While I fully support the decision of the Duquesne University adjunct instructors to engage in collective bargaining, I have to speak out about the group they chose to represent them. Educated people should have all the facts before making a serious choice in who speaks on their behalf. As a lifelong member of the United Steelworkers of America, I can offer some questions to pose to the sweet-talking organizers.
Ask why, when negotiating a contract with Allegheny Technologies (the world’s largest specialty steelmaker), the USWA settled for meager signing bonuses and paltry wage raises while easing language to circumvent work rules and reduce the workforce. Ask why it sold out its nonvoting retirees’ pensions by allowing the company to deduct health care costs to the tune of $260 per month per couple, and the door’s now open to increase it. Never before in any union history have retiree benefits been given away after they spent decades paying union dues. And if you file a grievance that can’t be resolved by talking, you’ll be told that arbitration is too expensive; you’re on your own.
It’s your future. You can pay into the USWA coffers until you’re no longer an asset, then get hung out to dry, or you can find a reputable union. Instead of marching on the Duquesne campus chanting “Shame!” they should be marching in front of the USWA offices.
The writer is a retired member of Steelworkers Local No. 1196.