Clerical union members should support strike

As the clerical union went on strike Wednesday, the University said 59 percent of clerical workers continue to work on all campuses. This figure likely includes some of the approximately one-third of workers who are nonvoting union members (on the Twin Cities, Morris and Crookston campuses). Clerical workers in the union, particularly those who pay full dues and can vote, have a responsibility to strike and support the union.

Workers contribute more than money when they join the union; they also choose to align themselves with the organization as a whole. Throughout U.S. history, it is that alliance that makes unions powerful. They have tremendous power in the United States to secure higher wages and better working conditions for their members. They also provide a safety net during times of unemployment.

Nonstriking union members degrade the spirit and purpose of the union and decrease its power. Fifty-nine percent is a high rate of nonparticipation and might indicate that workers today see unions only in terms of their self-interest. To the contrary, we believe that by joining a union, workers implicitly and explicitly agree to stand with the union, regardless of they agree with the majority.

While all University clerical workers must join the union, full union membership is optional. While we feel nonvoting members have a lesser obligation to participate in a work stoppage, they must realize that in not supporting the strike, they are asking to benefit from others’ sacrifices.

Without collective action, collective bargaining is a futile endeavor. Self-motivated behavior will ultimately render the union useless and contradict the reasons workers unionize in the first place.

Those who disagree with the strike should express their position on the opinions page. We believe nonvoting members should support the strikers as they are able, realizing the benefits they receive from the union. We also believe voting union members have a responsibility to support one another – and themselves, in the long run – by picking up a sign and joining the picket line.