Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Unemployment For The Gainfully Employed

No unions on my ark.  Initially, unions were devised to allow the little guy to have a collective bargaining power against the oppressive employers.  They did their job.  When originally formed, unions were able to help: secure child labor laws, create a fair length work day/week, institute a minimum wage policy, and generally secure the rights of the everyman in the work force.  Most unions have outlived their usefulness.  Some have become the abusive power they were originally fighting against.  That is why there will be no unions on my ark.  Go ahead and strike.  Feel free to build your own.  But you won’t need a union card to get on mine and this is one of the reasons why:

So that same union I referred to in an earlier post did yet another thing that incensed me.  It’s no secret; I don’t like unions, or at least this particular one. Not only do I disagree with many of the positions and politics of the union, I was incredibly bothered by this latest mass e-mail suggesting that all part time professors should apply for unemployment over all breaks despite the fact that we are not unemployed.  This is an excerpt from the letter I sent to my boss when I was presented with the choice between joining the union or losing my job.

“…On the one hand, the Union tells us we should vote against the repeal of the state income tax because the state is already under-funded and we cannot afford to lose the revenue. (I voted for the repeal by the way, because the problem is not too little money, it is mismanagement of that money).  Then on the other hand, the same union advocates that all of us should go out and collect unemployment (from an under-funded state) when we are fully expecting to return to our jobs after the summer break. 

An intelligent independent thinker would recognize that by choosing to be a college professor, you are choosing a job with unique scheduling; some would even say that is a benefit of this profession. To act as if we are entitled to extra compensation simply because the college is on break is, if not illegal, certainly immoral and not in keeping with the way the unemployment benefits were intended.

Unemployment was intended for the people who unexpectedly find themselves out of work, people who are laid off and cannot pay their simple living expenses such as rent, and food, and heat without assistance.  It is not intended for people who chose a profession that has inherent breaks, to supplement their agreed upon income by manipulating the system.  Despite the fact that there is language that allows the union's advocates to get around the original intentions of this benefit, it is still wrong.  I do not want to be a part of a group that would manipulate the system in this manner.  If there is really an issue with insufficient funds, then the union should not be promoting that we take funds to which we are not really entitled despite the fact that our advocates have found away around it. 

This is just one of the many examples of union practices of which I do not want to be a part.  How do I rectify joining, not to mention funding, a group that acts in what I believe to be dishonorable ways?  I appreciate your sympathy and understanding and I also greatly appreciate your willingness to wait until hearing from me.  I would ask you to indulge me just a little bit longer, because this is an income I was counting on and to lose it on such short notice, especially in these hard economic times, would be very difficult.  I am put in a very hard spot where I need to decide between my income and my principals.  In addition, obviously, I want to look further into the matter of whether or not it is indeed illegal for the college to terminate me simply because I will
not join the union. So please do indulge me a bit longer while I do my research and discuss the matter with my family.  I promise I will not take too long in getting back to you.”

         Ultimately I learned that there is a fee you can pay the union that does not entitle you to full membership, but does allow you to be part of the collective bargaining with the employer.  The fee charged is less than full membership, but does not entitle you to any of the discounts or extraneous benefits that teachers get.  It also cannot be spent on anything other than collective bargaining, so no mailings, campaign funds etc.  Due to needing the income of this job, and for no other reason, I opted to pay this fee, forgo any union benies and go about my business.  Apparently I made too much of a fuss, because despite doing so, my contract was not picked up for the following semester and I found myself unemployed.  No one so much as contacted to tell me I was fired.  I just never received my classroom assignment so when I called in to ask about the day, time and location of the class I had been teaching for two years, I was told, “oh that class is no longer being offered.”  I looked it up. It was.  But someone else was teaching it.  So with less than two weeks until the next semester started and with no opportunity at this point to find work at another institution for the upcoming semester, I found myself unemployed.  Kind of ironic I guess.

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