Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Message to union: Thanks, but no thanks

Late today at work, I received a memo that said that a union has placed an application to form a local at the office where I am. I suspect it's the CAW although I'm not 100% sure on that.

I support the right to organize, and the right to bargain collectively. Unions have been a strength for Canada and I hope they continue to exist for a long time to come.

However, as a former union member, I can honestly say that I did not get much out of membership. In the position I was in for a couple of years, we got barely more than minimum wage and the only benefits were discounted (not free) dental and then only for cleanings and cavities, not restorative work or dental surgery. I didn't know who my stewart was and I don't even remember being told when membership meeting were or where. Or that there was an election coming and who was running. Well there was one fringe: We got our birthday off. Big deal.

I'm quite happy with the position I have. It's challenging but I feel like I'm adding value to the product we offer as are my colleagues. The benefits are more than what I could ask for; certainly better than what a union could try to get. And the managers are approachable and we're on a first name basis.

For that reason, plus the fact I actually come from a non-union family, I am not in the least bit interested in signing a union card or if it comes to a vote to allowing a bargaining unit to come into my workplace. If one should be formed, I will do what I can to decline my membership although I will, of course, be more than happy to pay union dues as is required under the Rand Formula.

For the record, my employers didn't ask me to write this; I'm doing this on my own volition and in the belief that another tier of bureaucracy would only complicate matters. So if you're with the union and you're reading this either at my blog or my Facebook page, please don't contact me or try to recruit me. I'm just not interested.

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Dr.Dawg said...

What part did you attempt to play in your Local? What efforts did you make to find out who your steward was, or your Local Executive? Did you go to any meetings? Raise your voice? Answer the input call when it came time for collective bargaining?

A union is only as strong as its members. 'nuff said.

BlastFurnace said...

It wasn't for lack of trying, Dr. Dawg. I looked on the board at the office at work in the space that the union used, and the info they gave us amounted to squat. I never had a reason to file a grievance, but just for the sake of just in case I went down to the union hall and stopped by the office where my particular local was housed. No one was there, the door was locked and alarmed, and this was regular business hours (I worked the graveyard shift at the time). All the other locals there were humming.

I left phone messages asking some simple questions like the ones you asked. No one returned my calls. Ever. It's not like they didn't have the time -- the local only had, maybe, a couple hundred members. One day, I finally ran into the guy who happened to be the head of the local, completely by accident, and I asked him when the next meeting was. He said, "Whenever." As for input into what should go into the contract, he just said, "Be lucky what you have."

This was Hamilton, remember, the heartbeat of the union movement. I don't know how these guys ever got certified.

Suzanne said...

I think unions have their purpose. But not every workplace is oppressive. I would have vigourously opposed unionization at my last place of employment had there been a drive. I was happy with the relations with management, and I did not see any unfair dealings.

I think unions can become oppressive. I've heard of managers being fired because the union wanted them gone, and they were threatening to strike. Plus they sometimes intimidate.