Legacy Blog #6 Hussmann and the Labor Union

My Beloved Daughter,

Your Grandpa Chuck worked as a foreman at Hussmann in the mid-1970s.  I don’t know much about what he did.  Here’s what I do know:

Sometime after I was born, the labor union wanted a raise of a nickel for the employees.  In the 1970s, that would have been a pretty big raise.  The higher-ups explained that they couldn’t afford the raise at that time.

Needless to say, the union bosses weren’t happy about this.  They called for a strike.  Your Grandpa, who was making enough already to support a family of five without your Grandma Pat having to work, voted against the strike.

He was outvoted.

The strike caused him to not be able to work, as members of the union couldn’t cross the picket line.  Hussmann just brought in temps to do the job for less than they were already paying your Grandpa.  Then, they “busted” the union (a term your Grandpa used . . . I don’t know if that’s a proper term).  Everyone lost his and her job (including your Aunt Bonnie’s husband, Uncle Patrick).

Your Grandfather understood something way back then about artificially raising the working wage.  He understood that forcing an employer to pay more than they can afford will cause them to make hard decisions.  We see that now, as cities like Seattle, WA, and Washington, D.C., are seeing businesses being forced to close when those cities enforce the raising of minimum wage.

But, back to the story at hand.  I don’t really know what your grandfather’s political views were.  I do know that he never trusted unions again.  He considered them bullies who were only doing what they could to get the employee’s money.

 

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