The Union Label: My personal experience

When I was going to college after years in the Army, I worked as a loader for UPS. It was a great job since it paid good money with a few benefits on the side. It wasn’t great working from Midnight to 5am, but I was young and pliable.

Since I was a wrestler in high school and the Army and having just gotten out of active service, I was a real go-getter. If you are someone working in the trenches, you know what I mean. I was put on a heavy load since I could keep up with it. What happens is boxes come down several hundred yards of conveyor belts as a certain speed. The flow can be constant or can dump on you quickly. Or it can trickle and even stop. Regardless, having you packages orderly down your slide and onto rolling rails makes life a whole lot easier. You have to double check the address to make sure it goes in your trailer. Then you meticulously load them in tight walls that don’t fall over. You are graded on how you keep up and the walls you make, as well as not allowing the wrong packages on your trailer. Sometimes, supervisors will "seed" your slide with a package that doesn’t belong. So you have to catch it or get a reprimand. I had to know all the zip codes that go to my slide. If I get called to work on another trailer, then I need to know that set of zip codes too. Its not rocket science, but its heavy physical labor under extreme heat and cold with mentally staying on top of addresses and the flow.

When you are on your probationary period, you are making the full amount of your paycheck. I mean, it was really good pay. It was much more than I made in the Army. I was also being evaluated and I got super high marks. I even won a steak dinner and a new jacket for my work. I was doing fine.

Then, that day finally came. I was off probation and earned my spot. But that also meant I had to pay Union dues. My paycheck dropped to about 20% for 3 paychecks since the Union gets their money first. It didn’t matter if you had bills to pay. And I paid more monthly after that. I wasn’t too happy about that. And I wasn’t informed when I signed up for the job that I was going to be forced into a Union.

Not only that, but it changed my work too. Like I said, I loved keep up with my flow. It made life easier for me. Then the worst happened. A senior worker came over to me and told me that I needed to slow down. He said I was making the other guys look bad. I kind of laughed and told him why I worked hard. Then he came back more sternly. He said he was the Union rep. He said "to slow down or else". Huh?

So I started talking around. Apparently, I had to be quiet and be careful with who I talked with. If someone was a Union snitch, they could report me. The guys I spoke with said suddenly a worker gets his car tire flattened or window broken out for non-compliance. They resort to more harmful violence after that. The Teamsters can put a lot of hurt on you if they want to.

The first car I bought was a Fiat X19. I was a stupid kid and bought something I couldn’t afford. Actually, I afforded the price of the car. Just not all the repairs. I could only get parts at the Fiat dealership and it was super expensive. Such a money pit. My Dad worked for Ford Motor Company most of his adult life. He always bought Fords. But he loved driving my little sportscar. Sometimes he took it to his work at Ford. That’s when bad things started happening. The Union saw a foreign car in the parking lot and started causing trouble. Even when I was driving, I was almost driven off the road a few times by big Ford and Chevy trucks. Detroit wasn’t kind to foreign cars and the Unions were largely behind it all.

Later in life, I was a professor for a big college. I was giving talks at USGA golf course association meetings. One of the talks was about what happened to a particular club in Chicago where we were, but apparently these incidents were pretty rampant. A big black limousine from Detroit would pull up to the entrance of the course. Guys in dark suits would call over the workers, who were often Mexican migrants. They were not so gently forcing them to join the Union. When they refused, then a huge inflatable rat was placed at the entrance of the club informing the public that non-Union workers were at this place. And it got personal from there.

Unions served a valuable service especially at the beginning of the industrial revolution. They protected workers from harmful conditions. A fire in a workers warehouse resulted in hundreds of deaths because fire exits were not present and there wasn’t protection for them. Same with steel workers and auto manufacturing. But when standards were improved, Unions became irrelevant. Its why so many companies outsource to developing countries; they don’t have unions over there. But they still want your Union dues, if not voluntarily, then by force. Then their fat cats can live off of lavish salaries taking vacations to resorts in the Caribbean. Its like taxing people for unequal representation. They get to decide what they do with your money. It is such a farce, much like our government.

People deserve the right to choose. They choose if they want to join the Union or not. It needs to be clear what the motive is. Yes, they may still form a purpose in society. But not at the cost of the people. Its the same reason why I want term limits for congress. There is no reason for career politicians. It should be real people representing us who understand our needs. Someone who has never made an honest dollar in their life shouldn’t be governing our lives. Its a failed paradigm for our society.

We the People!

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