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Union Not Happy About Eagle Project

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"The union should shut up regardless! "


Because its a union and they never have a legitimate reason to complain?


Because this regards the BSA, and any Eagle scout project should be immune to criticism?


Are we really above public scrutiny?

Are unions beneath the rights to speak or air their grievances?


Is this the America do you really want?(This message has been edited by gernblansten)

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It is not about the work being done by volunteers, but by the work being done by non-union members in violation of a valid contract.


If you had a contract with someone and they didn't honor it, you would be foolish not to seek to make them live up to the contract.


That is all that is going on here. After the process is done there will be a finding whether or not the city could do it.


The union has a right and a responsibilty to its members to seek that judgement.

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Ed, you make some unsupportable assumptions in your last post. First, that the union wasn't doing their jobs, second that they have control over what management assigns them to do in their day-to-day jobs, and third, that they could have avoided lay-offs if they had somehow done their jobs better. Given the realities of the workplace (rank and file workers typically don't get to go start projects on their own, even if they see a need/have the desire) and the economy (terrible in PA just like everywhere else, right?), these don't add up.


The fellow could have phrased his concern more delicately. But I think Eamonn had it right. If the city had not wanted to have this contract that they entered into with the union, then the city should have negotiated for different ideas. Unions do not just present contracts to management and make them sign on the dotted line. Management is equally responsible for, and legally bound to, the details of any contract. They agreed to it!


About a year ago there was a city gov't - I think in NJ but I'd have to re-find the story - that laid off all of its grounds crew. The city then requested that volunteers show up a couple of days a week and mow the city's lawns together, a job that used to belong to the grounds crew.



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The issue here is that the city laid off union workers, then allowed volunteer labor to replace them, or at least 200 hours worth of one of them. The SEIU's beef is with the city. Whether that's a grievable management practice is a matter for the arbitrator.


Mr. Balzano and his ilk lost my support when he chose to go to the media and drag the BSA and an innocent Boy Scout through the mud. And yes, I am a former union member and shop steward and now am management, so I've been on both sides.

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As Lisa points out there is a contract between the union and the employers, in this case the local government. There is also a contract between the union members and their union. If the union does not vigorously pursue violations of the contract with the employer then they are not fulfilling their contractual obligation to their membership.


The government was wrong to allow work to be done by volunteers without getting the union's permission and the union was obliged to object. The scout did nothing wrong and the union rep should not have mentioned him.


The musicians union used to be extremely vigorous in protecting the rights of their membership, even to the point of being ridiculous. My dad once told me about President Eisenhower arriving at an airport; I think it was Philadelphia. A group of 8 Boy Scouts with bugles greeted him with a fanfare. Behind them stood 8 union musicians being paid scale to allow the scouts to play!



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There are a lot of issues and emotions coming out here. I find it interesting that we seem to always defend the Eagle, no matter what. Now we suddenly want to defend the union and insult the efforts of a Scout who appears to have done his best to serve his community and to advance in our program. Looks like we've found a soft spot to poke if we ever want to start an argument.

I have two solutions. When the Eagle candidate approached the city, maybe the city should have first offered the volunteer work to the union guys. That way the Eagle could lead qualified personnel, and the laid-off guys would have had some worthwhile work to keep them busy. If they didn't accept, the Eagle could find others to volunteer. Either way, the work gets done and the Scout fulfills his requirements. Now that the project is done, and our 20/20 hindsight can't undo what's already been done, the other solution might be that those who wish to make a statement could organize a picket line when this young lad has his Eagle ceremony. I normally don't cross picket lines, but I would this one.


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I've generally held my tongue on this one, but tend to sympathize with Ed. I understand the need for unions and they have done and continue to a lot of good in supporting the working guy or gal. They should and do negotiate the best deal they can get for their members with respect to wages and benefits. If they get too much, that's managements fault for not negotiating better on their part, but unions need to be aware they really can suck more blood out of the enterprise than it has to continue. i.e. the auto industry. I can even support some work rules that ensure qualified workers do specific skilled tasks, but not to save jobs just for the sake of saving jobs. Either there is a task that needs to be done or there isn't. Unions should not force enterprises or governments to create busy work just to keep them paid. Work and employment is a privildge, not a right. When people have a job they should remember that.


Having noted the above I can't recall ever seeing municipal workers get laid off for lack of work. The reason municipal workers get laid off is because there is not enough taxpayer money to pay them.


Heck in my town volunteers maintain highway islands, paint and clean school buildings, help maintain ballfields, pay for school programs such as sports, band, theatre groups etc. because taxpayers are tapped out and won't pay more in taxes. Let alone the 2 or 3 Eagle projects that might be done a year that would cover maybe a thousand labor hours if that.


Just no way I can concieve of a situation where an Eagle project of a several hundred labor hours for a one time effort or task for a town or school would take someone's full job away.


If this town is laying off municipal workers, it's not because of an Eagle project. It's because the town's tax revenues won't support the staff they have.





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BDPT00, I have not seen anyone here "insult the efforts of a Scout." Nor has our now-favorite union leader, Mr. Balzano, despite his ill-advised about "looking into the Cub Scout or Boy Scout who did the trails." (Gosh, what a stupid thing to say.) His complaint is with the city, and what some people are saying here is, it may be a legitimate complaint, or at the very least, he may be sending a legitimate message about future projects and not letting the volunteer projects get out of hand at a time when city workers are losing their jobs. The first part of that depends on the contract, which of course none of us have seen. The second part does seem to be a reasonable point. It doesn't mean this Scout's project shouldn't have been approved, it just means, let's have some consideration for the overall situation of the community, of which the Scouts are a part.

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Hey Ed,

I'm free on Mondays.

I have about 13 weeks vacation saved up.

How about you not working on Mondays and you taking the next 13 weeks off? Without pay!

While I volunteer to do your job.

Heck we have a lot of forum members from around the Pittsburgh area, we might be able to just lay you off!


I am of course joking.

But these things take on a lot more meaning when they hit close to home.

I'm inclined to think (I don't know.) That the 39 SEIU members who are laid off are not people who are at the top of the pay scale. They may or may not have the skills needed to find jobs elsewhere?

I don't think that I have ever been to Allentown.

The Lehigh Valley has had a very rough time since Bethlehem Steel went under. We are fortunate living in and around Pittsburgh that we have so many big health care facilities, along with colleges and universities (Not to mention banks!)That have helped the people in our area find new areas of employment.


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"About a year ago there was a city gov't that laid off all of its grounds crew. The city then requested that volunteers show up a couple of days a week and mow the city's lawns together, a job that used to belong to the grounds crew. "


Since when did unions become the county royalty? In a democracy no government job BELONGS to anyone. More communities should promote & expect volunteer citizen turnout as a way of enhancing community pride and spirit.


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let me ask this: Wher did it say anywhere that the scout took away the union employees work?


Was it their job to create that trail? Was the city going to pay them to do it before the scout came along?


I do not see where Mr Balzano said that the city used the scout INSTEAD of paying the union guys.

Matter of fact, the more I read and think about it. It looks like Mr Balzano is saying: If anything work needs to be done, then the city HAD BETTER pay us to do it.

Sounds like if ANYTHING comes up, Mr. Balzano thinks the city OWES it to the workers to pay them.


Now, If I was the city, I would stand up and say (and invite the press too , by the way) "Mr. Balzano, please except out apologies. The very next time a VOLUNTEER project becomes available, we will contact you pronto and give you the very first shot at VOLUNTEERING to do it!"


Then I'd hope the reporter got in his (Balzano's) face and asked his thoughts on that!

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