Unions – A Librarian’s Ethical Dilemma
You know the larger-than-life-sized reindeer that dance down Main Street, pulling Santa’s sleigh during the holiday parade at Disneyland? Well, for a very brief time, I was one of those. In fact, I was the first-ever female reindeer. My dimensions and dancing ability (such as it was) fit the Disney specifications. Twice a day throughout the holiday season I danced down Main Street, strapped into an 18-pound reindeer head that extended about 2 feet above my own while zipped into a head-to-toe fir costume.
Getting into that costume on a chilly December evening wasn’t so bad, but waiting in line to get unzipped (the zipper was in the back, you see) after dancing for a mile was an exercise in patience. Speaking of exercise, I remember watching steam rise from each head of the dancing partners who were unzipped before me. I also remember weighing a whopping 5 pounds less after each parade. Great work out!
The downside of this gig was that every employee at Disneyland paid union dues. It mattered not if you were part-time or seasonal. This stunk as bad as the fir suit I wore! I worked REALLY #@%^& hard for that $7 an hour. The union, in my opinion, didn’t have a right to any part of my paycheck, especially since I was part-time AND seasonal!
After leaving Disney due to a back injury, (I mentioned the 18 pound head), I vowed that I would never again pay union dues. Up to this point, I’ve been true to that promise. However, as of this January, I am experiencing an ethical dilemma. I’ve worked for the Anaheim Public Library for decades, always part-time, which kept me off the pension plan (I’ll talk about the PERS trap later) and the union list.
Full-time Anaheim Librarians are unionized, I’m afraid. This was not always the case. The entire library department was absorbed into the City’s Community Services Department several years back. This allowed Anaheim to better control those wacky librarians, I suppose. It also allowed the unions to expand their bargaining power.
During the height of the recent recession, the city made an attempt to dump the library system, i.e., outsource it to the county. The community made a ruckus (God bless ’em). The city relented. In the end, the library had to make drastic cut-backs, eliminating MANY full-time staff. Ironically, the unions that couldn’t defend these positions effectively then, now find that that they have lost a large chunk of their pay-base. In response, the unions have succeeded in recruiting the remaining part-time employees to join (i.e., pay dues).
When I received my ballot in the mail, I voted NO. (In case you didn’t get the message, I am anti-union.) I’m not saying that unions’ role in society up until now has been all bad. However, in this day and age, I believe it’s unjust to allow any government workers to unionize against taxpayers. Plus, in the long run, unions make librarians look bad. We’re public servants, after all. It seems counter-intuitive to say “I’m an advocate for the community” while clinging to a union card that says, “Up to a point.”
So now I’m in a pickle. My long-term plan was to keep my part-time Anaheim Public Librarian job up to and beyond retirement. Thanks to this latest event, I’m must consider resigning. Unions will take my money, claiming they will fight for my rights. (Yeah right. I witnessed what happened to the last batch of librarians they represented.) Instead, unions will spend my dues on political issues that I don’t support. They will hang me out to dry if I don’t affirm their agenda. Even as I write this… from home, on a rare day that I’m not working anywhere, I wonder whose black list I’m making. If I get fired or written up, you’ll be the first to know.
Please advise! Should I quit upon principle? (I DON’T want to belong to a union!!!) Or do I keep a job that I’d planned to keep until death takes me – a job that I love, that I’ve trained for, and that I’m good at?