My experience in the union movement was brief. For four years I was a member of the Chicago Today’s newspaper union when I lived and worked in the Windy City. I didn’t have to join (I got the same wages as union members) but a guy came around about once a week to make me feel guilty about getting the benefits of the union without being a member. After awhile, I joined just to get him off my back.
The thing I didn’t like about the union was the emphasis on tenure, that I got the same salary as the guy next to me in the art department even though he wasn’t half as productive. I could draw cartoons, re-touch photos, illustrate, make maps and diagrams, any job the art director dropped on my drawing board. That other guy, all he could do was re-touch photos.
I also didn’t like the fact that there were never any merit raises. Every year I got a raise up to 5 years experience. After that, I got a raise just for being there. I could’ve been a one-man art department, but I wouldn’t have been paid for it, so, another problem arose. I had no incentive to do more.
For all the personal problems I had with unions, I have to admit they made America a better place for the working man. The Republicans have declared war on the unions and the middle class. This is a war I look forward to. Class warfare? Hell yes. In the words of one conservative Republican icon, bring ‘em on!
Stop by the Mark Twain House and Museum to see my exhibit of original editorial cartoon art. “Drawing Fire: Bob Englehart’s 30 years at The Courant.” It’s free and will be up through May. For more information, call the Mark Twain House and Museum at 860-247-0998. As long as you’re there, take a tour!
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