Mark Hendrickson’s Article on Unions

By The Reader's Turn
The Reader's Turn
The Reader's Turn
September 1, 2021 Updated: September 1, 2021

I really enjoyed the union article by Mark Hendrickson [“The Economics and Politics of the Pro-Union Protecting the Right to Organize Act,” in the July 14–20, 2021, edition]. Yes, I sure can relate to the unions and how lousy most of them are. I feel that they did some good back in the early 1900s, but after that, they outlived their usefulness, to me it seems that their only agenda now is to make money for the union leaders. The union leaders seem to be like politicians—only interested in making money for themselves and caring little about members, or the public.

After graduating high school, I joined the Carpenters Union. Back then, the union had a lot of power. Houses being built by a non-union crew were dynamited, and the union “Goon” Squad was active and raided a job I was on, but we were all union so nothing happened. My stepfather was a longtime union member, and he did all the talking for us. But it sure scared me when several cars pulled up on the street and 15 to 20 men jumped out and quickly surrounded the house we were working on. My stepfather told me many nasty stories about the Goon Squad in the early days when he was a union member. He also mentioned the big Labor Day festivities held at a big amusement park near Cleveland (Euclid Beach), where the union had a big raffle. Top prize was a new car, and the value of the prizes went down after that. It seems that the wives of the union president and the wives of the heads of the locals were sure lucky every year. They won the new car and the high-end prizes, and when it got down to things like a toaster, one of the members won that. Oh, such honesty.

I was drafted into the Army, and when I got out in the winter months, I was looking for a job, which was impossible to find at that time of the year. But I had to pay union dues. I complained to a union official and was told if I didn’t like it to get out of the union. When I finally got a job that spring, I found I was working with many people who just bought a union card for $350 and were working long before I found a job. Many union members were still out of work, but the union was only interested in selling temporary union cards to make extra money.

When the president of my local union retired, his son was running for his job. Another man also wanted the job, and we were told this man was a super carpenter and very honest. Weeks before the election, he was pushed down a flight of stairs and was terribly injured. The union paid his hospital bills and so forth, but he could not run for president of our local, so the son got the job. Being a very honest person, I could not stand the crooks that ran our union, so I looked for a different, NON-UNION job and wound up in a police department.

I still remember one day at work when I received a radio call to go to the local K-Mart store as they had a shoplifter they were holding. This person was under their watch, as for a long time he had been stopping at the store during his lunch hour. While there, he did a lot of shopping and always left with many items he had bought. The trouble was he was changing the prices on the items, and it was found he was selling these items at constant garage sales he held every few weeks. He was caught in the act that day.

Imagine my surprise when I arrived and the guilty person was a mail carrier. I had to call another car to take him to the police station as I had to stay there to guard his mail truck, which was full of that day’s mail. When a supervisor arrived to take the mail truck away, I asked him what would happen to this thief. His answer to me was because of the Postal Workers Union, they could do nothing to this dishonest mail carrier. All they could do is to transfer him to a different post office. If that isn’t union insanity, I don’t know what is.

Long before the union took over the Postal Service, I remember it was said one could staple a dollar bill to a postcard and it would get to where it was sent with the dollar bill still on it. Sure different since the union took over. Try that now, haha.


Robert W. Collins