-- Chicago teachers strike
-- Chicago Symphony Orchestra musicians strike
-- The NFL Referees locked out by the NFL over contract dispute
-- NHL owners and players cannot agree on a contract and it looks like the NHL won't have much of a season
-- In the Twin Cities, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra musicians and Minnesota Orchestra musicians are locked in a stalemate with their respective managements and Board of Directors over their contracts.
|Nathan Weber for The NY Times|
In each case, it's union vs. management, or management vs. union, depending on your point of view. The first three above have been settled, essentially. I'm waiting to hear about more unions and managements at odds over a contract. Is it something in the air?
Full disclosure: I am not a huge fan of unions. I've managed to live my life so far without becoming a member of one. There have been some close calls. At the moment, I'm happy for my independent status. Unions have not had a positive effect on my life, actually. I sometimes wonder if they still function as a protection for the worker as much as they did when they were first formed. I wonder about union leadership a lot.
My most painful experience with a union occurred several years ago when the public transportation drivers and mechanics walked off the job and organized a strike. As a result, public transportation came to a halt and was not available until the strike was over 45 days later. For the duration, I was without daily transportation. I don't own a car. I'm not wealthy enough to take cabs everywhere or hire a car service or rent a car for the duration. I went where my feet could take me which wasn't as far as I needed them to take me, unfortunately. This did not make me happy.
To be fair, I understood why the union members were striking. I also understood why management was not giving in to union demands. What I didn't understand was how the two of them could treat their customers with such blatant disrespect and cruelty. Yes, cruelty. I wasn't the only person without transportation. It really hit the working poor hard. Neither the union nor management had consulted with the customers to find out if they'd be OK with not having transportation until they could settle their differences. There was no sympathy for the customer. The union expected the customers to sympathize with them. Management wanted the customers to side with them.
Something as vitally important as public transportation, like police and fire department workers, should be categorized as an essential service. This would prevent the union members from striking. I think it would also force the two sides to work harder to reach agreement before contracts expire. I deeply resent having my life held hostage by a union whose members have walked off the job to strike.
So, I'm happy with unions only when they are quiet and do not cause me any problems such as denying me daily transportation. But there is one thing that seems to connect so many of the problems we're having in America at the moment -- money and its acquisition.
I swear, Americans are all becoming Ferengis!