Thursday, May 7, 2009

How many union workers does it take to change a light bulb?

I had an interesting conversation today with a friend I carpool with (I'm in a carpool as part of my effort towards U.S. energy independence). I decided to ask my friend if he has any experience with labor unions. I've been hearing more about unions in the news than I have in a long time, so I was curious.

My friend's response: "Boy, do I!" (This was with a southern drawl, since he's from Tennessee). I knew that he had worked for Lockheed Martin, but it turns out he also worked in the Auto Industry. Here's a couple of his stories:

The Arc Welder

Lockheed had a portable arc welder that could be towed to different sites. one day a union employee drove his truck to work, hooked up the arc welder and towed it home. He then put an advertisement in the paper and sold it. You can't say union workers are not enterprising! The company that purchased the arc welder wanted the manuals, so they contacted the manufacturer. The manufacturer asked for the part number and then responded "That arc welder belongs to Lockheed Martin!". Lockheed was notified and they promptly fired the employee.

The union attorneys fought saying that Lockheed incorrectly terminated this employee and got his job back. When my friend left Lockheed, the employee still had his job.

How many union workers does it take to change a light bulb?

The union went on strike so non-union employees were reassigned to make up for the slack. Since my friend has an "Electrical and Aeronautical" background, he was assigned as an electrician. He was given a cart and had to respond to a pile of work orders. Most of them were changing light bulbs. After his first week of work, his supervisor came to him and said "You've processed more work orders in 1 week than my crew of union workers has done in the previous year". During this period, they found a building where these workers had beds tucked under counters for their naps. They also threw away more pornography than they have ever seen in their life.

"The Union has done so much for me"

A union worker was always telling my friend how much the union had done for him. The union worker was a talented painter and had a dream of starting his own motorcycle custom paint shop. He talked about it about as much as he did praise the union. Someone finally asked him, "When you start up your custom shop, do you plan on allowing the union into your company?". The union worker's response: "Absolutely NOT!"


My friend went to lunch with a union worker. They got along great, laughing and joking. My friend had to test a system he was working on so he slid a couple of pallets across the system. His union worker "buddy" came over and yelled at him and wrote him up for his "violation". It turns out that he has a quota for processing paletts and if he doesn't meet the quota, he works overtime. Apparently working overtime is more important to a union worker than being efficient.

I've never been in a union nor worked for a company with a union.

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