Every day on my way to and from work I pass a billboard.
“Give yourself a raise!” it says. “Opt out of your union today!”
It’s been up at least 4 months, maybe longer. I had my son do a quick Google search on the cost of billboard rentals and the monthly cost for a small billboard ranges from $700-$1,500 per month.
I had to ask myself, who is willing to pay close to a thousand dollars a month just to save me $25?
What’s in it for them?
Recently school employees all across the state received a form letter in the mail, encouraging us to opt out of our union.
This is the second letter in just a few months. That’s thousands of mailers each time. When you factor in the cost of printing, postal prep and nonprofit postage, that’s close to 20 cents each, easily close to $10,000!
Once again, I had to ask, “what’s in it for them?”
Is this some philanthropic people who care about public employees so much that they are willing to spend well over $10,000 of their own money to help us?
I doubt it.
Who has something to gain by this? Who could gain by causing employees to lose the collective bargaining rights employees have fought for more than one hundred years? Who will gain from a cheaper workforce? Who profits? And why are they targeting some of the lowest paid public employees in the state?
What’s in it for them?
Now go ahead, ask me: “What’s in it for me.” I’ll gladly tell you. A living wage is what’s in it for me. Employer contribution to my health insurance, that’s what’s in it for me. My union contract also protects my seniority rights, cost of living salary increases, protection against being let go on a whim, paid Federal holidays, a set schedule with weekends off, bereavement leave, sick leave and the security of knowing if my child is ill I can stay home and care for him.
I don’t have to weigh the cost of losing a day of pay vs. caring for my child. I could go on.
These are all things that I have a right to under my collective bargaining agreement that was bargained for by my union. If my union goes away, so does the guarantee of all those things.
Those things are “what’s in it for me.”
When school employees have job security they also have loyalty to their districts.
Who do we want educating our kids? A constant stream of new employees with no buy in? Someone who is constantly looking for a better job?
No. We want professional staff who form relationships with the students, who care about their futures, who are capable of providing the best possible education for our next generation of leaders.
“Opt-out” “Give yourself a raise …,” well, that might be true for a few months, but without members, there is no union.
If the union falls, we will quickly see that raise and our hard-earned rights not only go away, but we will find ourselves in a far more difficult situation.
Large business owners and wealthy corporate employers have the most to gain if unions weren’t around.
Without a union you are considered an at-will employee, which means you can be fired for nearly any reason, denied raises, job safety, set schedules, health insurance and seniority rights.
Basically, without a union, corporations increase their profits. That’s what’s in it for them.
So once again, I just have to ask, “what’s in it for them?”
It sure seems clear to me.
— Mary Hofer lives in Bend.