Why I Joined and left the Union

In 2016 I picked up a job in Washington state. At the time it was mandatory to join the union. It was a union job and cost me about $90 a month. I tried not to think about it. It was a sliver but really there was nothing I could do about it.

A year or so later my co-worker (also a union member) was vilified and eventually fired. The Union represented him but was ultimately ineffective. I was unhappy about this and decided to get involved. I became a union steward.

During that time I worked on several different cases. Almost all of them had the same problem – managerial bullying. Also during that time the Janus decision was handed down by the supreme court. In short it said that a union couldn’t force it’s members to pay fees. Lot’s of people opted out. I didn’t. I liked fighting the abuse of power. I liked helping people who were powerless.

I wasn’t fond of the union. I observed that politically to was far from my position. That was fine for them but they often assumed that everyone felt that way and that their position was the only moral position to take. Not to mention the $90 a month pay-to-play requirement.

My wife and I had a lot of unhappy debates over the positive and negative impacts of union membership. The nearly $1000 a year costs, the constant conflicts, the union staff using members to do all the grunt work while they took the credit. I spent hours and hours researching and collating data so the union rep could use it to maneuver our case. It was galling to think that they were paid full time salaries to do this work and I was paying to be a member to perform the work for them. Still, I was able to help right a few wrongs, when I spoke to management they didn’t discount me 100 percent, they only discounted me about 70 percent.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, the U does their best to ignore the union and that includes the union contract. The U won’t do anything in compliance with the contract unless they are forced. It was a constant battle but I stayed and fought.

Along came the lock-down and after that the furloughs. I went on furlough expecting to never return. At the same time the union discussion at home became more and more problematic. It was having a negative impact on my marriage. To make things worse the union endorsed certain political figures and behaviors which were directly in contrast to my values. Basically the union was saying that all members endorsed a certain political party. While the union couldn’t use my money to support these politics they were speaking for me through their endorsement.

No one speaks for me. Ever…

So I left the union. I stopped all payments and stepped aside. It wasn’t worth the conflicts at home and I was tired of having my voice stolen.

Some months later the furlough ended and I went back to work. The same games were being played but I wasn’t involved so life was a little bit less stressful.

Until the management decided to start the games again. They wanted to change the job descriptions of myself and a couple other co-workers. The U decided that they were going to do this without following the procedure in the contract and we decided to contact the union to stop them or at least slow them down.

I got a call from the rep who had to know why I left. Apparently it was a big deal for a steward to step down and leave the union and they had to know why. I didn’t tell them. Then the rep proceeded to scold me for leaving and told me to go sign up for the union again and then she would talk to me.

So to the union – You were not doing me any favors. I was the one who did the favors by spending my time providing you with information and free labor. I was the one on the front lines who had to deal with the fallout of managerial bullying and games. You got to pick and chose the battles you wanted. You chose to take away my voice – did you ask me?

Here’s what you need to do – stop being a political entity and start representing all of us. Stop acting like you have some sort of entitlement – the membership owes you nothing. We pay for you to perform a service. You have no right to judge or scold us in any way.

I was thinking about going back but after this, I’m done with the union. I support the people where I work. The ones without a voice. I don’t work for someone else’s political agenda.

I serve in no ones house.