A number of us that work in the industrial world whether it is actually in manufacturing or selling to manufacturers are exposed to unions or have been in the past. We all have some horror story that we experienced or heard about. In my field it typically involves wanting to look inside a cabinet to see a part or to make some simple adjustment on a device but the engineer you are working with is not allowed to open the cabinet or make the adjustment. As part of the union agreement only a specific tradesman can perform that task. You’ve had a similar experience or heard a similar story. Right?
I don’t know if those types of things still happen. We don’t have near the union presence as there once was so it may be we just aren’t as exposed to it as we were in the past. However, it congers up a certain image of people saying, “It’s not my job!”
I was reminded of this photo the other day while sitting in a grocery store parking lot. I parked and was listening to the end of a song. (’cause the kids won’t let me play the Dobbie Brothers when they’re with me. That’s another post entirely.) There was a newspaper ad at the edge of the parking lot directly in front of the grocery store door. I watched six different people step over the litter even though there was a trash can right next to it. One of the people that stepped over it was a Chattanooga city councilman.
A number of the issues with unions could be dealt with if there was a sense of partnership between the unions and the organizations that they are negotiating with. But there is an overwhelming need to win as opposed to partner. Let’s face it, for years the UAW did not have the auto manufacturers interest in mind and the auto manufacturers never treated the UAW as a partner. There are examples where partnerships are effectively formed and working. I caught the clip below from a post on the Baldrige blog showing how the 2010 Baldrige educational service winner partnered with unions.
One of those school districts was Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Schools (MCPS), a winner of the 2010 Baldrige Award. In an online article published recently on the Web site of the American Association of School Administrators, MCPS superintendent Jerry Weast gave some insight into the district’s partnership with its unions. “We have built a trusting, respectful relationship with our employee associations, and they are at the table as we are building our budgets and making difficult decisions,” he said.
Link to Baldrige Blog Post