10 March 2011
Indulge me for a moment, will you? We're going to travel to a far away land in which employees & workers have absolutely no rights.
It's 4:50 and you are just about finished with your work day. Just as you are getting ready to retrieve your things and walk out the door your boss approaches you & informs you that you will be staying on for an extra 4 hours tonight. You will not be receiving any overtime pay, a dinner break, or any other kind of break for that matter. It doesn't matter that you have a child in daycare who needs to be picked up by 6 or that you take public transportation that stops running at 7. Your boss needs you to stay. Your childcare and transportation issues are not their problem. Now get to work.
What would you do?
Well, if you want to keep this job (& in this economy you do) you will stay and keep your mouth shut, because if you even argue your boss could fire you on the spot and s/he has the absolute right to.
Now let's travel back to our world & experience a similar scenario.
It's 4:50 and you are just about finished with your work day. Just as you are getting ready to retrieve your things and walk out the door your boss approaches you & asks if you would be available to stay on for an extra 4 hours tonight. You would receive overtime pay (time and a half) and a dinner break. You let her/him know that you have a child in daycare who needs to be picked up by 6 and that you won't have a way home after 7 due to public transit service ending at that time. Your boss understands & asks if you would be available to stay tomorrow night? You say you will try to make arrangements for childcare and transportation and if you can, sure you'd be able to stay.
Which world would you rather work in?
Without the blood of unions there would be no labor laws in place to protect us from unregulated work days without breaks or compensation for time worked over 40 hours in a week. Without unions there would be no OSHA to keep work environments safe. There are people who find unions to be obsolete. The above scenarios should illustrate how they are not.
Union is a word with potential to stir up so much emotion and aggression. I am still trying to understand why so many are angry with union workers for having pensions, health care at a reasonable cost & the trigger point as of late, collective bargaining rights. They are among the last to enjoy such luxuries and they deserve them. Is that what the anger is about? Union workers having better benefits than others? But here's the thing, we all deserve great benefits so quit shoving. If unions lose their right to collective bargaining (as they did this evening in Wisconsin) they potentially lose it all. If unions lose it all, eventually the rest of us will too.
It's sort of like we're all in elementary school again and Joey is mad at Sally because she gets cookies in her lunch while he only gets an apple. He makes such a big deal that the school outlaws cookies in lunches. Now nobody can have cookies in their lunch just because Joey was jealous of Sally.
Ridiculous isn't it?