Thursday, November 15, 2007

United We Stand... Or Else!

When I became an administrator at Columbia U, I started work the week the union representing my position took a strike vote.

I and several other new employees – too new to have joined the union yet – went to an informational meeting sponsored by the union.

The first thing we were told when mentioning that we hadn’t joined yet was that we had to join the union – not an emotional imperative, but a legal one. If we didn’t join, we were told, then we would be fired.

That didn’t sound right to me, so I checked. No, we were not legally required to join the union, nor were we compelled to do so by our employers.

I called the union, who after much hemming and hawing, confirmed that there is no legal or contractual requirement to join.

So why were we told that? The guy on the phone made it clear: the union is not in any way responsible for the statements made by the people representing them at these meetings – as the speaker was volunteering, and not on the union’s payroll.

If they were pushy, or confrontational, or dishonest – well, this is a hard time, it was explained, and that sort of thing is simply going to happen. The larger goal – repairing the injustice put upon the worker by the powers that be – out weighed any use of intimidation or dishonesty.

In effect, the union while not condoning lying to increase its membership or power, was adverse to the positive effects such action may bring.

So at a young age I learned the simple truth: Unions are only powerful if they can control people – their workers and those around their workers.

And ethics are very pliable in face of the end result – maintaining union power.

I know it is true – but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Or believe that this is the way people who claim to be representing me should behave.

There is a part of me that looks on dishonesty on any side of an issue as an admission by the perpetrator – that underneath it all, they don’t fully believe they are right. And thus they have to sweeten their side a little bit.

A Vice President that truly believes in the evidence that a dictator is too dangerous to be left in charge shouldn’t feel the need to punish a dissenting voice by blowing the cover of a relative spy.
Or a President who truly believes that sexual congress between two consenting adults is nobody’s business but their own shouldn’t feel the need to lie about the affair and start a smear campaign against the other consenting adult.

In criminal court, an attempt to cover-up a crime is seen as proof that the perp knew what they were doing was wrong.

So, how does this apply to the WGA, who by all evidence should feel comfortable sitting on the moral high ground (but instead is spending a lot of energy digging a hole in the moral high ground)?

Tune in later…

Just my thoughts,


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