"Patrick Byrne, a bricklayer, of Porter Avenue, Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire (in England) claimed yesterday that he lost his job for refusing to stop spare-time work. He was helping to build a bungalow for a friend, and was not out of work.
"Byme was a foreman on the building of St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, Newton-le-Willows; in the evenings and at weekends he worked on the bungalow two miles away.
"An official of the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers saw Byrne at the bungalow with two other bricklayers. Told to stop, all three refused and they were called before a Union meeting.
"Byrne has been out of work for several weeks. He says he is now blacklisted by his union and cannot get a job."
(FREEDOM for July-August, 1958) The above quotation from FREEDOM appeared in the December issue of The Canadian Intelligence Service, published in Flesherton, Ontario.
What happened in this English locality can and has happened many times here in Canada and in the United States — and, in fact, wheresoever the unions have passed into the absolute control of the elected leaders of these organizations.
Unions were primarily set up to aid the individual worker; to procure for him a just return for his labor, to guarantee him proper working conditions and freedom from abuse and injustice on the part of the employer, to bring him a certain measure of security.
It would seem that just the reverse is happening. The individual union member must fall in line with the decrees issued by union leadership, otherwise he finds himself punished in the most drastic way a man can be punished: deprivation of the means of making a living.
Any organization of a number of individuals, regardless of its aims, is ultimately formed for the benefit of the individual. We are here speaking of organizations whose members freely enter into such a union. When such a grouping tends to ignore the benefit of the individual and leads only to increasing the power and benefits of a few, then such an organization has lost any just reason for existing.
If unions now work to the disadvantage of the individual members through loss of wages, loss of work, then unions are forfeiting their right to exist. Such an organization, however, can be twisted towards malevolent ends only because the membership permits it so to be distorted. We have said before and we repeat it again: the Union of Electors is not against the principle of unions. But the individual members must exercise the utmost vigilance and care to see that the unions, which have now become such vast conglomerations, do not become the instruments of a few powerful individuals, to see that they remain what they were founded to be, instruments for working to the welfare of the individual. When they become a menace to their individual members, they also become a menace to society at large. Union members must watch at all times that they maintain the grasp on the reins. This they can only do by constant attendance at all assemblies, by speaking up strongly and courageously, by scrutinizing every measure placed before the assembly by the executive to see that it truly works for the benefit of the local members and not for the advantage of some international head executive. Otherwise the union member becomes a slave to the organization founded to work in principle for his benefit and his benefit only.