My position has always been clear:
While there are many fine hard-working people who are members of trade unions, the leadership has often metastasized into a group of political activists supporting a malignant anti-American socialist agenda – enforced with peer pressure, media embarrassment and outright thuggery.
To me, unions mean that the cost of everything goes up while general productivity goes down. Onerous and nonsensical work rules where merit is replaced with seniority and initiative is replaced with mediocrity.
Consider this story from the Los Angeles Times in terms of fairness and the ideals of American small business …
“Reporting from Arroyo Grande, Calif. - For years, the owner of Arroyo Grande's old-fashioned ice cream parlor has likened the Central Coast community to Bedford Falls, the friendly little burg in the Jimmy Stewart film ‘It's a Wonderful Life.’"
“So he bristled when an out-of-town labor union unfurled a 15-foot-wide banner -- ‘Shame on Doc Burnstein's Ice Cream Lab’ -- across from his business on cafe-lined West Branch Street.”
“Even more upsetting to Greg Steinberger was the flier showing a rat gnawing on a tattered American flag: It charged him with ‘desecration of the American way of life.’"
“And most galling to the 46-year-old Navy veteran was that the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America had targeted him over the allegedly low wages of a company he says he had never even heard of.”
Let’s recap: an out-of-town labor union tries to destroy or severely impact a small businessman over an issue that the businessman knows nothing about and cannot control. And they claim he is desecrating the American way of life.
"I don't know what it'll take to get them to go away," said Steinberger, who, in labor jargon, has been "bannered" since Oct. 30. "I've got customers coming in here asking, 'Are you in trouble? Aren't you paying minimum wage?' "
In recent years, such banners and fliers have become fixtures on the national labor landscape, though huge, inflatable rats are no longer in vogue. ‘Shame’ banners have gone up outside countless businesses big and small, from housing projects in Phoenix to a bowling alley on Long Island. Many of the targets have used general contractors who hired nonunion subcontractors.”
Absolutely un-American ...
“In Bakersfield, banners declared ‘Shame on Tony Bennett’ and ‘Shame on the Fox Theater’ when the singer performed there in 2006. The event was a fundraiser for a medical center with subcontractors unacceptable to the union.”
And you wonder why the cost of medical care continues to rise to the stratosphere. Here in California, the SEIU is recruiting “home workers” who are caring for their relatives at home. Look for costs to go up drastically in the near future. However, it may be next to impossible to convince the home workers to abandon their relatives just to support the union’s wage and benefit demands on the State of California.
“In Arroyo Grande, paid sign-minders stand beside the banner across the street from Doc Burnstein's four days a week, sometimes shielded from the sun by blue-and-white umbrellas.”
I wonder if these are even union workers doing the “bannering.” On many occasions in other venues, I often saw what appeared to be illegal aliens who spoke little or no English – parading back and forth with their signs – unable to explain why they were picking a company.
According to the fliers, the carpenters are bannering Doc Burnstein's because Steinberger plans to open an outlet in a renovated Santa Maria mall where a nonunion drywall company "does not meet area labor standards . . . including fully paying for family health benefits and pensions."
This is coercion, extortion at the very least. While it might be a “free speech issue,” I would assume that the union is, at the very least, engaging in the type of extortionate activities one finds in European socialist countries … or perhaps that is what the union is attempting to bring about here in America.
Extortion, pure and simple …
“But by focusing on secondary businesses -- such as a store that sells goods made by a nonunion factory -- unions that use the tactic say they can draw public attention and even persuade the bannered companies to side with them. They contend the banners are expressions of free speech. But others -- including attorneys for the National Labor Relations Board -- have argued that they are coercive, unfair and possibly unlawful.
Eleven bannering cases are awaiting judgment by the NLRB, but three of the federal agency's five seats have been unfilled for two years.
Now you know why President Obama is so keen on nominating pro-labor, pro-union Craig Becker to the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board). Where he can rule in the favor of unions and bring further disruption to American commerce.
Anti-small business …
“ But Gabe Segura, owner of the action's primary target -- United Drywall Systems -- said it's hurting his 10-employee company.
’They've threatened, they manipulated, they've gone to my employees' house at night, asking for copies of check stubs,’ Segura said. ‘They want to deter people from using us, and there's definitely certain jobs that don't want the publicity.’"
How do these unions think that small businesses can pay their employees the fat salaries, the bloated benefits and the exorbitant pensions? It’s not like they are working on a government project where the politicians make “quid pro quo” deals for campaign funds and voter support – and the money comes directly out of the taxpayer’s pocket.
“Segura said he'd have to nearly double his fees to match union pay rates. ‘In this economy, who's going to pay more for construction?’ he asked.”
Excuse me but aren’t these the same labor unions that support illegal aliens as long as they contribute to the union’s coffers and their employer’s kick-in their share. Unions are the opposite of competitive – they are coercive. No wonder many unions have some affiliation with organized crime and institutional thuggery.
“Carpenters Local 150 [in Camarillo, California] is affiliated with the Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, a 65,000-member union operating in five states.
Justin Weidner, its chief of staff, declined to answer questions about specific bannering campaigns.”
’We believe it's an effective tactic’ he said. ‘That's why we continue to use it’."
Perhaps it is illegal … but for certain it is immoral. Hurting American small business – and one that is not even directly related to the union’s business affairs.
Bottom line …
President Obama is doing everything in his power to “pay-back” the unions, such as the corrupt and far-left SEIU, for their support of his candidacy. It is by pandering to the unions that Obama plans to obtain additional campaign funding and voter support to assist far-left democrats in staving-off electoral defeat in the 2010 and 2012 election cycles.
Here in California, the great bulk of our deficit is due to the constantly enlarging size of the unionized government bureaucracy and their benefits. Benefits which now go far beyond those available to normal workers in the private sector who need to worry about their job performance and productivity.
We need to end these far-left experiments into socialism and reduce the power and effectiveness of anti-competitive unions whose toxic influence makes it impossible for people to compete locally, nationally or internationally. Yes, there was bad management at General Motors – but their complacency in allowing the unions to take over their company was their worst sin. To have thousands of union employees earning salaries while they played cards, read magazines and watched television was unconscionable. The union costs so impacted the final cost of a vehicle that General Motors couldn’t compete against their European counterparts. Now a problem for the Obama Administration which destroyed generations of contract law to cheat the preferred bondholders out of their money, while rewarding the unions for their toxic influence.
Remember this story of the little ice cream shop and the big unions when you vote at the ballot box. It is time to return America to a standard of excellence … not a “go along to get along” world of corrupt far-left politicians and their thuggish union supporters.
Reference Links …
Shame' banners aren't a welcome sign - latimes.com
Who is Craig Becker and why should we worry about another Obama appointment? (Updated)
In Montgomery County, scare tactics by teachers union are the norm|Washington Post
“MONTGOMERY COUNTY schools are among the best in the nation, a point of pride for the community and a springboard for their students. The system's teachers -- well qualified, professional and highly committed -- are its driving engine. That's why the heavy-handed tactics and occasional political thuggery of the union that represents them do a disservice not only to the county and its much-admired school system but to the teachers themselves.”
“Something is seriously amiss when a union acts in this way even as it represents a group of public employees as highly regarded as Montgomery's teachers. And when elected officials, who in principle are responsible for overseeing county and school finances, including employee pay and benefits, feel intimidated by the tactics of the union representing teachers, that's a sign that democratic processes have been turned upside down.”
“In negotiations underway for a new contract, the MCEA is pressing for further pay hikes for most teachers, which would cost Montgomery taxpayers another $18 million. This is taking place as the county grapples with a projected budget deficit of $600 million, and as wages in the private sector are stagnant. Privately, nearly every member of the County Council and the school board says the union's demands are blatantly unrealistic. Publicly, almost all of them are too cowed by the union to say a word.”