Straight Talk from Al Jacobs
RECOLLECTIONS OF A UNION EMPLOYEE
My thanks to UCI Law School Dean Erwin Chemerinsky for his Labor Day article explaining the virtues of labor unions. It’s certainly reassuring to learn that society as a whole is benefited by strengthening unions and it’s instructive to be reminded of the unfortunate defeat of the Employee Free Choice Act, supported by President Obama, which would have made it easier for employees to unionize.
Let me share my experiences from the late 1940s. I regarded myself lucky that, as a 17-year-old, I could earn up to ten dollars a day setting pins in a bowling alley, just a few blocks from home. It was tough work, but it provided needed income. I shared living expenses with my widowed mother, supported myself while I attended high school and even had my own car, a 1929 DeSoto, for which I paid $165 in hard cash. Life was good!
Unfortunately nothing good lasts forever. For whatever reason, the bowling alleys of Los Angeles suddenly became unionized. My convenient routine became disrupted, for I was assigned to set pins in a different bowling alley each night. And my take-home pay dropped as union dues were automatically taken from my daily pay. To make matters even worse, everything became hectic for the bowling alley owners. Their businesses suffered as they were unable to depend upon reliable setters. Out of desperation they installed the then-inefficient and expensive Brunswick automatic pin-setting machines and before my 18th birthday I found myself without a job.
Although my early involvement with unionization proved to be catastrophic, perhaps Dean Chemerinsky’s personal experience as a union employee was more favorable. I wish he’d describe how he came to his conclusion as to “. . . the importance of unions in protecting workers.”
To receive Al’s free monthly newsletter, On the Money Trail,
sign in at the right side of this page.
To view or order his new book, The Road to Prosperity, click the Featured Book link at the upper right corner of this page.