A Union Story

A long time ago in a town not so far away, a plant was built for a business called Dow. Though this plant has since been sold to SC Johnson, what happened there in earlier days should not be forgotten. When the plant was built, Dow’s union came with the building. As time wore on, the union began asking for things like higher wages, benefits and more skilled trades work. These bargaining sessions grew more and more strained. Eventually, the negotiations completely broke down and the union went on strike.
Unable to bargain with the union and determined to continue production, the plant contacted people who had sons looking for jobs, people within the company working on salaries and people from the company’s Midland plant to become strike breakers. This was harder than it sounds, as it was by no means a peaceful strike. According to one employee with a family member who crossed the picket line, the workers parked outside of the plant and took a bus in for their own protection. Police would do their best to hold back the protestors as they tried to take the top off the gas and cause an explosion to punish those crossing the line. During the height of strike activity, workers would often spend the week at the plant, and the company provided them with food and sleeping quarters for their safety.
Eventually, these measures were successful and something very rare happened; the union was defeated and removed from the business. When the company was able to continue running without the workers, the union went broke and could no longer pay for the protest. After the protests ended, the company allowed former union members to return as salary workers.

This was a great victory for the company and those who were willing to take the risk of crossing the picket line. Ironically, conditions became better after the union was gone. Realizing the value of good incentives, the company began to make their own improvements. Some were as small as bringing in food to improve worker morale. Others were larger, like later on when they installed air conditioning to make the hot and noisy working conditions more bearable. Many other changes followed these – no bargaining necessary. 



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