Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Is union membership so oppressive?

Learning that suburban Lincolnshire has declared itself to be a “right to work” zone makes me wonder what some people have against the concept of labor.

Are they really so trusting of management to always know better what needs to be done? Perhaps that would explain the fact that a sizable (if not truly a majority) of people think Donald Trump’s business experiences make him fit to lead the nation!

PERSONALLY, IT GALLS me to think that some people want to take on this issue that could easily be left alone. Why prod the rabid dog into attacking you if you don’t have to?

But that’s what happened in Lincolnshire, which became the first municipality to feel the need to take up this issue – which was something that Gov. Bruce Rauner for awhile had dreams that municipalities all over the state would adopt as a gesture of support for his fight with the Chicago-leaning political establishment of the state.

In this case, being a “right to work” place means companies based in that village do not have to withhold union dues from their employees’ salaries. If the workers really want their unions to have the money that badly, they have to write out a separate check to send to them.

Which is a hassle for the unions and their membership. Its purpose, as it is in all “right to work” states, is to undermine the ability of unions to organize the workers and discourage those workers from thinking they ought to be union members.

WHICH MAKES ALL the right-wing talk of personal freedom and how this isn’t anti-union a whole lot of hooey. It’s meant to single out anyone who wants to take the initiative to be in a labor union.

I’d respect management all the more if they’d only admit that!

It is a whole mess of an issue, creating a lot of tension that ought not to exist. And now, Lincolnshire has felt compelled to drag itself into this mess that truly is so far above its head.

You have to wonder what those officials are thinking? Or if they’re thinking at all. It’s quite possible they’re not, and that this is a blind-faith, knee-jerk reaction by GOP-leaning local officials who don’t truly comprehend what they’re doing.

CONSIDER THAT WHEN Lincolnshire’s village board approved the measure Monday, none of their village trustees had anything to say. They just voted “aye,” probably like their village president told them to – for all I know.

Not that this attitude surprises me. I have encountered people during life who, because of their upbringing, just don’t want to accept the fact that organized labor does serve a purpose.

I still recall when I first started working for United Press International and was handed the card to fill out to join the Newspaper Guild local that represented wire service workers then.

Because I had once interned at a central Illinois-based newspaper where the reporters were not unionized, but the competing newspaper’s staff were and were paid much better, I had no hesitation.

ONLY TO HEAR a plea from one of my co-workers who apparently couldn’t believe anyone wasn’t bothered by the very thought of “union” membership connected to their names.

The point is even though she didn’t join, she was still covered by the benefits of that union contract. Yet if the ideologues were at all accurate, she wouldn’t have been. Union membership truly isn’t oppressive, unless you create it out to be in your mindset.

And yes, I should confess that the UPI job I referred to eventually laid me off, but with ample warning and a competent severance package; as called for in that union contract.

All of the layoffs I have had since then at non-union jobs gave me nothing more than a week’s pay and that 15-minute timespan to clean out my desk before leaving the premises. Is that really what this fight truly is about?


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