Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Look For The Union Label

Sorry for not posting before now after last week’s Cliffhanger Ending, but I had a lot going on this week, and haven’t even THOUGHT about the computer.

In a nutshell, the rumors proved true. I have once again managed to avoid the Eye Of Sauron and keep my job. I DID see a lot of good friends walk out the door, however, which made Friday not the best day for me, but it takes the sting away a little bit knowing I can still pay my mortgage. Thanks so much to those of you out there who sent me sympathetic emails and well-wishes. It meant a lot to me.

Which brings me to my current gripe. Unions. I dislike them. No, that’s not strong enough…. I HATE THEM!

I realize that there was period of time in the world where unions had a place, a necessity. Unions acted as the voice for the little man against the big Corporations, a last bastion of defense for the blue collar worker who needed help and a leg to stand on during the Great Depression. Unions acted as a way for workers to unite and become one strong voice, where hundreds of small voices went unheard. I GET that. I do.

But somewhere along the lines, unions have crossed over into the Bizarro World and become a distorted reflection of their former glory. Most unions nowadays are almost nothing more than grandiose pyramid schemes, enabling the senior members to reap benefits off the work and hard-earned dollars of the newer members. Most members of unions will go their entire working lives not getting ONE benefit from a union, but yet they were forced to belong to it, and pay dues to maintain it.

Which leads me to my story. When our company was taken over by the Borg-like superpower that I have mentioned previously, said Borg-like superpower’s first order of business was to unionize us, since they are a unionized company themselves. They took it as an affront to leave us to our own desires.

Trouble is, like a Vampire, local laws state that a union can not solicit themselves to an organization unless they are invited in to speak by an existing employee, and within a few months, that’s exactly what happened. While not able to force us to unionize, union members began bombarding our employees with correspondence praising the Nirvana-like state one enters while being a part of the union. After awhile, some of the weaker-willed people here fell for all the bullshit, and some departments here ended up becoming part of the union (mine didn’t, thank God!).

Anyway, for the past 2 years some departments here have been paying union dues, only to see ZERO benefit. The union was able to negotiate for them a 2 percent raise this year, but the smarter ones quickly tabulated that union dues accounted for 3 percent of their current salary, so they are still paying for nothing. Most of our company got substantial bonuses this year, but the union failed to procure a bonus program, so unionized members got zilch. Wow, those unions are really protecting the little man, aren’t they?

To make matters worse, our particular union has a BUMP rule. The rule is complicated, but in a nutshell, in case of a layoff, a person that has been targeted to be fired can elect to BUMP someone else to be fired in their stead. The only caveats are that the person you choose must have less seniority, your jobs must be similar in scope, and that you can assume that person’s position immediately, with no training.

No one here really knew about this Bump rule before Friday, but believe me, we all know it now.

As people got fired Friday, they were told about this rule by our HR department, and in accordance with the rules of the union, were given a sheet with prospective fellow employees they could have fired in their stead. As you could imagine, many people took the union up on this opportunity, but their intended targets weren’t told that THEY were in fact the Weakest Link till this week. Dozens of people who thought they had escaped the firing squad, instead once again found themselves back on it this week. Again, some were good friends.

That sucks, plain and simple. Why would ANY organization put their employees thru such a horrible and humiliating experience? What is gained by this? Any organization with a collective brain in their head, in the face of a layoff, would consider it a no-brainer to either:

a) Fire the person that manager WANTS to be fired. There must be a good reason that manager wants that person gone in the first place


b) Just fire the newest members of the union every time. That’s what happens in the end anyway, but THIS way there is a lot less confusion and humiliation and hurt feelings.

Isn’t it JUST that simple, or am I missing something?

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