Monday, February 8, 2010

My Experience with Unions

My father was a Union Painting contractor for whom I worked until I married and moved away from home. I worked for over 16 years at General Tire & Rubber Company, which ran a Union Factory in "The Rubber Capital of the World" Akron , Ohio. I received "How to deal with Unions"course as part of management training for a Semi-conductor manufacturer in Silicon Valley. This basically taught that you could report "Suspicious" Union Activity but not impede any Organizing Attempts. I only actually belonged to a Union (The OCSEA AFSCME Local 0011) when I worked for the State of Ohio later in 2003.

I'd like to address my latest experience first. I normally would not even consider the need for a Union as a Computer Programmer, but I was told that the political aspects of working for the State Government made it imperative to one's continued employment to Unionize the working force. Of course, membership was not mandatory but I joined anyway because they were going to deduct Union Dues from my pay whether or not I joined. They said the "Only" difference between a Union & Non-union member of CIS was voting privileges and if I had to pay I wanted to be able to vote. This, above all, proved to me how insidious Unions have become. They are not "Bad" because of their members but because of their power Hungry Leadership, even when their existence is justified.

During my training class in California about Unions, I learned that although a company cannot fire you for participating in a Union Strike, they can permanently "Replace" you. You are not fired but you are out of a job and will be even after the strike ends as long as your replacement does not terminate. Of course, if termination does occur, then you must be rehired but only IF that position is to be re-filled. Also, although Unions do provide strike funds (from your dues) they also must pay all Non-Production Union officials their salaries so the funds do run out very quickly if a strike lasts very long. In that case you must still respect the Picket Line or be fined a great sum of money (I forgot how much but it was steep).

While working for General Tire I discovered how inflexible Unions could be and actually how damaging to a company as well. An example is the way the Factory Workers were paid...In cash envelopes (that were a real pain in the rear to print I might add). These were stuffed by staff in the Treasurer's office and then delivered on payday. Of course the overhead associated with this payment was outrageous, so General Tire continually asked the Unions to accept checks, like Salaried workers, instead. When I started working in 1968 a box of checks was in the Computer Center Forms room. When I left in 1984, the same box was still there even though the Company offered them 10 cents per hour more in wages and would have an Armoured Brinks Truck on site to cash checks so that the workers would not even have to stand in line at the company cashier's window for their money. The older union workers rejected all offers...they didn't like change. Of course now there is no General Tire factory in Akron anymore. In fact ALL the big four Tire factories in Akron have long ago closed and the "Rubber Capital of the World" no longer produces tires..with the possible exception of a few Goodyear experimental tires.

I will not discuss the work I did for my Dad because I don't have the time but both he and my Grandfather (his Dad) belonged to Unions for years. Since he was basically "The Company", being a small business partnership, he knew all of the payment terms. In 1962 he paid Unions Workers $5.25 an hour...Unless they were using a paint roller...then it was $5.35...or if they used a spray gun, then it was $5.50...or if they were doing any specialized work, like Wall-Paper Hanging or Gold-Leaf work...which cost even more. He had to be a math expert just to be in business and could only make money on a job if he worked...Especially at the more expensive work. However, he usually did the dirty work, with my help, like painting the outside of homes in Miami, Florida during the Summer or painting the ceiling over the ovens in Holsum's bakery and the acetate basement floor in the Kodak building, both also in Miami during the Summer, but I digress.

Therefore, due to the issues I encountered in my working career with Unions and due to the restrictions placed upon employers concerning Union Organizing, I appose today's Unions (as well as their Slush fund for Mobster activities) and really object to the "Card Check" euphemism for discarding our American values and our right to a secret ballot. This president has been following the Union's agenda and the SEIU's goal of Global Unionization and control. Remember their president's, Andy Stern, quote: "...we will use the power of persuasion and if that doesn't work, the persuasion of power..." Sounds like a typical strong armed goon tactic doesn't it?

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