THE WAY I SEE IT by Don Polson Red Bluff Daily News 11/13/2012
You don’t work for union! Mandate or stalemate?
My life’s experience informs my indifference, bordering on hostility, towards unions. Judging by the inexorable wave of economic reality and voter preference (Californians’ rejection of Prop 32 notwithstanding), many Americas are choosing to deny mandatory membership in unions, rein in abusive public employee union practices, and make mandatory political deductions from paychecks voluntary. Unions have no place among government workers—they directly undermine the representative nature of our self-government. Hence, FDR and George Meany both opposed them.
If you are part of a private sector union, like the Raley’s employees belonging to United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) who’ve gone on strike, I have some hard, tough love to share. The union did nothing to create Raley’s: not the bricks and mortar, not the shelves and not the capital expenditure required to finance the costs of a low-profit sector of the economy. Your union is acting against your best interests and making it increasingly likely that Raley’s stores will get shuttered and that you will be (drum roll, please) unemployed.
If the union simply vanished tomorrow, you would still have a job earning more money than the $100 to $400 per week for picketing with your little signs (unions elsewhere in America are reportedly subsidizing your work stoppage). You would still have a generous wage and benefit package commensurate with your performance, merit and tenure. If you and your co-workers make reasonable accommodation to economic reality, competition from non-union grocery workers, you could look forward to reasonable job security. It was oddly ironic that your union decided to go on strike only days before the news of WalMart Supercenter winning a legal fight hit the paper.
None of this surprises me, given what I learned about unions growing up. My dad was transferred by Eureka-Williams in Bloomington, IL, to Canastota, NY, to take charge of a school bus and military vehicle manufacturing plant. It was unprofitable due to excessive labor costs, which resulted partly from sloppy work patterns of “featherbedding” and “gold bricking” by employees often related to each other. He consequently couldn’t fire anyone for cause (and there was an abundance of cause) due to that as well as union work rules. They all dragged their feet and adamantly refused any concessions over a year of negotiating. The plant shut down, idling hundreds as it relocated to a non-union state.
When my dad then found a management job with General Electric in Syracuse, NY, he saw first hand the violent lengths striking workers go to intimidate non-union (so-called “scabs” to use their preferred epithet) replacements. Damaging cars with scratches and acid was just the small stuff. My uncle was very involved as a building contractor in North Carolina, fighting union efforts to institute “closed shop” laws in that state, and preserve the right of workers to not join a union to have a job.
Raley’s workers: The sooner you buck the strong-arm tactics of the UFCW and take the best offer Raley’s feels they can extend while remaining a viable, profitable grocery chain, the sooner you can start to make up for your lost income. Your families will be better off as the holidays approach.
In hindsight over Mitt Romney’s disappointing election loss, a few well-researched observations: President Obama’s barely-over-50-percent win was and is no mandate; he garnered between 6 and 8 million fewer votes than in 2008, beating Romney (who got 2-or-so-million fewer votes than McCain) by less than 3 million votes out of 120+ million cast.
The Obama expenditure of $175 million (vs. $75 million by Romney-aligned PACs) during the spring and summer focused on a few swing states and created a virtual tidal wave of the most despicable lies and slimy character assassination that foul imaginations could conjure up. The effect was to turn blue-collar white voters and others that often vote for Republicans off to Romney in particular and, for millions, to voting at all.
In a sense, the roles were reversed from 2004, when Democrats eagerly believed the electorate saw things their way, sharing their anathema for President Bush. The depth of their conviction that John Kerry would triumph led to wild (but completely baseless) accusations of fraud in Ohio. In truth, Romney got “Carl Rove’d” in that he was successfully painted and defined by the incumbent’s campaign; when voters saw the real Romney in the first debate, it nearly changed the ultimate result.
Polling is an inexact art; plenty of data existed to give both sides hope. Some conventional wisdom (undecided voters turn anti-incumbent; Obama’s unemployment rate doomed him, etc) must be set aside. Patterns going back over 100 years suggest that when the party in the White House changes, voters tend to give the incumbent a second term (Reagan, Clinton, Bush 43) but not otherwise (Ford, Bush 41). That, and the preposterous notion that Bush (whose “jobless recovery” added 8 million jobs at 5 percent unemployment from 2003-08) was still at fault, barely saved Obama’s job. 2014 and 2016 should be Republican elections, but I could be wrong.
Finally, look at the results for Romney in the “red states” and counties, where 60+ percent margins give us the current stalemate. Local liberals and Democrats, don’t get cocky—you are outnumbered in these parts about 2 to 1.