John Sweet Thunderbird Estates D-20 teacher
What's your worst story about workplace injury? I've been in the military, I've worked construction, I've worked on oil fields. I've heard about explosions where people were badly burned. I've heard about deaths and just about every job-related injury you can think of. Do unions affect workplace safety? Their contribution to workplace safety is probably the most important role they play. Why the opposition to unions nowadays? They grew too large and powerful and top-heavy. They ceased serving their members and started serving the vested interests of their leadership. Do you belong to a union? No, but I have in the past. Would you join one? It would depend on which union, its policy and if the majority of my co- workers joined. Would joining one put your job at risk? Possibly.
Mike Fitzmorris Bennet Hill
Electrical engineer What's your worst story about on- the-job injury? I saw a television show about a manufacturer down South where the workers were always getting eaten by the gears and machinery. Do unions make the workplace safer? Just look at the work conditions in this country prior to unions and you see they served a good purpose. I'm not pro-union, but I'll grant them that. Why the widespread hostility to unions? Partly a lack of understanding, and partly things that unions do on occasion -- like auto unions going on strike because employees aren't getting $25 an hour, while employers have to sell cars to people making $6 to $7 an hour. Do you belong to a union? No. Would you join if the chance arose? I belonged to unions on jobs before I became an engineer, and it was worthwhile belonging.
Mike Smith Webb City, Mo.
Do you know anyone who's experienced workplace injury? A guy I knew got his legs broken when some steel fell over. Did his injury lose him pay? No. Did he belong to a union? No. Do unions affect workplace safety? I think that federal regulations and OSHA pretty much take care of workplace safety nowadays. Do you belong to a union? No. Would you if the opportunity arose? Probably not. I do sufficient bargaining on my own power. I don't need someone doing it for me. Do unions serve any purpose? Unions definitely have a place in some areas of manufacturing and in major metropolitan work areas. They keep worker skill levels higher because there's advantages to belonging to a union and keeping your seniority going.