UNION LABEL IS HARD TO ATTACH TO PLASTICS

Comments Email Print

One of the problems with success is that sometimes it draws unwanted attention. The growth of the plastics industry, for example, has been offset in the view of many processors by the efforts of union agents to organize their workers.

But as Plastics News reported last week, only one of every three of the 552 elections certified by the National labor Relations Board in the plastics processing industry during the past 12 years resulted in a victory for unions.

For the same period, organized labor won 45 percent of all the 48, 058 elections held in the United States.

The reasons for the relative lack of success by the labor to unionize plastics workers are varied. many proccessors are mobile and hire low-skill workers. plants often are in right-to-work states, where unions find it difficult to win elections. Cultural factors also are an issue, particularly in regions of the county where self-determination and distrust of outsiders ranks high among individuals.

In addition. a number of plastics companies are privately held, often family-run businesses. Many have good relations with their employees, whom they know by name and treat fairly and with respect. In circumstances where people are treated with dignity ans sensible safety and compensation policies are observed, few employees feel the need to join a union, which are not islands of democracy in themselves.

Companies that are insensitive in the treatment of people and maintain an authoritarian culture invite workers to seek the protection of organized labor. Such is the genesis of unions, among the first of which were religious groups formed to protect members from persecution. That is one reason why clergy are so often found representing workers in labor protests, particularly in developing nations where the exploitation of people and working conditions are appalling.

Firms that do business that way whether in Mexico or Missouri, are simply asking to engage in collective bargaining. Unions are not hard to sell in those circumstances, and even are to be encouraged.