In response to Cory Anthony’s column, (“No Strike and You’re Out”, Daily Nexus, Oct. 15, 2002): Mr. Anthony, the fight might be ours someday? Ours? You mean I might take part in it? No, I don’t think the fight will be mine. I don’t plan on taking a job where I know that the wages are poor and then fighting against my employer for money that I may or may not deserve.
Whether I support C.U.E.’s position or not – they actually do have some valid points, but I can save that for another story – unions and strike situations are ideologically frightening. In many cases, it’s almost a refusal by union members to see the reality of their situation. Union workers usually feel expendable – which is generally true, they can be expendable – but they are as expendable as they feel. It takes some time, effort and money, unless it’s a really easy job, to replace an employee. If the employee is not doing his job up to par, then it might be more profitable to the company/organization to put in that time and effort and money to replace him. Or that also may be the nature of the job.
I took a job like that at a national bookstore chain. I knew it was easier for the company to hire workers for three months rather than keep them on for ages and compensate them for their time and experience, but then I was trained for this job in all of two days, too. Unions usually fight against this sense of temporariness and think that anybody, if decent though not outstanding, should be able to work anywhere and be justly compensated – their terms of justly compensated, not necessarily what really is fair.
Now I fall into the trap of this word “fair.” Let’s just say market price, including benefits. Reading most union papers and websites, they talk an awful lot about wages but never mention that maybe the lack of wages is what gives the employer the ability to give benefits, which cuts down on the union members’cost of living. Nor do they ever think of the people outside their union. This situation gives those who choose not to join a union less bargaining power with their employers because the employer will almost always bargain with the unit that has more power first. I would choose not to join a union on the basis that if they called a real strike, stopping work until negotiations are complete, I would not lose my job. Besides, I would also count on my ability to become less expendable to hold my job, rather than some outside organization. It is my job and my responsibility to keep that job. But thankfully most unions do not deny that they serve the best interests of their members, rather than the people who could consist of their members. I’ll give ’em that credit.
In reality, many people can hold these clerical positions, and if it didn’t require a B.A., even I could. Clerical workers and lecturers are expendable, especially in this competitive environment and there are a great many people willing to take your position in a town like this and possibly have a lower standard of living. If you union members really want the UC to stand up and take notice, quit your jobs to tell “the system” that you can find another, better one. Nothing is more satisfying than improving yourself and taking care of your own problems, rather than telling your employer that you are too poor and demanding that they do something about it, regardless of how valuable you really are to them. To me, taking care of yourself individually is a right and a responsibility of a worker.
Christina M. Dauenhauer is a senior philosophy major.