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Organized labor bashing

October 1, 2012
Daily Press


I am getting sick and tired of union and organized labor bashing.

A hundred years ago, workers banded together to fight corporate greed and corporate demand to control them, with total disregard for wages, safety and horrible working conditions. Workers lost their lives as they clashed with corporate thugs hired from the streets. It didn't work.

Politicians controlled by the money handlers continue to bash unions and blame them for much of the current economic crises in this country. The unions of teachers, state workers, mill workers, etc. have been under attack for protecting those employees who are labeled as inept, lazy, or incompetent.

When I began my management career for the state of Michigan in 1975, I was immediately sent to Lansing for a 40-hour management class. I supervised over 60 people for three years. During that time, I had 26 grievances filed against me. I only lost one and that was because I was on vacation when these employees abused their time and in spite of telling my supervisor the filing date had exceeded the regulations, I was ordered to do it anyway because she wanted "to send them a message." Since that time, I have managed in civil service programs in other states as well as the private sector and have had to discipline employees and terminate some from employment. This was never an easy thing to do on many levels.

And when I keep hearing how lazy teachers and state workers are abusing the system I get really disgusted. It's the responsibility of special education directors, principals, and front line managers in business to discipline those individuals with the phrase "failure to correct these deficiencies will result in disciplinary action, up to and including, dismissal."

And, these managers had better have met with their respective "problem" staff frequently and regularly and used verbal counseling, written counseling, verbal reprimand and written reprimands in the process preceding termination. That's how it's done. And one of the cardinal rules is you can't be friends with those you supervise. That never works. That's a sacrifice good managers must make.

I was also the chief union steward for the Ohio State Employees Association when I taught at the Ohio State School for the Blind in Columbus, Ohio. I would tell the grievant in our first meeting that I wanted nothing but who, what, when, and where, and that I didn't want personal dislikes, etc., involved in the process, just the facts.

Managers must receive extensive training in managing people, especially in education where our children and grandchildren's educations are at stake. You don't promote an educator to a supervisory position due to district convenience or because that person "works well with admin."

Unions will always protect workers to guarantee due process. "Bad teachers" and "poor workers" are the result of weak, ill prepared managers. Organized labor is not the fault. Managerial ineptitude, legislator ignorance and the abuse of power are to blame.

Gerry Niedermaier




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