Frank Maguire
Boozin' and tokin' and union prices
By Frank Maguire
September 25, 2010

The outing, by a Fox News affiliate in the Detroit area, of auto workers partaking of a few ounces of brew and a joint of cannabis or two at their mid-day break, and then soberly motoring back to their responsibilities — the production of quality motor vehicles — was only a bit of a surprise to me.

I wasn't astonished that this is going on, for I had already been apprised of that during my recent stay in Michigan. I was startled that someone had the courage to blow the whistle.

When in Flint, I shared a vehicle with a local with whom I was going to have lunch. We chatted about many things, and I asked about the person's work. I know this person is a grad from a major university in engineering — skilled and of good character. The person is employed by a company that inspects motor-vehicle plant conditions, primarily in Michigan, and also in Canada.

The topic got onto the quality of American auto manufacture, attitudes of labor unions, and the recent government pay-offs by the Obama administration. At that point, this "inspector" told me that many of the employees of the major car-makers had a daily practice of drinking and doing drugs during their working hours.

The shocker, to me, was when the "inspector" said that in some plants he visits regularly, workers are actually growing marijuana right at the work-site.

I know that it took some courage to "narc" on the workers, the unions, and the companies. I know, from experience, that this can be a very unhealthy action.

More than 30 years ago, when I was living in Massachusetts, I was taking some college classes and working my music jobs. In order to add to our family income, I applied for a job with a large company in the vicinity of Brockton, MA. During the interview, the personnel manager asked, "How do you feel about unions?" I didn't expect the question.

I responded that I was not opposed to unions, per se, and that workers had a right to form them if that is what they want. But, I added, "I belong to the National Right to Work organization, and I don't believe that anyone should be forced into a union if that is not what they want."

The fellow hesitated. When he finally did speak he said, "This company is unionized. If you were employed here, you would be smart to not mention how you feel about unions."

His next caveat stunned me. "There are too many easy ways things to fall on you around here." I never did hear from the company.

What has been revealed by Fox News is not entirely new. Back in the 70's I read about the large percentage of workers in the auto industry who, when they were supposed to be on task, were in bars surrounding the plants, making the big union-bucks by holding down bar stools, and downing the hooch.

© Frank Maguire


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Frank Maguire

Frank Maguire was born in Dorchester, MA, 1938, attended schools in Massachusetts, California, and Arizona, where he completed degrees in music and English writing/Journalism. Frank has been married to Helen Isabel Maguire née Estevez of Culver City, California, since 1957. They have six children, 14 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren.


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