Saturday, September 22, 2007

These Shackles Were Made By Union Guys, For Union Guys - Try 'Em On!

Dear Algernon D. Ammassa,

If computers can beat Kasparov at chess and perform surgery on human beings, can't we build them to recognize the difference between a period and an apostrophe?

I know you probably don't need "another" credit card. All I ask is that you...see what we've negotiated for AFSCME members and what makes the AFSCME Advantage MasterCard (r) a unique and 'better than' kind of card.

Am I even a member of this union? I was a member of Actors Equity for several years, but I couldn't afford the dues and dropped in 2003. AEA is related to AFSCME but I had never received any mail from them before this.

In 2004, I was forced to join SEIU three months after my hire on a new job. Mandatory union membership was never mentioned, at any of my three interviews, or while I was signing all my new-hire paperwork. It wasn't even mentioned to me before they started deducting dues - expensive dues, at that - from my paycheck. SEIU did nothing for me for the three years I worked for that company except to siphon money from my paycheck. I tried calling my union rep a few times during those three years, and never got through to anyone or a response. I concluded it was a racket, and I would have to put up with it until I found a job somewhere else. Which I did, finally, last year.

And now I've got AFSCME sending me credit card offers. Are they kidding?

Credit cards are PRISONS for working people who rely on them. Working people in America do not need to rack up more debt on credit cards. We need better wages, affordable health care, and the ability to save money. Lots of it, if we hope to retire. What is the labor union doing, getting in bed with one of the world's largest multinational banking consortiums and helping them sell credit cards?

If the union is going to partner with HSBC, how about negotiating some micro-loans to help union members who are in trouble, at low interest rates? Save a few mortgages. Refinance car loans. How about help with college loans for working-class parents belonging to the union? How about business loans that reward small employers who hire union?

Forget about all that. Instead, the union is handing out golden shackles and saying, "Try these on! Hey, they match your boss's cufflinks! Very spiffy!"


• Eliane • said...

This is outrageous. How come a union, which is somewhat of a political group/lobby, could be a mandatory thing? What if you do not want to join? Or maybe I do not understand this and it does compare to insurance? See, in Europe, belonging to a union is a choice. Depending on your job profile, I would even guess it could hurt your career to belong to one.

I also find that credit card campaign quite surreal: it is so "corporate", just the opposite of the union image I have in mind. Your suggestions are more in line with that their roles should be.
Interesting post.

Algernon said...

They are called "union shops," which means to work at that place you have to join the union.

And in some cases, like Actors Equity, the union may actually prevent you from working.

Our ways are strange sometimes.