"While unions were once a good thing, they are no longer needed today"
Oh, how many times do we hear that line? It is often the first thing an anti-union person says in response to why they should consider joining a union. The statement is often followed by them explaining that we have laws now that protect us at work and ensure that we are treated fairly. These folks clearly do not understand much about labor history or the efforts to undermine these workplace protections over the last 30-40 years.
Those laws that protect you at work...why do you think they were passed in the first place? Who do you think continues to this day to fight big business in their efforts to remove these protections? Union members fought for the end to child labor, for the establishment of the 40 hour work week (and overtime over 40), and for the passage of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
And yes, contrary to popular belief (and common sense), there are parties out there trying to bring back child labor, to put an end to overtime over 40 hours a week, and to reduce the effectiveness of the already severely strained Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Child Labor Laws
In the last few years, republican politicians have actually argued FOR child labor. Senator Mike Lee of Utah has stated that child labor laws are unconstitutional. Maine's governor, Paul LePage, and Maine State Senator Debra Plowman have backed legislation that would allow children as young as 12 to get jobs. But, wait you say...why would a business hire a kid to do a job when it could employ an adult? The legislation also stated that the child laborers could be paid less than minimum wage.
Overtime Pay Laws
Likewise, Republicans are currently proposing federal legislation to amend the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to allow private employers to substitute compensatory time for overtime pay. Why do bad things so often get a misleading, friendly sounding name (like "Right-to-work" for instance)? Anyway, this piece of legislation is called the "Working Families Flexibility Act". According to the proposal, workers have to agree to receive comp time instead of overtime pay...and the employer can not threaten, intimidate, or coerce employees into agreeing to it. And we all know that big business would never coerce workers into doing what they want.
Of course...research from Cornell University has shown that in about 40% of the times that workers tried to organize into a union, unfair labor practice charges were filed against the employer...and those charges often include threatening, intimidating, and coercing employees to not vote for the union. But that is when workers are only exercising their federally protected right to form a union...surely employers will actually follow the law in relation to this proposed bill that seeks to change the Fair Labor Standards Act?
Workplace Safety Laws
Unions pushed to establish the law that ensures workers have as safe an environment as possible in which to work. Surely everyone can agree that enforcing workplace safety is necessary...
Well, since its establishment in 1971, big business interests (and their politicians) have worked tirelessly to reduce the funding and effectiveness of OSHA. In Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign, he argued against OSHA, then when elected, he promptly cut its budget and exempted many employers from inspections. The following year, the rate of occupational injury and illness jumped by the largest margin in OSHA's history to date. Unions argued against the cuts and exemptions.
In more recent years, the former Representative from Montana, Denny Rehberg (then chairman of the House Labor, Health and Human Services Subcommittee), introduced legislation that would block some federal safety regulations and decrease OSHA's budget.
Peg Seminario, the Director of Safety and Health for the AFL-CIO, responded to the proposed legislation, "For essentially eight years, there was a de facto moratorium on health and safety rules. I think the employers got used to the fact that there were no regulations. They don't want any new rules. They didn't have any under Bush and they don't want any more - period".
Basically it boils down to this: a lot of those laws that currently protect you at work were not freely given to you by big business. Some interests fought against them when they were passed and they continue to attempt to undermine them today.
Union members fought FOR the laws when they were passed, and continue to fight to keep them in effect today.
So the next time you argue that unions are a "thing of the past" or that they "are no longer needed today", remember that those seeking to bring back child labor, to bring an end to overtime pay, and to reduce workplace safety protections ARE NOT a "thing of the past.
Lots of work opportunities!
There is a lot of work coming up in Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma. Our local unions and the IUOE International are doing all we can to ensure that the projects are manned up with the best operators and riggers, enjoying the best wages, benefits and working conditions available. If you are looking for work now, OR if you are finally fed up with being taken advantage of by unscrupulous contractors who only care about the companies' profit, consider giving one of our locals a call. Maybe you have the skill set that our signatory contractors are seeking. See the Contact section of this website for our phone numbers and addresses.
A couple of things to consider:
1. If you are on the fence, you can look around this website for more information. But, don't take our word for it. Just type "Pension vs. 401K" into Google. You'll notice among the search results a recent article on Fox Business News. And the opportunity to participate in a pension plan is just one of the IUOE benefits. Why Pension Plans are Eating Your 401(KI) Plan's Lunch
2. Our local unions are not only looking for crane operators and riggers. If you are a highly skilled grader, dozer, excavator, or backhoe operator...or basically if you excel at running any piece of heavy equipment, give us a call. One of our contractors just might have a place for you.
3. Also important to note, and actually, MOST important to note...we are looking for skilled craftsmen who want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. We want members who are willing to stand up for themselves AND other members. The "every man for himself" mentality that exists in certain areas of our industry does no good for the workers - however, it is highly beneficial to the companies who seek to keep skilled craftsmen divided.
We are not interested in people who are willing to accept all of the benefits of belonging to a union, but the first time they have a 40 hour week, they go running back to whomever promises them the most hours. We understand that you have to provide for your family...that is why we work every day to improve the industry. However, you have to ask yourself, is working 80 hours a week for the next few months more important than NOT having to work 80 hours a week when you are 65?
If you are ready to commit to improving your future, AND are ready to commit to standing together with the other skilled tradesmen in the IUOE, give us a call.
There is a lot of information out there about joining a union, about collective bargaining, and about what is legal or not legal for employers and unions to do. We encourage you to take a look at as much information as possible. We just ask that you always consider the source of your information.
If you get information about unions from groups like the Heritage Foundation or the Cato Institute, or from websites like "unionfacts", it will be anti-union.
On the other hand, if you view information from the Economic Policy Institute, the Political Economy Research Institute or from websites like http://www.workingamerica.org/, it will likely be pro-union.
We are confident that the more information you look at, you will agree that your priorities are the same as that of our members and the IUOE. For "just the facts" on your rights to join a union, check out our "Your Rights" page.
We are very proud of our Local Union meeting halls and training facilities. With our Locals' modern equipment and university quality classrooms, we are ideally set up to continue the longstanding IUOE tradition of training and certifying the best operators in the industry...and the best part is, it is all included in our memberships!
Check out the pictures of some of our top-notch facilities below.
Have more questions? Check out our "Resources" and "FAQ" pages. The Resources page provides links, downloadable documents about wages and benefits, a "cost of living" comparison of Houston and other more unionized areas of the country, and additional information on your guaranteed rights.
The Frequently Asked Questions page has responses to the questions that we hear from non-union workers on a daily basis. We have nothing to hide, if your question is not answered somewhere on this website, or if you need clarification on a topic please call, email, or visit one of our Locals!
This Website is published in support of the International Union of Operating Engineers Locals 178, 406, 450, and 627.
The Locals are responsible for the content of this site and are not affiliated with TNT Crane & Rigging
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