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A Story About Wearing Red

How union reps conduct themselves at work locations is reflective of the power of collective bargaining

Kris LaGrange's picture
Jul 07, 2017

Visiting various job sites and work locations is one of the duties we are charged with at UCOMM, and I think that's why the work we do is considered by many to be unique and genuine. Say what you will about our dedication to the theory and practice of the power of collective bargaining, whether you support organized labor or not, we here at UCOMM witness and experience firsthand how it empowers workers, improves workplaces and develops a class of citizens who have a few extra dollars to spend and leisure time to dedicate to their communities and families.

Unions work, and anyone who disputes that has an evil secret motive or simply lacks vision or is just stupid, plain and simple. We work with all types of workforces. The trades, crafts, education, law enforcement and the public sector, we've worked with it all. From jails to nuke plants, classrooms to jury rooms, donned in work boots or business suits we've been there. The other day we were at a Call Center, it was a day where the union leadership encourages the membership to wear red for many reasons but one is to remind management that even during "labor peace," we have our shit together. Walking around with the rep, we noticed that there were a small few who weren't wearing red. I asked the union rep why? He said that "either they forgot or that they just don't care."

I thought to myself that it must suck being the member who does wear red, the dedicated many - to see a select few of your fellow coworkers going it alone. Those not wearing red may think they get paid good wages and benefits because they as individuals are so friggin awesome and not because of the end-product of collective bargaining.

So, was the union rep frustrated? Nope, did he ignore them when bringing us around to build the union's ever developing image library? Nope. He did what any good unionist would do; he was polite, patient and inclusive. A few of our other union clients have adopted the "wear red on certain days" tactic as well, and they are experiencing the same push-back from the select few - the members who don't really deserve to be members. Sometimes, good union jobs are wasted on a few that get through the cracks and oftentimes there is really nothing you can do about it. The union rep who brought me around that day did do something about it though - he didn't give up, he carried himself in a way that would make his union proud. I was impressed and inspired to try and act the same way toward union members who, no matter what you do, just don't get it.

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