Sunday, December 06, 2009


Unions suck

I've been disdainful of unions for a long time. My disdain got its spark during an episode at a unionized trucking company.

I worked for a local truck, tractor and trailer rental company when I was an undergraduate student. I was the only person in the office on the weekends, and it was up to me to schedule pick-ups and turn-ins from Friday night to Monday morning. Sometimes folks wouldn't return equipment when they said they would, and then I'd have to go to a competing rental company to get a truck or trailer or whatever.

One particular day, I received two phone calls in quick succession. First, a customer called to say that he wouldn't be returning his truck anytime soon; and then a customer called to inform me that he was on his way to pick up ... the truck that wasn't coming back anytime soon. I got in touch with one of our competitors - I'll call is Company R - to see if they had any trucks available. Sure 'nough they did, so off I went to fetch it.

I walked into the shop and told the shop foreman that I was there to pick up the truck. He informed me that it needed a new headlight, and he informed me that I'd have to wait because all of his mechanics were eating lunch. After waiting 20 minutes, I told him that I really needed to get the truck back to my office because I had a driver who was on his way, if he wasn't there already. Sorry ... not until his guys finished lunch.

After waiting for another 20 minutes, I politely asked the shop foreman if he could just give me the headlight and I would get one of the mechanics at my shop to put it on. Sorry ... that would violate "company policy," which really meant that it would violate some union rule.

A mechanic finally emerged to fix the truck I was waiting on. Let's just say he took his own sweet time fixin' the damned thing. I got back to my office about an hour and a half after I'd left, and then I had to deal with an irate driver who was getting on the road almost an hour later than he'd wanted.

What made the experience especially infuriating was the fact that I knew my boss would've fired any mechanic or shop foreman who sat on his ass when a customer was waiting. Indeed, I'd personally witnessed mechanics at my company leave their lunch on the table when a customer needed help.

I often think about that experience when I read stories like this ...

A Pennsylvania union leader has come under fire after threatening legal action against the city of Allentown for allowing a Boy Scout to voluntarily clear a walking path in a local park.

Nick Balzano, president of the Service Employees International Union's Allentown chapter, said last week that the union might file a grievance against the city for allowing 17-year-old Kevin Anderson to clear the hiking trail, instead of paying some of the 39 recently laid-off SEIU members to do the work.

Balzano's office did not return messages left by, but the Morning Call quoted him as telling the city council that the union would be "looking into the Cub Scout or Boy Scout who did the trails. There's to be no volunteers." ...

Anderson, a member of Boy Scouts Troop 301 of Center Valley, spent more than 200 hours creating the 1000-foot path in Kimmets Lock Park along with fellow scouts, friends and parents.

The junior at Southern Lehigh High School said he took on the project in an effort to earn an Eagle Scout badge and allow others to walk along the river while avoiding the busy road nearby.

... and it reinforces my disdain for unions ever further.

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