FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Looking Forward for Labor

by DAVID MACARAY

Despite the many defeats, false starts, shattered hopes, bitter disappointments, etc., that have dogged organized labor throughout 2010, there are only two New Year’s resolutions that need to be made for 2011.  If both are realized, the labor movement will be considerably stronger as a result.  One is for the membership, one is for the leadership.

Let’s start with the membership.

In a nutshell, you need to become better union members.  There are two steps in that process.  The first is to start attending regular membership meetings.  While attendance varies from union to union, the average national attendance is estimated at 5-percent.  If you belong to a local with 500 members, that means you’ll average 25 members a month.  Which tells me that the 5-percent estimate (pitiful as it is) is too high.

When I was president of a 700-member local, 5-percent would’ve been 35 people; and I can tell you that we never, ever averaged 35 people, not in any year I was president.  We were closer to 15 or 20 people.  The only time we had any more than that was around contract bargaining time (when we had full houses) or when rumors were flying about lay-offs or some other catastrophe.

And from what I gathered, most other unions had similar turnouts.  Indeed, a consistent five-percent would’ve been welcomed.  Years ago, one of our AWPPW locals amended its by-laws to require members to attend a minimum of one-third of all monthly meetings in any given year in order to be eligible to run for union office.  Alas, the local had to remove the amendment when they couldn’t field enough candidates.

The second step is to stop second-guessing every decision that comes down the pike.  Stop whining, stop griping, stop nitpicking, stop giving speeches in the breakroom, stop pretending you know more than you know.  The only place where you should challenge a union decision is at the membership meeting; otherwise keep your mouth shut.  Believe me, management fears union solidarity, and rejoices in union dissension.

Now for the leadership.

In a nutshell, many of you are overpaid.  On a national level, you must resolve to make no more in annual salary than the highest paid worker in the bargaining unit; and at the local level, you need to cut back on those sweet little perks and extra cash that come your way.  You know what they are.  Resolve to avoid them.  You’re in a public service job, people.  Behave like it.

One of the great things about Harry Bridges, the legendary past president of the Longshoreman’s union, was that he refused to take any more in compensation than what the highest paid dock worker made.  It was one reason he was so beloved by the rank-and-file.

If I hear one more International officer try to justify his six-figure salary by comparing it to the private sector, I’m going to scream (then I’m going to strangle him).  Some years ago, the president of an International told me that, given his job title and the number of people he was responsible for, if he were in the private sector he’d be “making twice as much money.”

While I didn’t want to offend him (because, deep-down, he was a solid union man and an effective officer), I also didn’t want him to take me for a chump.  So I offended him.

I reminded him that (1) given his qualifications, it’s unlikely the private sector would hire him at all, much less pay him double, (2) compared to what the membership does day-in and day-out, the cushy office job he has doesn’t even qualify as “work, and (3) the satisfaction of representing working people should be its own reward; a six-figure salary is not only unnecessary, it’s an insult to the people he represents.

Happy New Year, everyone!

DAVID MACARAY, a Los Angeles playwright, is the author of “It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor”. He served 9 terms as president of AWPPW Local 672. He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

 

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

February 10, 2016
Eoin Higgins
Clinton and the Democratic Establishment: the Ties That Bind
Fred Nagel
The Role of Legitimacy in Social Change
Jeffrey St. Clair
Why Bernie Still Won’t Win
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Aleppo Gamble Pays Off
Chris Martenson
The Return of Crisis: Everywhere Banks are in Deep Trouble
Ramzy Baroud
Next Onslaught in Gaza: Why the Status Quo Is a Precursor for War
Sheldon Richman
End, Don’t Extend, Draft Registration
Benjamin Willis
Obama in Havana
Jack Smith
Obama Intensifies Wars and Threats of War
Rob Hager
How Hillary Clinton Co-opted the Term “Progressive”
Mark Boothroyd
Syria: Peace Talks Collapse, Aleppo Encircled, Disaster Looms
Lawrence Ware
If You Hate Cam Newton, It’s Probably Because He’s Black
Jesse Jackson
Starving Government Creates Disasters Like Flint
Bill Laurance
A Last Chance for the World’s Forests?
Gary Corseri
ABC’s of the US Empire
Frances Madeson
The Pain of the Earth: an Interview With Duane “Chili” Yazzie
Binoy Kampmark
The New Hampshire Distortion: The Primaries Begin
Andrew Raposa
Portugal: Europe’s Weak Link?
Wahid Azal
Dugin’s Occult Fascism and the Hijacking of Left Anti-Imperialism and Muslim Anti-Salafism
February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Neve Gordon
Israeli Labor Party Adopts the Apartheid Mantra
Kristin Kolb
The “Great” Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
Brian Foley
Interview With a Bernie Broad: We Need to Start Focusing on Positions and Stop Relying on Sexism
February 08, 2016
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Privatization: the Atlanticist Tactic to Attack Russia
Mumia Abu-Jamal
Water War Against the Poor: Flint and the Crimes of Capital
John V. Walsh
Did Hillary’s Machine Rig Iowa? The Highly Improbable Iowa Coin Tosses
Vincent Emanuele
The Curse and Failure of Identity Politics
Eliza A. Webb
Hillary Clinton’s Populist Charade
Uri Avnery
Optimism of the Will
Roy Eidelson Trudy Bond, Stephen Soldz, Steven Reisner, Jean Maria Arrigo, Brad Olson, and Bryant Welch
Preserve Do-No-Harm for Military Psychologists: Coalition Responds to Department of Defense Letter to the APA
Patrick Cockburn
Oil Prices and ISIS Ruin Kurdish Dreams of Riches
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange, the UN and Meanings of Arbitrary Detention
Shamus Cooke
The Labor Movement’s Pearl Harbor Moment
W. T. Whitney
Cuba, War and Ana Belen Montes
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail