Thursday, February 26, 2009

A "Card Check" Compromise I Would Support!

Congress is debating the union "card check" bill, which will allow a union to represent employees of a business if over half of them "sign a card" affirming they want it. The current law is a voting system, with a "secret ballot," just like government elections. There are many reasons to oppose "card check," on a bi-partisan basis. Liberals such as George McGovern to conservatives like Rush limbaugh have denounced it, but I think I've found a suitable compromise:

Make "card check" a two-way street. Allow half of the people in a company to sign a card saying that they don't want to be in the union anymore, and the union has to get out. This way, when people aren't getting any real benefit from, or maybe even being held back by the union, they have a way out. It's all about fairness to the worker, in the end.

I'll point out one of my own experiences, back in the '80's. I got an easy job, and quickly became better at it than people who had been there for many years. Being in a union, my boss could only give me raises when the union allowed it, so my proficiency was not rewarded. Of course, it also bred resentment in some of my co-workers, who were either slacking off, or barely up to the job. I got flack for picking up someone else's slack from my supervisor, who was also in the union.

The job didn't pay much, and the biggest benefit was $1 glasses, if you went to the union clinic in Jamaica, Queens. Still, I was a year or so out of the USMC, and was "gung ho" about doing a good job. I started getting harassed by my supervisor, until I finally quit. However, the manager demoted my supervisor, after I left, to the joy of most of my former co-workers.

Here's the kicker: After I quit, I got a letter from the union, threatening legal action if I used any of their "benefits" effective on the date that I quit, and demanding the return of their union card. I had thrown it out already, so I wrote them back a letter telling them what they could do with their "benefits." They didn't protect me from the harassment, and I never used a dime of their benefits in my year and a half at the company, so why would I want to now?

That's only one of my encounters with unions. There's also that time that they spiked my tires, when I was a "scab" 411 operator for AT&T (another job I excelled at, for a few weeks), but that's another story. Why not let workers decide if their union is really representing their, or someone else's interest? Shouldn't it be as easy to get rid of a union, as to join one? It seems like something most people would agree is a "fair" compromise.

Of course, if this were in the bill, some would say "your employer can pressure you to sign a card at any time," and they would be right. So can your co-workers. It's a bad idea, and if the current bill gets out of the House, it probably will be killed in the Senate. I've been wrong before, though (on campaign finance reform, for instance), so I hope someone in the Congress will take up my suggestion before this bad idea becomes reality.

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