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If you want union benefits, join 'em -- don't work for 'em

For as long as I can remember, Wal-Mart has been The Great Satan to unions. Their fierce resistance to allowing unions into their stores and facilities has been a thorn in their side, and the retailing behemoth's rise to the top of the food chain has driven them to fits of outrage.

(Note: I've repeatedly said I'm no fan of Wal-Mart, but I loathe the unions more in this case.)

Wal-Mart's position seems simple: most of their employees are unskilled laborers, and they pay competitive wages for those types of workers. It's a bit harsh, but I have to concede it -- there seems to be an infinite supply of potential employees, which essentially disarms the unions of their most potent club -- the withholding of qualified workers.

So the United Food And Commercial Workers (UFCW) has decided to shame the giant into complying. They've organized a picket at a Wal-Mart in Las Vegas.

But protesting, especially in Vegas, is hard work. It's hot -- often over 100 degrees. The days are long, the sun beats down brutally, and traffic fumes are vile. So the union did what so many other businesses do -- they outsourced the picketing.

In order to draw attention to Wal-Mart's paying its workers an average of $10.17 an hour with benefits, the UFCW hired a bunch of temps at $6.00 an hour with no benefits. And while the oppressed, exploited Wal-Mart workers slave away in air-conditioned comfort, those blessed with the Union paychecks walk up and down outside in the sun until they get blisters on their feet. The Wal-Mart workers are coerced into taking regular breaks in a private area; the Union employees are dropped off at the beginning of their shift and left to fend for themselves for the entire day.

I remember back in 1991 when the NFL got all bent out of shape over the Martin Luther King holiday. They threatened to withhold the Super Bowl or some such thing from Arizona because that state didn't recognize the day. Someone did a little digging, and found out that the NFL's own employees weren't given that day off.

Ah, double standards. Where would the fine people behind the Labor Movement be if they actually had to live under the same rules they demand businesses abide by?

Update: Sometimes my mind works in slow, yet evil ways. Imagine if the HR person on site at the picketed Wal-Mart were to go out and offer jobs to the picketers...


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Comments (33)

Jay,Back in the day,... (Below threshold)

Jay,
Back in the day, I worked as an employee of the state of PA's senate, Democrat caucus. The senators I worked for were huge champions of the unions and the working man. On my second day on the job, however, I was warned that any talk of unionizing in my dept. would result in immediate termination. I was also given the harshest "at will" employment speach I've ever recieved. "If a senator or his staff doesn't like your tie, you can be fired". This was also the only job I've had where I was forced to work 10-30 hours of overtime a week without compensation (in time or money), and forced to donate to the United Way, the state Democrat party and various senators election coffers.
I started that job as a democrat with doubts and fiscal conservative leanings. Within a year, I was a registered republican with socially liberal leanings. Working for the pro-union pro-labor democrats was my "mugging" :)

I watched Unions destroy my... (Below threshold)
Faith+1:

I watched Unions destroy my hometown's boat building industry. When their first three initiatives failed to pass they began threats and pickets of the ship plants. Finally, a vote passed (under very suspicious, and very dubious methods) and immediately they wanted wages tripled.

The struggling boat plant, a startup, couldn't pay those wages and the business collapsed. Local econmy collapsed and I can still hear the "union rep" telling some "it's better to be in the union and out of work than working and out of the union."

I've hated unions ever since. They've lost their usefullness and are nothing but another corporate entity with labor as their commodity.

Add in the crime and corruption and they rank as one of the most vile and despicable organizations in existence. They pretend to care about the little guy but in reality don't give a crap about the little guy. Just his dues.

No wonder the Dems love 'em so much. Both can exploit the common man for their own gains.

For the most part unions ha... (Below threshold)
Just Me:

For the most part unions have outlived their usefulness.

Now they seem more like bloated good ol' boy networks-even worse than politics, because they also have that thuggish/mafiesque side to them as well.

I will take a pass on unions, and I am rooting for Wal-mart in this one.

That is a hilarious story. ... (Below threshold)
Webster:

That is a hilarious story. So the union hires scabs. What are the scabs going to say to the workers and patrons crossing the line? Do as I say, not as I do?

About 15 years ago, a union... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

About 15 years ago, a union went out on strike against a regional grocery store chain in Texas. Some of their complaints were legitimate despite the fact that the chain was in dire financial straits at the time. The strike was going along nicely until it was discovered that the workers were not the ones picketing. The union had hired people to walk the picket line for them while the members stayed home.

When the story broke, the credibility of the union collapsed. The chain was bought out by another company and all the striking workers were fired. The new owners did allow them to reapply for their old jobs with absolutely no guarantee that they would be hired. In fact, first priority on jobs went to the people that had not gone on strike and anyone that had been hired during the strike.

Unions...they were SO neede... (Below threshold)
X:

Unions...they were SO needed in the past...we so much needed violence, terrorism, organized crime, corruption and needless and cronyish regulations which held back economic progress and workers. But never forget the Party Line: At one point all above was needed. Why? Because the socialists told you so.

You've got to admit that un... (Below threshold)

You've got to admit that unions have been beneficial in the past, they've helped out-source jobs to ever third-world country out there. You've got to admit they've done that well, expecially if you're a union member drawing unemployment, they told you from the start it was all about sharing the wealth, they certainly delivered on that promise. Too bad they didn't tell you it was YOUR wealth they'd be sharing.

I remember in the late 70s ... (Below threshold)

I remember in the late 70s working in Silicon Valley when there was some (albeit feeble) attempts to unionize hi-tech/computer workers. This was during the days when companies were bending over backwards giving out high wages and benefits out the wazoo. I remember thinking: yeah, right, like what in the world do unions have to offer that I need or want? Back then I could see all they wanted was power.

These days when I have held jobs not as good, I still despise unions. I would rather fight my own battles, and risk getting screwed over by management (which has happened to me a few times) then to give up a substantial part of my salary for the privilege of taking orders from fatass corrupt union thugs.

If I find myself working for a company run by a*holes who treat me like dirt, I'll find a another job. This is America, isn't it?

This is hilarious. Nice wor... (Below threshold)
drjohn:

This is hilarious. Nice work!

Not so much a union story (... (Below threshold)

Not so much a union story (although while I worked for American Airlines as a res agent, we DID refuse them for a LONG time and they eventually gave up), but a bunch of the "elite" near my home decided they didn't want Wal Mart in their town, and picketed, but they were compelled to stop when some INGENIOUS person video-taped them SHOPPING AT WAL-MART in a neighboring town, then played the tape (with effects to show the picketers in greater detail) RIGHT NEXT TO THE PICKET LINE! Ah, ingenious work, and if the HR person has brain, they WILL give out apps.

My brother-in-law just grad... (Below threshold)
brainy435:

My brother-in-law just graduated from high-school. Last year, the grocery store he was working at went under. He had been forced into the union when he got the job and paid his dues every paycheck, but when the store closed he was told by the union there was nothing they could do for him. He looked around and got a similar job at a different grocery chain...and was forced back into the same union! He has to pay dues for absolutely no benefit. Unions are a joke nowadays....sad, vicious little jokes.

That is where a federal rig... (Below threshold)
stan25:

That is where a federal right to work law is needed. That way the unoins can not force you to join to get a job or keep a job. There are 15 states that have this law and these states are not teetering on the front porch of bankruptcy, like the states that voted for the two Johns in the last election. There is an excellent article about the Davis-Bacon Act on the American Spectator website. It is a recommended read. http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=8725

I work in the trade show in... (Below threshold)

I work in the trade show industry in Orlando.

With the closing of the New Orleans Convention Center, a lot of shows are frantically relocating to various other centers around the country. I was talking to a union guy (we don't have a lot of them here), and he casually mentioned that they had negotiated a plan where some of the NO union workers in the industry could come to Orlando and work.

On the other hand, a lot of non-union guys are coming here to work because the rest of the industry here doesn't care about unions, and we'll take anyone who'll show up and do the job - for more $$$ per hour than they get from the union. Some of the freelance techs are putting guys up in their houses and helping them book gigs (a couple of them paid the way for the new guys to come to town).

LOL...scabs manning a picke... (Below threshold)
Wanderlust:

LOL...scabs manning a picket line...too f*cking funny!!!

I did know about the House and Senate being absolute hypocrites on workplace rules, though, including (for many years) exemption from sexual harassment codes.

If you are in a union, you ... (Below threshold)
DavidB:

If you are in a union, you can leave. There is nothing the union can do to prevent you from resigning from the union. In states that do not have right to work laws, you can still resign, you will still have to pay an "agency fee" or some similar fee, but it should be a reduced fee.

For much more information about Right to Work issues and how to leave the union, see The National Right to Work Foundation Legal Defense Foundation for more information.

I love living in a right-to... (Below threshold)
Steve L.:

I love living in a right-to-work state. The union asshats here try very hard to get people ginned up, but no one is buying their nonsense.

California has a prop on th... (Below threshold)
OC Chuck:

California has a prop on the November ballot that, if it passes, removes the union's ability to take money from employees and use that money for political purposes without the employee's permission.

The unions have been and still are running commercials bashing Arnold, claiming he has "a secret plan" to blame the teachers, firefighters, etc. for all of the state's budget problems.

Now a new commercial about this proposition states that Arnold is using it to remove the voice of the teachers and firefighters and not of the evil corporations.

Everytime I see these commercials, I want to scream "LIARS LIARS LIARS!!!!!"

Reminds me of an Al Frankin book, but about different people.

When I worked at UPS in ups... (Below threshold)
mark:

When I worked at UPS in upstate New York (a right-to-work state) I didn't have to join the union. However, if I were to continue my work there after 30 days, I would've had the dues taken out of my check regardless of my membership. Needless to say, my employment only lasted 29 days.

Isn't it nice to union bash... (Below threshold)
Stingray:

Isn't it nice to union bash. What has the union done for each of you? Do you honestly believe that if there was no union presence that corporations would give any of you a decent wage?
Corporate greed is what started the union movement and is what makes the union movement even more valuable in todays marketplace!! With the outsourcing of jobs have the prices dropped? Can you purchase a pair of Nike's at significantly reduced prices because they are now produced offshore? NO!!
If fairness was desplayed throughout the corporate world and a fair distribution of the profits was realized there would be no need for unions, but unfortunately open your eyes and have a look at the corruption that exists. Untendered contracts to rebuild New Orleans and who gets them, Halliburton.
Tyco, Enron, CEO salaries that are 3500% of the staff doing the work.
Rather that bash unions, Join one, they are responsible for the benefits you may enjoy right now. A 35-40 hour work week, health and pension benefits, vacation time. Do you think these things would exist without the union movement and gains made in the past through collective bargaining?

Stingray - I know where you... (Below threshold)

Stingray - I know where you're coming from, but that is not the situation any more. When unions were created, workers were forced into hours that were much longer than we enjoy now, but employers did not have to pay OT for anything over 40 hours at that time, therefore now with OT laws, I WILL have a 40 hour week, WITHOUT a union. Also, why is it that unions tell employees to "stay on strike" when the employees are LOSING money by not working, but the union employees are still drawing their salaries? Personally, if unions were still like "the old days", when they simply elected a spokesman (who was also an employee at the same company), then we wouldn't see stuff like this, but, the Teamsters (along with others) are now getting rich off the workers while not doing much to help them.

Also, just so you know, I DO speak from experience, I have worked for a union company before, and I was FORCED to pay the dues, and FORCED to strike when they said to, even though MOST of the workers DID NOT WANT to strike. We tried more than once to dump the union, but the company ACTUALLY FOUGHT WITH the union to keep them. How believable is it that the union and the companies are actually better friend than the workers and the untion? How hard is it to believe that the company actually benefits (by not paying salaries) when there is a strike? Sorry, but I'm NOT a fan of unions, and I will not be a member of one ever again.

One other question, Stingra... (Below threshold)

One other question, Stingray. If the unions are such a "good deal" for workers, why do they FORCE employees to join? I have a friend of mine at Bell/Textron, and he doesn't really care about the union, and seeing that he is very low on the pay scale (for now), those dues could be better spent on his bills, so why do they FORCE him to join and pay dues?

Smoke eater: Do you honestl... (Below threshold)
stingray:

Smoke eater: Do you honestly believe that governments would implement overtime laws without a push. If you believe this look no farther than the new exploited populations around the world. They are working in sweatshops with little or no concern for fair working conditions, safety or other rights we in North America take for granted. These came on the backs of our forefathers who chose to organize and bring in reforms so we can enjoy the fruits of that tree today.
Being "forced" to pay dues come with the benefits your union brethern fought for. Were you willing to work for less money and benefits and not pay dues? I doubt it. There is always a cost and in this instance the cost is monthly union dues.
If, as I stated in my first post, there was a fair distribution of wealth Unions would have never been needed, but with corporate greed and the view by the leaders of some corporations that exploitation of the work force to enhance the bottom line is OK, God help us when there is no voice for the people. I believe Union dues are a small insurance policy to safeguard the rights of the worker.
Don't blame the union for "forcing" you to withhold your services (strike), as far as I know a vote is requird by all members and a majority rules. If members choose to forfeit this right look in the mirror. Sometimes to get fair a fair shake it is necessary to strike. Much the same the company can lock out the work force as they see fit once the agreement has run it's course.
I too have been on strike and it is a lose/lose situation but when you are painted into a corner you have 2 choices fold the tent and crawl back to work or stand tall and be counted.

Stingray - While a vote is ... (Below threshold)

Stingray - While a vote is required in most cases, that is only (at least in my experience with the 2 unions I had to join to keep my job) to GO on strike, but once on strike, the untion chooses whether or not to STAY on strike. What about the men and women who (if it goes more than a week or so) will be evicted, or unable to feed their families? If they choose to cross the line to FEED THEIR FAMILY they are made out to be "traitors".

I don't disagree that when they started unions were very good, and very much necessary, but now they have simply become another way to make money. The idea of taking the initiative to strike in order to show "the company" that you are needed by them is a good thing, but it also cannot be a good thing when you are told "no, stay on strike, we're getting you a better deal" after a month of NO INCOME. Especially when I found out that half of the money saved from the incomes not being paid, WENT TO THE UNION! Granted, I know of only this one instance, but can you honestly tell me that, in the big picture, unions really do just "look out for the worker", or is it more likely that they look for the best way to line their pockets? As to your question of if I was willing to work for less to avoid the union, considering that my salary was $9.00/hr and I ended up paying about $2.00/hr to the union, I would have HAPPILY worked for $7.00/hr if I could "opt out", amazing they don't give that option. If it's such a wonderful thing, why does it always have to be mandatory?

BTW - Stingray - I will be out of pocket for a few days, but I will return to my e-mail on Tuesday (maybe sooner), if you want to continue the debate.

One other qeustion, why is ... (Below threshold)

One other qeustion, why is it that now (as opposed to when it started), pretty much ALL of the unions are not staffed by employees of the company whose work force they represent? How can you, as union rep who DOES NOT work with me, tell me what is best? Unions that work the best are those where people choose a representative from among those they work with, NOT an "outsider".

Stingray: sounds wonderful.... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Stingray: sounds wonderful. Why don't you go and unionize those protesters? Why shouldn't those working for a union gain all the fantastic benefits of belonging to a union?

Or is the kind of exploitation that's only bad when done by corporations, but OK when done directly by a union?

Unions have achieved great things, things we should all be grateful for. But gratitude, after a while, chafes. Their days are, largely, long past due. They need to find a new raison d'etre, or they will become extinct -- and it may already be too late for that.

J.

Jay Tea: Don't personalize ... (Below threshold)
stingray:

Jay Tea: Don't personalize this. I don't want to organize the protesters.
My posts are only to rebut the anti union dialogue from all of the previous posts. Balancing a view does not make me the enemy. I only attempt to inform the blind that if they actually attempt to see the light maybe they will.
Are unions the answer? Not if corporate greed was not the problem. Don't get me wrong Corporations need to make a profit, that's what once made this continent great. The problem is, corporations make a profit by outsourcing the work so that the average Joe can no longer afford to purchase their products. The gap between have and havenots continues to grow, and if you are fortunate to believe you are one of the haves you are lucky. As we spiral toward a homogenous globe where all of the workers feel threatened and other freedoms are given up to chase the almighty dollar, remember what unions stood/stand for.

I think you just proved my ... (Below threshold)

I think you just proved my point, Stingray, it's what they STOOD for, not what they STAND for that is the point. When unions began they were not about money, they were about workers' rights and getting the worker a better deal. Now, however, they are about money, and when the union reps live in multi-million dollar homes while the "average joes" they represent live in much less, that's not right.

Please!Union offic... (Below threshold)

Please!

Union officials are all, without exception, deeply sympathetic to the plight of the working class.

That's how they avoid belonging to it, after all.

Smoke eater/ Parker: here i... (Below threshold)
stingray:

Smoke eater/ Parker: here is a litle article I happened to find while researching a paper I am doing for a University class I am currently taking. As a matter of fact that is how I found this site.
Remember when reading this that it happened in the great USofA and try to understand what the union movement originally, and I believe still attempt to do, Protect the workers.
http://americanhistory.si.edu/sweatshops/elmonte/elmonte.htm
As I have stated before if the union presence did not exist stories such as this would be in the newspaper daily. Just ask the farm workers in California, and I'm sure many Wal Mart workers who, believe it or not, are exploited daily.

Stingray - I have never sai... (Below threshold)

Stingray - I have never said that unions did not serve a purpose then or (for SOME unions) today. What I am saying is that we need to change how it works. From my own studies of history, the first unions were organized, run, and staffed by employees at the company the union represented (meaning the union for American Airlines would be organized, run, and completely staffed by American Airlines employees). When the untions became "outside" of the company, we started seeing what we have today, with Teamsters employees, who represent people who work for someone OTHER than the Teamsters, begin to earn OUTRAGEOUS salaries and even when the employees they represent are on strike and (in some cases) nearly STARVING, the Teamsters union reps still draw their salary.

Unions DID serve a good purpose once upon a time, and yes, we would not have the laws we have today (min wage, OT, child labor, ect) without their work at the beginning, but we no longer see (too much) of what you linked to. Also, to my knowledge, the story you linked to would not have ever involved a union because this is a case of illegal immigration and human rights, which if a person is a citizen (or legal resident) they cannot be forcibly held in their job or subjected to any of the other circumstances in that story. While sad, I know of NO union which represents ILLEGAL aliens.

Stingray, you're missing th... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Stingray, you're missing the obvious here: the workers in the story I cited that could most use the benefits of Union protection are not those being picketed on behalf of, but those WORKING for the UNION. The union here is doing the exploiting, and their employees are actually working under far worse conditions than the "exploited" Wal-Mart workers. That's why I thought it would have been a brilliant PR coup for Wal-Mart to go out and offer job interviews to the picketers, with far better pay, benefits, and working conditions.

The unions are their own worst enemies today, Stingray, and their continued reliance on the glories of the past to justify their own present misdeeds is one of the main reasons they are becoming more and more irrelevant.

J.

Folks: It's been a blast an... (Below threshold)
stingray:

Folks: It's been a blast and we will agree to disagree on the value of unions past and present. In signing off on this post let me leave you with a thought. Next time you receive your paycheck, in a quiet moment of reflection, wonder if any of the benefits you now enjoy are a result of "the great satan" the union movement, and think if you would still enjoy these benefits if the presence of a union didn't exist today? Thanks for you thoughts. Until we cross paths again. Stingray.

Stingray - One thing I don'... (Below threshold)

Stingray - One thing I don't recall saying was that unions NEVER served a purpose. Way back when they were created, working conditions were horrible as was pay. Now, thanks to the work of the "union pioneers" we have protection, and other laws to "protect" us from mis-treatment. The problem is that today, unions are proving the old saying that "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Unions are no longer a group of people who all work together who unite to make sure they are treated fairly. In stead, they are now run by people who do NOT work with the people they speak for, and in most cases, make MUCH more than the workers, and don't lose money due to strikes. The accountability has been lost along the way, and while they were a GREAT help and very good when they were started, I feel they have fun their course, and should now either be done away with or be VERY HEAVILY overhauled.




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