that I was not forced to work in a union shop and I could seek employment elsewhere. Agree. However, when you need a job, you need a job.

I do “get” unions and I have read history. I understand the brave people who collected their power into one strong organization to fight for better working conditions and pay. They changed history and should be commended. I also understand unions do good work in the community.

Good work in the community cannot continue if unions allow any of the above to take place. Unions should do some internal soul searching and housecleaning to get back to basics. If the unions of today do not look at employers as their partner in keeping the company healthy instead of considering them an adversary, the enterprise will falter and the union member will lose a job.

Based on my experiences above I know that if I were an employer and was approached to allow my staff to bring the union into a partnership with me I would definitely say no, I can’t afford it. By afford it, I do not mean specifically the hourly rate…..it is the other stuff that can raise the cost of doing business.

On another subject…..I wanted to share my opinion on what I consider the real key to being happy is. I believe that for a person to be happy they, without a doubt, must be “grateful” for all God has provided them. I am grateful that my wife and family love me, grateful I have friends and family to offer love to and care about, grateful for being able to work hard to provide for my family and thankful for the ability to help someone or just do something nice for another person. When feeling down or going through tough times, as all of us do at one period or another, take a moment to reflect on all you possess.

If there is anything that I wish I could pass on to my loved ones it is knowing that I was able to assist them in understanding that being grateful for all one has in life does lead to happiness.

taylor@longbeachcomber.com