Metal stampers' take on unions: Part II

January 18, 2012

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Last week's post, Metal stampers' take on unions: Part I, revealed findings from a "Stamping News Brief" (SNB) survey about unions. It also featured comments from survey respondents—both those who believe unions are still necessary and those who don’t. Those who believe unions are to blame for lost jobs in the U.S., and those who think they are not—that corporate greediness and the government are the true culprits. As promised, here are some more comments from SNB readers about unions.

Dave C. is a nonpaying union member who believes unions have caused U.S. jobs to disappear but still have a place in today's work environment. He said, "I am a nonpaying member in good standing with the Teamsters; does that make me a pro-union guy? No, it does not. In fact, there is a good reason that I am a non-paying member—because the union told a potential buyer of the company that I worked for, which filed bankruptcy, if they were going to give some employees raises to get in line with where the potential buyer’s departments were, then they would have to give all employees a pay raise. The company said, ‘No. Wages are within the pay scale for those departments at both our union and nonunion shops.’

"Because the union, which was half UAW and half Teamsters, would not budge, the buying company didn't buy, and the five shops in the company I worked for closed. This action of greed and misrepresentation cost over 1,500 Americans their jobs—their careers.

"If unions would not misrepresent their members and not try to 'get over' on the employers, I believe that they would be good for America's workers. Until they can learn that not all companies are trying to pay their employees the lowest wages and the worst benefits, I do not see how they will be effective." 

Don L., who works for a company that makes screening and separating equipment, has never been a union member and believes they have caused U.S. jobs to disappear. As to whether unions have a place in today's work environment—maybe, maybe not. 

Expressing his opinion, Don said, "The basic issue is this: Unions started because of owner/management greed. Their loss of membership occurred when management realized that treating the employee as a valued partner was the best way to operate a successful company. If companies remember this, unions will not be needed; if companies forget this valuable lesson, then unions will make a comeback. Let's hope companies never forget this hard-learned lesson." 

Don raised a good point that is reinforced in this response from Brad Bozarth: “I have been in middle and upper management in three facilities for over 30 years, and have never worked in a union environment. I do agree that unions needed to be created for many reasons decades ago, but feel they are only necessary when companies or corporations no longer respect the hourly employees’ voices or rights.

"I made sure every employee had the opportunity to address any issue that was relevant to safety, fair wages, and a pleasant work environment. Even if one complained about rough toilet tissue, I'd replace it.

"Empowered employees take the place of unions and we still have great profit margins on our products, offer matching 401(k) contributions and fairly liberal attendance policies, and we also tap into our employees' resourceful ideas for product and/or process improvements. They take their 'employee ownership' of their future quite serious in this present economy.

"We also will have a few employee appreciation cookouts for lunch and give a full hour to enjoy.

"Our employees hold themselves accountable for efficiencies, quality control, and self-police themselves for any slackers that may tarnish what they have worked so hard to achieve. If companies do not respect and build employee relations, then they deserve to have a union in their facility. Sorry for both parties then. What a waste of opportunity!" 

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