F A Q
(Frequently Asked Questions)
This F A Q page is a new feature at nomoretiers.org. Here's an opportunity to pose some of those tough questions, or to just satisfy your curiosity about NoMoreTiers.
Q: Who is John Barker, is he an "anti Union type" person?
A: I am a brewery mechanic and I am definitely not an "anti Union type", in fact, I am adamantly pro-union.
Q: What is your union and do they have a website?
A: I'm a member of the Brewery, Winery and Distillery Workers, Local 300 in the lower mainland of British Columbia in Canada. They have a website called brew300.ca.
Q: And what has been your relationship to the union?
A: I've been working in various industries since I was fifteen years old, and I'm now in my early sixties, some of that time I have been a job steward and served on various union committees, but most of the time I've been amongst the rank and file. So while I'm well qualified to recognize the importance of job stewards, I think that sometimes one can be just as effective as a rank and file member, you can be more focused, and there are a lot of distractions once one is elected and dealing with day to day business. To be quite honest, I think some companies deliberately create situations that lead to grievances, just to keep the stewards preoccupied and distracted from other issues.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for NoMoreTiers?
A: The ideas that evolved into the website were born of personal experience and necessity. I started working at a brewery as a temporary mechanic. Eventually I would be laid off, just prior to acquiring the seniority required to qualify for the contract benefit package, then after being laid off just long enough to loose my seniority I would receive a call requesting that I show up for work. This situation was to me clearly, an unethical game, designed to cheat workers out of benefits that they obviously deserved.
Then some changes were made to the contract, and the two-tier core number concept was introduced. This placed the prospects of qualifying for benefits on a distant horizon, a horizon literally years away. I was by then essentially a full time employee, but with no sick leave, no long term disability plan, no pension benefits, and no prospect of a lay-off package in the event of a plant closure. If I was diagnosed with a serious but curable illness that required perhaps a year of hospitalization and rehabilitation, I and my family would be facing a financial disaster, with perhaps no guarantee of a job waiting for me when I recovered.
As the injustice of the situation became clear, I began to realize that economic discrimination knows no boundaries; if it works, then the system will use it to extract profit. The nominal basis for the discrimination is irrelevant, as long as it works to secure profit. The pretext for discrimination is just that, a pretext, it can be about color, race, culture, or sex, and it can be something as abstract as a number. It is constrained only by the limits of creativity of the evil mind.
One cannot be aware of evil like this and keep it to oneself, the subject demands discussion and debate. And of course one cannot suffer the injustice of discrimination and not want to be an agent of change. So I began to discuss the matter with my fellow workers, both rank and file, and committee members. I'd even raise the subject at company crew meetings, anything to try to raise some consciousness of the problem. But it did not seem to be enough, so I wrote a short essay, and one morning posted two or three copies of it about the brewery. Later that day, as I walked past one of my postings, I noticed a whole bunch of writing on it. Upon closer examination I could see that about 20 signatures had been added to my own. My humble essay had turned into an impromptu petition. The next day the petition/poster had disappeared but it didn't matter, I knew I had the beginnings of a credible campaign.
Q: And the website itself, how did it come together?
A: It was about this time that I became interested in HTML. I was sniffing around a bookstore and noticed a pile of discounted computer books; I picked up one about HTML 4.0 and thumbing through it, learned that it had something to do with web pages. I didn't even have an online computer at the time but I had a secondhand P2 and started to write some off-line pages just for the intellectual challenge of learning the code. I soon had a rudimentary site put together, it was fairly trite stuff, but I got dial-up and started having fun. Since I was at the time writing essays about the two-tier system, I started to throw some of this stuff in for filler, but eventually it started to take over the site, so I coined the domain 'NoMoreTiers' and it became dedicated to the one topic.
Q: Where did you find all those excellent resources?
A: Many of the ideas expressed in the site are original with me (although I'm sure others have previously come to the same conclusions), for example the idea that the purpose of bigotry is to enable economic discrimination (see my article on Democracy, Discrimination and Bigotry), or that majority decisions are not necessarily democratic (same article). Nevertheless I spend a fair amount of my spare time combing the web for Ideas, and for articles that I can link to, that may be of interest to my readers.
Q: Aren't you afraid that you may get fired as a result of your site?
A: Yes I am; that's one of the reasons I stick carefully to the truth, the other reason is that slanderous remarks are not only a liability, but also erode one's credibility.
This reminds me of something Malcolm X said "I'm just telling the truth, if you don't like the truth, then blame the truth, don't blame me". The fact that I'm still working, is my personal affirmation that my site is telling the truth.
This is not to say that the truth will make you immune, in fact the truth can set you free, as in free of employment. It's just that it pays to be both careful and intelligent; a sprinkling of lies or exaggerations can just make you more vulnerable. Of course having a union definately gives one an improved sense of job security, but at the same time, its not fair to your fellow workers to stretch the resources of the union without good reason.
Your comments, questions, ideas and opinions are important!