UNITED STATES—Not many of us have jobs where we are backed by unions, but there are some of us who actually do. I’ve gone back and forth for years about the quality of the unions. Before many of you begin to attack me, I’ve worked with companies that employed labor unions for its workers. Some good, some not so good, and I know plenty of people who have unions as backers as well.

When a contract is on the verge of expiration it can be a very tense moment for employees and the employer. The buzz in the cooler room is the factoid that a strike could be looming, workers could see a pay cut, health insurance costs can increase or some other perks can be taken away. I’ve been in situations where I have seen all of these things happen and none of them are a laughing matter.

I’ve seen those situations where the union didn’t give one piece of you know what about employees who they were to be fighting on behalf of. They just wanted the contract passed so it would ensure they wouldn’t lose any money. I mean things got so BAD, when union stewards entered the building and attempted to chat with workers they were given more than the cold shoulder. They were frankly told to buzz off. Yeah, I witnessed it face-to-face from co-workers who were livid with the egregious contract that they compiled.

In other situations, the groupthink mentality emerged where other workers were doing their best to tell others to vote for the contract regardless of the fact that we were losing so many things. I’m sorry people, but a 10 percent pay cut is nothing to smirk about; that 10 percent was a huge difference between paying a bill or not.

In addition, by striking we could send a message to the company that we would not allow them to continue to take from us when we had already given so much in the past. Yes, this was a company that continued to want to take, knowing that their pockets were continuing to get fat.

The company would have the POW-wow meetings with all staff. They wouldn’t outright tell us to vote for the contract, but from the way they talked it became apparent that they wanted things to go in their favor. It was kind of like a scare tactic, but I was impressed with many of my co-workers who didn’t just roll over and die like some others that I know.

When it comes to a new contract coming into play, I think it’s crucial to consider allowing an even playing field for the staff. I rarely hear stories about the company honchos willing to take a pay cut for the greater good of their employees. I mean these are people who have fought hard and long to ensure the company continues its operations as if nothing ever happened. Yeah, the signing bonuses that are received from time to time are great, but considering they are taxed, how great is that? Yeah, it’s not, especially once the realization hits that getting a raise would have paid twice the amount the bonus offered.

If an employee has worked diligently for years and a new contract is in play, I don’t see why a raise shouldn’t be in play. The same goes for giving a reward or thank you to employees for sticking things out when things got tough. Not many companies show their appreciation to their staff. I mean some might try to be festive around the holidays, but not really.

I recall when our company gave out gift cards the first year, and then in the consecutive years we just got holiday cards. If you want to toss things in the face of employees, give perks to some staff because they are full-time and forget about the part-time workers. Look, working on a contract is no easy task whatsoever for the company, the employees or the union that may represent the employees. The goal is to ensure a fair shake is giving to everyone involved. Heck, the workers always make nickels on the dime, how about they make a bit more for once.