5 Reasons Why It Really Sucks to Be a Salaried Worker in a Union Workforce

If you haven’t been following the United Auto Workers’ negotiations with the Big 3 U.S. automakers, it provides about as good a theater as watching any of the great reality TV shows out there.

Just this week, Ford came to an agreement with their UAW workforce that includes:

  • 5,750 new jobs;
  • $6,000 ratification bonus payments (basically this is a bribe to get them to vote “yes” on the contract);
  • About a $3.75 per hour pay increase;
  • Four (4) $1500 inflation bonuses;
  • Profit sharing checks that will average about $3,752; and,
  • Oh, and a $250 dollar year-end bonus for meeting performance objectives (I guess they aren’t big on pay-for-performance compensation at the UAW!)

This is all pretty cool if you’re a UAW member! GM and Chrysler UAW members get slightly different stuff, but it all basically equates to around the same thing – a lot of money.

5 complaints of salaried employees

If you work in a union environment, but you’re not part of the union, the classic next step is to complain about everything the union is getting — and that you are not getting — as a salaried worker for your company:

  1. Union workers get better health insurance, and pay less for it.
  2. Union workers get paid overtime, double-time and well, heck, more than me.
  3. Union workers get to complain about their boss, and when they do, they get sent home with pay!
  4. Union workers get more breaks throughout the day!
  5. Union workers get those “cool” jackets to wear that say stuff like “Local 825 – Working Less, 4 More.”

Here’s what I say to their complaints

As an HR Pro, I look at Mr. Salaried Worker and I listen, I shake my head agreeably (so they really know I’m listening – HR Pro Tip!), and then I firmly, but softly, tell them one thing:

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“I hear what you are saying. If you would like, I will start your transfer paperwork immediately. Would you like the position where you put the nut on the bolt, or the one where you push the button all day?”  

I then walk back into my air conditioned office, check my Facebook, call home to see how the wife is doing, pull a cold soda out of the small fridge that is in my office by the small conference room table, turn up Pandora (because my favorite song is on), shut my door (so not to bother anyone), close my eyes, and think what it will be like when I finally get to retire and not have to listen to people whine about what others have, and what they are unwilling to do to have the same thing.

This was originally published on Tim Sackett’s blog, The Tim Sackett Project.

Tim Sackett, MS, SPHR is executive vice president of HRU Technical Resources, a contingent staffing firm in Lansing, MI. Tim has 20 years of HR and talent background split evenly between corporate HR gigs among the Fortune 500 and the HR vendor community ? so he gets it from both sides of the desk. A frequent contributor to the talent blog Fistful of Talent, Tim also speaks at many HR conferences and events. Contact him here.


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