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It was strange delivering to a company and finding out the receptionist, who was promoted, was laid off only after two months from initially receiving her promotion. I never had a chance to say bye to her or digest the change in her fortune. Then I thought about this morning. Union member have rights like seniority. This gives them the right to pick according to who has the most time with the company. They chose to use their seniority for the right to go home without pay. Imagine if a company is laying off employees. Imagine if the employer is looking for volunteers to be laid off for two months. No one steps up, the employer decides to layoff according to who they prefer to keep on the books. Not an ideal situation.

The union ensures that decisions are made fairly and not based on any type of bias. Going back to this morning, I witnessed a sad sight. Imagine union members arguing that seniority is the right to go home. Not only did they not understand the contract, but they also did not understand why the language guaranteeing their rights as union workers was negotiated in the first place. More importantly, I realized that once again, the union is dead; individualism is alive and well within the union. How is it possible to create a true labor movement, when the union member is killing the union, the inspiration to the labor movement, in order to satisfy their own selfish motives?

I then think of the individual who lost their job or was laid off. As I think about her situation, I wonder, does the average union member truly respect their own situation? Do they understand that we are own worst enemy in following our contract? The rights we enjoy are slowly being given away by ourselves in serving ourselves. Soon we will be on the outside fighting for the very rights we are giving away in the form of going home without our guaranteed “8 hours” pay. We also at the same time, volunteer to go home, but now truly realize seniority is the right to work. If the company decides to lay off employees, then seniority is the right we would be willing to fight for at that moment, but is it not a right we should fight for all of the time?

In the gig economy world of seeking a convenient schedule and negotiation for self, the very idea of going home lead to other bad habits that fall outside the negotiated contract. The new member may not be able to understand this concept as they are the millennials of the world and have a different perception of how unionism works, if they even understand the concept at all. In fairness, they need to be taught or someone must take them under their wings and teach them the reasons for following the contact and the circumstances that led to the rules that should be followed as union members. Volunteering to be laid off is volunteering to give your negotiated rights away, which can lead to a slippery slope of many giveaways in the future.