By Aaron Gill
Candidate for State Rep Hillsboro District 39
Deering, Goffstown, Weare
I was a manager for Best Buy in Cambridge, Massachusetts for about a year around 2001. Every new manager received a week’s worth of manager training. The topics were about as expected, including various HR things, how to coach individual members, and effective hiring techniques. We even had trust falls, but only after reading, “Who Moved my Cheese?” But there was one topic that took a half-day to address: stopping Union activity. This wasn’t surprising; I had experience with large corporations attacking Unions.
I grew up in a Union household in Livermore Falls, Maine, a rural town in the center of the state. My mother belonged to the Maine Teachers Association, and the National Education Association, where she received quality retirement counseling and assistance during the retirement process. She is now retired and living in Florida. My father is now a town manager, but when I was younger, he was a Teamster in AFL-CIO Local #14, working as a ‘B-Scaler’ at an International Paper mill. During 1987, the Union went on strike trying to prevent the removal of overtime and holiday pay. I was eleven years old when I watched our town divide as replacement workers were eventually brought in, protected by armed state police under orders from Republican Governor John McKernan.
My younger brother and I nonetheless enjoyed a nice Christmas that year, with gifts made available from the Union at Murray Hall in Livermore Falls. I got a red saucer sled, which my brother and I happily shared. I would periodically join my father on the picket line, or attend rallies with then-candidate for President Jessie Jackson. The sense of community was ever present; that’s what I remember most. What about that, as a new manager, does Best Buy want to warn me about?
We were taught to watch for worker gatherings and listen for chatter about pay or conditions. We were taught that we couldn’t tell employees they shouldn’t or couldn’t form a Union, and we certainly couldn’t try to stop them, but we were given talking points to casually insert in conversations in an effort to dissuade anyone thinking it might be a good idea. Of course, any activity was to be immediately reported. This portion of training continued over four hours. That’s a lot of time and effort on training new managers to ensure workers never decided to join together and collectively bargain. Welcome to corporate America.
Eventually, I left Best Buy and began a different career path in small business lending. Along the way, I earned several degrees in accounting, business and finance. It is with all of this background that I formed my opinions on Unions.
It’s quite simple; we all have the natural right to collectively bargain for better terms. The ALEC-inspired, so called ‘Right-to-Work’ legislation is aimed at weakening this right and improving the bargaining position of the employer. I fail to see why this would be a benefit for most of us. Furthermore, states with Right-to-Work have lower wages for all workers. Businesses do not specifically seek out RTW states when deciding where to locate.
Unions helped end child labor, they brought us weekends, the 8-hour workday and the 40-hour work week, and they fought for and won the Family and Medical Leave Act. They created overtime, OSHA, and worker’s compensation. Have a retirement account or health insurance? Thank the unions.
In an era where corporate executives commonly earn around 300 times what a line-level employee earns, nobody can argue with a straight face that unions are to blame for increased income inequality.
I support unions, because I support the middle class.
I am a candidate for the NH House of Representatives in Hillsborough County, District 39 covering Deering, Goffstown & Weare. If elected, I will support the rights of unions to exist, and the rights of workers to collectively bargain. My Republican opponent, current state representative and Free State Project member Mark Warden voted in favor of Right-to-Work. I would not have.
I need your support to return common sense to the voters of our district. Please vote Aaron Gill for State Rep in Deering, Goffstown & Weare this November, share my message with your friends and neighbors, and donate funds for mailings if you can. Learn more at NHGill.com
NHLN Note: Be sure to LIKE Aaron’s Facebook page and start your own conversation.