April 29, 2002
A letter in response to a letter from Rachel Smith, policy director for I-777 who wrote that workers should be able to make their own decision about union membership.
I looked up the web site listed. The information on the web site could be viewed as "liars figure and figures lie," as in any other concepts that could be debated. Looking at the map of the states that have Right to Work laws seem to be rather close to the Mexican border. The web page mentioned some things about the 1990s and losing manufacturing jobs, could this be due to the end of the cold war and the closing or selling off of large companies and the loss of good paying wages as in the Aviation Industry which effected the Los Angles area of California. Also NAFTA in the late 90' allowing the movement of companies south of the border for cheaper labor, less restrictive environmental standards and the Mexican Government stopping the rights of workers to organizing.
Something that Mrs., Smith mentioned was the word "salaries" this is mostly associated with management pay. Now that could have been a generalization on her part. But it is true if the hourly works pay is lower or held down then the "salaries" of some individuals will certainly go up. That could be in direct correlation as to why the pay discrepancies of top management and the hourly worker has gone from a difference of 20 times in the 1960's to over 200 times in the 1990's, regardless of the shop is union or not. Just look at the recent salary of the out going CEO of General Electric, $231.000.000.00. But apparently to the committee for I-777 the Union hourly workers is to blame for the high cost of living in some states and cities. Unions not only deal with wages, they are also concerned with fair treatment of members from management, safety in the work place, women's rights and drug and alcohol abuse programs just to mention a few that the Unions deal with in their every day business. To have and run these programs cost money and for all the members to help pay these costs is only fair to everyone involved. If a person that is unfairly fired from his job and the case goes to arbitration, that cost alone could be over $3000 or more . I would hope that that person would have had the good conscience to have helped with the financial burden he or she has put on the paying members in that Union. As with any large or even small organization the membership does not always agree with every thing that organization is doing. But in the Union I proudly belong to there is ways to change the way they do things, it just depends on how much you want to be involved in the process.
Dean Williams, Duvall