Friday, March 25, 2011

Private Sector Unions to the Rescue!

Trouble Maker SignImage by friedmanlynn via Flickr
For those of you who don't know I am a member of a private sector union because I have to be in order to work for the railroad I am currently employed with. A day or so ago I spoke with a friend of mine in regards to an email he had received from one of our union representatives.

The email was entitled, "Don't Let Our Enemies Turn Back the Clock." The emails concern was the actions taking place in Wisconsin and other states. In these respective state legislatures along with republican governors are taking actions to break a never ending cycle of public sector unions donating vast sums of money to get democrats elected, in turn the democrats reward these public sector unions with unsustainable commitments in the form of union contracts.

Here at the Patriot Perspective we have explained through several articles the difference between public and private sector unions and how public sector unions in "union states" have the unique ability to affect the tax rates at both the state and local level. Couple that with states like Wisconsin and Michigan whose debt is out of control and one can see why those governments are doing everything they can to reduce their spending and deficits. Does the law itself end collective bargaining for most public sector employees? Yes. Does it force state workers to take an 8% cut in benefits? Yes. Is that really going to destroy someones livelihood? Hardly.

Back to the letter.

"Don't let our enemies turn back the clock. Why are many union (not going to share the name of my union) members participating across America in rallies opposing attacks on collective bargaining rights? Why have we created the Collective Bargaining Defense Fund to assist our union brothers and sisters? Because we know that those who ignore the past are doomed to repeat it. We know that if right wing extremist succeed in busting public sector unions, their next target is airline, bus, and railroad labor unions."

I would really like to know here exactly how they know that the government is going to target these private sector unions? My experience so far with a private sector union has been dismal. 120 dollars a month for little to no representation. I have to be a member or I cannot be employed by the railroad. How's that for freedom? Most of the time it seems as if the union and the company aren't really at odds with each other. But oh well.

"The history of working men and women in America -- before we fought for and won the right to join a union, engage in collective bargaining and have grievances resolved by a neutral party -- was a bleak history of low wages, few if any benefits, unsafe working conditions, and arbitrary discipline and discrimination on the job."

Largely at the time they are speaking of all those conditions did exist but not anymore, and personally it is hard to see how these folks rationalize that the clock would indeed be turned back to those same conditions in the 21st century. But as I said early I wish I had the right to NOT join a union, and in my industry collective bargaining usually results what the company wants anyway. However, I had an engineer tell me once that he thought he always got better contracts when Republicans were in office. Talk about irony if you are a hard core democrat union guy.

"Let's take a short trip back to the times before workplace democracy. Before labor laws and worker rights, courts considered any combination of workers seeking wage increases and/or improved working conditions as a criminal conspiracy, punishable by fine and imprisonment. Picketing an employer -- by even one picket -- was considered by courts an unlawful restraint of trade. Workers typically put in a 12 hour day, six days a week, with no overtime pay, no paid vacations, no employer-provided healthcare insurance, no process for worker grievances to be heard and no compensation for on-the-job injuries."

Workplace democracy usually means workplace socialism, spreading the work around or in my case keeping the board stacked so others can make money too. Usually those combinations of workers seeking those increases did things they weren't supposed to do. Like blackball fellow employees who couldn't afford to strike and crossed the picket line. Or workers would sabotage or deface company property to get their points across. A lot like those spoiled children up in Wisconsin at the state capital recently. Yes the days might have been long and hard back then with little to no compensated time off and guess what it is the exact same way today. I am on call 24/7 with no set off days, pretty much on duty for 12 hours at a time. Sure I have personal time and vacation days that are compensated but due to some of the recent legislation like the rail safety bill of 2008 which the unions backed so they could get more union dues because it would force the railroads to hire more people, that I rarely get time off unless I call in sick. The only problem is the railroads have been exceptionally slow on hiring and training, so we are constantly undermanned with a decent portion of train service employees on federal rest that they have to take at the behest of the Federal Railroad administration thanks to the union I am a member of.

The letter goes on to give more of the same concerning the plight of workers and then begins it close:

"Turn back the clock? Never. We will not go away. We will never forget. Together, in solidarity, we can and will win this fight and emerge stronger then ever."

Living in the past instead of looking to the future. We will be a nuisance and cause trouble like we did in Wisconsin. We like to co-opt 9/11 slogans to look patriotic. If we can get the workers of the United Sates to unite we can live in socialist harmony the rest of our lives. That about sums up the rest of the letter.

Not once do these people recognize the difference between public and private sector unions. The railroad unions deal with a private company and not the federal government unless they are trying to get legislation passed, which they almost always are. The private sector unions do not affect other citizens tax rates in the state or county in which you live. It is a given that the railroad was brutally tough on its employees in the late 19th and early to mid 20th century. A lot of that act has been dealt with. What I want to know is how is the state of Wisconsin brutally tough on its union employees. The trash collectors, the clerks etc? Do they really have it that hard? Are they struggling for raises just to make ends meet? I seriously doubt it.

Folks, continue to do your research, check every bit of information you come across, there are those out there how what you to cast aside reason and feel just for the sake of feeling and abdicating any form of thinking. Don't cast aside reason hold it tight. Check your facts and do not succumb to the call for the abdication of thought.

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