Labor Watch January 2016: Working Class Heroes: Today, the heroes are those who stand up to corrupt and useless unions
Working Class Heroes
Today, the heroes are those who stand up to corrupt and useless unions [PDF here]
By Steven J. Allen
Summary: From a lift-truck driver for a cold-storage warehouse, to a worker at a peach farm, to an autoworker-turned-activist, to a teacher who helped create a local-only union—in workplaces across the country—Americans are waking up and taking power into their own hands, no longer standing idly by while unions abuse their power.
Today, more and more workers are discovering that, yes, they can stand up to unions that waste their dues money on big salaries or on providing support to politicians.
Here are some stories of people who’ve fought back, with varying degrees of success.
Karen Cox is a lift-truck operator who works for Americold Logistics in Rochelle, Illinois. Based in Atlanta, Americold operates more than 175 temperature-controlled warehouses around the world.
Cox came to work one day and discovered, to her surprise, that she was now a member of a union—specifically, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. RWDSU is a semi-autonomous division of the United Food and Commercial Workers that represents service, clerical, sales, and maintenance workers, as well as employees in the citrus, food processing, tobacco, jewelry, and novelty and toy industries.
This was the union’s third attempt at the plant. A union representative, Roger Grobstich, said, “We have some workers there who were part of previous attempts to organize. They stayed at Americold despite opportunities for great jobs elsewhere. We have a leader there who said he was going to stay at Americold until they had a union there, and that’s what has happened.”
The 111 workers at the facility were unionized using “card check,” a process in which workers are asked to sign cards supporting a union.
Often, a worker will sign under pressure, or will sign because he or she has been misled about the effect of signing the card, or will sign based on the belief that the collection of signatures will result, at most, in an election to decide whether the workplace is unionized. In fact, the cards can be used to unionize a workplace without an election.
“It was like spring of 2012, and rumors started going around about union trying to come in,” Cox said. “I didn’t take that seriously because my co-workers that I knew, we were all pretty content with our jobs. I came into work one day and the union was just there. A lot of people that signed those cards were told that by signing they are just going to get information about the union that is, you know, possibly going to be representing them.
“A lot of people didn’t know that if the union got enough of those signatures—50 percent plus one—that the company could recognize them and they come in [Click HERE for the rest of the story]