By Bryce Smedley, CWA 4730 President
The very concept of labor unions is under attack! Why would anyone be against a group of workers stand-ing together? The simple answer: money! When people are allowed to organize and fight for fairness in the workplace, employers are forced to pay their fair share. In Indiana, and the country, unions are under assault by businesses and their political partners who exist off big campaign contributions. The public is fed lies and distortions about the purpose of unions and the princi-ples for which they stand. An excellent example from this year was the legislation (and intentional misno-mer), ?Right to Work,? which truly translates to ?Right to work for less.? The truth: in states that have busted collective bargaining rights, workers earn less money. Companies are not willing to pay more unless they are forced to by their workers.
Indiana University is not willing to pay higher wages and lower health care premiums unless we fight for them, and yet there is often complacency among IU employees. Many assume that their fellow workers will do the hard work and pull their weight. This is known as ?the free-rider? problem and it is a slippery slope! If you don’t stand up for your working rights, why should your fellow worker at the next desk, and why should an employer change the way they treat their employees?
As a local union we have decided to fight for bet-ter wages across campus and for lower health care pre-miums. If you are not a member of our union, then I am assuming you feel the costs for health care are afford-able, your current salary is fair and you are paid appro-priately for the work you do. You may also be compla-cent with paying more and more each year to park on campus. This attitude—that everything is fine and there is nothing to worry about —is dangerous! Without your participation, Indiana University and our state legislators assume everything is fine, and that the silent majority of support staff can be forced to pay more for benefits such as health care, parking, and tuition, and that we can be kept silent and complacent with small wage increases and should be happy with them.
As we continue to pay more for everything in this economy from utilities to health care, are you willing to stay quiet, remain neutral or intimidated from saying anything or doing anything? Will you be a free-rider, counting on your fellow employees to speak up for you? Will your silence allow businesses and administrators to delegitimize you and your fellow employees even more? Collectively we suffer, or collectively we win fair wages and benefits for the essential work we do for IU.