I do not get many emails from union members that are “printable”. Here is one from Canada that is. Tim McCallum, Millwright Local 1007, Canada writes:

Dear Mish,

I have read your blog for a couple of years now, I have a healthy respect for your opinions in general, but your continued outright union bashing now leaves me no choice but to come to the defense of my trade unions members.

I am a member of Millwright Local 1007 Niagara Falls(Ontario Canada) We are a part of The Carpenters and Joiners of America.

We are construction workers. The motto on our Local badge has only two words on it, Quality and Integrity. The men and women who work with me are all govt. certified ,qualified trades people, as per our own union rules.

They all have to pass an entrance exam to even qualify for an apprenticeship position. Then it takes 8000 hours of documented employment to be able to sit your journeyman’s/woman’s test. This test is administered by the provincial govt., just so you know that there is no funny business with the upper echelon in the union getting their brother or sister in the ” back Door”.

We as members of the union have no seniority, we have no guaranty of employment, we are hired out of a hiring hall that services a multi-employer group of companies that have signed an agreement to contract our services. The only rule is this, the person out of work the longest, gets to go to work first when the call comes.

We are employed in the construction and or maintenance of Auto plants, petrochemical refineries, coal fire and hydroelectric facilities, paper mills, the pharmaceutical industry, steel mills, airports,…well you get the picture. We are very diverse in out trade application. We are used by all these various industries for one overwhelming reason. We are cost efficient. We are cost efficient because we as a group basically live by two rules. One is the quality and Integrity I mentioned earlier, the second is worker health and safety. No job is more important than a person’s safety.

My union has a reputation. A reputation for the projects we build to be on time and on budget. We receive all of our training from the union, In fact most of the industry around here stopped their in house apprenticeship programs because they determined that six years and approx $500,000 ( per person) was too much cost to develop a tradesperson.

So, here in Ontario, we are not considered bloodsucking industry killers, rather we are considered industrial vacillators that form a mobile workforce that appears on demand, leaves when the job is done, and in the process of doing the job, constantly remind each other that the reason we have this job today, is because we did a good job yesterday. this concept is carried forward by apprentices learning from older success full trades people like myself, that you sometimes have to go that extra mile if you want to be called to work on your merit rather than because someone owes you a job. In our union, no one owes you anything, but you can earn respect and a good living.

We have not gone on strike in over fifty years.

One other thing that may well be obstructing clarity in this issue is the quid pro quo, We are the most expensive manpower available to do this work, Yet we are not out of work. Either the companies we work for just like to throw money away, or we do what I said, give value for the dollar. When the contract you are working on is worth hundreds of millions of dollars of capital investment, do you take a chance with the assets? Or do you let the experts( union millwrights) use their experience, education, and get er done attitude to help you along the path to success.

The future is uncertain at best in all of North America. But the people who work in my union, do their best on a daily basis to secure their future by doing a good job today. We can only hope about tomorrow. At least in our engineering, the numbers never lie. In the world of financial engineering, what the numbers relate to is up for discussion every other day.

Just thought I’d let you know that some of us do give a shit, and are tired of being lumped in with the status quo in your union concept.

Tim McCallum
Millwright Local 1007
Niagara Falls, On, Canada

Hello Tim.

Thanks for writing.

I do not think that every union person does a lousy job. Indeed I am quite sure most are dedicated, skilled, workers who take pride in their jobs. At the same time however, in case after case, I can see the problems.

In regards to public unions, many employees may be doing a “damn good job” but some of the pencil pushing jobs should not be done at all. That may not be the employees fault, but it certainly is not doing the average taxpayer any good.

Moreover, it’s easy to point out how many state and local governments made ridiculous promises on pension plans and benefits that cannot be met. Taxpayers are on the hook for those promises and cities and states are bankrupt.

These problems cannot and will not go away unless services are abolished and the pay and benefit scales match what is available in private industry. Unions have fought nearly every one of these realignments.

Unions (along with piss poor management) helped sink GM and that spurred another bailout. One of the reasons for an exodus of jobs is unions and union rules. I have heard amazing stories about work rules at GM and Caterpillar.

Finally, Obama’s support for unions risks a global trade war. I can assure you that a trade war will cost jobs across the board, including union jobs. Yet, ironically, unions are cheering for more protection.

These are things I am passionate about and unions are at the heart of it.

That does not make every union member a bad person. Nor does it mean the majority of union members are not dedicated workers. However, I cannot sit idle while ignoring public pension plans bankrupting states and trade wars started by Obama on behalf of unions, both of which threaten the country as a whole.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List