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by Peter Moskos

June 16, 2011

Anti-Union B.S.

Thanks to the good people at Target for the video explaining just how bad unions would be for their "team members."

[You know, if Target really considers me their "guest," how come nobody ever offers me a drink? They're not being a very good host.]

You should watch the video. It's shocking the way those "union businesses" exploit their workers! "With a union, you no longer have your own voice.... Somebody else will do your talking for you." The horrors! (yes, I'm being sarcastic)

Starting salary at Target comes out to around $25,000 a year. But don't worry, if you have a family, you make so little the government will have to kick in some earned income tax credit!

I remember when I went through waiter job training with Lettuce Entertain You in Chicago (Papagus on State Street, which did have excellent food). This was back in maybe 1993.

I remember being told, "At Lettuce Entertain You restaurants, you don't need a union." That was awfully nice of management to tell me. I would think how great my union-free life was whenever I was cut at lunch after doing a few hours of opening sidework and tipping out money I never made. (What? Was I not going to give the hard-working Mexican coffee guy his $2 just because I didn't make any?) And then, if I still had any money in my pocket, on my hour-long L ride home, I could celebrate my union-free freedom!

Seriously, though, who can put a monetary value on the ability to flambé a delicious saganiki while yelling, "Opa!"?

[Update: There was a unionization vote at a Target store in New York State. The workers voted against the union.]


Anonymous said...

Target and Walmart can monopolize the Western hemisphere so why shouldn't they have a complete lock-down on their under-paid staff as well.

A comment that I read about this video about wondered whether the actors were SAG members--o the irony, o this country.

Anonymous said...

I am curious Peter if you could talk about unions in relation to the experience of police unions, and what it means when they go to bat for policemen, always, no matter how egregious an offense they have committed.
Perhaps something better than a mini rant.

PCM said...

Though I'm pro union, I'm not a huge fan of police unions in particular. But my complaints are more on specifics than. I think I times the union unnecessarily gets involved in stubborn issues management in order to prevent change and experimentation which might not be bad for its members (for instance, years ago, the PBA in NYC prevented the department from paying officer who walked foot more money). There is also the believe among many rank-and-file that the union does a rather poor job of defending officers. And also the belief among many minority officers that the union is an old-boy's club.

That said, it is the union's job to represent the workers. A union defending a guilty cop is no different than any criminal defense lawyer defending any guilty party. Such is the system we have. Seems unfair to slag off the police union for playing an their role in our American system of justice.

And I think if the FOP and PBA did not exist, cities and police management would run roughshod over low-level police officers with arbitrary and capricious transfers, petty disciplinary infractions, and idiotic personal vendettas.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reply.
The last paragraph I find interesting, esp in light of the previous part about minorities viewing the union as an old boys' club. it seems like most stories I hear about police who are whistle-bowers end with the one who came forward getting pressured, forced out, re-assigned to a crap assignment, etc., with no backup from the union. But again this far from a scientific sample.
That a union's job is to represent its members (more accurate than "the workers") even to defend a cop accused of egregious offense regardless of his guilt is what makes the union often an adversary of the general public.
It also makes it seem silly for a non-member to be "pro" union, when the union will so willingly support causes that hurt everyone else (again, the rouge cop defended by the PBA is the best example, but not the only one).

PCM said...

Seems much sillier for non-union workers to vote Republican and support tax cuts for the very rich.

Sometimes you do what you think is right even when it's not in your best interests, I suppose.

But I think being pro-union is in most people's best interests because a world without unions would be a world with most workers much worse off.

Personally, I'd be happier if unions stuck more to the very basics issues of pay and working conditions. And in return unions worked more to ensure that union workers were better at their job than non-union workers. But the world ain't perfect. Neither are unions.

In the meantime, I'm happy to see a greater share of profits gets redistributed from owner to worker. I also think somebody who works full time should be able to live off his or her income. At some level, to me, it really is that simple.

Anonymous said...

"Voting Republican.." - I don't know what this is in response to. I don't see any arguments for them anywhere on this thread. Personally, dislike their party greatly.
Unions have a declining membership in most all non-state controlled industries. Personally I work in a field where unionization wouldn't make sense, like most Americans. Experience in union shops was mixed at best, useless otherwise.
This is kind of spreading out into a broad labor discussion prob not great to do in a comment thread.
I guess original point for me was I find it odd that non members show such support for all unions, esp ones like teachers and cops unions, who have proven so good at making it hard to fire bad teachers/cops, who are as major negatives for the community as good ones are positives.