Unions 101 – Stickin To The Union

July 21, 2010

Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union,
I’m sticking to the union, I’m sticking to the union.
Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union,
I’m sticking to the union ’til the day I die.

Union Maid
by Woody Guthrie

I firmly believe that unions are key to a revitalization of our middle class. I have a good union job. Good pay, great benefits, including free healthcare, and a little bit of democracy in the workplace. I think that what I have is the absolute minimum that any worker anywhere should have, but I know how lucky I am to have what I do.

That’s why a certain attitude amongst some of my union brothers and sisters really pisses me off. I’m talking about the mostly white mostly male mostly Limbaugh and Beck fans who are in the exact same position as me but somehow fail to see that if not for the union, they would likely be working for peanuts and eating catfood.

With that in mind, join me over the fold for an open letter to the union brother with whom I worked last night.


Please don’t take this the wrong way, but you are acting like an inconsiderate parasitic prima donna.

After we finished unclogging those tubes last night, we were talking and you started in with how you were fed up with everything, including the union.

I asked you about the union. You recited some WATB tale about how the hall is letting you down because they refused to settle a grievance by cutting corners and allowing you to change job classification.

When I suggested that you go to the hall sometime and show your face or even just pick up the phone and talk to your rep and work something out, you said you don’t have time.

When I asked you why you’ve never been to a monthly meeting at the hall, same answer.

So then I said that maybe you ought to get a little more involved before you start bashing the union. I mean, really – the hall seems to be doing a good job representing you and they feel that it’s best to stick to the contract and play by the rules and they will eventually prevail for you.

But you’re a selfish bastard, and you don’t have time to let the process work through.

In fact, you told me outright that “it’s time to think of myself not the union.” And then you said that your union dues give you the right to bash the hall to anyone who will listen.

And then the best part – after I pointed out to you that our non-union competition pays non-union workers about 1/3 less in wages and that they charge for health insurance and that the only fucking reason you make what you do is that we have a collective bargaining agreement in place to ensure that even the dumbasses such as yourself are compensated at the same fair rates as the rest of us, after all that, you had the stupidity to blurt out “I wish I was a contractor with my own vehicle. I would make a killing!”

Did you hear even one fucking work I said to you?

First, if you think your future is in dropping your union membership and becoming a contractor, I urge you to do so. You’ll probably never age and never fall ill. You’ll be young forever and able to work 12 hour days without ever breaking a sweat. You are super tech.

But if you were just blowing smoke about the whole contractor thing, then you really need to lose the selfish. Unions are never about the individual. There are going to be times that you disagree with your union. There are going to be times when you are frustrated beyond words. Too bad. Suck it up. If you want to change things, get your ass down to the hall and get involved. Otherwise, shut the fuck up.

I hear this whiny ass shit from brothers like you all the time. You’re pissed because things aren’t going 100 percent your way. You’re spoiled, narcissistic twits, endlessly sniveling about your bad lot in life, privileged union members, lucky to have full benefits and a better salary than 90 percent of hourly earners in this area, but self-deluded and convinced that you are somehow a victim and that the union is your oppressor.

Listen: You are the union. I am the union. We are the union. The only way you will become a victim is if you work against the union. Whether you know it or not, your long term interests are being served by the union. By bad mouthing the union for following policy that is designed to make things fair for everybody, you are undermining your own long term security.

So, if you have a legitimate beef, come down to the hall and discuss it. You can even air your concerns to all of your brothers and sisters if you would simply show up and raise your voice at a monthly meeting.

But don’t be one of the moochers who sticks around for years sucking up all the benefits of union membership, who never gives anything back to the union and who never, ever passes over an opportunity to denigrate the hard work of those who do take the time to get involved.

We don’t need brothers and sisters like that.

In Solidarity,


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