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Do we need to support unions to be good Democrats?  Well - I for one am finding it really difficult.  After many trying experiences with unions in recent years, from many different points of view (worker, management, and now 3rd party), my support and respect for unions has sunk to nothing.  I wonder if unions even understand what the rest of us are going through, and why they deserve our automatic, continued support.

Yesterday morning, I had the "treat" of witnessing another union slowdown.  They took the opportunity to start work an hour late, and then when they did "start", they purposefully mismanaged and poorly performed.  They imposed a ridiculous headache to anyone and everyone who had to work with or around them, as well as negatively impacting the customers.  Having worked around this union for the past few years, it seems like they're always either creating a work slowdown, or threatening it.  Everyone who has to deal with them, walks on eggshells, lest they spark their ire and cause one.  

I was once asked why I didn't hire union employees in my job.  Were they joking?  Unfortunately for them, I actually need to get things done.  Our success pivots on the ability to be reliable - we don't make enough gratuitous profit to pay unskilled, overpaid and undependable labor,  while pretending the job is actually a lifelong career.  Of course, we treat our employees well and fairly ... and thankfully, the idea that we would risk the fate of our business to a bi-weekly collective tantrum is just as preposterous to them as it is to me.

It was especially strange and puzzling for me to witness this slowdown yesterday.  After all of the economic news; after all of the good people I know who would give their eyeteeth to have that job, or any job; after all the fighting we've done against the faux news machine for laying blame on the unions for the big-3's troubles - whatever could they have been thinking?  What kind of grave injustice did they suffer to warrant this?  Are they for real?  Really?

To me, they're as tone deaf as the "big 3" flying into DC in their private jets.  They don't get it.  Not one person who witnessed this pathetic scene cared ... like me, they were probably watching a list of recently-laid-off close friends and family reel through their minds like a ticker tape, or comparing it to their own efforts.  If "workers of the world" united, I for one wouldn't bother to let them know we were getting together.

As I said above, I've encountered "the union experience" as a union member and as management of union employees.  Basically, when I was represented, my wages were skimmed for what seemed like no representation or benefit; when I managed, it seemed to only protect the worst employees from consequences for bad work ethic, and defined jobs way too narrowly to realistically function.

There are a slew of detestable corporatist practices which have undermined worker safety, security, and fairness.  And as a society, I certainly don't think we're "over" needing protection from corporatist motives - as a worker or a consumer.   But these types of union antics, in our current climate, are inexcusable.  As long as they continue down the same path, proving how valuable they are only in terms of demonstrating their power to not perform, I believe they will continue to harm the reputation of the left, continue to feed the decline in companies choosing to hire union labor, and ultimately, hinder achieving fair labor practices for all.

I'm guessing my diary might anger some, but it's nothing compared to the angst of those who are seriously struggling, who wish they had a job they could casually fuck with.  Out here in the real world, we who are so fortunate to even have a job are working our asses off to stay alive and survive - and unions' actions need to start reflecting that reality.

Originally posted to jj24 on Sat Apr 25, 2009 at 06:04 AM PDT.


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