Time for a post

And here it is. I’m doing alright. Nothing exciting to report, just moving forward with each passing day.

Work has been quite interesting lately. This week I participated in a mediation at the ROK National Labor Relations Commission during which a settlement was reached resolving a labor dispute with the Korean Employees Union. Bottom line, we have now avoided the possibility of a strike next month. Which is important because USFK relies heavily on our Korean workforce and while we had contingency plans in place, it would have been a lose-lose situation for all concerned. I have mentioned before how much I respect our Korean workers, but if I have failed to say how much I admire the professionalism of the KEU President, I have been remiss. I’ve been doing labor relations work for well over twenty years now, and Mr. Kang is the best I have seen. He is smart, savvy, and very effective. A genuinely nice man. He has the trust and respect of USFK leadership, and that has paid off for the KEU in ways that the rank and file may not see or understand. Anyway, he has been a pleasure to work.

Unfortunately, the leadership of the US union is the antithesis of KEU. I’ve been holding on to the hope that the problem was simply lack of experience and that with time I would see a more mature approach to maintaining positive labor-management relationships. I’m starting to realize that instead we have someone who is not only completely clueless but also unreasonable and intransigent. He is rapidly burning up the good will of the people who are in a position to really ensure that the US workforce interests are served. The things that management can provide at its discretion are much greater than what is available through collective bargaining, at least in the Federal sector. It is foolish to trash the relationship over petty complaints that are entirely without merit. Well, I can play the game either way, and it looks like we will be doing it the hard way for awhile. The upshot of this is that I am preparing for an arbitration hearing on an issue that the union has little or no hope of prevailing. We will spend lots of time , effort and money to reach the result the union should already know, especially if they would take the time to read how the courts have ruled countless times. This is the first time in anyone’s memory that we have had an arbitration hearing on the peninsula. And it is completely pointless. Alas.

In my personal life I am just filling time these days. Last night my Air Force buddy Jeff called and interrupted a game of CIV so we could meet a Caroline’s for a couple of beers. We wound up playing darts. I can’t remember the last time I’ve tried to hit a dart board, but it has probably been over 20 years ago. I assumed my darts would be worse than my pool, but surprisingly I played pretty well. Not well enough to win (Jeff is really good), but most of the time it came down to who got the last bullseye first. I really enjoyed myself and I’m thinking with some practice I might actually be a decent player. Although practice has not done much for my pool game yet, and league play starts again next month.

And that’s about it from here.

5 thoughts on “Time for a post

  1. John:
    I’ve been thinking about your drawing the distinction between the KEU and the other for a few days now (read your note either late Thurs or early Fri here, because I mentioned it to someone at work Friday). It’s rather interesting. Is it a cultural difference or an individual personality difference or an experience difference or what? Have you figured that out yet? (and if not, I bet you’ll do that soon!) Interesting, anyhow.

  2. I think it is a combination of factors, SJA. First the KEU is a “real” union. Federal unionists like to pretend and play at being united for the common good, but rarely have I seen them rise above selfish self-interest. A good example is the resources they expend trying to protect the lazy and incompetent. “Real” unionists recognize that a bad worker hurts them as much as the organization.

    But personality plays a part too. Mr. Kang, the KEU president is a brillant man and a great politician. He knows when to be aggressive and he knows when to be accomodating. At the mediation he talked tough, but that was necessary to show that he was vigorously representing his membership. Despite the rhetoric, when it became clear we had gone as far as we could to reach a deal, he was willing to accept half a loaf. Maybe it is not personality so much as character. He has a sincere desire to protect his workers, but he also knows that to do that he needs to maintain a positive working relationship with management. He is a master at working both ends and he consistently gets positive results by doing so.

    The best way I can describe Mr. Kang is for you to think of the complete opposite of Ben. Got it?

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