unions and higher educational requirements

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To:"'histonet'" <histonet@Pathology.swmed.edu>
Date:Tue, 4 May 1999 08:50:12 -0400
Content-Type:text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

I apologize for the length of this post, but I've followed the recent
threads on unionizing and educational  requirements and feel compelled to
comment on both. 

Having been born and raised in the Flint, Michigan area I am intimately
familiar with unions and the effect they have on the community in which they
operate. My understanding of the goals of unions is to provide reasonable
working conditions and pay/benefits for the membership in whatever job the
are organized to represent. This is very noble and in many sectors of the
work force is needed. I'm sure I wouldn't have had the opportunities I've
had if my father worked in a shop that was not unionized. 

However, I believe that everything has it's time and place. It is in my
opinion, in the Flint area at least, that the unions are dying from their
inability to change with the times. Like the dinosaurs that found it
impossible to adapt to their changing global environment, they are slowly
wasting away from within, stomping and roaring in an attempt to regain the
strength they once had. In large part they have only themselves to blame
(NAFTA didn't help either) due to their inability to come to grips with the
fact that the nature of mass production has changed in the face of our
global economy. From what I understand, they refuse to see the obvious...
that it doesn't take 4 people to do the job of one, and that some people
within the union don't deserve the representation they get. I've worked in
unions where the only people that required constant representation are the
ones that had no business in the career field. They were lazy and
lackadaisical and were simply there to collect a paycheck. Add that to the
ever increasing buerocracy at the top of the union hierarchy and it becomes
difficult to take the unions seriously and tell the difference between the
voted officials and those they are supposed to bargain with.

Of course the management and owners of the factories at which these workers
go to everyday are no less liable. It is frustrating as a worker when you
continue to see downsizing and the movement of jobs over borders when you go
to work everyday and knock yourself out for the company that promised you a
job for life if you would continue to be loyal and work hard. 

That's what they need to be held accountable for. The constant pleas by the
management/owners to the workers and communities to show  loyalty by
providing tax breaks and a stable work force. Only to have the same
management/owners, after the requested accommodations have been met on part
of the community, close up shop in a heart beat if it means they can move
jobs out of the country and line their pockets a bit more in the process. 

I'm not against making money, and I do feel that management/owners have
worked hard and deserve to make more money than the general laborer. But
they need to realize that it's the employees that work for them and make a
decent wage that purchase their products. That if they continue to move jobs
out of country, the consumers they are targeting will not be able to afford
the products any more.

As was stated in a previous post, that's where the issue of open dialog
comes in between employee and employer. Call me a pessimist, but I find the
concept of honest, open dialog 
 between the two groups very unlikely. The bottom line is money (look at
HMO's and downsizing and tell me otherwise), and we live in a society that
is interested in getting what ever they can for themselves NOW regardless of
how it affects what happens later. Until everyone recognizes this trait in
their nature things will not get better, we will continue to lose jobs, have
to work harder and more often to make ends meet, which will result in less
time spent with our families and on and on and on...

Combine this with the fact that high tech positions are being moved out of
the country and our economy is being based more and more on service. Where
does that leave us.

I guess this is the lead in for the need of higher educational requirements.
If we expect to keep the high tech jobs then we need to give them a reason
to keep them here. The only way to accomplish that is to show them we are
serious and have the skills necessary to develop and support new
technologies and the only way to do this is to get higher education. This
can only serve to secure your future by diversifying your talents. I work in
the area of research and am in need of increasing my knowledge of computers.
This will make me valuable not only in histology but in the use of computers
in general, should I decide to change career fields at some point. I will do
this because I choose to adapt and survive.

It couldn't have been more than 100 years ago that barbers were also pulling
teeth. I'm very grateful  that someone back then realized that it was
necessary to be able to work more than pliers to do proper dental work.
Aren't you? 

Andrew Robertson

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