Back in the day, I yearned for the security and perceived earning power of a “union job.” Eventually, I secured one. And I learned to be careful what I wish for.
I worked my way through college in the mid-90s at a lumber mill, nailing pallets together. It was a small, family-owned business out in the Northeast Ohio countryside, so wages weren’t high. I knew friends who worked union jobs and brought home a lot more than I did. These plants seemed stable and had been in the area for decades. Lengthy paid vacations, compensated holidays and hefty pension plans. What was not to love, for a blue collar guy?
I moved to Indiana after I graduated and my first order of business was to nail a job with some benefits. I discussed my strategy with a friend from church. Well over a decade later, I vividly remember his reply when I opined that a cushy union job would be ideal because the union would stand up for my rights: “I’ve always tried to find a job where I could have a relationship with the employer so I wouldn’t NEED a union to stand up for my rights.”
In fairly short order, I was hired on by the GTE phone company, a closed union shop. I had arrived! I also learned on my first day of work that we would officially become Verizon in three weeks, due to our recent acquisition by Bell Atlantic.
In spite of the weird new company name, I fell into the rhythms of a call center rather easily…