Tuesday, February 8, 2011

i've been workin' on the railroad

When I accepted the offer of my current job, at a huge labor union, I had no idea I was opening myself up to the unabashed rage of anti-union people. I guess I knew unions were a polarizing subject, but MAN. These people act like I came up with the whole idea, and am personally responsible for every foible every labor union has ever had ever. And probably also Chernobyl.

Recently, while drinking [heavily] at The Foliage's company's annual winter gala, one of his coworkers wanted to "discuss" the subject. Read: he hates labor unions. A lot. And was determined to convince me that they suck. Oh, and here's an interesting tidbit: he's pretty much straight-off-the-boat from Russia. And my organization is alllllll over immigration reform. So weird. I kept trying to laugh it off and change the subject and remind him that I was dee-runk, and not really in the position to be having that conversation. But he wouldn't let up.

Even if I'd been sober, though, it would've been pointless. It boggles my mind that people are actually anti-union. It makes no sense to me. I understand that it has the potential to cause huge hassles and time-sucks for employers, but come on...the rules enforced by the union are just things that you, as the employer, should be doing anyway. Safe working conditions? Fair hours and compensation? Any good employer knows that their greatest asset is their employees, and are already providing these things.

Unfortunately, there are a LOT of not-good employers. And unions are trying to look out for the common man. You know the middle class? Unions created that. No big deal or anything. Just the largest economic class in our country. Obviously, nothing I write here will convince anybody who hates unions to change their minds, just like that guy at the gala had no chance of changing mine. But feel free to explain why you're anti-union, if that's the case, because really I can't even fathom why anyone would be. I'm genuinely curious. But please don't yell at me or expect me to change my mind.


Leah said...

I feel well qualified to comment on this post having worked in a non-unionized manufacturing environment for 5 plus years.... The issue that we would take with unions would be the generalization. My company wants to recognize and reward those who are willing to work harder, learn more, etc. Labor unions generalize all of that, put everyone on level playing ground, which sounds great, but in reality when the guy next to you isn't working as hard, but is making the same amount of money, you lose a little something.
*Note, I don't hate unions, though. I totally see your side as well. My sister works for a union and it's awesome for her. Just telling you where we stand from a mfg background....

ceejus said...

That's an interesting point, Leah. I'm sure anyone who's worked a day in their life can attest to the frustration of being paid the same as someone who's putting in a lot less effort. But I know that happens in non-union settings, too. And I don't know how reprimanding/commending goes on an individual level. I'm a member of the professional union now, and we don't do periodic performance evaluations, but I can definitely be fired for lack of productivity, so I think there are still consequences when jobs aren't performed.

Leah said...

Absolutely. I am certain that if I didn't work for a company who compensates fairly and offers recognition appropriately, I would be much more in favor of unions. My sister just went through a serious dispute with her employer and the level of protection the union offered her was incredible.