Monday, February 28, 2011

My time with the Teamsters Union

I only spent long enough with them to find out what unions are all about.  Not all unions are created equal.  Some are bad, some are worse, and some are more like professional associations. The Air Canada Pilots Association comes to mind.

To the Teamsters I was a scab, or what good regular people call a part-time employee.  This was when I lived in Ottawa and I was in need of a summer job.  I was 20 or 21 years old and National Grocer agreed to take me on.

National Grocer is a warehouse company that receives all manner of goods and distributes them to the various grocery stores under the Loblaw banner like Superstore etc...  I never had any trouble with management and I enjoy shopping at those outlets across this country to this day.

The actual job wasn't so bad.  I had to drive one of those fork trolleys around and they actually go pretty fast.  The whole object was to fill a pallet with all the goods on your scanner and deliver them to a waiting truck.  The better you can stack them, the faster you could go around corners. The pallets couldn't be too tall or they wouldn't fit the trailer either.  It was a bit like playing Tetris.    For an extra 25 cents per hour I opted to work in the freezer at -18 Celsius.  No sweat, literally.

The very first thing our trainer said to us the very first day on the job was "October 1st, our contract is up and we go on strike."  Uh-oh I thought, meanwhile the other trainees cheered.  It was a bit weird but I realized I would be back in school by then so it didn't matter.  

"The president of this company makes a million dollars a year!"  My admiration for my millionaire patron was interrupted by jeers from my fellow new hires.  I distinctly remember one kid, not a bright one, yell "I want to punch that guy in the face!"  Not kidding.  This is exactly how my first day went.  Barely clearing our first hours on the payroll, my fellow trainees were calling out for violence against the company's president.

My jaw dropped.  The trainer was having a grand old time.  Evidently the dim kid had the inside scoop on union behavior.  Thinking back it wouldn't surprise me at all if they picked the dumbest tool of the lot to yell out like that to set the tone from day one.

Not a big deal maybe but think about new hires at your workplace acting out like that and being encouraged to do so.    Imagine new hires being indoctrinated by employees who can't be fired and are openly plotting to hold your company hostage?

Take a look at this Teamster skinhead in the US roughing up anti-union protesters.

Are unions the only ones allowed to march?  There are tens of videos like this.  You only have to look back at the G20 on our own soil to see union handiwork in action.  They supplied the buses and signs and bodies for arrest.

I'm less concerned about private sector Unions.  It wouldn't be the first time that greedy Unions have run their employers into the ground.  Faced with true unemployment, (not the taxpayer funded vacations some trades have become entitled to) even Unions will cut their own pay to survive.  Private sector Unions also encourage employers to share their profits with their employees and provide competitive benefits lest they invite wasteful and destructive Unions into their operations.

Public sector unions on the other hand are not constrained by economics.  Governments are seen to have limitless resources because of their power to compel money and property from their citizens.  When unions force their demands on the Government, they are forcing their demands on you.  You are powerless.  You are not at the table.  Politicians aren't acting in your interest normally but in their own interest.  They are disconnected from your wishes as a citizen until election day and can be coerced far and above what is reasonable for a private company.  A politician only fears elections.  Private companies fear extinction.  

Add to this that both private and public sector Unions intervene in politics by making donations to political parties, running their own adds during elections, busing protesters to planned events that have nothing to do with their professions but are simply anti-government.  They even hand out signs.

This has got to stop.  I propose three options to curtail the powerful Unions and their insidious lobbies.  This should in no way affect workers who's welfare the Unions have abandoned when they engage in politics.

First would be to enshrine in law the freedom of workers to opt out of Union dues or membership at their discretion as well as readmission without consequence.

Second would be to impose a Union tax or fee to recoup the cost of their disturbances to the taxpayer.  Taxes could be collected on dues or a simple per member registration fee required to legally exist. 

A third option would be to ban Union activities that do not directly support their own members.  Each expenditure a Union makes should be tested with the question of whether it directly and unambiguously supports their own workers and fined if that test fails.

Unions were a necessary evolution of workers rights and staved off socialism during the cold war.  Today they are actively working toward socialism and exerting unprecedented control over our democratic institutions.  They do this selfishly without regard for worker, citizen or nation and their designs should be permanently curtailed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great post! I couldn't agree more. The only thing that surprised me was that they didn't tell you to slow down and maybe not stack them so efficiently....then i remembered it wasn't a public sector union. That's why I don't think I could ever work for one. Why would you work the hardest when the drone next to you slides by on seniority? I'm sorry it would drive me insane. What would be my incentive, i'd just turn into one of them. That scares me, have you seen the protesters in Wisconsin?! If I was a parent in that state I would be home schooling Stat!

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