17 October 2009

Cover the walls!

Earlier this year, where I work, our union contract came up for its regular re-negotiation. Inevitably, given the recession, the new contract had some bad features -- reduction or elimination of pay-rate increases, mostly. Nevertheless, it was a lot better than the management's original proposal.

Yesterday the union held a lunch to celebrate the new contract. The two union reps there had an interesting story.

Months ago, when it became clear how bad the management's initial offer was, the union circulated a petition for employees to sign declaring that they supported its efforts to get something better. Copies of the petition were sent to every work unit with instructions to fax it back to the union.

Yesterday, our union reps told us that within twenty-four hours of sending out the petition, they received two thousand signatures (more than half the members). In the big conference room where negotiations were to be held, they taped up the returned petitions with signatures on the walls. The petitions completely covered the walls. It was a graphic reminder to the management negotiators that the union had the employees behind it.

Considering the state of the economy back then, the deal we ended up getting wasn't bad.

As health-care-reform negotiations drag on, with the insurance companies spending money all-out to buy any legislator who might be swayed to stymie real change, we aren't able to cover the walls of the Senate and House with petitions. But Congress has fax machines too, and they get mail. All that dirty money is of no use to legislators except to help them win our votes next election. If we make it clear we won't re-elect them unless they do the right thing, money won't help them. Speaking out makes a difference -- if enough people do it.

10 Comments:

Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

This posting is actually a very good lesson to all...even non-union folk's.I never was with a union...and never felt year's ago I needed one...and was a straight voting republican for year's here in Texas...who didnt care about union's one way or the other.But in recent year's...I see now where union's are an important part of democracy...and support them 110% actually...and if I got a job that required or offered union...I would join in a heartbeat!This lesson also cover's the fact that you just cant vote and let your guard down...you must stay vigilant, kind of like the ole sayin..."if you snooze...you lose".

Thanx.............

17 October, 2009 10:26  
Blogger TomCat said...

My Senators' and Rep's Aides recognize the sound of my voice on the phone.

17 October, 2009 10:41  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

It troubles me that so few workers are in unions these days. People forget what conditions were like before unions got strong enough to fight the abuses.

17 October, 2009 16:08  
Blogger Sue said...

my husband was fired from a job he held in good standing 15 years, they accused him of trying to form a union. He asked for his pay after coming into work in the middle of the night for an emergency, they didn't want to pay him and called him insubordinate(?sp)because he kept arguing his case. He did not do any thing to bring a union into the plant but the company used that as an excuse to fire him. Its a more involved story too long to comment here about, but I am PRO-UNION!!

17 October, 2009 18:03  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Interesting comment by Ms.Sue about the firing of her husband.Interesting is it was in a state like New Jersey especially. But I heard this is commonplace in many southern and midwest so called "right to work" state's...a term that is so much BS as it is!

The City of Dallas is all union for instance ...(but get this) all your garbage collector's are federal minimum wage worker's hired through local temp contractor's( a Dallas Morning News probe found that many temp's thru local agencies were also illegal alien's,agency may get $20 hr. per employee and pay worker $8 of it)...which is big business in this town, as big as the meat market's that gather daily around the city of illegal guest worker's(and I'm talking about thousand's of them man!) Many of those working on road's are also "contracted" ... I have frequently refered to Dallas as "Contract City" cause of it's high saturation of contract worker's who are independant,or through agencies,etc...and everybody uses them...Even the larger companies...such as Time/Warner for instance who is one of the local cable provider's uses contractor's to do all the cable installation's...and I talked to a couple of the worker's, no they have no benefit's as regular even non-union employee's have..and your paid per set-up.The gvmnt also get's screwed on this...cause most of these folk's beat federal income taxes actually,I am not at liberty to go there so like a faithful republican politician(Jon Stewart joke), I better "leave it at that".Boy oh boy, could I tell ya'll some shit! :)
(Sorry Ms.Sue.. about Husband)

Later Ya'll!

17 October, 2009 19:45  
Blogger Sue said...

thanks RC, It happened 20 years ago and the Labor Relations Board out of Philadelphia JUMPED at the opportunity to go after this lg. company, Mannington Mills flooring! Unfortunately my husband made the stupid decision to settle out of court and got a measly settlement. Today this company does all its hiring thru a temp service as do most companies in our pathetic state. The wages we enjoyed years ago are half what they were, and that includes no benefits unless the company takes you on full time after the first 3 months. If you are lucky to land a great paying job it comes from inside the company knowing someone who has leverage to get you hired. In every segment of the workforce, people are getting let go so new workers can come in at half the cost. I call it corporate greed. There is no such thing as working for the same company thru your life like in the good ole days! Sorry Infidel, I'm writing a book here!

18 October, 2009 07:09  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Sue -- Wow, that sounds like a crappy place to work. Temp workers (I've been one) don't develop the familiarity with a company and sense of commitment to their jobs that well-treated regular workers do. I can't say I envy anyone who buys Mannington Mills products.

They'll pay for it in the end. When jobs get more plentiful, they'll find it hard to retain good people.

18 October, 2009 07:42  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Heh,heh,heh,heh,heh(LOL) :) Infidel made another great point here..."They'll pay for it in the end" ...heh,heh,heh and about the "devotion" especially of temp worker's.See...whenever anyone get's TOO greedy(nothing wrong with a little greed,but these cases are extremities)they get TOO careless.And what many of these folk's are not seeing is the backfire on them...when job's do get better...and they may not get better across the board in every industry at the same time...but all industries see their rise and fall at some point...and it's just a matter of time before thing's backfire on their ass...I have seen it too many time's! :)

Hmmmm Ms.Sue...you talk about Jersey yet Philly..tell's me you must stay in the Philly(PA) Area. I just mention it...because when I met my wife in NYC on a bus...she was visiting Brooklyn but lived in Cherry Hill,NJ (Philly suburb). I lived in Texas but visited NY at least once/twice a year when my mom was alive...her familia is there. It is a shame about the settlement of your husband ...YES...but understand that they keep folk's so low on the pole(to insure buyout's/settlement's,etc) that they know it will make it easy in future if they need to go for settlement's.That's the whole point of keeping folk's struggling and dependent on them..for future need's.Reason why legal/court processes are so complicated for the worker's as well...it's designed that way by insider legislation to YES...give the "right" to challenge...but more importantly to DISCOURAGE any attempt to.Lesson here can be learned...and that is to know their game's as well as them, and most importantly...learn how to use their game against them.Your husband and you both learned an important lesson here...you came out the winner...because you will know the game better next time.What is fair or unfair is silly talk in these day's...because those who dictate dont believe in fair any more than we believe in justice...right now...you wont find fairness...go for their throat's and pocketbook's...because they will come for your's rest assured.Unionize...organize,stay vigilant,and like a preying wolf,relentlessly on their asset's and asses. :)

18 October, 2009 09:30  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Another point please Mr.Infidel. You spoke of how it troubles you that so few worker's are in union's these day's,in the 3rd comment above.And that sure as Hell is very understandable.But I also notice that you lived much of your life in places like Oregon and Northern California,from what I read...and paying your union dues are as common as paying your taxes.Understand that places like Texas,many middle America state's and especially the deep south,which even includes large popular state's such as Florida.Have always' had a strong voice in suppressing union,and even employee organizing of anything...they have alway's tried to keep employee's in only competition of each other instead of support for each other's common interest's.It is a mindset that was planted.And as a young man with conservative political thought's...I was one of them...bootstrap pull up kind of independent guy's who was too strong to feel I needed any support from other's or especially government or union's...it was that independent way of thought, that so many of us are raised around that rub's off on us.I think much different now of coarse at 53 year's old than I thought at 25.It's a way of thinking and life in these part's,that need's to change and come up to the time's and reality of now.So those raised in part's like you were...are in that sense...a step ahead of us down here in these part's.

Thank You Sir.........

18 October, 2009 09:44  
Blogger TomCat said...

Let's support Card Check.

20 October, 2009 15:21  

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