Friday, February 25, 2011

Could I Support a Union?

If a union actually was what they pretend to be I could support them. The reality of what they are is unsupportable by enlightened people of integrity. The idea of collective bargaining and grievance handling is, in and of itself, not a bad idea, but this is not what unions are really all about.

They would need to make some changes.

1. Get out of partisan politics. The union is not a major voice in the Democratic Party; they are a lapdog that lets the party set the union agenda. The union may speak out on issues and remind officials from all parties that they have to earn the vote of the individual worker who can see what's going on and can think for themselves. The GOP is NOT anti-worker but they are forced to fight the UNIONS (as opposed to the individual workers) as a purely defensive manner.

2. Clean out the corruption. Break the connections to organized crime and have a no-quarter-given policy of dismissing and disowning, with all funds and benefits lost, any union official who is discovered to be knowingly associating with organized crime. End the cronyism and nepotism. Term limit all union officers to a total of 16 years of full time, paid union position with no more than 8 years in any given office and after they serve in that office they must return to the floor as an hourly for at least 5 years, at a regular hourly rate of pay and no special pay, in order to receive a union pension. The whole idea is that the unions should led by actual working people.

3. Get a realistic economic policy. Read Adam Smith as well Maynard Keynes. Understand that socialism is impossible and Utopia is also beyond human possibility and the pursuit of Utopia will destroy much more good than it creates and cause more misery than it eliminates. Understand what your labor is truly worth and go for a fair and reasonable pay instead of as much as you can squeeze out of the company. Also make sure that any long term promises are workable in the long-term and won't financially cripple your employer; don't just assume that the money will be there. Without profit there is no company to hire you and you have a very real interest in the survival of the company. Of course you should remind the employers that if employees can't afford their own product (in consumer products and services) others can't either and they won't sell much. Loving employment while hating employers makes absolutely no sense.

4. Police your own. When an employer has problems with workers punching in and not working the employer loses which means the union loses. It is also a reflection on all the workers. Get after workers who are non-productive, especially those who are habitually so. Also be ready to help protect the majority of workers from their co-workers who for whatever reason (intoxication, violent behavior etc.) are a threat to their safety. The union needs to take pride in the work done by their rank and file and needs to embarrassed by those who don't produce.

These are the problems I have seen with the unions and they need to be fixed. Until they are I cannot support them. It's too bad because organizations that actually do look out for the welfare of the workers, without crippling the economy in the process, might actually be useful.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

UAW & Me

When I first started at my last employer almost 20 years ago it was a non-union shop where everyone from the President of the Company to the most recent employees had a first name, which is what was used on the shop floor. We had one or two supervisors who were ding-a-lings but by and large they were competent and decent people. Sadly we had one who, while being generally a decent person, was very bi-polar and subscribed to the shoot first, ask questions later and then apologize school of management. Well one day he blew and said a few things, and before we knew it his crew wanted the UAW.

A friend who was a fork truck driver was approached to sign a card and he declined. The union people surrounded his truck and refused to move until he signed the card. He signed and went to the President of the Company and told him what happened. The union surrendered the card and then complained that the company harassed him into reclaiming his card.

Another friend, who worked in quality control was confronted in the ladies' restroom and asked to sign. When she declined she was again surrounded and told that if she didn't sign she would lose her job when the union came in. She called their bluff and walked out.

We had a vote and the union got its collective backside handed to it.

The union wrote up a list of over 30 irregularities and protested the election. We also got a new human resource manager who was a total jerk to everyone. Two of the "irregularities" had some validity and a new election was called while the new Human Resource, whom I initially liked but quickly changed my mind, created more and more problems. The union won by a couple votes.

Then facts started to come out. Our new Human Resource Manager's father was an AFL-CIO official and his brother was a high official in another union. Our Human Resource Manager's live in girl-friend was a labor lawyer who was frequently working for the UAW. The President of the company said that while their was no doubt that the now dismissed Personnel Manager undermined us and the company, he didn't want the fight to go on forever.

Needless to say, our contracts were not what the union was promising earlier. What really hurt was when the company was sold it still owed us money. (It owed me about $1500). We had to threaten to sue the UAW to get them to act and they got us a 50% settlement in 3 payments over six months. We were basically told to take it or leave it.

Even amongst some of the most fanatical union supporters disillusionment set in. A few years later, the good-intentioned man who initiated our organization campaign later confessed to me that "We are getting zero support from the Region and International. We're too small waste their time on." He acknowledged that he was disappointed, disillusioned and ready to get rid of it. He held an informal survey and found of our 60 or so employees only two really wanted to keep the union, while four others wanted it but could live without it. Our shop steward, while wanting the union, said "What can I say? I sure don't blame you guys."

The new owner was a very good-intentioned, but inept businessman. Personally I thought the world of him and still do, even though three years after the plant closed he still owes me a little. He gave me a 30% raise and everyone in the plant loved him. When the plant was seized by creditors he lost everything, so I am willing to forgive the small amount he still owes me; I lost a couple of hundred and he lost a lifetime of work.

We had begun the process of removing the union but the plant was closing and it became a moot point.

My Great-Grandfather helped found the UAW and he would be spinning in his grave if he knew what had become of his vision. Instead of supporting the workers, which is why it supposedly exists, it actually exists solely to enrich corrupt politicians and their cronies.

Monday, February 14, 2011

The New Big Scare?

I have pointed out on more than one occasion, and others have too, that we have been faced with a new cataclysmic environmental catastrophe every ten years or so.

1960s We were going to be buried in garbage
1970s We were going to crowd ourselves off the planet.
1980s Acid rain was going to destroy everything
1990s A big hole in the Ozone layer
2000s Global Warming

Every one of these was an overreaction to a reality. Sometimes man-made (garbage, over-crowding) and other times it was purely or mostly natural and self-correcting (the hole in the ozone layer, global warming). Litter and overpopulation merely required that we educate the public and the problem was seriously reduced. The ones that were natural turned out to be part of normal cycles.

As the new decade begins one wonders what the new scare will be. What will the "progressives" with their pathological need to control every aspect of other peoples' lives cling to as a new excuse to control everything.

How about the decline in Earth's magnetic field? It is happening and so far all the scientists that have tracked it believe it is a natural and repeating phenomenon.

Ah!!! But couldn't we just maybe blame it on the magnetic fields created by all our electronic devices? Wouldn't that be a great excuse to ban or limit our civilization so we can go back to a Luddite paradise where almost everyone dies by 45?

Remember that these people have a deep rooted need to control us and since global warming is now failing, they need a new excuse. I know that I shouldn't give them any ideas but I strongly suspect that certain minds have already headed that way. Heads up people.

UPDATE Speaking of scares, check this out on Carol's Blog.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I am sorry to say that my Mother has passed away. She had been comatose for several days and Dad, all 4 of her sons, along with some grandchildren and one daughter in law were with her at some point during her last day. She died of multiple organ failure.

At times I am very sad and other times I feel completely cold. Her viewing will be tomorrow along with her funeral on Sunday.

Jo Ann Anderson was born in Ogden, Utah on Sept 25, 1936, being the daughter of two Swedish immigrants. Her parents were quite a bit older with her Father being my age when she was born and her mother being somewhat younger, but died before Mom started school. She graduated from Ben Lommond High School in 1955 and met my Dad during the Memorial Day weekend of 1956. Six weeks later they were married and it lasted until Feb 8, 2011 when she died at 6:00 PM. Dad was holding her hand as she died.

She had four sons and eight grandchildren, with 2 great-grandchildren (and 2 more on the way.) She was also Grandma-in-heart to several other children.

Dad is holding up surprisingly well, though I don't know how long that will last. He is quite healthy except for the fact that he is paralyzed on one side.

As my life begins to return to relative normalcy I hope to resume this blog.