I am officially going to go on record and say I have ripped apart political candidates, I have downright insulted 9/11 victims on multiple occasions, I have made fun of the homeless and more to the point homeless veterans, I openly insult fat people daily, I think vegans are stupid, I hate hippies, I hate goths, I hate anyone that follows a trend of any sort and if you act stupid I will call you out on it hence the title of this blog. To answer the question posed by the title, no this is not going to become a political blog, but every once in a while there is something so stupid that happens that I have to rant about it on here.
While this topic isn’t exactly political it might as well be. Today I will be calling out unions.
Before I get any deeper into this, let me give you some of my background where unions are concerned. I was born and raised in Johnstown, PA which was for a long time a major union city, I was schooled in Pittsburgh, PA which WAS the USW, I have lived in Detroit which is pretty much the UAW. I have worked with the Teamsters, IBEW, International Longshoremen’s Association, UMWA, and various other major unions in my various jobs. Let me say that I am in no way ripping on the men and women in the unions. For the most part they are all hard workers who go to work everyday and simply reap the benifits of their unions. What I am about to talk about is the concept of unions themselves.
When unions began it was to protect the working men and women, get them better pay and benefits and help them provide for their families. Hell in the beginning unions are what made it good to be an American worker. Unions kept people like Andrew Carnegie in check and helped to put an end to child labor. They kept the U.S. Workforce develop so we would never have the sweatshops that plague the rest of the world.
So how did things get so fucked up? Somewhere along the way the people at the top got to be as greedy as the bastards they were supposed to be protecting their members from. It is bad enough that when a union strikes there is no income for the union members or their families, only the hope that the strike will end and result in what the union is driving for, but unions have become responsible for destroying the American workforce.
Take for example the UAW or United Auto Workers. In combined wages and benefits the average worker received $78 an hour and as of the middle of October the UAW was in talks wit Chrysler to secure a new contract that would bump that amount up further. That isn’t to say that the workers aren’t worth what they are paid, but that is a hell of a lot more than what the average Americans I know are making. What no one seems to understand is that because they are being paid so much Chrysler felt it wasn’t urning enough of a profit, and lets face it even though big companies are pretty much the devil they will be as ruthless as need be to protect themselves, so after they signed the agreement Chrysler turned around and announced they were giving the boot to 13,000 people.
What is so tragic about this is that it was only just barely a majority vote by the workers to approve the union demands in the first place and it was only after the UAW lobbied the hell out of them. These works signed off believing they would have better pay, better benefits and job security and what they got was their asses handed to them. Now sure, it was Chrysler that pulled the trigger on the 13,000 people and their families, but it was the UAW that loaded the gun, cocked the hammer and handed it to Chrysler.
It isn’t just the UWA, think about it, how did the U.S. go from being the economic and manufacturing powerhouse of the world to producing almost nothing? The steel industry is dead, the mining industry is a close second and manufacturing is almost nonexistent. It isn’t because people don’t want the jobs. Believe me after I was out of college for about four years the company I was working for moved from Pennsylvania to Colorado and I wasn’t ready to move at the time. The town I was living in was absolutely crushed by the fall of the steel industry and is an absolute burned out shell of the city it was 30 years ago. Aside from minimum wage part time work or a job as a telemarketer there were no jobs to be found. When one place finally did open up to do some manufacturing it announced it had 70 jobs available and they were filled in the first 2 days.
Jobs are leaving this country and industries are falling apart because the unions are demanding so much of the employers. I understand it looks good to the workers that belong to these unions upfront because it looks like higher wages, better medical care, guaranteed breaks and so on, but go ask any of the 13000 recently jobless what they think.
You know the old joke, “How many (insert slur here) does it take to change a light bulb”? well think about this for a second, how much does it cost to change a light bulb? Let’s say you are sitting at your desk reading this and the light burns out. Not like a desk lamp but an overhead lamp. Now let’s say you’re like myself and you know how to change it. You go to the supply closet, get a new florescent bulb, change the light and go back to work. Now imagine the same scenario in a “union” building. Light goes out, you call the building manager who calls the electrician who fills out a work order. The building manager tells you it will be taken care of. However the electrician is on his mandatory union break, when he’s finally done he makes his way to your office, puts in the bulb and walks away. It took about an hour for this all to take place. Something you could have done in 10 minutes just took an hour, AND since because of the union negotiated contract that electrician makes around $40 an hour it just cost $40 TO CHANGE A LIGHT BULB!!!
I bring that scenario up because it happened to me, except after i was sitting in the dark for six minutes and I had deadlines to worry about I changed the bulb myself. When the electrician finally showed up and saw that it was done he reported it, the company I was working for got reprimanded because I wasn’t a member of the IBEW and I changed the bulb, and in the end I got a stern “talking too”.
People bitch every time a plant closes and moves its operations oversees, but think about this, the plant moves because there are lower wages, but since there have always been lower wage, why didn’t the plant move sooner? The answer is because it’s American employees were better skilled, knew the job and made a great product. It just so happens that one day the company was faced with a decision to either meet the demands of a union and force themselves into bankruptcy; meet the demands of a union and have to charge an astronomical amount for their product to cover their labor costs (see the auto industry) or move to a place where the labor is so cheap that even if the product is made a bit shittier and they have to charge less for it they still make more of a profit.
In the end when the question is “how do you protect our jobs, make a decent wage and ensure we have good benefits for ourselves and our families while not being forced to work in dangerous conditions” the answer shouldn’t be a union. Not anymore anyway. Unfortunately the once great protector has become the very instrument of death.