Where Does All the Money Go?

A labor union is structured much like any other business.  In simplest terms there is a Boss, a Superintendant, and the worker bees.  However a difference occurs with the regulatory restrictions to occupational work.

For example, one of my friends was employed as a painter for a large corporation.  He was a Union Painter.  He was assigned to paint a metal stairway and hand rail.

In this instance the stairway and hand rail were covered in grease.  Before he could apply paint to the job the grease had to be cleaned off.  He was certainly qualified and had the proper materials and cleaning agent to do so, but this portion of the job was assigned to the Laborer’s Union.

He properly approached the Laborer’s Union Steward and made his request for a laborer to clean the grease off the stairway and hand rail.  The reply was; “We’ll do it when we get to it.”

So my friend waited a few days working on other things while he awaited the completion of the cleaning.  The Boss came by and wondered why the stairway and hand rail weren’t painted yet.  Upon being told that the job was awaiting the cleaning job by the Laborer’s Union the Boss said he would see to it.

A couple more days went by with no cleaning having been done.  Tired of waiting anymore, the painter did the paint job, grease and all.  Of course it wouldn’t have lasted very long.  The cost of  cleaning the grease on the painted parts would be more expensive, as well as having to repaint.

This type of activity is common in the Unions.

Back in the ‘60s while I was on a Government job in Montana we were working on about 100 different sites scattered around the countryside.  The sites were approximately 6 miles apart in all directions and tied to a control center located equidistantly from a number of sites.

One part of the job required control wiring to be fed through plastic piping/conduit to all of the sites.  To prevent condensation in the pipe, refrigerated air was blown through the pipe.  From time to time it was necessary to splice the control wiring because they did not have a control wire cable that was 6 miles long.

The Union Electricians were not allowed to work on this wiring because we were not in the correct Union for control wiring.  (I believe it was some sort of Fiber Optic Union.)  This particular Union did not allow its membership to exceed a specific number.  The only way to get in that union was to have a member die or retire.

When a splice was necessary, a tent would be set up over the area of the splice.  A helper would assist in the set up of the tent and equipment.  After setting up the tent, the helper would stand guard outside the door of the tent while the splice was made in secrecy.

To get the “secret” splice made, a call went out to this union and a man would be flown in to the job.  He would be put up in the best hotel, fed at the best restaurants, and paid high wages.  No one cared about costs on Government jobs.  The Government had an unending supply of money.

Sometime later I spoke to a telephone cable splicer and he said that was all foolishness, because any telephone splicer could do that job.

They just weren’t in the same Union.

And that’s where the money goes.