Union Stiffs Stiffing Union Stiffs, the Irony of It

For me, some stories are more fun to write than others. This is one of those. I seems that the union stiffs of the UAW are accused of stiffing the union stiffs of OPEIU (Office Professional Employees International Union) who happen to work for the UAW union stiffs at Solidarity House, the UAW’s headquarters in Detroit.

I couldn’t stop laughing when I read this article at REDSTATE, which quotes from an article at the Detroit News.

Members of the Office Professional Employees International Union, which represents clerical and janitorial workers at Solidarity House and other UAW offices around the country, say the UAW has pushed them to take major concessions during the past couple of years and is now insisting on layoffs.

But the workers are fighting back. They have picketed Solidarity House. On Thursday, they held a meeting to decide what to do next.

“Bob King always talks about creative problem-solving, but the only creative problem solution he’s offering is more layoffs,” said Audrey McKenna, vice president of OPEIU Local 494, which represents UAW office employees in Detroit. ”We know times are tough, but they’re spending like the ‘Housewives of Beverly Hills.‘”

Don’t you just love the irony of it? OPEIU union stiffs are picketing the UAW union stiffs, at their headquarters no less. And “…spending like the `Housewives of Beverly Hills´”, what’s that about?

She and other union members said the UAW has been hiring a small army of consultants for its organizing campaign against foreign-owned automakers. They also accuse King and other UAW officials of spending big on foreign travel and remodeling projects at Solidarity House.

You  are really going to want to read the rest of this REDSTATE article. It is full of gems of how the union bosses use the money from dues paying members to live the good life. Make no mistake, my friends. Big unions are just like big corporations in many ways.

Although I grew up in a union household; both my parents were die-hard UAW members, I have had no use for unions since I read Atlas Shrugged when I was fifteen. In my career in the mining industry, I had the opportunity to run both union and non-union operations. The difference was like night and day. In the non-union operations, there was harmony and efficiency. In the unionized operations, it was an adversarial environment and much less efficiency. But, let me share with an experience I had with unions here in Venezuela, which I think demonstrates how unions are the same wherever you go.

It was about seventeen years ago. I was the senior management representative in Venezuela for a small multi-national mining company when the labor contract came up for renegotiation. One of the union’s demands was for the company to contribute money to its employees to aid them in acquiring building materials for the construction of their own  house. [ Note: In Venezuela, a person can go their local mayor’s office and petition for a building lot on which to build their house. A house is typically made of cinder block and has a corrugated tin roof. The person will not receive title to the land, but for all practical purposes it is his.] I asked my chief negotiator how much the union was asking. He replied five Bolivares per day, about the cost of a six-pack of beer at that time. We quickly calculated that over the three-year life of the contract theat this would cost the company eighty million Bolivares (about $8oo thousand, at the time).  This was too much money for a small start-up company that had yet to turn a profit. To make a long story short, I instructed my negotiator to tell the union that the company was willing to put fifty million Bolivares in an account and each year of the contract the we and they would draw out of a hat the names of six employees and award them three million Bolivares each (the typical cost for a working class house in those days). A few days later I learned that the union was delighted with what we had offered. About a month later, all of clause to the contract had been negotiated and both parties were ready to sign. My chief negotiator came to me and informed me it was time to pay the union bosses their signing bonus, The union bosses were asking for ten million Bolivares. I’m afraid I used every Spanish curse word I knew to explain that I had no intention of paying the union bosses even one Bolivar let alone ten million. My chief negotiator valiantly tried to convince me that this was things were done in Venezuela but I was unmoved. I instructed him to tell the union bosses if they wanted ten million Bolivares, they would have to take it out of the contract. Although not happy with my decision, he did as I instructed. the next day he returned to my  office all smiles and laid a signed copy of the new contract on my desk. When I asked about the ten million Bolivares signing bonus, he informed that there was now only forty million in the employee housing fund clause. So, do you see why I’m not a fan of unions?

Well. that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?

23 thoughts on “Union Stiffs Stiffing Union Stiffs, the Irony of It

  1. Love your story about Venezuela. I’m not a fan of unions either. My lack of admiration comes from watching a mining town in Minnesota deteriorate because of unions, and worse, seeing the men who were unionized become more interested in scamming the company than being productive, to the point were guys with a work ethic were threatened for making other people look bad. Night shift guys clocking in, sneaking under a fence and heading to the bar, then home to sleep, then getting up to go clock out. Suddenly the mine isn’t making money (amazing that high wages for people who don’t have any intention or inclination toward productivity can do that), and steel from foreign sources became a better alternative to mining it here. DAMN CORPORATIONS! (HAH!)

    Union bosses live high off the hog, though. Wasn’t it just a few years ago that there was an expose’ on the private country club for UAW union chiefs?

  2. I have stories about unions that turn both ways. I would like to say this. Without unions, labor has always been exploited as cheaply as possible. Where safety concerns are paramount, (google granite mountain mine disaster) the need for unions has been even greater. That WAS the history.

    Without unions Jim, you wouldn’t have made shit in Venezuela. Probably. Unless you were the mine owner.

    Nowadays, we have millions of starving lawyers and we have lost 25 million labor jobs. Lawyers have largely replaced unions. Unions are a part of history like buggy whips. Unless there is some great labor renaissance, union days should be officially declared dead. That the USG, headed by the idiot Obama, took over GM (which I still believe was illegal) and left the unions intact- is a real head scratcher. It makes you wonder if he was bought off in some amount beyond that donated as “campaign contributions.”

    1. I agree Frankenstein. Unions were needed at one time. However, times have changed, and have changed for the better for workers. Smart management now treats productive employees well, and looks out for their safety (the lawyer angle you pointed out). There was a shift in the culture, but those who make their money off of the unions (the union bigwigs and the politicians they support) won’t acknowledge it, because it’s not in their interest. If only the buggy whip manufacturers had a better lobbying effort and friends in the right places, we’d all own buggy whips via government mandate today.

    2. There was indeed a time when unions plated an important role. But please, Brian, don’t assume that all people in management were or are monsters. but you are right that today with labor laws, OSHA and MSHA and the NLRB, there is even less need for unions.

  3. The union fighting union story is hilarious. You can make u[p stuff like that.

    Btw… I noticed your age-related Freudian Slip in the posting…

    You wrote: “my career in the ming industry”

    Obviously, you meant to say: “my career during the Ming Dynasty” 😉 😉

  4. Jim, do you remember me telling you that all Ron Paul has to do is keep his nose clean and he has a shot?

    Here’s the latest on the current soup du jour, Gingrich. One more elite bastard like everyone else the GOP comes up with. When are people going to quit electing rich, elite, self serving bastards to public office? That would include, Perry, Romney, Gingrich, Cain.

    Do any of us have anything in common with them? No. http://thecivillibertarian.blogspot.com/2011/11/defending-elite-why-hating-right-is.html

    1. “I favor people who need help getting housing if it’s done in a prudent way. That’s public record. I give speeches all over about that,” the former Speaker said in Des Moines.”

      How very conservative of him. America is so screwed!

  5. This all reminds me of growing up, during which time, tens of thousands of union men and women lost their jobs when the companies left, or went out of business. Lots of people lost everything, but the union bosses kept their power, and that’s the important thing,

  6. Great story with a happy ending! Unions leaders only care about one thing and that is protecting themselves and using the collective to benefit themselves and it is funny to see two unions fighting against one another.

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