Labor Unions Have Some Wild Ideas about ‘Work’

By: Marianela Toledo FloridaWatchdog.org | Posted: December 26, 2013 3:55 AM
Labor union

Defending workers’ rights is a noble mission. But sometimes labor unions take it too far. Here are five of our favorite examples of labor union contracts “gone wild.”

1) Three strikes and you’re still not out.

Believe it or not, an overly generous clause slipped into the teacher Master Agreement in 1997 basically states that Bay City School teachers (Michigan) can be caught drunk at work up to five times before they get sacked.

In Florida, a teacher who showed up to class plastered and then started “dirty dancing” with her students may end up teaching again, thanks to her union’s excellent negotiating skills.

Bay City School teachers (again in Michigan) managed to negotiate a union contract where they could be caught in possession of, or under the influence of, drugs three times before they lost their job.

2) No shows at work

Dozens of Miami-Dade County employees often don’t bother to show up for work, and instead, opt to spend their time working as union reps, on the taxpayers’ dime. County Commissioner Esteban Bovo told Florida Watchdog this is costing taxpayers anywhere from $12 million to $24 million annually.

3) A gamble where everyone wins

Martin Mulhall, a groundskeeper for Mardi Gras Gaming in Hallandale Beach, alleged the Florida casino traded the personal information of nonunion employees to UNITE HERE, a hospitality union, in exchange for the union’s endorsement of a bill that would expand gambling in the state.

Mulhall said that the union used the personal information, as well as access to casino grounds, to wage a 2004 card-check campaign, which would allow labor organizing at the casino without a secret ballot election. The groundskeeper and his attorney argued that the casino, in giving the union the personal information of employees, violated federal labor law.

On Dec. 10, the Supreme Court ruled to dismiss an appeal from UNITE HERE Local 355 without deciding whether its agreement with Mardi Gras Gaming is valid.

4) The ‘pushing’ power

The Miami police union, just one week before union negotiations, produced a video warning job applicants not to work for them. “Are you looking to advance in your career? Do not apply to be a police officer in the city of Miami,” says the 16-second clip, shown in the Fraternal Order of Police website.

5) Meetings: Not open to public

According to The Times-Union, the Jacksonville mayor’s office worked secretly with the police and fire pension board in a carefully organized ruse to iron out a pension deal. The secret meeting appeared to be a violation of the state’s Sunshine Law that says all collective-bargaining meetings must be open to the public.

On the flip side

On the flip side, being a unionized employee has its advantages. According to a 2011 Bureau of Labor Statistics report, unionized workers typically earn higher pay than nonunion workers doing the same job. Although it varies based on industry and occupation, the overall averages are striking. In 2010, union workers’ median weekly income was $917, compared to $717 for nonunion workers.

According to the New York Times, in Florida, one in 20 workers in the state belongs to a union.

Contact Marianela Toledo at Marianela.Toledo@FloridaWatchdog.org twitter @mtoledoreporter.

Tags: News, Politics

Comments (6)

8:10PM DEC 30TH 2013
Technology replaces "workers" with machines; and that's a good thing. When I was a little kid, I wanted to be an elevator operator. To a 4-year old, that seems like a "fun" job, but imagine having that as a real job for 30 years. We have to change how we live, and how we think about living. There's a poll on Gallup, that shows about 68% of people claim they would want to keep their "job" EVEN IF THEY WON A $10 MILLION LOTTERY. (Something's wrong with that.)
3:52PM DEC 27TH 2013
The labor unions have some wild ideas about labor, too. They can only see union members as a labor force, but the fact is "Labor" is anyone, who is ready, willing and able to work. I am sick of the union monopoly on the term "Labor" especially when the employer gets twice the labor from the non-union sector and they are all happy employees too.
11:29AM DEC 28TH 2013
Living in fantasy land again, aren't you, Joseph T. . . . . I'm sure you'd be interested in earning $10,000 a year less than you're worth, correct . . . never let facts cloud your idled mind . . . . or truthiness lies (e.g. "union monopoly on the term 'Labor' ") . . . . . I'm sure "they" must own the copyright . . . . once again, spouting demonizing nonsense and proving yourself to be absolutely . . .

Pathetic . . . .
9:58AM DEC 27TH 2013
Yes, yes, you must be right . . . . it's better to have an average salary of $37,300, be a non-union worker and earn less than either the national average or median income (at least in far right Republican minds) than be earning a wage of $10,000 higher . . . . wonder who's taking advantage of all those extra dollars . . . . . . maybe someone like the billionaire Koch Brothers who fight against even minimum wage increases . . .

Pathetic . . . .
10:33AM DEC 27TH 2013
excellent point !
10:35AM DEC 26TH 2013
The decline in union membership correlates with the decline of the working class. Unions are net a very good thing. Much better than the Republican party and especially better than the Tea party.Every job "benefit" beyong getting a paycheck is tied to union activism and action in getting those benefits. Paid vacation, sick leave, retirement plans, health insurance , safe working conditions and yes indeed better pay. Hope a bunch of folks realize that unions would be of benefit to them and start joining and organizing.

Leave a Comment on This Story

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.