OPINION: Your work is no joke


Financial Secretary
UAW Local 2250

A white male, a black female, a Native American, an elderly gentleman, a bald lesbian and an ex-convict walk into a workplace…

Sounds like the opening to an old joke but what happens next may be more a punch in the gut than a punchline. If they are lucky this workplace will be a good employer or better yet – a unionized facility.

When these fine folks start work at a union represented facility they instantly receive the legal protections of the National Labor Relations Act and their union contract. These protections provide recourse to a boss’ bad decisions.


A union contract also provides realistic solutions to some of the most vexing problems at work and in society. Issues like…

  • Gender Wage Gap: A union contract will ensure that instead of a woman earning 78 percent of what a man earns she will be paid the same as her male co-worker for the same work.

A union contract will ensure being gay, old, or a minority will not affect their rate of compensation.

  • Equal Treatment: Pay isn’t the only benefit. The Equal Application Clause in most union contracts states that the company will treat all employees equally.

When an elderly gentleman is late he will be given the same tardy as the Native American.  When jobs are bid, all employees will have a fair shot at the position. When a negotiated profit-sharing check is earned, the ex-convict and the white male will receive the payment based on contractual language.

  • Just Cause: Of course, one of the most powerful advantages of a union contract is the “Just Cause” standard. This means the bald lesbian can’t be disciplined or terminated just because she is gay. She can only be disciplined for “Just Cause” which requires the employer to document work-related reasons for discipline.

A strong union contract levels the field between workers and management and holds both accountable.


Accountability is not the virtue some employers value. These employers like to set pay scales according to how the feel about an individual not the value of the work being done. They would rather give their nephew the job instead of opening it for bidding to those that have helped build the company. Most of all, they would love to discipline employees JUST BECAUSE rather than having to document legitimate reasons required by the “Just Cause” standard.

These different approaches are on full display in the debate over the Proposition A/Right-to-Worse ballot measure this August.

The do-as-they-want crowd fully supports Prop. A/ Right-to-Worse as the weaker the union, the lower wages they can pay, the more favorites they can play, and the easier it is to hassle those they don’t like.

On the other hand, a white male, a black female, a Native American, an elderly gentleman, and a bald lesbian walk into a voting booth…

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