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Response to Recursion (Reply #74)

Wed Dec 12, 2012, 06:17 PM

138. Evaluate, document and provide the proper paperwork!

The union is supposed to represent the worker, whether they be a hard charger or a lazy bum. That's one of the services your dues pay for - just as we all pay taxes that go to or support programs we don't want, the union dues provide the service of collective bargaining and protections on the job.

If management has their act together, they have performance metrics and policies negotiated and accepted by the union. Over the thirty years my father was a teacher, there were several union teachers fired or otherwise "encouraged" to retire early because the school had the paperwork trail to prove those teachers were not capable of teaching. It wasn't sudden - because the requirement for cause was to protect the good teacher that may be facing pressure from a connected parent with a grudge - but it could be done.

Union protections are not to protect the bad workers, union protections are to protect all workers from fickle or weak management who would otherwise fire a couple good workers because "the major task of the moment was almost complete on Wednesday and the corporate bean counters were going to look at the books on Friday and they had to show a reduction in costs" - before the next cycle of work would begin the next week.

I've seen it happen in more than one non-union shop on the waterfront. Of course, the workers that were just let go were not re-hired for the new contract, they'd just go back a few contracts and see if the good workers they fired a couple months previous for the same reason were willing to come back - at lower wages, of course.

It was a nasty cycle of declining wages that has not abated - and since the union jobs were protected and all the available jobs filled, workers who weren't union have little recourse working in non-union shops.

I saw the non-union wages and benefits for an entire major industry fall by over 25% over the past 15 years; experienced electricians and welders starting with companies at around $20 an hour with regular vesting raises and a nice, full benefit package with full medical/dental and 401K matching in 1991 find themselves starting (at the same level of experience, certification requirements, and position) at a pretty much frozen $16/$17 an hour and had to wait a year to get any sort of benefits that company wanted to give. And forget about vesting, those workers weren't going to be able to stay with a company for more than three years depending on the contract requirements; a worker can only hope to parlay their resume into a better job at the next company they might be able to get work at before they got let go.

And this sort of short-sighted treatment of the workforce does not make for much of a quality product - the work at the end of a contract pretty much always has to be double-checked as workers begin looking for the next place they might be able to work at after the traditional thank-you-and-here's-a-pink-slip-for-half-of-you company party.

I had already made project manager when the companies in this industry started taking that attitude towards the general workforce, so it would be a rare thing for me to get let go - but I noticed (and complained) that the work force that remained and the replacement workers began to do less and less quality work as those "pink slip parties" became more of a regular occurrence after each job, and people started seeing wages slide backwards.

Haele

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