I hate labor unions

"You can just delete that email from (Name Withheld)" he said as we passed in the hall.

"Okay" was my response.

Because I hadn't seen the email from this particular person.

But I was suddenly very curious to see what it was about.


From time to time there are things at work that require me sending out an email to the masses to kind of nudge them in the right direction. Nothing bad, nothing earth-shaking, just one of those things that makes life a whole lot easier all along the river, so to speak.

Today was one of those times.

For reasons unknown to me, several people where I work don't quite grasp the difference between the subject of an email and the body of an email.


They type their whole message in the subject line. Which, I'm sure, is just great on AOL. However, it doesn't work well in other places.

Where I work is one of those places.

So me being the proactive forward-thinker that I am, I send out the following email, hoping to explain to the confused masses that email subjects and email bodies have different purposes, and sometimes emails aren't read by people but by other computers, and sometimes the results are not quite what the sender had in mind.

And me being the over-explainer that I am, I do more than just say "Hey guys, learn how to use the fucking tab key after you type a BRIEF subject and put all the important shit in the body, m'kay?"

Besides, spell-check at work hates the word fuck. Weird.

So here's the email I sent to the masses:

Hello all.

When you're sending email to the Help Desk to initiate a support request, please DO NOT put your entire problem in the subject.

Put a five to seven word description as your subject, such as:

Warehouse Barcode printer not working
Bill Gates is unable to log on to SAP

Steve Jobs can't log in to Windows

Maximo doesn't work

The software used at the Help Desk has a limited number of characters in the title of ticket. The title of the ticket as seen by the support staff is automatically generated from the subject line of your email.

You can put the rest of the information into body of the email, such as

The barcode printer in the warehouse is not printing labels. There is an error message on the front that says #411 framing.

Bill's SAP account is locked out. Please reset his password.

Steve can't get into the computer in Bldg 62 because it says his password is wrong.

Maximo doesn't work. When I try to run my work order tracking report nothing prints.

This allows the technician who is responsible for responding to issues quickly assign your ticket to the responsible party or contact you if additional information is needed.

If you have questions about this, please ask.

Pretty well written, if I do say so myself. And pretty well explained.

And pretty much to the point of not blaming anyone, because neither Bill Gates nor Steve Jobs works with me, I just pulled some names out of the air to populate the messages.

So I sit back and await the questions.

The first was from Maria ... who said, "You seriously had to explain this?"

Um, yeah. I did.

Because of people like the second responder:

HOW DOES YOUR E-MAIL HELP OUR PROBLEM !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I FIND IT VERY DISCOURAGING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This was the email I was advised to delete.

But me being the reactionary wordsmith I am immediately hit reply to start jousting with this blowhard. Then I realized that I'd be wasting my time, for many reasons:

  1. Words are my friend. He has trouble 'handleing' words, as obviously shown by his email.
  2. I have no real idea what the fuck problem he's referring to, unless his tab key is broken, because I've been out of the office for three days.
  3. Um, color me confused, but I do believe I was attempting to remedy the problem as I saw it by explaining to people that typing a big-ass paragraph as the subject is stupid when the ticketing software's title field is limited to 255 characters.
  4. Engaging in a battle of words with him would be like deer hunting with an AK-47. You'd end up with deer jerky in noun and verb form. (Thanks, Will Durst, for the joke)
  5. I'm dealing with a union rep.


I'm a product of organized labor. I grew up in the Warren, Ohio, area. The last remaining stronghold of unionized life. Slowly dying a unionized death.

My dad worked for GM for a long time. He's now involved in the contract dispute at Delphi and I wish him and his union brothers and sisters well. He's close to retirement age. I know GM/Delphi is broke. And I know that canceling contracts is a bad thing and the unions have a right to be upset, but seriously, sometimes unions lose sight of the big picture trying to protect themselves. Because the primary goal of a labor union these days is not to protect workers, but to protect the union oligarchy and ensure that the flow of dues up to the top remains intact.

After all, how long did you hear the unions crying about the illegal aliens taking jobs from union workers by working for a dollar a day in cash ... only to see them totally turn the tables and offer union membership to illegal aliens when they realized that they were the last hope to keep the numbers up.


And sometimes union members stop using their own brain matter and let the union think for them, because, after all, the union's looking out for them, right?


Case in point:

In 1992, when I was a radio reporter in Warren, Ohio, a company there was involved in a contract dispute with the Steelworkers Union. And the Steelworkers union told their members to strike rather than accept the company's "final offer" of continuing the terms of the recently expired contract. The union thought that the company should pay more in wages, and benefits, to the union brothers, even though the company was losing money.

Okay, so I took a couple of college math and business classes that I can use here:

  1. Union says, "We want raises."
  2. Company says "We don't have money for raises. We can keep paying you what we're paying you on the old contract."
  3. Union says "You should pay us more."
  4. Company says, "Um, perhaps you missed the first point: we got no fucking money."
  5. Union says, "Fine. Then you got no fucking workforce. STRIKE."

See, that whole big picture thing I mentioned earlier. Screw the health of the company long-term, get what we can get short-term and worry about tomorrow later.

And they went on strike.

And after being on strike for four months, the 250-man union membership had decreased by about half as guys left to find jobs to support their families because what they were making in strike pay from the union wasn't anywhere close to what they were making while working for the company (even under the terms of the old contract that the union said wasn't good enough to work under) and they had mouths to feed, bills to pay and lives to lead.

As the strike rolled into the fifth month, the company came in one day with a whole lot of big fucking flatbed trucks and mechanics and removed all the machines from the plant, trucked them about 60 miles down the road, and added about 100 more unionized jobs to a different plant. Unionized jobs, by the way, that paid LESS than the guys in Warren had been making under their old contract.

And guess what?

The same Steelworkers Union, in a press release, praised the company for adding jobs to the other plant, never once mentioning that the work was coming from the Warren plant where the union was not letting more guys work the same jobs that paid MORE MONEY.


Because that would be the union admitting that 100 people could do the work that 250 were doing elsewhere. Because that would prove the union was only concerned about keeping its own numbers up even though it was bankrupting the company where those people were working.

See, again, that whole big picture thing I mentioned.

So as the strike went into the ninth month, the company closed the factory, transferring the non-union administrative jobs to the plant where the machines were transferred to.

Okay, so now we have about fifty guys left out of 250 still on strike in front of a factory that has no machines and no jobs and locks on the gates because nobody works there.

In fact, the name of the company has been removed from the building and the street signs leading to the loading docks that said "(Company Name)" Way had been removed and replaced with generic city street names.

So we had 250 people working there. So what happened to the other 200? Well, they got other jobs. We found out later in a series of articles in 2002 looking back on the "last great strike" as it was called, that most of the jobs taken by union members were making less than they were making under the terms of their expired contract. Most of them were NOT union jobs. Most of them did NOT have the same benefit package. And most of them lost all the seniority they had built up.

All because their union told them they deserved more.

But back to 1993 ... and as the strike reached the one year point, the 40 guys that were left received letters from the Steelworkers Union telling them that since there were no jobs left at the plant they used to work at, and since there were no machines left for them to work on, and since the company had in fact closed that plant, that particular local was being disbanded, the strike was over, and the union was no longer paying strike pay.

Basically, take down the pickets, go home. You're no longer in the union that's no longer on strike against a place that no longer exists.


So me being the smart ass that I am did a series of radio spots that ran during my talk show (I used to have a daily talk show on AM Radio. Scary, isn't it? Then again, the station was 5000 watts. Basically it got about halfway across town. Then faded out.) that basically said this:

"Hi. My name is Steve. And I've been on strike against (Company Name) because my union told me I deserved better. The company offered me the same amount of money I was making, with the same benefit package I was making under the old contract if I'd continue working. But my union told me I deserved better. My union told me not to worry.

"And I love my union.

"And my union card.

"The one day, after we had been on strike for a while, and my wife had to get a job, and we had to sell one of our cars, and we had to stop the music lessons for the girls, and cancel the cable television and stop going out and turn the heat in the house down because the strike pay was only about a third of what I had been making, the company took the machines I used to work on out of the plant I used to work at and moved them 60 miles down the road, and gave them to other union workers represented by my union.

"And I love my union.

"And my union card.

"Then, about four months after that, the company then took down all the signs and closed the plant I worked at.

"My union told me not to worry.

"And I love my union.

"And my union card.

"Then about three months after that, about a year after the union told me I deserved better, the union told me I had no machines to work on, no plant to work at and no company to be on strike from, so I wasn't a union member anymore.

"And I loved my union.

"And my union card.

"In fact, my wife and kids each found the our small piece of my union card was pretty tasty if you dipped it in ketchup."
So after about 50 angry phone calls from the last remaining stronghold of union life in America, I was put on notice by the radio station that I was close to losing my job because they were afraid of being boycotted by unions.

I was fired a month later for making fun of the mayor of the city for being incompetent.

By the way ... the mayor of the city is now in jail.

For being incompetent.

And those guys who worked at the plant that doesn't exist anymore?

Most of the, according to the newspaper reports, don't even live in the city. And most of them said they'd never join another union.

Because the union cares about the union.



Anonymous said...

I don't know when this was written it looks like it might be old. but its certainly timeless. Very Very Very well said sir.

Anonymous said...

good story. totally exposes union dogs.

Sherman Turner said...

Great story relating to what is happening right now in WI.