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Non-Union Workers Need To Rally for Wisconsin Workers, Too

Category: Labor
Posted: 02/18/11 11:19, Edited: 02/18/11 11:21

by Dave Mindeman

There is probably a tendency to watch the events in Madison and say that this a union fight and if you are not a union worker, you think it does not apply to you.

Your're wrong.

Let me give you a personal anecdote. I have never belonged to a union. I am a pharmacist and my particular job has always been classified as management -- even though I have had little say in management decisions.

During the early part of my career I would get annual raises. Nothing big, just enough to keep a little ahead of inflation. I worked for large corporations and unions were frowned upon heavily.

When I moved to Minnesota, Snyders had a pharmacist union. They negotiated solid earnings and benefits. And when the pharmacy schools had trouble keeping up with some of the demands for pharmacists, the negotiations got serious. Non-union companies, like the one I was with, began to take notice of what the Snyders union contracts would be.

Afraid of losing too many employees, my company began to match the negotiations going on at Snyders. Instead of 2, 3 or 4% raises, I began to get 10, 20, 25% raises.

Without that pharmacist union, I would have been completely unaware of the market advantage I had.

Even though I never belonged to one, I owe my current comfortable salary position to the union.

And so, as I watch the events in Madison, I stand with the unionized public employees. State budget problems are the created mess of timid politicians. It is not the fault of public employees.

And their fight is a very basic one. The right to bargain in good faith. You will notice that they are not demanding that their contracts be exempt from adjustments. They are willing to negotiate concessions on their contracts. They are not greedy like some of the GOP wealthy donors, who want their tax situation protected. All they ask is that their right to negotiate not be taken away.

And those of us who are non-union workers should be willing to fight for their rights as well.
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