The company I worked for had a union. I was a member of the union before the company offered me a position. The union officials tried persuade me to not take the company position as they claimed I would have no protection, that I could be fired at any time. I didn’t care. I was young and ready for a promotion. I also didn’t like being in the union because no matter how hard you worked (or didn’t work) everyone got the same yearly rise.
One problem I continuously had was determining what union work was and what company work was. I was used to doing what needed to be done but things were different now. Sweeping or cleaning was union work so if there was a mess, I had to let a union person clean it up. Moving boxes or lifting anything was also considered union work so if I needed a box moved from the receiving door to my office, a union person had to do it for me. It didn’t last long before I grew tired of waiting and asking other people to do things for me. Once I started doing my own thing the union would file grievances against me which resulted in mediators and hours and hours in boring meetings.
One hot summer day two union employees were supposed to be unloading a semi. If the truck wasn’t unloaded within a specific amount of time we would be fined $200 per hour or $800 per day. I questioned the employees and they told me it was too hot to unload the truck and that they weren’t going to do it. It was a Friday afternoon. I contacted the union steward and she confirmed that the temperature was beyond the agreed mark in their contract and that the truck would have to wait until Monday. I was livid. These guys were on fork-lifts. All they had to do was drive in pick up a pallet and drive out. They would hardly be in there long enough to get hot. It wasn’t fair and I wasn’t going to stand by and let the company get a $2,400 fine. All of my superiors were out of town at a conference so I made a corporate decision.
I started unloading the truck on my own. I didn’t have a license to drive a fork-lift so I had to do it by hand. The union people were freaking out and soon the steward was standing on the receiving dock telling me how I was in violation of the contract and how I would probably be losing my job on Monday. I didn’t care. I was sick to death of the union not caring about the company and the consequences of their stupid contract. With thirty union employees standing on the dock with their arms crossed and shouting
obscenities, I continued to unload the truck.
The truck was like a sauna and I was soaking wet with sweat by the time Hope joined in. I ordered her out of the truck because I knew she was putting her job on the line. Hope was a union employee. She wouldn’t listen to me and continued unloading. The roles reversed and Hope had now entered into my
crazy world. I was worried about both of our jobs. The crowd on the dock had now grown and there were even more people doing nothing but watching. The union steward began taking pictures so Hope and I posed, wrapping our arms around each other and pretending to kiss for one and holding our middle fingers up in the next one. There was a boom-box on the floor near the truck. When the song Girls Just Wanna Have Fun came on, we turned it up and danced and threw boxes faster than any man I’ve ever seen. We completely unloaded the truck.
On Monday there was a big to do and lots of closed door meetings. We both were reprimanded but ended up keeping our jobs. Hope was willing to risk
everything for me and my cause that day and I remain forever grateful for that. A year later I accepted a position at a different company, one that was union free; I moved away and never saw Hope again. But every time I take a risk or make a crazy decision, Hope is still standing at my side.
British Word of the Day - Honking
To our British friends “honking” means throwing up, puking, blowing chunks, up chucking, spewing, vomiting, you get the picture. In a sentence it might go something like this: “These sappy blogs have me honking all over my keyboard!”