Stop Trying to Destroy The Unions

Posted by: Fri, Oct 29, 2010
Posted in category Government, News, Work

I’m sick of hearing how unions are hurting this country because here in Michigan the unions are what made middle class families. I’m not defending the “Big Wigs” in any union, in my eyes they are just as bad as the corporate CEOs BUT it’s the union workers that are taking the brunt of the non-union movement.

The unions are not as powerful as they used to be for the guys and gals that join them but they do make sure that you receive the benefits you need in order to sustain a life above the poverty level. The health insurance alone, that we are guaranteed as long as my husband puts in the hours outweighs the benefits of any non-union job.

People and politicians complain that union wages are too high and that the workers aren’t worth the pay. That’s simply NOT TRUE. For one, not all union workers are lazy and make spectacles of themselves like the Chrysler workers recently fired for their bad behavior. For two, most of these people work their tail off doing jobs that deserve the pay they receive. As a matter of fact, my husband, a Michigan Union Ironworker, recently had his wages and vacation pay cut. Not to mention that because of a few bad decisions on the part of financial advisers for the union during the stock market crash these guys have no pension to speak of.

When you think that union wages are too high think about this….

The Day in the Life of a Michigan Union Ironworker

For the last 14 years being the wife of an ironworker has brought its toll with the early mornings, long hours and the constant worrying. You see, Ironwork in Michigan is usually done in the metropolitan cities (Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing, ect.) meaning that if you want to work as an ironworker you better be prepared to travel.

My husband Chad starts his day between 3 – 4 am depending on the location of the job he’s working. Due to the area we live in he has to travel on average of 1 ½ to 2 hours in the morning to work and at night after work. That’s over 15 hours a week on the road which is more dangerous than the actual ironwork that he does. Spending 13 – 14 hours a day away from home for a 40 hour paycheck hardly seems worth it. Not to mention what he spends on gas and car maintenance.

Once he finally arrives at the job site its 7 am “grind time” until the end of the day. We’re not talking sitting in a shop pushing a button we’re talking many feet in the air lifting, placing and securing hundreds of pounds of steel.

The union ironworkers also have to deal with a ton of new regulations that are changed almost daily on the job site. They now mostly work from lifts (which in my opinion is sometimes more dangerous than being on the steel). OSHA is making the standards harder on these guys every day and it seems they put more of the responsibility on the worker than they do the company. The ever changing regulations have these ironworkers taking a multitude of training classes just to keep caught up and legal to work. Did I mention the classes are not “paid on the job”, they are after work and in Novi (1 ½ hours away).

At the end of the day, Chad’s body has been maxed out and he’s exhausted (remember, he still has almost two hours of drive time before he reaches home.) He gets to spend a few hours with the family before going to bed to get up early again.

So when you gripe that union workers don’t deserve the high wages they are making think of it this way…

  • 55 hours away from home for 40 hours worth of pay
  • The increase of being seriously injured in a car accident driving almost 4 hours a day
  • The cost of gas to make that drive and the miles that rack up on your car
  • The cost of the equipment, tools, clothing and any thing needed for the job (the companies pay for NOTHING!)
  • The danger that many union workers are placed in every day and the ridicule they get from many in the country that stereotype them with the UAW

When you take the good and the bad I believe the union worker wins overall. You have a diplomatic means to making sure your worker rights are being taken care of. Benefits that are commonly unavailable in the normal workplace are there for you. You are part of a “Brotherhood/Sisterhood” that looks out for each other…like an extended family.

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