cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
The union workers (International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Local 516) at the Manitowoc Company have been fighting with the company for the past two months to get a new contract. There have been at least three votes of which I am aware. Each time the proposed deal was voted down, the union and company went back to the table and came up with a revised contract proposal. In the meantime, the company hired temporary replacement workers.
I was surprised to read of the vote of 112 - 59 to accept a new four-year contract especially when I read that the new contract makes union membership OPTIONAL. The returning workers will have seven days in which to make their decision about remaining a member of the union or opting out of the union.
More surprising is this: the decision to stay in or opt out doesn't affect the work rules or the pay rates. The workers will get the same deal whether or not they are union members. New hires will get the same choice; they can be in the union or not be in the union. They can pay union dues or not pay union dues. They get the same pay rates no matter their decision. This decision will be made each year by each worker according to this contract.
The Manitowoc Company has become its own "right to work" state with this union contract having been ratified. That speaks to a weak union and probably to a weak union that is destined to get even weaker and finally to disappear. Obviously there will be some people, devoted union members, who are angry and some who are happy; the working atmosphere could be very difficult for a while.
Is this a trend or is this simply confined to this company and its relationship with its workers? I don't know the answer, but I suspect this will not be the last time we hear of such a deal being cut. Things like this are not lost on other union's members or on other companies that have such contracts in place, and things like this have the potential to become viral.