Letter To The Editor: Gessing And Unions

Los Alamos

The recent op-ed in the Los Alamos Daily Post (link) by Paul Gessing, president of the New Mexico Rio Grande Foundation, reiterates the usual talking points about unions in their efforts to encourage members of unions to leave their union, whether they are employees in the private or the public sector.

The reasons given range from the cost of belonging to a union to the fact that an employee may not agree with the policies advocated for by their union.

Members can already reduce their union dues by the amount used by the union for political purposes, and I can certainly appreciate the temptation to leave a union and stop paying dues entirely to save money. 

However, I hope that employees who decide to leave their union recognize that at some point, the number of union members remaining at that company will fall below the number needed to sustain the operation of that union, and at that point, employees of that company will no longer have any representation, and the wages and benefits they end up receiving going forward will be dependent solely on their individual bargaining power, subject to Federal minimum standards, which are also under attack.

This is really the goal of people like Gessing and members of the Republican Party in general, i.e., to eliminate unions and the protection they provide to employees so that businesses and government can operate without having to consider their employees.

With your union disbanded, you better be a badly needed employee, like a pitcher with a 100 mile-an-hour fastball, or your job could easily go to a part-time contract employee, and even if you hang on to your job, the CEO or owner of the company will be in complete control of your salary, benefits and safety on the job. Your choice will be to either accept what is offered or quit.

Workers literally fought, had their heads broken and died in order to form unions because so many owners of companies in the past did not provide safe environments for their employees, paid them dismally low wages with no benefits, and fired them whenever they felt like it. Read a little history before you accept Gessing’s arguments. Things are better now, but without unions around, there isn’t much to stop the long history of company abuse of workers from being repeated.