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Grocery Strike, Unions

Jessie-J

Cyburbian
Messages
386
Points
12
In St. Louis, the Grocery Union workers have been on strike for 10 days now. There are several reasons why they are on strike, but apparently our favorite Wal-Mart has something to do with it. This is what I have heard:

-Wal-Mart has decreased benefits for employees to increase profit margins.
-Wal-Mart's expansion and "low prices" have the local grocers scrambling to keep up with the competition.
-In order to increase their own profit margins, local grocers have scaled back or are not willing to negotiate on employee benefits.
-Employees want to get paid higher wages and have better benefits but contracts were negotiated pretty recently (withing the past 2 years?) so the CEO's are apparently not too willing to compromise.
-The local grocers have hired on people to replace union workers at a much higher wage. The grocers are not willing to negotiate so far.

St Louis is a VERY union city and the aspects of all of this are foreign to me- Union was not prevalent where I'm from. Have any of you heard about the strike currently going on?
Tell me what you know about Unions. I know why they exist and all the "textbook" information....there's got to be more though. I've heard of violence, being spit on and having to pay fines if you are union and cross the picket line to work again. Thoughts?
 

kms

Cyburbian
Messages
6,317
Points
36
I went to one union meeting when I worked at a local grocery chain. The members yelled at company representatives, then at the union reps, then at each other. If they thought the company looked at them as stupid, that night they proved it.

I will say, though, that when I left that job, I was part-time, making about $9/hr. (1988). I had full benefits and three weeks paid vacation. We went on strike once while I worked there, but since I was part time and living at home, it didn't worry me. I had to do picket line duty, and no one crossed the line, so I can't say what might happen.

This union hires people to stand outside of places like WalMart to let people know that those places aren't union. I don't think that these people are unionized, and they don't look like they could get much better work.

My neighbor worked for the business office of this union. She says that the people working there took many nice trips on our union dues.
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
Points
25
Jessie-J said:
St Louis is a VERY union city and the aspects of all of this are foreign to me- Union was not prevalent where I'm from. Have any of you heard about the strike currently going on?
Tell me what you know about Unions. Thoughts?
-Unions are the reason most businesses don't want to relocate to the Rust-belt North East, and why many have left for the Sun-belt S.E.
-Other than that, I remember on the Simpsons that the grocery bag boys went on strike.:b:
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Unions seem to me to pick the wrong battles at the wrong time. During the good times a few years ago they were managing to get things like a seven percent pay increase when management got three-and-a-half. Now when the city has laid off about five percent of its staff (fifteen percent of management staff), they still want ridiculous increases.

In a nearby city, workers at a meat processing plant are on strike. They earn a couple dollors more per hour than comparable workers in the comapny's non-union plants, and get full benefits. They really are paid much more than they should expect for unskilled work. They neither want to recognize that fact or the fact that we have a poor economy.

I came to believe a long time ago that unions have outlived their usefulness. They were certainly needed through the thirties to curb business's excesses. Into the fifties and sixties they simply became bloated and corrupt. Now they want to justify their existence without recognizing the changes in technology and globalization that are going on.
 

JivecitySTL

Cyburbian
Messages
115
Points
6
I love St. Louis. I know that has nothing to do with this topic, but I really just love it. It's such a great city, even after all these years. I hope everyone gets to visit one day. It's a likable place!

btw, the unions are beginning to get on my nerves already.
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
Points
25
Cardinal said:
I came to believe a long time ago that unions have outlived their usefulness. They were certainly needed through the thirties to curb business's excesses. Into the fifties and sixties they simply became bloated and corrupt. Now they want to justify their existence without recognizing the changes in technology and globalization that are going on.
-You hit right on the money Cardinal. The unions are bitching up a storm here when at the same the city's in the red and trying to climb out of the hole.
 

Wulf9

Member
Messages
923
Points
22
Without the unions, all those people would be working part time at Wal Mart wages. That's not a good economic model for a strong economy.

We are all workers, and our jobs can be done by lower cost labor. Certainly there should be attempts to control labor costs, but the unions have been a key to retaining higher-level wages for all jobs. If you have health care or retirement benefits, it is likely that those were first pioneered by unions, and, if the corporations can get rid of the unions, they will also get rid of those benefits.

Taken collectively, unions don't often seem to be very bright. However, business leadership often doesn't seem to be very bright either. When I was getting part of an MBA (for people already in the workforce, not college students without work experience), I found the business folks to be scary in their ignorance, greed, and lack of humanity.

In all, I think Henry Ford had a decent approach. Pay employees enough to buy the cars they are making. Under the Wal Mart model, that's not the approach. Most of their employees could not live on their wages -- even at Wal Mart prices.
 

Richmond Jake

You can't fight in here. This is the War Room!
Messages
18,313
Points
44
tsc said:
hmmm...How many Cyburbians are union.... I am. CSEA.
I used to be and had to be....SEIU. Locals were crooked and I hated 'em.
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,927
Points
40
tsc said:
hmmm...How many Cyburbians are union.... I am. CSEA.
I am. Local collective bargaining unit. Now into our 7th month without a contract....no strike clause....continuing under our expired contract's terms.
 

Tranplanner

maudit anglais
Messages
7,903
Points
35
Yup - CUPE local 79. I was on strike for about a week last year. My union called me last week and told me who to vote for in the upcoming municpal elections...
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
NHPlanner said:
I am. Local collective bargaining unit. Now into our 7th month without a contract....no strike clause....continuing under our expired contract's terms.
I think I've told you this before, but that contract is just plain stupid. IMO, the only people who should not be allowed to strike are police, and fireman. But that's another issue.


Unions serve a great purpose, still. They help workers maintain hours, they guarantee that you can work 40 hrs a week, they fight with mgmt so you don' t have to do it personally, etc etc.

In concept, they are great.

Unfortunately, all over the country, their purpose has become increasingly distorted. The workers feel it is their god-give right to squeeze every cent out of an employer, and when they can't foot the bill any longer its time to strike.

The purpose of strikes are to force a contract, not demand fat pockets (if you can see the difference).

Unions have become WAAAAAAYYYY too politically connected. Read any Philly newspaper and you can see this. In Philly, we have a guy who makes the lights come on (IBEW President) who practically runs the city because they are HUGE contributors to the Dems.

Unions, even though my family was born and raised in them, I can't stand em right now.
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,550
Points
25
AI agree with Cardinal, Unions have outlived their uselful life. They have made it great for all workers by getting min. wage laws passed, benefits, 40 week, etc. However now they are more driven by greed and blackmail. Anytime any airline based union strikes it drives me nuts. How could you have the audacity to strike for more money when your company is losing millions and millions of dollars every year? They strike because they know that airlines need pilots and flight attendants or they cannot operate, so essentially they blackmail the company into giving in.

I also don't have the problem with scabs that most do. If you aren't willing to do your job at a certain wage and with certain benefits but someone else is, don't be pissed at them. They probably have a family to take care of. The problem is that some of these strikers put union before family and that is disgraceful. You want 2 bucks more an hour, so you family goes hungry and you likely rack up debt on credit cards during the strike. You could default on loans including your mortgage and find yourself on the street.
 

otterpop

Cyburbian
Messages
6,655
Points
28
When I was a planner in Ketchikan Alaska everyone in the department who wasn't a supervisor was in the union. All I ever seemed to get for being in the union was a bimonthly union due taken from my paycheck. I didn't want to complain, since we were in the teacher's union, and I didn't want it on my permanent record.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,624
Points
34
I agree with kms that unions often prove their stupidity. Locally, our unions refused to accept a pay for performance plan, opting for flat (and low) garaunteed % increases for the life of the contract. So, while non-rep employees are averaging 6.5% increases, they get their contractual 2.5%. Then they have the nerve to b*itch about it.

Oh, and they refused to accept flex time too, and now that the non-reps are doing it, they're pissed.
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,927
Points
40
Mike D. said:
I think I've told you this before, but that contract is just plain stupid. IMO, the only people who should not be allowed to strike are police, and fireman. But that's another issue.
You have stated that before Mike....and I agree...for unions.

Technically I'm not in a union, it's a collective bargaining unit, not affiliated with any union organization. I have no problem with the no-strike clause, and my CBU has to have it because there are fire and police captains that fall within my CBU. Working under the previous contract is fine.....even though I can't get any merit raises since I'm at the top of my pay scale. It will all even out when an agreement is reached (which can't happen until March at Town Meeting) and I get retroactively what I would have received at my performance review.
 

Rumpy Tunanator

Cyburbian
Messages
4,473
Points
25
Mike D. said:
they fight with mgmt so you don' t have to do it personally, etc etc.B]


-I don't need somebody to go to bat for me. If I'm going to fight with management, I'll do it myself.
Why pay for someone to ruff up the management when you can just as easily walk into work with a baseball bat and start destroying stuff. Now thats how you get a promotion!
 

BiteMeElmo

Cyburbian
Messages
324
Points
11
I was in a union (Teamsters) and I have seen both good and bad in them.

Like most organizations, unions are only as good as the people operating them. When I was union, we had good wages, but terrible representation for disputes with management. I think overall, if you know the contract, and have good representation, the union can help you. Otherwise, you could feel like you're being screwed and it's the union's fault.

There is no "right" answer IMO. You get what you get, and you just have to play those cards when you must.
 
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