Re: “Unions should encourage – not slap down – volunteer help” (Kathleen Merryman column, 7-28).
Merryman has no bigger fan than me, but I think she missed some important points.
As I understand it, the issue that the Teamsters are fighting is the county’s violation of the collective bargaining agreement, which – like most – calls for negotiation on changes to wages and working conditions. Had the employer honestly chosen to negotiate, rather than relapse into a traditional, paternalistic “you’ll do what we damned well tell you” stance, the problems outlined in the column might have been avoided.
Merryman rightly explains the myriad of ways unionized workers in the South Sound contribute to their communities. However, labor unions are morally, financially and legally required to represent the interests of their members, who pay dues for that protection. If the Teamsters hadn’t drawn a line in the sand over these contract violations, even more egregious violations would almost certainly have followed.
How would any worker feel about seeing their hours reduced, their co-workers laid off or other reductions in their quality of work life only to see unpaid but well-meaning volunteers take up the slack? It seems to me the county didn’t give their workers the right that is spelled out in their contract to discuss the situation.
Is that the fault of the union or of the politicians and managers who direct their work?