Collective bargaining is a mystery to me. I've never had someone negotiate for me, and I've never tied my lot to someone else. Most unions do just that. The individual is represented in a collective negotiation, and they are paid by seniority. Been here 10 years? You get more than the rookie.
Well, what if the rookie performs better than the 10-year veteran? Why would I be happy, as the rookie, to observe that I do better work, and/or produce more, than the guy who gets more money for lower quality work, and/or less output? Easy: I wouldn't be happy.
I think of things like this when I think of big union employers. It comes to mind when I think of auto manufacturers or steel plants. I thought of it again when I read a letter to the Indy Star regarding the construction of the new Wishard hospital downtown.
When the leaders of Wishard Hospital brought forward a massive renovation plan, all of the appeal was for this to be an all-community effort. The entire community was asked to support this by their votes "confirming our community's commitment to the New Wishard." Matt Gutwein, CEO of the Health and Hospital Corp., on a number of occasions in public meetings to rally community support touted inclusiveness of all community sectors as important to the success of this project.
Now that actual construction documents are being distributed, we find a much different story. We are finding out that a large sector of the construction industry -- nonunion contractors and nonunion construction workers -- will essentially be locked out from participating due to a backroom deal with the local big labor bosses.
These deals are always fascinating to me. The bidding process in government jobs always seems inherently corrupt. Deals are made that exclude non-union builders, and someone complains. Deals are made the include non-union builders, and the union complains. Here's an idea: Why not use the best builders available?
So, back to my thoughts about relative merit. If I'm a top rate carpenter, and I'm 8 years in, putting me in the upper end of the lower third of workers, behind the 15- and 20-year guys, why would I stand for it? If I'm good, I want to be paid accordingly. Isn't three going to be some righteous grumbling going on?
Which begs, how good is the work going to be really, in this kind of scenario?
Unions represent all kinds of employees. Obviously, this kind of scheme doesn't apply to the NFL or Major League Baseball. A highly touted rookie who hasn't done anything can score a far greater deal than a 10-year utility infielder. But this does apply to police and fire, autoworkers and many others.
I suspect there is something about differences of personality, where I couldn't tolerate such a scenario, yet others are very happy with it. Thoughts?