I work for GE. I am represented by the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, aka UE or United Electrical Workers. My factory, where we make locomotives, is in Erie, PA. Thirty miles south of us is Meadville, the home of Channellock pliers.
When the feces struck the bladed rotating air movement device in the crash, many working people chose to sacrifice a portion of their wages so their coworkers did not lose their jobs.
In my plant, there was a push to have rotating temporary lay offs instead of permanent lay offs for those with the least service. Some of my union sisters and brothers did not want to do this, but most of us were willing. And as much as was possible, it seemed the company was willing to limit the total number of permanent lay offs. So only 1700 of us got our permanent walking papers. I was off for more than half a year in total month on, month off style, taking my turn.
At Channellock, the workforce chose to all work reduced hours and share the pain. I am not sure of their representation status, but in their hearts and minds, they shared the beliefs of unionism.
Almost all of my coworkers are back, or coming back as soon as all those recalled are placed in jobs. I do not know how things are at Channellock, but I would bet they are ramping up.
At the same time we were taking our turns, GE asked all the union represented facilities to vote to fore go the pay raises in the contracts we had with the company. Most, if not all but one, union facility did so vote. My local did not even bring it up for a vote. We were not willing to give back these raises. This is NOT a criticism of these shops, we all have different circumstances.
"But where is the shared sacrifice in that?" you ask. "Why did you overpaid underworked union scum not run towards the chance to help a poor, little, powerless multinational corporation like GE?"
Every time we have a contract coming up, we start hearing about how tough the market is. How few orders we have on the books. How much all our benefits cost. The crocodile tears and tales of woe come in a staccato burst for months before the negotiations.
Those that read this that go through this in their workplace know the storyline here. As the contract is signed by the union after the membership votes, the company has a rush of business from our customers. Of course, the work was TOTALLY unexpected by GE. And we go on to make Choo Choos.
And so, being a company that is proud of their commitment to integrity, they ask us if, since their business projections were overly negative and the contract was negotiated without full understanding of how busy we would really be, would we be willing to accept higher wages to salve their corporate souls?
Yeah, Right. Shared gains? WTF, are you a commie socialist pinko islamofascist?
So GE asked my local to give back. The officers asked them what we would get in return. Fewer lay offs? Promises on returning outsourced work when things get better? Get the increases when business gets better? What do we get in this? The answer boiled down to "The knowledge that the stockholders would not lose as much value on the stocks they own."
My officers chose not to call for a vote on this. The members did not make a motion that we have a vote on this at any of our monthly union meetings. GE was pissed. They were going to show us.
Our engines for the locomotives are made in a GE plant in Grove City, PA, about 70 miles south of us. We used to make them here, but GE moved that portion out of our plant and opened a new one (many years ago). When we tried to organize that plant GE promised them that if no union was certified, they would give them all the same pay and benefits we get in Erie. And so, no union there.
So anyways, we needed an example of what good employees are willing to do to help the company. So instead of telling this unrepresented factory that they were going to get the wage freeze that all other non union plants were told was in effect and most union shops reluctantly voted for, the Grove City workers were given to opportunity to vote on this. Those guys would set the example of how to share sacrifice.
Except they voted down the freeze. It was a moment of hilarity for us. If GE had ever unilaterally shared the "unexpected" gains from the "sudden rush" of "new" orders, I would have considered a freeze. But they never did. And so, we did not consider it. What greed bastards we all are, kicking poor old GE while they cry their crocodile tears.
Why is shared sacrifice so good, but shared gains so bad? Of course, that is exactly what a commie socialist pinko islamofascist would ask.