They say that no good deed goes unpunished. This is especially true if you happen to be a good samaritan volunteering to help out in your community and a union feels that you’re stealing work from its members.
In the last 12 months, there have been a number of incidents where good samaritans have “intruded” onto union “turf,” only to find themselves in the crosshairs of union bosses.
- Last November, the SEIU bullied a 17-year old Eagle Scout who had the temerity to spend 200 hours clearing 1,000 feet of brush from a walking and biking path in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
- In Feburary, AFSCME bosses demanded the firing of an 86-year old elderly man who was a volunteer crossing guard.
- In June, the Teamsters won an arbitration against Racine County (WI) for its use of inmates (not exactly volunteers in this case) to mow lawns after budget cuts left the county with no money to pay the union workers. The arbitrator ruled the county had to “make whole” (pay) the union members, even though no one was ever paid to do the work in the first place.
- In Oakland, California, the Teamsters filed a grievance when Mills College used goats to clear brush. The union demanded the college to either a) give back pay to the Teamster members whose work was eaten by the goats or b) require the 500 non-union goats to join the union.
Now, the Teamsters are miffed again.
In Pierce County, Washington, the Teamsters have filed a grievance over volunteers who have taken it upon themselves to cut park grass following budget cuts:
Members of Teamsters Local Union No. 117 formally complained to the state this month about what they claim are unfair labor practices by Pierce County Parks & Recreation.
Those practices include allowing residents of Midland to mow the grass and pick up trash at Dawson Park.
The union charged that allowing such volunteer efforts at Dawson and Gonyea parks deprived its members of chances to work.
The county cut parks funding, and parks and rec cut services. Midland residents learned there was no money to cut Dawson’s grass, collect litter or clean toilets. So they did what union members have done so often: They volunteered.
At first, the bigs turned down the neighbors’ offer, citing liability and standards.
So residents rode their mowers to Dawson and gave it a haircut.
That very civil disobedience worked, and they set up a mowing schedule.
The whole exercise has pushed neighbors together to form a productive community flexing its political muscle. In its own back-handed way, it has been good for Midland.
Getting people together to make modest improvements is always good.
Apparently, getting people together is only good if they’re paying dues to a union.
“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
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