"ARE YOU READY YET?"
That was the title of the two page double sided hand-out from the CAW
Or should I start by how I got it in my hand?
Well I drove up to work this morning and saw this harmless looking lady
in the middle of the entrance. Now, being not the murderous sort, I
slowed down nearly to a halt and tried to nuzzle past her on her side.
She was slightly reluctant to move.
Although she did at least "shift" herself slightly, which in the end I
do appreciate being the one driving the high powered machine that could
steam roll over her. Not that I would, but occasionally, the
stubbornness of hard headed ignorant pedestrians makes wayward
temptations appear in the mind.
To play along, or maybe it was submission, only Angels could tell, I
stopped beside her and rolled down my window to chat with the lady that
obviously wanted me to.
Now I can't recall much of what she said. But she gave me that hand-out
with big bolded letters "ARE YOU READY YET?"
The top right hand corner gave the insignia of our lovable Jewish
boycotters and Hardgrove maniacs at the CAW.
Keep in mind; I was wearing a dress shirt and slacks. Management was
written all over me. The expression on this lady's face at my stopping
was one of confusion.
Poor woman was. She's spending her Wednesday mornings handing out
literature for ultimate poison pill of manufacturing environments. But
I guess from her perspective she's merely helping out the poor oppressed
proletariat in this plant that is mostly made up of quaint middle aged
women and pregnant mothers by the looks of it.
No matter. I read through it all sitting at my desk. Apparently things
are "worse than ever" at the plant, and "favoritism, lack of dignity and
respect, inconsistency, and no voice" seem to be rampant here. Which is
strange, because I don't notice the roof quite falling down yet at this
Once more I learned that with a union there will be no more "favoritism"
and workers will be able to express themselves without "fear."
This reminds me of a story... Uh-Oh... This is flashback time...
Once upon a time I lived for a while in some nameless town in Ontario
very heavily dependant on manufacturing plants. There was one in
particular that employed many and was unionized and I was an engineer
Engineers hated employees there. Employees, for the most part returned
the favor. The working environment was needless to say less than
I lived with a quaint old lady that made me meals every night for less
than three hundred a month. She knew my mother was Italian and even
tried to reproduce my mother's masterpieces. It was so loving a
gesture, but no so kind to Italian cuisine. She was much better at
cooking Canadian food in general - which I ate up in plentifuls.
She was sweet woman, more like a mother than anything else. I
frequently would tell her about my problems at work and she would offer
She once confided in me that her son in a law once worked at the plant
but was laid off. That convinced me not to bring my problems to her
anymore. She no doubt held a secret hatred for engineers at that plant
because they were managers, and her son in law was a former employee.
I felt like I walked on egg shells for the longest time. She was still
so nice a lady. I just hoped she never disliked me too much.
One day her son in law came for a visit. I was tense the whole time.
He knew who I was... Didn't he despise me with the same vitriol that I
got everyday at work?
Instead he confided in me. He told me that when he worked at that plant
he was always chastised by his fellow "comrades" to stop working so hard
because it made them look bad.
Then he explained to me how it works with a union. After X months a
person qualifies for entry into the union. Before that, they can be
fired at any time. And for the most part they are. Because as soon as
they do enter the union, they work less, and take more breaks.
I started to see what he meant when I went back to work. I could even
differentiate visibly who was a union member and who wasn't yet.
Most people will be fired before X months for fear of gaining another
ball and chain so-to-speak. Most of the time they get re-hired as
"temps" that will never get full benefits or any job security months
later. All of this while those that are in the union sit back and do
little work. It's mostly the temps and those new guys that work the
You could visibly tell who was a temp, because they were the most
co-operative and hard working all the time.
Slowly I started to see what he meant. This decent enough son-in-law
was right. He was fired and was quite happy for it. That environment
for him was sickening. And I could relate. Everyday it seemed like I
had to be worried about violating a collective bargaining agreement for
doing something as simple as plugging in a coord or screwing on a small
air hose to something... That was not my job I was told.
That man made me see a lot of things differently. He made me understand
not to distrust people so much. But he also taught me to trust my
instincts as much as I temper my opinions.
Though I can't help but think back to him today after reading that
hand-out. I wonder what he would say to all of this nonsense.
I think he would say that there is real FEAR with a union - the fear of
going up against the union. He would probably also say that there is
favoritism - favoritism towards people already in the union. He would
also remark that there is a lack of dignity and respect for people when
THERE IS A UNION.
In the end I think he would say to the question "ARE YOU READY YET?" his
answer would be "Not now. NOT EVER!"