Friday, February 18, 2011

There, I outed myself! I was a member of public employees union.

Now retired, as a former teacher and public employee in my working career, I assisted in bringing two unions where I was last employed, sat on labor contract negotiations, and participated in an unsuccessful strike.

I grew up in the Akron area and saw several United Rubber Workers strikes and watched my father a manager having to go to work on the factory line while the workers were on the picket line. Despite the anti-unions discussions in our household I believed in the right of men and women to organize.

There, I outed myself! I was a member of public employees union. 

Honesty has freed me and now that I am empowered to be myself, I have also been registered as a Republican, then a Democratic and I now consider myself an Independent.

That being said, the role of collective bargaining has changed over the years and at least where I worked the employee association and management had a good working relationship which took time to evolve.

The role of an organized work force is quite simple. Generally in an organized business or government job:
  • Employees are not summarily discharged at the whim of management. Knowing that an employee is protected, workers in the work force are not fearful of being discharged because of a disagreement with a supervisor. (Let’s be frank. Office favoritism exists within management and a management team dislikes an outspoken employee in most organizations.) Unfortunately for the non-union managment personnel they are still very much a victim of in-house politics and can lose their jobs.
  • Conditions in the workplace generally improve for both labor and management. This continues today and can be seen historically when the labor movement first began.
  • Wages and benefits are discussed with management. If done honestly and openly as in interest based bargaining, both parties can have a win-win situation. Generally, a labor wage contracts is also given to managment.
The danger in this sudden right wing anti-union movement is that the many protections Americans now enjoy in the work force will be lost if private and public unions disappear. Corporations will be free to set the standards how a person is to be treated in the work place.  

There have been many excesses in some union contracts as there have been excesses in corporate management.

Fortunately, the excesses in union contracts are disappearing. It is in the interest of both the employer and employee to have a well-run public or private employer in this global economy.

Next Post:
The rights of a Corporation are far greater than the rights of the people who work for the Corporation

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