On a cold day this winter, 12 miners were found dead after a mining accident. A relative of one victim told newsmen that the mine was a non-union operation and he was sure there were corners cut in the safety arena as a result. That wouldn't surprise me at all.
I was reminded of a "financial guru" that I heard pontificating on a news show just a couple of weeks ago who said unions were dead. She was pretty and looked far too young to be expert at much of anything. Her main contention was that with all the high wages, health benefits, and associated costs of labor brought about by labor unions, American labor could no longer compete with foreign labor and manufacturing jobs go overseas as a result.I originally thought her an idiot. Now, I just think of her as naive, self-absorbed, ambitious and the perfect example of why we still need labor unions in this country. So many money types think only of dollars and cents.
I guess it has never occurred to Little Miss Pretty Pundit, that perhaps the labor movement should go worldwide. Then there'd be no slave wages in India, China, Latin America. And no advantage to sending manufacturing jobs there.Yes, I grew up in a union household. But I spent thirty years working in management.
So I know both worlds well. My Dad was laid off from his factory (union) job when I was in the sixth grade. To survive during the layoff, he went to work for a local farmer running a corn picker. The machine got clogged, he tried to free the mechanism but his glove got caught. He was alone in the field. Before he could free his hand nearly an hour later, the corn picker had mangled it severely.
He drove himself ten miles to the nearest hospital, but three of his fingers couldn't be saved. Gangrene set in and they had to be removed. He fought infection and bone chips for over a year after this accident. The pain was incredible and always there during that period of recovery.But due to the union rules of seniority, he was called back to his factory job well before the healing was done. He had to be cleared by the company doctor before he could return to work.
The doctor was skeptical that my Dad could do his old job with three fingers missing on his right hand. During the examination, he pressed my Dad's throbbing hand onto a sheet of paper and traced its outline. Ostensibly, to make a record for his "files". It was more likely to prove my Dad couldn't handle any job in the plant. The pain must have been excruciating.
The doctor thought my Dad would flinch, cry out in pain, yell for him to stop. He didn't know my Dad. Dad sat there and never moved a muscle.
He waited until he was back in the parking lot, with his work release in hand, before vomiting and nearly passing out from the pain.Dad worked another twenty years at that factory. But if not for the union, and their support of him, he would have never returned from that injury, and my childhood would have been much more spartan than it otherwise was. Dad was a union steward most of the remainder of his working life. I often heard him say that it takes labor, management, and the government, all with equal power to keep the stability of a factory, or a nation.
I also often heard him say."It ain't the size of the dog in the fight that matters.it's the size of the fight in the dog." No.
Little Miss Pretty Pundit.unions are here to stay!..Dallas Wilkinson is a novelist, satirist, and social commentator. He can be reached at http://www.
By: Dallas Wilkinson