Written By; Gary Wonning
All UPS employees were required to join the Teamsters Union. I had never been a strong union person but it wasn’t a real big issue for me until the following year. In 1968 there was a major strike at the largest industry in Batesville Indiana.
Some issues needed to be resolved and bordered on being inhumane. The company was unbending and left with little choice, the union called a strike. It was a relatively small union and most employees didn’t belong to it.
At the time, judging by the way everything all came down, I thought the union saw this as an opportunity to make a name for themselves.
It got ugly real quick. Hench men were soon cavorting around in the late evening hours shooting at and dynamiting homes of management and others who decided to work. It was common to hear gunfire and explosions as darkness fell, and late into the night.
My dad worked at the company as an hourly employee, he honored the strike and saw a need for it, and he never crossed the picket line. After about two weeks of this nonsense, he had enough, some of his friends’ homes were getting shot at.
He was one to never back down from anyone and out of a desire to not support something he didn’t believe in, he decided to go to work and support his friends and buddies. Many of these people who were getting shot at he had known all his life and were like family to him.
A neighbor lady decided to go back to work also. Dad had a little Corvair at the time, so for whatever reason, they decided to cross the picket line in that little car. Approaching the picket line, he floored the little bug and cranked the steering wheel as hard as he could and slammed on the brakes. He slid sideways through the picket line. Obviously, the picketers weren’t too happy as they scrambled out of the way of the tiny missile.
I was not living at home anymore, but a couple of nights later, my parents’ home was hit with gunfire, some of which went through the living room picture window and became lodged in the wall. If someone had been in the room they could have been killed.
My little brother, who was fourteen at the time, went to get the mail at the end of the driveway the next day and picked up something lying by the mailbox. Not knowing what it was he brought it in the house, it was three sticks of unexploded dynamite.
My opinion of unions declined rapidly and I even considered quitting so I didn’t have to belong to an organization that tried to kill my family.
I decided to stick it out, my quitting wouldn’t solve anything and it was a good job. I didn’t belong to the same union that created the havoc; I would just handle the union issues on my own and not support them any more than I had to. I soon learned to solve my issues on my own, like my dad had taught me when I was a small whippersnapper.
I soon learned that in most cases the only people they really helped were the ones who were looking for a reason to need the union, and in many cases only protected the jobs of those who should have been fired.
The only time we ever saw a union representative was before a political election. They would drive the two hundred miles from Chicago and tell us how to vote. We would then tell them we knew how to vote and gave them directions back to Chicago.
I did make good money and enjoyed excellent benefits, but UPS paid top wages and benefits before the union became involved. They paid top dollar, even during the depression. Their belief was that they would pay good money, but they asked for a good day’s work in return. I see nothing wrong with that.
And I knew, if things ever turned ugly, the union would do the same thing that happened in Batesville in 1968.
In the end, people who work for a large corporation need some sort of representation, conflicts do come up, and for now the union seems to be the only answer, and I did benefit from having a union job.
As with everything in life, there are good points and not so good points.
His travels have taken him to most of the United States, as well as Australia, Belize, Egypt and the Canary Islands.
He has studied the Mayan culture of Central America as well as the aborigines of Australia. Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in various parts of the world.
He has published several books about his adventures.
For more information, please consult his website,www.journeysthrulife.com.
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