Saturday, January 05, 2013

Statist culture, and in particular, liberal culture, can defy logic.  But to really reach the heights of nonsense, it takes a union.  And the politicians indebted to unions.

I could be wrong.  Maybe the "good" that unions did in the first days of the assembly line, and in the West Virginia coal mines, isn't blown up and exaggerated.  And if that's true, maybe in some remote part of rural Kentucky there may still be a use for them that doesn't involve corruption, bullying, and the twisting of the truth.  But right now, I'm thinking that the only thing my union does is steal my money and give it to people I don't like.  Not something I value very highly.

Like most employers, mine is plagued by several unions, most part of AFSCME, the Association for State, County and Municipal Employees.  About $40 a month is taken out of my paycheck for them.  Ostensibly, these are "dues" that I should happily pay for the "services" I receive from them:  their bargaining with my county to get higher wages, their ability to advocate for me if I feel I'm being treated unfairly in the workplace, etc.  Now, it's true that I do not have to be a member of the Union.  But, if I choose not to, then I have to make a $40 "contribution" to the union.  Why this is, I've never been able to determine, but I know it goes to them.  Most of what AFSCME does is get people elected, and I can always guarantee the people that they get elected or try to get elected are not people I want to support or even acknowledge.  Too bad for me.  That's where the money goes.

So I've always opted to pay "dues" instead of a "contribution."  That way, I've reasoned, I don't have to forego the many benefits the Union has gotten for me.

Hmm, let's see, what are those benefits?  Well, over the past 6 years, I've gotten no raise.  None.  I get the same hourly rate as I did 6 years ago, making more only if I work overtime (which yields only the same amount per hour.

In fact, over the last 3 or 4 years, I've earned even less than my previous salary because we've had to take days without pay.  This started out as 1 week's worth of days; this year it's 2 weeks without pay.

This past year, my job was eliminated.  It really was.  I was doing psychiatric evaluations at a hospital ER for the county and authorizing county funds to pay for inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations, and now, I'm working for a new boss, with a lot of job requirements that are different from the job I had previously, including "home visits", something I thought I'd left behind in grad school lo these 20 years.  And transporting clients.  Grunt work, basically.  Which would be fine if my employer called it something different, but they don't, because they don't want to acknowledge the fact that my job was eliminated instead of simply moved to a different locale.  If it had been eliminated, you see, I would have been eligible for early retirement.

Those of us being moved noticed this immediately, and tried to enlist the help of our Union.  The president and another official came to a meeting we had with two of our new administrators, heard our concerns, wrote them down.  Then they emailed us telling they couldn't do anything because "we still really have the same job."  What evidence do they use to tell them that our new job is the same job as our old job?  The administrators' word.  That's it. "No, it's really the same, so if they say it's the same, there's nothing we can do."

We had another meeting when part of our department was facing huge shift changes....from working days since their hire several years ago, 3 or 4 people found themselves with afternoon and evening shifts.  Even though they had scheduled their lives, including babies, families, and other responsibilities around their job.  The president once again came to the meeting, and once again, at just about everything they asked said, "Well, they can do that.  You might not like it but they can do that.  There's nothing you can do about that."

I hear what you're saying.  You're saying either, "Start a grievance!" or "Why don't you become involved so you can be president and maybe things will be different?"  Uh, no.  As for the grievance, what good is a union if the only way we can get it to work is to complain about it?  As far as I'm concerned, I'm paying them for a service (not willingly but I'm nevertheless paying).  If they can't deliver that service, they're not worth that payment.

As for involvement....NO, again.  Why?  Because I don't want to be in a union.  I don't want anything to do with it.  If I had been left to my own devices with an employer 6 years ago, I doubt I would have not gotten a single raise since then.  I don't believe it.  The raises we got previously were all based on seniority, anyway, and I don't work with a plan to be "senior", I work with a plan to be good at what I do.  If employers in our area only gave raises under Union pressure, then why are social workers at other (non-Union) facilities here making more?

I don't think I need it, and I don't think it's ethical to have a Union that wants to make an enemy of the people who pay my salary: taxpayers.  So I'm holding out hope that public employees don't get "excused" from Right to Work.  Because I just want to be excused from the Union.

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