The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions." --American Statesman Daniel Webster (1782-1852)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Union President Trumka Calls for "overhaul" of labor organization

 I will start this with this caveat:  I am a study of history and when Unions first came on the scene they were needed badly, the worker safety was nonexistent.  Unions did a lot of good, including the 40 hour work week and many other things.  But I believe that unions in its present state has a lot of problems.   Walter Reuther the founder of the UAW which I was a member of, did not believe in "public sector" unions, he believed that they were not beneficial to workers especially to the tax payers because the tax payers were everybody.  He believed that the unions should focus on the rich owners of the industry that is where the money is at.

Well when I saw this article, I immediately did the mental face-palm.  Let me give y'all some background for those that don't know.  I worked at Ford Motor Company and I was a committeemen or a shop steward or basically a "union representative" for the rank and file membership when they had dealings with management usually having to do with discipline hearing.  People who knew me were surprised that I was a union rep since my politics are on the "right" side of the political aisle.  Well I started to really read the contract after I got screwed again by the  union rep siding with a higher seniority employee over a job assignment and I knew that this didn't feel right.I decided to really read and learn the contract  including the local agreement that was signed by the union and Ford management. The line of crap that I was fed by the union rep that higher seniority employees have first choice on assignments if both workers are in the same classification.  What was happening is that the higher seniority worker got stuck on a more difficult job and my job assignment was a bit easier, he would call down the union rep to run this bullshit on the foremen who usually didn't read the contract and I would get pulled off and switched.  I after reading the contract discovered that there was no such wording in the contract period.   The foremen has the right to make job assignments and seniority wasn't a factor if both employees had the same classification.  After studying the contract backward and foreword, I was ready the next time this happened and there were fireworks on the assembly line when I went up against the union rep and the higher seniority employee.  When I mentioned about filing a charge of "misrepresentation" against the union rep, he backed off because I was right.  Well after a while my fellow workers realized that I "knew" the contract and knew it better than the representative we had.  Well I was nominated for office and after thinking about it, I decided to run and got elected and reelected.  Most of the rank and file members tended to vote republican, and the leadership would vote democrat.  that is how it was.
      People were surprised to find out that I didn't toe the party line.  I remember going to black lake Michigan which is a family education center where union people go for classes in organizing and other things.  I remember them asking a question couple of years after the 2000 election was over, they asked " who voted for Bush"  Well I was the only person that raised my hand and the looks I got were ugly and the instructor asked" why did you vote for Bush rather than Al Gore who the union supported."  I replied" Well I will tell you why.  I read his book that he published in the 1990's called "Earth in the balance"  and in this book he talked about using the power of government to get rid of all industries that are harmful to the environment.  Well the last time I looked, we build cars and our union brothers and sisters work in the coal mines.  We make a very good living doing this.  Why would I want to vote for somebody that would destroy my livelihood and the way that I support my family?  That is the problem, we as union members are trained like Pavlov's  Dog to vote for somebody because they are a democrat not what is best for us and our brothers and sisters whom we represent? 
     I looked at the room I was in and looked at everybody and continued"  The Democrats go to our conventions in vegas and other places, talk platitudes about "workers rights" and we give them money.  We are the ATM for the democrats, they in turn go to the environmental lobby and do whatever the environmental lobby wants.  Who's interest is being served here?"   I then sat down.  The instructor commented" very interesting points."  I don't know if I changed any minds, but I made my point known.

AFL-CIO president cites 'crisis,' calls for overhaul according to USA Today

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has said that the organization is in crisis and he will call for an overhaul, according to a story in Thursday’s edition of USA Today.
The story notes that Trumka says he will push far-reaching changes at the federation’s convention next month, including accepting as members non-labor groups such as the Sierra Club.
Some of the changes will require amending the AFL-CIO’s bylaws and are part of a strategy aimed at reviving the labor movement’s “falling clout” amid the declining ranks of dues-paying members, the story said.
Trumka acknowledged resistance within his organization and the possibility of conflicts ahead. For instance, the Building Trades, which represents construction workers, supports the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline as a project that will generate jobs; the Sierra Club opposes it as a threat to the environment.
“What we’ve been doing the last 30 years hasn’t worked real well. We need to do things different. We are in crisis,” Trumka said.
The story went on to note that last year 11.3 percent of American workers were unionized, the lowest percentage in nearly a century.
The AFL-CIO’s current membership is made up of traditional labor organizations, including the IAM and the AFA-CWA. 

     If this is successful, this will confirm my belief that the union will become an lobbyist organization for the Democratic party and the original beliefs in worker rights will be forgotten.  Walter Reuther and the other founders of the AFL-CIO would roll in their graves.

1 comment:

  1. Sadly, I think that has already happened... back in the 1990s...