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I paid thousands in dues but my union didn’t represent me

Where did all the money I paid my union go ? asks letter writer
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To the editor,

I recall, the first day on the job, I was informed that I had to sign up as a member of the union. It was not a choice. Over a decade later, I resigned from the job due to deplorable conditions, with an attempt later to rescind it upon hearing of upcoming change. My supervisor stated he asked the union representative to be present (in what he knew was to be the final meeting). He went without consulting me prior and stated he felt it would be to my benefit. It was not. It was to his. In hindsight of the proceedings in the final meeting, it is with the appearance of an alliance formed by two people who had established a working bond within the work environment as I was regarded with bully-like behaviour, with the union representative following the supervisor’s lead.

I was not represented by the union that I was forced to pay union dues to. You might ask, what did you do Susan? I had stated my truth in my resignation letter that I believed that our work values were not aligned, the supervisor took it personal, of which the union rep ceased the opportunity to display her personal dishonour for me, in perspective it was a dishonour to all who worked the position because the union rep did not assess the situation, she instead reacted and aligned herself to the employer, herself employed there. The representative furthered a conflict of interest, unbeknownst to me at the time.

The union rep did nothing to assist in mediating the issue. She identified with her personal experience, without the neutrality required of such a role. Had the rep inquired further, she would have found several others were experiencing similar problems as me in the workplace. There were issues to be resolved.

I do speak from a personal experience, but there is something for all who are unionized to consider:

I paid union dues for over a decade. That’s thousands of dollars paid to a union who did not respond responsibly or mediate in this incident, did not responsibly or effectively represent me or the union, partook in the final incident, and did not, in all attempts, achieve a wage for the masses of that position that reflects enough regard for the employee working the responsibilities of that position. The wage did increase afterwards, yet the increase is borderline in terms of inflation, or with regard to the role of responsibility of the employees.

I question, is the union of benefit? We do have access to WCB and legal services, not unionized. All the money paid into a union could be put into an alternative forum to pursue legal action against an unreasonable employer. Could we do better self-representing than being in a contractual agreement with a union not as socialized within our own field positions or with ourselves as individuals who know our experience well.

Could the money paid to a union instead be placed into a forum classified as a benefit in good keeping by the employer for the employee and returned annually to the employee to use to their discretion. Where did all that money go to the union, anyway? Monthly dues add up to a yearly amount, and over the years, with numerous employees involved. Where did all that money go, for what had been received?

Susan Maroney,

Terrace, B.C.


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