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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Monday, September 07, 2009

On this Labor Day weekend, Mercury Marine situation shows import of unions

by folkbum

It's not that the IAMAW union was suckered into voting for a massive giveback to management, hurting themselves financially and, as the Brawler points out, demonstrating a clear need for broader reforms now.

It's something that shows up in the Stillwater, OK workers' complaints about not getting the jobs in their right-to-work state. "It's been a major part of my life," one worker said of MM. He went on, "I've got no voice. This was decided by someone else."

And there it is: That's what unions are for, people. Unions offer voice.

I know that virtually every conservative stopping by here on a regular basis--even those in unions--are certain that unions exists only to protect the lazy, to beat down hardworking industrialists, to Cadillac up pensions and health insurance. (See some of the anti-union bile spat here, in the comments of even a respectable conservative blog.)

But that's not what unions do. Unions let the workers have a say. After the first vote, when MM's union rejected management's attempt to re-write the contract they had agreed to less than a year ago, the workers seemed sanguine. They called the new offer a "slap in the face" and wanted to stand firm with those laid off by the company, who would be brought back at barely better than minimum wage if the pleasure boat market picks back up again. If they were going down, at least they would be going down on their own vote.

The MerCruiser plant in Stillwater? No vote. No voice. No union. "This was decided by someone else."

Is that how you want to live?

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