Art Levine’s article on a union-busting seminar reminded me of the good old days at WNMU:
But if everything failed, and we found ourselves negotiating with a newly formed union, then we still shouldnâ€™t lose heart. Instead, we could continue to undermine the union by rejecting all of its demands during negotiations. (In fact, in about a third of the cases after a union victory, employers donâ€™t even agree to a contract.) The trick was in how to word refusals. First, with a shout, Stief demonstrated what not to say in response to a demand for increased wages: â€œIâ€™m not listening to no stinkinâ€™ wage increases!â€ He resumed his normal voice: â€œDoes that sound like good faith? No.â€ Then Stieff showed us the proper alternative: â€œIâ€™m not inclined to agree to that proposal at this time.â€ He observed. â€œDoes that sound like good faith? Yes, but Iâ€™m saying the same thing I did before.â€ The lesson? â€œYou can say no to anything.â€
Did I say “good old days?” Silly me. Sure, workers at WNMU voted to approve a collective bargaining unit last summer, but, to the best of my knowledge ((Now, I may be out of the loop on this, but I’ve asked some people who would know, and nobody’s heard of a contract being signed)), they still don’t have a contract. The last time I checked (around June), it was under negotiation, and that seems to be the case today.
With all the news recently about UAW and GM, it’s easy to forget that there are smaller collective bargaining units out there, like the one at WNMU. At the time of last year’s election, there were only 38 employees eligible for the union there. In addition, while UAW is seeking a measure of job protection (they don’t want to see their jobs outsourced) and health care benefits, WNMU workers were seeking a living wage and improved safety conditions on campus.
In other words, unions can still (and do still) play major role in protecting workers in this country. If they didn’t, you wouldn’t see companies spending billions of dollars a year trying to fight organized workers.
Hat tip to Kevin Drum for the link.
UPDATE: 9/96/07 6:50 a.m. â€” Looks like the UAW strike is over.