Thursday, March 26, 2009

Today's Rant: Unions

I was in a union once, it was me and my fellow working man in The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. But I wasn't an electrician. In fact, most people who know me don't really trust me around anything electrical. No, I was a reporter at a small community newspaper (but my articles were electric!). I was as much an electrician as I am Jewish.

But no matter. I was in the union. My first week on the job, a friendly union rep came to my office, gave me an informational packet and an IBEW keychain.

I never heard from her again.

In exchange for this wonderful service, I had union dues garnished from all of my paychecks. Joke's on them though. I kept the keychain even after I left.

I'm hardly the only person who dislikes unions. I have a friend who worked in sales, and was in a union. My friend had the best sales numbers of anyone in the company. When it came time to promote someone, he was the most logical person to get the nod. His boss even told him so. But the ever helpful union wouldn't allow it, because he didn't have seniority. So he watched as someone who wasn't as good at the job get the position. Suffice it to say, his morale went down a little.

It was also a union that led to the loathsome television writers strike last year, which robbed us of 7 critical episodes of Friday Night Lights. (Of course, it also robbed us of further episodes of Knight Rider, so it wasn't all bad).

Which brings me to the point of this entry: the NHL players union. Earlier this week, a player on the Canucks re-upped at less than market value because he liked being there, thought they were building a solid team, and wanted to be part of the future.

Another impending free agent on the team was asked if he would do the same, and this is what he said: "If we're going to win the Cup, we need guys to take pay cuts. The way the salary cap is now, you really can't get what you're worth now if you want to win. Everybody in this lockerroom knows that."

Finally! Athletes who were putting winning over paychecks! Putting the team's needs ahead of their own! This should have been a cause for celebration.

But of course, the union had to come in and throw cold water all over that notion.

There's a lot to hate about sports right now, and players' unions are at the top of the list. They encourage their members to be mercenaries. The baseball union refused drug testing for years, even as many of their own constituents were asking for it. The NBA union constantly appeals player suspensions, even when they're well-deserved.

So this summer I hope Ryan Kesler takes less than market value to stay with the Canucks. Sure, it's because he's a key player for my favorite team. But anytime someone gives the middle finger to their union, they're good by me.


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