Thursday, July 21, 2011

Chemistry Union

At the new job I work at I often hear complaints about wages, treatment, and working conditions. The Chemistry field looks precarious, at times. While this field is by no means the worst field to work within, I have taken to mentioning the benefits of unionism where I work to other workers.

Politics tends to be a "no-no" topic, from what I can tell about the atmosphere so this makes it somewhat difficult to broach. But I don't think a Chemists union would have to restrict itself to a single plant, or a single company, and in fact I think would be better if it did not restrict itself to a plant or company. In a sense Chemists already have a professional organization to help workers keep in touch with the chemistry field -- the ACS (though that only applies to Americans). But this is a wholly unbalanced relationship. It keeps a pool of ready and willing workers in contact with companies who may pick and choose, but we don't have bargaining rights outside of our resumes and references. I think that the chemistry employees would benefit greatly by forming a union -- and not just a union which is embedded within a given company, but a union formed by and operated by the workers themselves. This would give us, as employees, bargaining power in the labor market of chemistry. This is beneficial because it would aid us in bringing more stability to our jobs so that we can pursue the things in life that are worthwhile outside of work, such as family, projects, politics, and so forth. Further, it would make the working field equatable, as currently we are all disjointed which is beneficial only to those with collective bargaining power: our employers.

But it's a hard sell. I live in a conservative state, and conservative values tend to weigh against unionism on the basis of principle, and on the basis of fear. I mention fear because when I mentione unionizing, the responses are not of the sort, "I do not believe..." but "Such activities couldn't succeed", so I think there's at least some motivational fear which stops unionism from working. The sad thing is that rural, conservative states would benefit most from unionism. They tend to be the poorest!

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