20 December 2008
Oh yeah, I'm definitely anti-union after the meeting today. Ok, I always was kinda against them, now I am for sure.
I have no doubt that unions served their purpose in the past, both with my workplace and others. Mistreatment of employees is a horrible thing and unions fill the need for third-party help. Having said that, I don't like the very basic structure of unions: keep everyone equal.
We are not equal in the workplace. Some of us work harder than others. Some of us go above and beyond the confines of our job descriptions. For those people, I think larger wage increases or bonuses are warranted. Unions don't seem to see that. They like everyone to have the same increase, whether you are a slacker or not.
Some basic contradictory points our negotiator made at the meeting:
Fight for your individual rights vs. vote with the group
Don't talk about the meetings vs. talk about the meetings to you can all agree on the points
Striking is bad vs. striking is in your best interests
Your current wage structure seems to work vs. your wage structure is wrong
This last point about wage structure is the one that will be stuck in my craw for a while. I have not worked for a union before this job. When I found out we received a 3% wage increase every January I was floored. A raise for no reason? Seriously? I was raised to think that by working hard I would be rewarded with more pay. This has been the case in many jobs I've had (not all, but most). Especially at this job. I have been rewarded nicely for my hard work and excellence. But to get a raise just because the cost of living has gone up seems absurd to me. I have the attitude that if I do a good job I will get better pay, not that if I make it past January I will get better pay. In addition to the 3% increase we are given performance reviews where we may receive a raise based on, well, performance. This has not been a problem with me. Like I said, every job I've had has had raises based on performance. And I agree with it wholeheartedly. If an employee is barely doing her job, sitting around, taking longer than allotted breaks, repeatedly not showing up for shifts, then she should not get a raise, or just a nominal raise. If an employee is doing an excellent job, good with time management, needs little/no supervision, can be relied on, then she should receive a larger raise than the other employee.
So as much as the negotiator said he would fight for our best interests, and that our current wage structure is working, he doesn't like it and spent about an hour arguing against it. And picking on me because I spoke out against leveled pay. I mean really, why should the slacker get the same raise as me? How does that structure make better employees? In my opinion, there should be allowances made for excellence, rewards for superior performance, bonuses for employees that go above and beyond.
Now here's the sticky part: the negotiator seems to be lumping all employees as production line employees. I admit, on the line there is little room to show excellence. You are timed at your job and as long as you adjust your speed to whatever the line speed is then you are doing well. There really isn't any way to be better, more efficient, or the opportunity to learn very many new skills. But what about all the employees that don't work on the line? What about the baking/cooking staff? Or my job in scaling? Sanitation or prep work? These are all areas that allow for employees to show their bosses that they are worth extra money. They are also areas that it can be clear that an employee isn't doing a very good job. And they are areas that are not supervised closely. So how do I get the negotiators to see that there are different employees with different job limitations if the union sees us all as equal? Any suggestions?