An op-ed penned by Maine paralegal Carol Sanborn, a member of IAM Local S89, tells her own unique story of joining the IAM and takes outdated anti-union sentiment to task in the process.
“I was recently involved with organizing one of the most innovative collective bargaining units in Maine, and I can confirm that people who toss around phrases such as ‘union thugs’ and ‘union bosses’ have little idea what they are talking about and are sadly out of touch,” writes Sanborn on centralmaine.com. “Today’s unions have evolved and incorporate the best of the past (the power of the collective voice) with contemporary business expertise, current technology and an inclusive, fresh approach.”
Sanborn and her fellow legal professionals at a Topsham, ME-based law firm decided to join the IAM in 2013. They ratified their first contract in September of that year, earning generous wage increases, good benefits and better job security.
They “wanted to be heard in a meaningful way that would provide both the opportunity and incentive for internal changes,” but weren’t out to make unreasonable demands or disparage their employer in the process.
IAM negotiating experts helped Sanborn and her coworkers focus their ideas and communicate them effectively with their employer, all while keeping today’s economic reality in mind.
“Our IAM representatives were honest with us and helped us find an approach that improved our circumstances, strengthened the company, and did not cause harm to either,” wrote Sanborn.
Those who vilify unions often base their beliefs “on a combination of old stereotypes from the industrial age and general misinformation,” writes Sanborn.
“These union members look just like all of us,” she writes. “They look like our parents, our friends, family and neighbors because they are parents, friends, family and neighbors. People often overlook the most basic concept of organized labor: We are the union.”