Monday, April 2, 2007

The union sets the lowest common denominator for fairness

A Guild is a lot like a carbon monoxide detector: If you're lucky, you'll never need it, but if you don't have one when you do need it . . . For eleven of my twelve years at the Baltimore Sun, I required nothing extraordinary from the Guild. But when I did need the Guild, it was there for me, and it helped me survive a very difficult year. True, I ended up leaving at the end of that year, but that was my decision. If I had wanted to continue through arbitration, instead of reaching a confidential agreement with the Tribune Co., the union would have been there for me. But my shop steward and other union officials also respected my decision to give up fighting, recognizing that I was lucky enough to have other options, professionally. There is a strange perception among some workers that a union is for the weak, that it's of no benefit to those who are above average. And I've found that newsrooms are a lot like Lake Woebegone; everyone seems to consider themselves above average. No, a union sets a base, a minimum, a lowest common denominator for fairness. Look, I'm just saying that if work ever gets so bad that you find yourself spitting out your back teeth onto your desk – this really happened to me – a Guild can help.
Laura Lippman, best-selling author
former reporter
Baltimore Sun

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