Esrati on Unions

This is my position on unions and for a Democrat, it may be akin to political suicide if you believe the system isn’t broken.

Today’s Dayton Daily News had a small item saying “Union rolls see biggest jump since 1983” that stated that union membership in the US is now 15.7 million, or 12.1% of the workforce. The distribution is interesting in that only 7.5% of private sector workers are unionized and 35.9% are public sector.

In the Montgomery County Democratic Party, I’ve been told that 50% of the screening committee is union, down from 75%. This may explain why Jane Mitakides got the endorsement instead of me.

My father was a Newspaper Guild steward. I walked the picket lines with them when I was a kid. My father will tell you a story of how I went as a “spy” to see when the Teamsters were coming to either cross the line, or to stop when I was about 10, but that’s another matter.

I believe unions are good. I believe in the right to collective bargaining. I believe unions are there to protect workers rights, to demand safe and fair working conditions. I think Wal-Mart would be a better company if it was unionized, as would many of our “big box retailers” which seem to think of labor as a commodity, when in fact, it is what makes the ultimate difference in performance- much more than the C-level suite.

However, here are my problems with unions today:

  • I don’t believe unions dues should be used for political purposes. An extreme example: many unions have ardent pro-lifers in their membership. Unions tend to support Democratic candidates who are often pro-choice. This is patently unfair.
  • I don’t believe in tenure based on seniority, or tenure in general. As a small businessman, I am judged everyday by my performance. Just like a college basketball team. Just because I’m a senior, shouldn’t guarantee me playing time, I still have to earn my spot. I believe that experience is a valuable business asset, and that companies that want to get rid of senior people for any reason other than performance, are exercising poor business judgment. Performance expectations and ratings guidelines should be an integral part of any labor contract, if there is a question of performance, it should be clear by evaluation of well kept records if an employee was unfairly terminated.
    Side note: If we have universal health care, one of the major reasons for laying off seniors (with higher health care burdens) will be eliminated.
  • I believe unions have been quiet on a major issue, only coming forward lately in negotiations: executive pay and perks. I have no problem with founders of a company making billions. However, this new class of carpet-bagger CEO, who can come in for a year or two and steal multi-millions from a company while “right-sizing” it for short term stock performance and their cash-out must stop. If a company wants to pay CEO’s exorbitant salaries, they must either go private, or be held to some sort of reward linked to risk- for the entire company. Companies are team sport- not golf. We need to put an emphasis on team play into CEO pay.

With that all said, the political system hasn’t changed, and endorsements from unions and organizations (by majority vote, in a public meeting) do make a difference in campaigns. I will not accept money from Unions, Special Interest Groups or Corporations, but would appreciate any union brave enough to support my campaign.

The current system has become, as John Edwards said, more of an auction than an election. I want to represent the free thinkers, the next generation of workers and the concept of the individuals independent rights that this country was founded on. So, if you can get a majority of members in your organization to endorse me, I would be grateful.

Individual donations will be gladly accepted. If you agree with this idea, please consider donating as much as you can afford. We won’t see a change, until we prove that elections aren’t for sale to any group other than hard-working Americans.

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