Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Lessons From a New Retiree

Personal finance advice with a twist--it’s to your own benefit to join a union. Wotta concept!
Cash Flow
By Albert B. Crenshaw
Washington Post, Sunday, May 28, 2006; Page F12

. . . It’s no coincidence that union membership is falling and so are average workers’ wages in many industries.

Business groups like to pin the troubles of lots of companies on their unions, but the truth is that the big problems are in industries where there has been some fundamental change in the economic climate, in many cases wrought by the government.

In most companies with organized workforces, unions not only fight for better wages and working conditions, they help prevent management from mistreating individual workers.

Many young workers today think of themselves as too sharp, too desirable as employees to need union protection. Don’t delude yourself. You maybe a boy wonder today, but I’ve seen a lot of former boy wonders wishing they had joined, or belatedly joining a union they once thought themselves too good for.

The newsroom at The Post is unionized, and I have belonged to the union here and at an earlier job for almost 40 years. I have never needed its protection, but I have seen it prevent firings and demotions -- some possibly deserved but many arbitrary and brought on by a someone getting on the bad side of someone else. And I have seen it negotiate decent severance packages for workers who joined moments before the ax fell.

If you go to work for a company with a union, join if you’re in its jurisdiction. This isn’t a matter of great principle. It’s simple self-interest.
Read more here.