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To union or not to union?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by UncleHappyPants, May 20, 2007.

  1. Several friends of mine have asked me for help on this and I am not sure how to answer them. I would greatly appreciate any help on this.

    A friend of mine works for a weekly that has recently come under control of a metro paper. This friend's shop is a non-union shop. However, the dailies that are owned by this particular chain are all union. Employees of that union have made it known that they would love for the non-union people to join the union. Some people have glanced at the union contract and the salaries within it are much better than they are making now.

    If they vote to join the union, can they be fired? Any info on this and any stories from personal experience would be greatly appreciated by my friends.
  2. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    just make sure a majority of people are on board before you go all norma rae and shit on your boys.

    union organizers, the guys who actually have those words in their titles, tell you to be discrete while organizing.
  3. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    At my first full-time job, we tried to unionize. I was involved in that, got people to sign cards that were presented to the NLRB. Two days after we filed for a union vote, the company fired 13 people in the newsroom, some of whom had not signed cards. Eventually, through attrition, I was on the organizing committe. Now the union had told us the company would never see who signed those cards and that's what I told people when I asked them to sign. And, of course, eventually the company did see those cards and I had people saying to me, "You promised!" Some old guy was especially vexed at me. Hell, I was 20 or 21 and I just believed what I was told, same as them.

    Now, having worked in union and non-union situations since, I am ambivalent about unions. I understand why some people are staunchly pro-union and I have no ill will for them. My personal experience is that the union officials probably don't care any more about you than the company does, that they'll pick a fight not necessarily for a local's good but to send a message nationwide. Also, if you look at how the most recent newspaper strikes went, the unions seem virtually powerless.

    If you are at a crappy paper, a union isn't the answer. My boss at the time had the best words of wisdom. He asked me why I wanted a union and I said I like it here, I'd like to be able to afford to stay here. He said that even in the unlikely event that my salary should triple, I should still get out ASAP, that I had potential and the paper didn't and that he was looking himself. "This is where you start," he said. "Only an idiot would stay here any longer than he had to, union or not."
  4. Bob_Jelloneck

    Bob_Jelloneck Member

    I don't see why any newspaper employees think they need a union.
  5. minimack42

    minimack42 New Member

    well, I'm don't work for a newspaper. However I am in a union. We don't pay ANYTHING for our Medical Coverage. Can anyone at a NON-UNION place of business say the same?...We also have a higher wage than non-union shops....so, let's see, HIGHER WAGES, FULLY EMPLOYER PAID medical coverage....ahhhhh, why would anyone NOT want a union?
  6. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    You really think you don't pay for you medical coverage? It's called "back draw."
    You pay for it one way or another.
  7. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    I should add how they recruited me. I was 20. A guy from work called and asked me to meet him at a bar I never had heard of, on a side street downtown. It was a "go-go bar" named Johnny's Lounge. I had never seen a stripper before, nor had I ever seen such tiny drinks, the glasses couldn't have held more than 4 ounces. The guy gets right down to it, says hello, orders us a couple scotches, shoves a green card at me and says, "We're trying to unionize against these fuckheads, so sign." I did it without much thought, although I was still in that "Jeepers, they're paying me to write" phase. No real Norma Rae moment for me. Boobs, booze and a union card -- thus did my activism begin.
  8. MacDaddy

    MacDaddy Active Member

    I work at a union newspaper where we pay a lot of money for shitty medical coverage, and we also have the shittiest retirement plan I've ever seen.

    As far as I can tell, the only thing the union accomplishes is keeping incompetent people employed.
  9. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

  10. Bob_Jelloneck

    Bob_Jelloneck Member

    Come work at one of my non-union papers, you won't have to worry about shitty medical coverage or a shitty retirement plan any longer.

    And you can rest assured we have no intention of keeping incompetent people (or anybody else) employed.

  11. EStreetJoe

    EStreetJoe Well-Known Member

    I'm at a non-union shop and I pay zero out of my paycheck for my health insurance and prescription plan and zero for my wife's coverage on those plans. However we each have a $1,000 deductable on the medical insurance and there is no dental plan. I also make a fairly good wage as well.
  12. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Because it protects some bad employees who deserve to be shitcanned for apathy, non-productivity and plagiarism.
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