Sitting here at work and thinking about my days in the grip union. Local 80. We bitched and griped about the way it was run, that they didn't do enough, weren't there when we needed them, didn't find us work and didn't respond fast enough to problems. Add to that the smarmy guys from the National IATSE and it was quite a distasteful experience. And yet, I wouldn't want to get rid of that union for any reason. Because at the end of the day my pay was better, my workplace safer and my benefits, well, my benefits existed because of that union. IATSE Local 80. The place where washed up old grips went to try and remain relevant. And for the rest of us a pain in the ass.
So as I contemplate the decision of Michigan to go "right-to-work" I think about the way my life could have been without the union. We already worked 12 - 16 hour days, what would it be like if there was no time and a half or double time? What if there were no meal penalties for a late lunch or a missed second meal? What if we didn't have health insurance or a pension and were getting paid minimum wage? There would be a lot of beat up old men (and women) with nowhere to turn and a mountain of medical bills. I think back to the days of working for $100 for however many hours they wanted me to work with no protection and no recourse. Take it or leave it.
This isn't about economic growth, it's about increased profits for business owners. It's about being able to lower labor costs, the one commodity that can be squeezed until it's empty. The reason labor unions came into being was because, left to their own devices, the owners take and take and take and give nothing but a few bucks in return. People have to be able to hold their employers accountable. They have to be able to ask for, and get, better pay and better conditions. This idea that employers will hire more people now is silly. It's like saying that the bully will beat you up less if their are more nerds around. It's a pathetic way to live, saying "thanks" for the scraps others leave for you. Stand up and take what you need. It's what they did to get where they are!
There are so many layers to this situation, from money and jobs to politics and the 2014 and 2016 elections. Ultimately the people who will suffer from this are those kids who thought for a moment that a job in the factory would get them a nice comfortable life. Without collective bargaining wages go down, benefits disappear, and the quality of life goes into the toilet. All in the name of fairness? Doesn't seem quite fair at all.