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I was going to post this on facebook; however, the more I thought about it, I felt that this would be a more appropriate forum...one reason a lot of my relatives  did not know what my parents were going through in the eighties, two, my older brother and sister have no idea of what happened as they had long been out of the house...and I am sure they have a different view of the events that happened.

More Below The Fold...

I work in a non-union job, however, I am passionate about organized labor causes as I know that all of the benefits I have today are due to someone before me fighting for those rights. Which is why I am so passionate about what is happening to the unionized Public Employees of what used to be the Great State of Wisconsin. My family went through what the public employees are currently going through now when I was a teenager, I lived through an employer breaking the union my father was in.

In 1983 my father worked for Dane County Dairy at the time it was a union shop. The drivers all were members of Teamsters Local 695. My Dad worked for the dairy for close to thirty years at that point of his life. If you went to school in Madison, Wisconsin during the seventies and early eighties you may have seen my Dad everyday. During the school year he delivered milk to every school in the Madison Metropolitan School District as well as every parochial school in town. It was hard work and it was hard on my father's health.

When I was a Sophomore in high school my Dad arrived at work to find that his wages had been cut from $12.00 an hour (a pretty good sum back then) to $8.00 an hour. His vacation time was cut from five weeks to two weeks. The men who worked at the dairy were told if they went on strike they would lose their jobs. His boss, Duane Bowman Jr was emboldened by President Reagan firing all of the Air Traffic Controllers two years earlier. Shortly thereafter my Dad had a heart attack. While in a hospital bed recovering he received a registered letter from his boss stating that he had to come back to work tomorrow or lose his job. The union stepped in and prevented my Dad's employer from doing anything over my Dad's illness.

Mr. Bowman refused to negotiate with the Teamsters, so the Teamsters notified the National Labor Relations Board and the Teamsters and the NLRB sued Dane County Dairy and Duane Bowman Jr. for breach of contract and violation of labor laws. In the meantime my Dad was out of work non-union workers were doing his job. Due to the lawsuit my Dad could not drive truck for anyone...he had to find another job.

My Dad took odd jobs at one time or the other, one of them, was with Pinkerton security, which was ironic knowing Pinkerton's history with the labor movement. My Dad worked security at South Towne Mall during the day and worked security at the zoo at night. The security job was barely enough to make ends meet. I did not know it at the time, but my parents were in pretty desperate financial straights.

The costs of union busting are high. I saw my Dad, a very proud man reduced to self doubt and drowning himself in alcohol. Whatever money that there was for me to go to college was gone...I had no choice but to join the Army. Eventually the NLRB and Teamsters were victorious and my Dad did receive a decent settlement. However, I often wonder how different my life and my family's life would have been.

As a Postscript, my Dad did eventually win his battle with alcohol and had ten pretty good years of retirement.

Wow...Rec list...I go to bed with three or four comments and wake up to this. Awesome!

Originally posted to Mark E. Andersen (Kodiak54) on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 05:11 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight, J Town, and Income Inequality Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The death of unions (57+ / 0-)

    in this country has been a terrible thing for the middle class.  

    I'm sorry to read of your father's struggles.  Thank you for putting a personal face on something we all know has happened and continues to happen to families who just want the "American dream" like everyone else.

    I'd rather die than give you control ~ Trent Reznor

    by JustJennifer on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 05:20:42 PM PST

    •  As unions are disappearing and worker's (22+ / 0-)

      rights are being taken away George Carlin's words are haunting us:

      It’s called the American Dream cause you have to be asleep to believe it . . .”
    •  NAFTA killed the unions (10+ / 0-)

      Unions existed for one bright shining moment - when the US was industrialized and the rest of the world was blasted to hell from wars or still agrarian.

      In that world, skilled industrial labor was in short supply.  Workers could band together and if they all went on strike, there was no one else to do the job.  The factory owner could either pay higher wages or close shop for good and allow the competition to take over.

      But then we industrialized our allies and gave away technology and factories could spring up anywhere.  And then NAFTA was passed.  And overnight, when American union workers went on strike, the factory owner could just fire everyone and move the jobs to Mexico or China and pay 1/10th the wages.  

      The unions have been busted since 1994 because of "free" trade.  Clinton signed it, and all the rich Dem sellouts supported it and there has never been a serious push back to repeal it or to work for real fair trade.  I've waited two years for Obama to work on trade, and he's avoided it as well.

      And now the public unions are being busted, but what did you expect?  The middle class has been decimated.  Wages  have fallen from $40/hr to $15/hr or less.  Those people can no longer afford the taxes that support high public union salaries.  How can you ask someone who's taken a 60% pay cut to maintain someone else's high wages?

      The public unions were supported by the economy.  When the private sector is doing well, people can invest their income in higher taxes and buy the public services they want.  But when "free" trade decimates the private economy, the tax base is no longer there to support the public workers.

      Fight to repeal NAFTA.  Fight to end our trade deficit if you want to see wages rise in this country.

      •  True, but only part of the story (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Angie in WA State

        Many things have decimated unions in this country.
        1. The Taft-Hartley law, with its state option open shop laws.
        2. The purging of the left from American unions during the Red Scare era.  Many of the folks who did the hard and often dangerous work of organizing did it out of deep commitment because they were in fact socialist or communist.  When they were purged out, a lot of the folks who were left behind were people who thought a job working for a union should be a cushy sinecure.  So we see unions with organizing departments and organizing budgets that haven't organized a worker in years.
        3. The failure of the unions as a whole to take a stand when Reagan fired the Air traffic controllers.  PATCO had gone against the union grain and supported Reagan in the election, so when he turned on them, a lot of other unions figured they were only getting what they deserved.  If all the transport unions had stood together and shut down air travel over that firing, the landscape would be very different today.
        4. Partnership unionism, in which union leaders agree to merge their interests with the interests of the boss, even when it means going against the public good.  It has never paid off in the long run, and when union workers are in life or death fights, they can't find allies because of the people they screwed to stand with the boss.  Examples would be things like the UAW fighting auto safety laws and fuel economy standards because the boss asks them to.  Or a certain large health care union fighting against tougher regulation of nursing homes in exchange for organizing rights.  Any time that a union thinks it should side with the boss and against the public interest, it needs to think again.
        So, yes, globalization in all its forms plays a part, but it's not the whole story.
        I am, by the way, a member of the fastest growing union in America: CNA/NNOC

        "I was asked what I thought of the mainstream media. I said I thought it would be a good idea" - Amy Goodman.

        by Chico David RN on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 12:12:53 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Globalization would have happened anyway. (0+ / 0-)

        If NAFTA had failed, it would have only briefly postponed the inevitable.  The US exports huge amounts of goods, which have to compete with goods produced cheaply elsewhere.

  •  Sad and bittersweet (53+ / 0-)

    Glad your dad had at least some happy years afterward.

    I came of age during the years when labor was strong for men.  Not as much for women.  My mother worked in a textile factory.  She had started as a child, before unions pushed for child labor laws.  Her parents had both died (one after a long illness and the other a week after her spouse succumbed).  
    So my mother and her siblings then came under the care of an abusive brother brother-in-law who pulled the younger girls out of school to work in the textile mills.

    There were no unions for the women.  And the women, mostly immigrants like my mother, were treated terribly.  Once when I was sixteen and had learned to drive I went to pick her up.   Before my sister and I could drive, either my father took her to work and she took the bus home or vice versa (he was a cop, at that time very poorly paid also).  So when we could drive we would pick her up from work if Dad was working.  

    Usually she would come out and be waiting but this one day I went early and despite being told by my mother to never come in, I wanted to see.  So I snuck in the door to look.  It was so HOT...a sweat shop of machines and women and a male boss yelling at them.

    I remember the women having secret meetings (all I was told was to not tell my friends that the work ladies were coming to our house).  They were meeting with union people but before they could do anything the factory moved to the south.    My mother then went to work at another smaller mill and that was that.  I know her salary in was low.   If you have not seen the movie, Norma Rae, you should rent it.

    I am constantly discouraged by the lack of union support in so many who say they are progressive.
    I am retired but was a proud member of the teachers' union for our district all my years of teaching.  
    If people do not come together, unionize and stand together against corporate power, I don't see how we can ever get back our democracy.

    Since Reagan unions have become the scapegoat for all things wrong when it is the opposite.  Unions gave us the middle class and unions will bring them back if the people wake up.

    •  Thanks for sharing this. (38+ / 0-)

      I think one of the reasons unions are having such a hard time now is because the collective memory of what the work situation  was like without unions is no longer fresh.  A lot of people simply take for granted work conditions and benefits that others going back years and years fought hard for and sometimes at great personal cost.  

      You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy, but you cannot have both. ~ Louis Brandeis

      by 3goldens on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 05:32:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  You are correct (29+ / 0-)

      in your statement that unions are a prerequisite for a healthy democracy.

      Thank you for sharing your mother's story. I also agree one of the most pernicious legacies of the Reagan administration is the decline in unions in the USA.

      Now that the GOP is trying even harder to roll back all New Deal programs and take this country back to the 1920's, I really do hope that people wake up. Right now it seems that we're heading toward a state of Third World status.

      If it wasn't so profitable for the few who own our country's broadcast media and many of our legislators, more of us would know to be deeply ashamed that our country has fallen so short of the ideals we're supposed to represent as a society.

    •  Thank You For This Touching Comment. Jjc2006 (5+ / 0-)

      Very informative too! And Sad But All So True!

      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World. Ghandi

      by rebel ga on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 11:59:38 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks to you and the diarist for putting it in (15+ / 0-)

      perspective for those who might not be aware of the pitfalls of our declining union membership.

      I work for a small daily newspaper owned by a chain. Back in the late 80s and again in the early 90s we tried to organize. The first time we were stopped by a group of about five older women who worked in the circulation department. Despite our best efforts we could not convince them that the paper was no longer owned by "the family" and that their jobs could be among the first to go. Sadly, because we needed every department to be on board, they stopped the guild in its tracks. They were also unemployed within a year, two max.

      In the 20 years since, I've seen my salary stagnate, all while knowing that had I worked at one of the union papers in our chain, and that's most of them, I'd have earned about $200,000 more over the last 20 years based on their scale. That's significant, and it's not as if the union employees are paid excessively, just fairly. Despite a college education, most of our reporters make far less than the average median salary for people in this country. They start them at $23,000 a year, and in a metro, East Coast area with a fairly high cost of living that's almost nothing.

      I constantly hear people disaparage unions. The attitude seems to be that they protect lazy workers and are unreasonable in their wage and benefit demands. Much of that attitude stems from ignorance and a belief that the abuses that went on in the early 20th century couldn't happen again. Well, they are, so wake up folks.

      It makes me so angry to see people living and behaving like fearful serfs, happy to just get what scraps they can from the corporations and those who run them like their personal fiefdoms.

    •  Seriously great comment (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mrkvica, Dave925, My Name Isnt Earl

      and diary.

      I come from an education background and have watched with envy as the (by no means perfect but far more effective by comparison) nurses union has rallied to professionalize their profession while our teachers unions have become bastions of old boy and girl networks that don't really advocate for teachers by helping highlight the professional nature of our profession. We need a voting public who understands the nature of what it means to teach, to educate, the real and externalized costs, why teachers are not just glorified babysitters and we need a board of ed that isn't just filled w/ political appointments, but rather are professional educators helping to set agendas that are connected to well known research regarding how we learn and how we create the right conditions for learning. This information should be filtering into teacher training programs and into the ways in which we evaluate teachers. And our union should be leading in that endeavor. But none of that is happening and it's leaving a giant vacuum in which anti-labor/pro-privatization forces are coming in and confusing ppl even further about what the solutions to our education crisis are.

      I hope this wasn't too much of a highjack from the original post, which was more about blue collar labor.

      These two comments from above caught my eye:

      If people do not come together, unionize and stand together against corporate power, I don't see how we can ever get back our democracy.

      and

      I am constantly discouraged by the lack of union support in so many who say they are progressive.

      because they reflect a witnessing of a similar phenomenon that I see in women's reproductive health (abortion) and probably other areas of liberal policy as well (educ., labor, and choice are three areas of particular interest to me). This idea that our liberal allies are not all equally clear about the ideas that I take for granted as foundational to a liberal perspective/liberal policy making: Pro-labor, pro-choice, and education reform led by educators. There are so many surprising qualifiers by others and I think it must be partly due to this:
      Since Reagan unions have become the scapegoat for all things wrong when it is the opposite.  Unions gave us the middle class and unions will bring them back if the people wake up.

      only it's not just unions that we've been hearing as the source of all evil, it's also those evil wimmin' who're having those highly capricious abortions, it's those lazy or unprofessional teachers who need to be watched lest they get away with more than just summers off, etc. There are a lot of core assumptions that have been deliberately created in the last 30 years that are antithetical to a liberal perspective and we are now in the position of having to re-argue ideas I thought were settled long ago. We really need a PR campaign for unapologetic liberal rhetoric.

      We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.

      by Tookish on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 07:04:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Seriously great comment (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave925, Lh1695

      and diary.

      I come from an education background and have watched with envy as the (by no means perfect but far more effective by comparison) nurses union has rallied to professionalize their profession while our teachers unions have become bastions of old boy and girl networks that don't really advocate for teachers by helping highlight the professional nature of our profession. We need a voting public who understands the nature of what it means to teach, to educate, the real and externalized costs, why teachers are not just glorified babysitters and we need a board of ed that isn't just filled w/ political appointments, but rather are professional educators helping to set agendas that are connected to well known research regarding how we learn and how we create the right conditions for learning. This information should be filtering into teacher training programs and into the ways in which we evaluate teachers. And our union should be leading in that endeavor. But none of that is happening and it's leaving a giant vacuum in which anti-labor/pro-privatization forces are coming in and confusing ppl even further about what the solutions to our education crisis are.

      I hope this wasn't too much of a highjack from the original post, which was more about blue collar labor.

      These two comments from above caught my eye:

      If people do not come together, unionize and stand together against corporate power, I don't see how we can ever get back our democracy.

      and

      I am constantly discouraged by the lack of union support in so many who say they are progressive.

      because they reflect a witnessing of a similar phenomenon that I see in women's reproductive health (abortion) and probably other areas of liberal policy as well (educ., labor, and choice are three areas of particular interest to me). This idea that our liberal allies are not all equally clear about the ideas that I take for granted as foundational to a liberal perspective/liberal policy making: Pro-labor, pro-choice, and education reform led by educators. There are so many surprising qualifiers by others and I think it must be partly due to this:
      Since Reagan unions have become the scapegoat for all things wrong when it is the opposite.  Unions gave us the middle class and unions will bring them back if the people wake up.

      only it's not just unions that we've been hearing as the source of all evil, it's also those evil wimmin' who're having those highly capricious abortions, it's those lazy or unprofessional teachers who need to be watched lest they get away with more than just summers off, etc. There are a lot of core assumptions that have been deliberately created in the last 30 years that are antithetical to a liberal perspective and we are now in the position of having to re-argue ideas I thought were settled long ago. We really need a PR campaign for unapologetic liberal rhetoric.

      We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.

      by Tookish on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 07:07:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary, Kodiak54 (21+ / 0-)

    Thanks for sharing your story.  This is a very powerful way to wake people up to what happens when businesses (and government) try to bust unions.  As I mentioned in another comment, there are so many things in the work setting today that people simply take for granted.  They do not realize how hard others who came before them fought to get these things.  From what I'm picking up on today in the area where I live in WI, the unions are on high alert and they're in emergency response mode for organizing to fight Walker and the legislature.  We need to recapture that urgency and will-to-win.  This is war and losing this fight for the unions and their members is unthinkable.  

    You can have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, or democracy, but you cannot have both. ~ Louis Brandeis

    by 3goldens on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 05:41:07 PM PST

  •  Great writing (17+ / 0-)

    Shame there are several dedicated folks on here seeking to bust every teacher's union in the US.

  •  Thank you for this diary (11+ / 0-)

    I like diaries like this one that talk about how policies play out in the lives of families.  I am glad that your father was able to recover financially and medically.

    For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die--Ted Kennedy

    by sobermom on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 07:28:20 PM PST

  •  THE Great Liberal Failing - MONEY (11+ / 0-)

    What is THE COST of a shitty job?

    You have less for retirement.
    You have less for a rainy day.
    You have less for retraining.
    You have less for health CARE access. (NOT f'king insurance - insurance is a racket, NOT health care.)
    You have less to invest in your kids' futures.

    EVERY law and EVERY rule costs money - the righties know about it, as they bitch about it ceaselessly.  HOWEVER - only some rules and some laws cost us money that goes directly into the pocket of some pig at the top -

    ya know - the pigs who needed more raygun tax cuts or they couldn't stay on top and couldn't stay pigs,

    ya know - the pigs who've been in charge for 30 years and who've accomplished 3 bubbles and the worst economy since the Depression?

    THE Great Liberal Failing - everyone wants to be MLK in the March on Washington or JFK delivering the "ask not ..."

    what we need are science and math and finance and accounting degrees to fight these pigs,

    cuz when the (NOT happening in the USA) marches are over - who is gonna fix the rules and who is gonna keep the rules fair, when you can't even read the f'king rules?

    rmm.

    Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look; He thinks too much: such men are dangerous

    by seabos84 on Mon Feb 14, 2011 at 08:11:14 PM PST

  •  This is a great diary (21+ / 0-)

    However my heart is breaking and my mind is troubles at the lack of passion from progressives when it comes to labor, unions and public employees.

    I am stunned.

    •  Lose that word (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dave925

      If it can be applied to the enemies of the working class, then it has no meaning whatever. "Which side are you on" is as relevant in the public sector as it was in the Harlan KY coal fields.

      "Lash those traitors and conservatives with the pen of gall and wormwood. Let them feel -- no temporising!" - Andrew Jackson to Francis Preston Blair, 1835

      by Ivan on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 04:29:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  My mom was a Teamster (20+ / 0-)

    and my hubby belongs to 2 unions in related, but non-competing fields.  I was raised to respect the labor movement and I've taught my children to do the same.  This country was built on the backs of labor, not pencil pushers and union busters and there will be people in the next generation who know it, even if it is just my two boys.

    It's so sad that there are people who begrudge others a good living, with decent wages and bennies.  They feel threatened and want to tear down those who make $30/hr, have a pension and can see a doctor when they want.

    Funny how some of those same folks want to give tax breaks to people making thousands of dollars a minute even when those same millionaires want to cut their wages and/or send their jobs overseas.

    There are plenty of "big lies" right now and one is that labor unions are the cause, at least in part, of state economic woes.  I live in CA and there is a steady drumbeat to eviscerate public sector labor union pensions and wages, but I hear precious little about those tax breaks for those who need them least.

    If Gov. Brown doesn't get current taxes extended, our school disctrict will lose about $350 ADA per student.  It'll cause a shortfall in the $5M area.  There's no more fat to cut from the schools.

    But somehow, public sector unions are to blame for CA economic issues, and the economy at large doesn;t seem to factor into it.  

    Economic downturn=union busting time
    Labor action=union busting time
    Lookie, it's a day that ends in a "y"=union busting time

    If we just put large chunks of public employees out of work and cut the wages and pensions of those who still have jobs, and couple that with further defunding of public schools, we can balance the budget?

    Then we can do it all again next year.  (shakes head sadly)

    "Mommy, it takes 1,720 licks to reach the middle of the tootsie pop." --my son

    by jhb90277 on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 12:05:44 AM PST

  •  my brother too (21+ / 0-)

    My brother Tom grew up in a Republican family (as of course did I), but after he did a stint in the Navy he became a unionized worker for the Detroit News, as a machine operator.

    He eventually became a shop steward, voted straight Democratic, took all the vacation shifts no one else wanted and otherwise lived the life he chose, which involved dogs and the country and hunting trips.

    The union busting movement had a triumphant moment with the newspaper strike in Detroit.  The strike lasted a long time and eventually broke the back of the union's power.  Most of the people he worked with were not hired back after the strike was minimally settled.  I guess he was fortunate, because he went back to work at about one third the pay.  He took a second job at a small local newspaper doing the same thing to make ends meet.  

    Yet he didn't make ends meet.  He went downhill physically and emotionally, ended up psychotically depressed.  His siblings were called by someone from his union letting us know he was about to lose his job because he wasn't showing up for work.  He had let his phone lapse, so we weren't in contact.  There was I and two brothers and from that moment on we swung into action.  I worked the mental health aspect and talked with local services, finding out that all over southeastern Michigan there were people, mostly men, with his story, whose lives were just fallen apart.

    His house was losing its roof, there was no running water and electric heat in only one room.  Eventually it had to be torn down and sold for the land.  He did a day hospitalization, which brief as it was (because insurance cut him off abruptly), seemed to make enough difference to matter, combined with restoration of hope with having a sibling team to figure things out with.

    He was one of the lucky ones only because he did have siblings who could help him dig out (literally) and get back to something closer to a level playing field.  His union rep saved his job for him and he lived two more years in a rental space, continuing to work until 62 and then taking early retirement.  He still took shifts until he died at 63.

    I still ache for him and how they broke his spirit and then his life.  It was purposeful and ignorant and vile.  He was way too proud to let us know how bad things were and then it took an even worse turn for him to let us help.  But I am grateful that he did and that we did, because anything else is unthinkable.

    One of those two brothers is a conservative Republican.
    I cannot figure how you can just not factor a story like my brother's when it happened in your life and in front of your eyes.  But it's true.

  •  Great diary, thanks. (5+ / 0-)

    I'm glad your Dad was able to enjoy his retirement. My Dad was a non-union electrician (though he helped his employee's join the union and taught us to respect the unions) and after he retired, he slowly went downhill. His work was his life. I have an older sister who was a pinkerton investigator in the late 80's in San Francisco. One of her more interesting jobs.

    "Such is the irresistible nature of truth that all it asks, and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing." - Thomas Paine

    by blueoregon on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 01:49:17 AM PST

  •  If there were more unions, Social Security... (26+ / 0-)

    ...would be in clover.

    Because of how unions have been weakened, average workers have seen NONE of the productivity gains of the past 30 years go into their paychecks. Those productivity gains amount to something like 44%.

    44% productivity improvements and no real increase in wages.

    Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope... --RFK

    by expatjourno on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 02:09:52 AM PST

  •  Thanks, Kodiak54 (8+ / 0-)

    You have been republished in J Town

    Much of life is knowing what to Google
    (and blogging at BPI Campus)

    by JanF on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 02:57:44 AM PST

  •  What a great diary! (15+ / 0-)

    We need to hear more and more stories like this, of how union-busting has negatively impacted actual, real families.  We all know the potential is there, but to read about it, in black and white detail, is important.

    Like 3goldens said, most of the people in the workforce today have no clue that many of the workplace rules they take for granted today are in place because unions fought and DIED for us to have those rights.

    I come from a family of dyed-in-the-wool union Democrats.  My father worked for one of the big three automakers for over 30 yrs.  I remember, as a young child, his union going on strike for awhile, and I remember my mother and father somberly talking about how they were going to make ends meet with just "strike pay" which, if I remember right, back in the early 70's, was only $100 per week.  For every hourly worker.  No matter how many children they had.

    I inherited my parents' staunch work ethic, and always take pride in a job well done.  I'm proud to be a union worker for the past 22 years, and you'll never hear me b*tch about paying union dues.  More than once, my job was saved because I was a union member, with union rights.  The first time was when my son was just 8 months old.  I was able to keep a job with the same pay, but it was a 2nd shift custodial job rather than my day shift office job.  Lots of folks just expected me to take the layoff because they didn't think I could handle a custodial job, especially with a baby at home.

    They were wrong.

    I scrubbed toilets and mopped floors and hauled trash to the dumpster and shoveled snow on 2nd shift for about a year, until my former position opened back up, and I was able to go back to it.  I Knew I was one of the lucky ones.  

    Today's young people, I fear for them.  I fear for the kind of workplaces my son and his friends might inherit if this union-busting continues.  

    The worst part about this whole mess?  Many of my union co-workers are the ones who voted for this Republican mess.  The main reason?  Because they're forced-birthers.  Yep, they're single-issue voters, voting against their own self-interests because they are woefully misinformed by getting their 'news' from places like Faux news, etc.

    How do we get the CORRECT information to the people who need it when our media is so easily led by right-wing billionaires?

    Going to the woods is going home--John Muir

    by GypsyT on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:38:43 AM PST

  •  Thanks (4+ / 0-)

    for taking the time to post the diary. In this case there was a good outcome. Such has not/will not be so for many.

    Support your local unions.

    Common Sense is not Common

    by RustyBrown on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 05:03:28 AM PST

  •  Thanks not only for the diary, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tookish, My Name Isnt Earl

    but for posting it here, rather than Facebook (or at least, ONLY on Facebook).  This is a perfect diary for this community, and another reminder of what the consequences would be, if Republicans actually got what they say they want.  

  •  If you want to work 20 years for.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925

    the same company, stay the hell out of Florida.  They fire you for not thinking the way they do; they fire you for not wanting to carry you on their healthcare plan, and they fire you for not learning the job....wait for it, that no one took the time to train you for in the first place.  For all these reasons, I say...Thank you Ronald Reagan for taking the lead on Union Busting.

  •  Union busting costs often never recognized- (12+ / 0-)

    Back around 1984 the wholesale bakery I was working for, Continental Baking, was sold from IT&T to Ralston-Purina. The new owners went on a union busting and bakery closing binge. They started by closing the Detroit Wonder bakery. The Michigan Teamsters and Bakers Union replied with a strike surrounded the bakery with picketers so they couldn't ship in bread from other bakeries and use it as a distribution point. The company retaliated by bringing in managers from all over the country to scab. They told the managers to bring the best trucks and trailers with them.

    With the good trailers gone, I was stuck with a trailer that leaned way over to the side due to a broken spring. Somebody else had already loaded it, so we had to unload it and wait for a good trailer to be available. We unloaded out the side door, and with the trailer sitting low we had to pull the bread which was on racks on wheels up a very steep ramp. I and a big strong guy- he was a weightlifter_ were trying to pull a 500 pound rack of cake up the ramp when I slipped and fell. I landed on my wrist and cracked it.

    That added six weeks of worker's comp pay and a couple thousand dollars in medical bills to the cost of busting the union. They also went from having over half the market for bread in Michigan to just a sliver of the market. Maybe if they'd accurately figured the real cost of union busting they would have kept that bakery open. But the company didn't learn a thing- they kept closing bakeries, including mine in Minneapolis in 1987. But that's a story for another diary...

  •  Damn fine diary (8+ / 0-)

    The power of the collective is the greatest hope, perhaps the only hope of the American worker today.
    It is the one thing that worries the oligarchs who have enslaved us, robbed us, and are quite willing to push us into early graves to avoid the expense of caring for old, sick and unproductive chattle.

  •  For the ruling class (7+ / 0-)

    I'm not so sure it's a 'hidden cost'. I think they see it as just the cost of doing business, of increasing profits.

    Pass the costs onto the rest of us.

    Nearly 20 years ago in my RW fundy days I was at a Christian retreat and met a peer from another part of the state who worked at a grocery store that was unionized. He refused to join. Why? Because unions cause you to be non-submissive to those in authority over you. Hence, they are unbiblical.

    You can't make this shit up.

    liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

    by RockyMtnLib on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 09:34:23 AM PST

  •  I am sitting here today (6+ / 0-)

    watching Scott Walker single handedly destroy the Union my father spent half of his adult life forming and fighting to protect.

    "I like your Christ. But I do not like your Christians. They are so much unlike your Christ." - Ghandi

    by TC MITS on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 09:38:03 AM PST

  •  This just made me think: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925

    couldn't Congress or SCOTUS do anything when Reagan fired the PATCO strikers?

    It seems to me like it was a direct violation of the "peacable assembly" clause of the 1st Amendment.

    The House of Representatives may have tried something - they were still in Democratic hands, but the Senate also went to the Republicans in 1980 and stayed that way until the '86 mid-terms.

    But, to me, if things were done right, that approaches an impeachable offense AFAIC.

    liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

    by RockyMtnLib on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 09:51:29 AM PST

  •  Oh, the stories (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, RockyMtnLib

    There are so many reasons that unions are important and regulations that have been gutted regarding labor should be reinstated.

    -People who make a decent wage also pay a decent tax.
    -People who make a decent wage are less inclined to have to resort to crime.
    -People who make a decent wage and have benefits aren't as likely to be stressed worrying about their health care or retirement - consequently are healthier and more inclined to do a better job at work.

    Back before Reagan started on the unions, CEOs were making approximately 40-50 times what the average worker makes. Today it's 400-800 times the average worker.

    When there are no unions, people are inclined to believe what their companies representatives tell them even though it may be false or against the law. If they know it's against the law, then they have to have be knowledgeable enough to argue their case or use the intimidation factor that management of those companies tend to use.

    Companies spend a lot of money fighting union organization. If contracts are such a bad thing, why do the executives have them, but don't want the workers to have one? That is a question that will generally give pause to the union naysayers.

    Until your place of work can be organized, here are some helpful things to use when you feel you are being "managed by stress".

    "Let me contact my attorney and get back to you on that".

    "Are you sure that the state allows you to do that?"

    "Do you mind if I record this conversation?" or "Do you mind if my coworker sits in on this discussion so I can be sure I understand?" (Think "union rep")

    Some of those were ones I used while still working and they were pretty effective. Now, understand that I did my job well enough that most of them didn't even understand totally what my job entailed and I probably made it look easy.

    Also remember that if you retire without a union contract, the company can renege on the benefits that they've offered to entice you to leave.

    •  Well (0+ / 0-)
      "Let me contact my attorney and get back to you on that".

      "Are you sure that the state allows you to do that?"

      "Do you mind if I record this conversation?" or "Do you mind if my coworker sits in on this discussion so I can be sure I understand?" (Think "union rep")

      Couldn't the employer just decide on that that you're a troublemaker - not a "team player" and send you packing?

      liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

      by RockyMtnLib on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 03:59:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Trans-national plutocrats and (0+ / 0-)

    and Wall Street might be doing OK for the moment as the stock market soars into another bubble, but most of their money is coming from overseas sales, and that gravy train is running out fast. China is hiking interest rates and Europe is going for austerity. The investor class is smug now, but they cannot survive without American sales, and there won't be American sales as long as they keep gutting the American workforces' buying power. Trash the unions, ship the jobs overseas, merge and slash and burn, you're just digging your own grave, as youy have been for 30 years. Unless we start rebuilding our manufacturing and service base, and organizing our labor force to do so, America will never hold onto its top economic ranking.

  •  Good Facebook site (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mike08

    that is a good place to go to gauge some of the emotions of the people is http://www.facebook.com/...

    The name is not so proactive, but it is a fast growing page and should be looked at.

    I have cheese in my veins

    by trekguy66 on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 10:38:52 AM PST

  •  R'd and This (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, tardis10

    Should be on the rec list for six months...

    Unfortunately the anti-union hysteria/propaganda by the wealthy class the past fifty years (longer?) has more or less codified that unions are evil and uinion workers are lazy/overpaid.

    it's now a race to the bottom, re: globalization's impact on Labor here, combined with anti-union hysteria.

    the math doesn't work-- how do we maintain an economy which 70% of depends on robust consumer spending-- when millions of workers barely make enough to survive?

    Obama? congress? how do people start and succeed with small businesses when a large perecentage of people are frackin' broke??

    "I don't feel the change yet". Velma Hart

    by Superpole on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 10:46:03 AM PST

  •  Thanks for sharing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925

    As to legal, what they did was illegal,, but it took years to prove it. 8^(

    Other costs:  Remember the e-coli in ground beef a few years back  -- non union meat cutters (mostly imported illegals brought in to bust the unions).  They're too poor and too afraid to follow the USDA guidelines or complain when they're violated.  And if they get too restive, call ICE and send them back..... Union meat cutters were like having an army of USDA inspectors in-house making sure the rules were followed and everything was clean enough to feed to their own families.  If the company cut too many corners, the union had enough strength to take action and correct the problem.

  •  FDR (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925
    "The real truth of the matter is, as you and I know, that a financial element in the large centers has owned the government of the U.S. since the days of Andrew Jackson. History depicts Andrew Jackson as the last truly honorable and incorruptible American president."
    "There are two ways of viewing the Government's duty in matters affecting economic and social life, the first sees to it that a favored few are helped and hopes that some of their prosperity will leak through, sift through, to labor, to the farmer, to the small business man. That theory belongs to the party of Toryism, and I had hoped that most of the Tories left this country in 1776."
    "No government can help the destinies of people who insist in putting sectional and class consciousness ahead of general weal."
    "No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country"
    "If I went to work in a factory the first thing I'd do is join a union."
    "In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way."
    ---Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Traitor to His Class: The Privileged Life and Radical Presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt
  •  Terrific diary. n/t (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kodiak54, jnhobbs

    Don't tell me what you believe. Tell me what you do and I'll tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 11:51:12 AM PST

  •  I am not (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Catte Nappe

    A union member but unions help me earn better wages. I am a NJ nurse who works in a non union hospital. If I were to move to North Carolina and have the same position in a hospital there,I would make considerably less money. About 65-70% of what I make in NJ. I believe this is due to unions, let me explain. Even though I don't work for a union, many of the hospitals in Nj are unionized. If a union hospital is going to pay me $40/hr, the non union hospital is going to have to offer a completive salary, if they don't they will have no staff. Unfortunately, the right has done a very good job convincing workers that unions are their enemies. In fact, today, I attended Governor Christies townhall meeting where he urged teachers to revolt against their own unions. Does that mean I am 100% in favor of everything unions do, no I do not. But unions are good for the middle class, even if you don't work for one they  drive wages and benefits up for all.  Christie would like nothing better than to turn NJ into NC.    

    " The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"-Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Lh1695 on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 07:26:25 PM PST

    •  I spent (0+ / 0-)

      a good part of my day today arguing with my mom and brother over unions.

      My mom is just basically "Unions suck, end of story".

      My brother, although much of what he says makes me scratch my head, tries to make actual arguments.

      His thesis is that unions, because of their standardized pay scales and because they often prescribe maximum wages for "journeyman" workers, hold many people back. Also stated was that nobody can outshine anyone else, and the old RW canard - especially concerning teachers unions, that unions make it impossible for employers to fire incompetent workers - that tenure is everything.

      They see no value in tenure whatsoever.

      liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

      by RockyMtnLib on Tue Feb 15, 2011 at 08:47:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Being a non-union (0+ / 0-)

        Nurse doesn't change the standardized pay scale, so that's a right wing myth. Whether I'm the hardest working nurse on the unit or the nurse doing the bare minimum we get the same raise.  In my 20's I worked at a supermarket which was unionized, that decent paying job with benefits made it possible for me to pay for my college education. Not everyone has the middle class family sacrificing to send their kids off to a great college. Many have struggles and unfortunate circumstances, as far as I am concerned my union job played a huge roll in my ability to get a college degree. This was in the early 90's, not sure my story would be possible today. That being said, the union was far from perfect. There were employees who should have been fired who were saved time and time again. But the many who benefitted from unions far outweigh those who exploited the unions mission to protect workers.    

        " The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"-Eleanor Roosevelt

        by Lh1695 on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 12:57:51 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Then I got the standard (0+ / 0-)

          "If you don't like the conditions you're working in, quit complaining and just look for another job" - the "love it or leave it" argument.

          liberal bias = failure to validate or sufficiently flatter the conservative narrative on any given subject

          by RockyMtnLib on Wed Feb 16, 2011 at 10:25:07 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

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