I crossed a picket line today

I had to go to the grocery store today.

cadolphin was out of her diet soda, so I had to go.

I crossed a picket line to get into the store. There was one man at each of the three driveways and three women in front of the store with picket signs.

On my way out, I was spoken to one of the three women picketing the Ralph’s store.

They asked why I didn’t go to the Wal-Mart down the road to shop.

My answer: "Number one, why would you want me to go shop at Wal-Mart? It’s a non-union shop. And aren’t you afraid that if you tell people to go shop at Wal-Mart, that customers are going to want to shop there all the time? That would bankrupt your company here, and you’d lose your jobs, union or not.

"Secondly, what is it you’re picketing for? The right to not have to pay $20 per week in health care insurance costs for you and your families? In my job I pay $55 per week for me and my wife. And I make less than $15 per hour, your average wage.

"Personally, I think you have it pretty good, even if you have to pay $20 per week for medical coverage. And you guys have dental and vision, right? I don’t.

“Sorry, I can’t sympathize with you on this one.”

I wished them well, and while I was leaving, I heard one of them say to the others:

“Where is everyone else that’s scheduled to be here? I know they scheduled at least 25 here today. Where is everyone?”

Taking a union-subsidized vacation, apparently…

Nicely done Rico. I would have crossed too, given the situation (hell, I might have even crossed merely to make a point to the workers on strike).

I am not sure what you do for a living that dictates you make $15 an hour and I am not sure what the cost of living is your region. Union members have to go through a very long apprenticship before they make what you refer to as the average wage. These people generally have families. The fact is, even $20 an hour is not what I would consider a living wage. A union subsidized vacation, you must be joking? These people receive no pay while on strike. I am a Union Ironworker in San Diego and this is one of the least union friendly towns in the country. We usually go for our groceries on Sunday, but today we honored the picket and went to a taco stand for our dinner. I don’t know your age or your education level, but I imagine you are getting paid what you are worth. If you weren’t you would seek employment elsewhere or organize. For you to cross a picket because your job sucks, that is just shitty. If it wasn’t for union labor in this country you wouldn’t have the benefits you have now. You wouldn’t have an 8 hour work day. You would have no social security. Safety standards on the job would be non-existant. Workman’s comp? forget it, it wouldn’t exist. I don’t know how much you know about history, but unions are what dragged this country out of the industrial “revolution” and made the workplace a safe place. Ever heard of OSHA, they exist to protect you as a result of unions. Prevailing wage, that is dictated by union pay scale. Union’s aren’t perfect, I pay about 4 times what you do for health benefits(This attributed to hmo costs, most of which are non-union). There has even been rampant corruption in unions. The fact remains, united we stand, divided we beg. I can’t help but wonder if you would cross a New York Fire Department picket? I assure you you wouldn’t cross an Ironworkers picket. Yeah, you know, the NYFD and NY Ironworkers, the ones that worked tirelessly to save as many people from 911 as they could. I drove to NY at my own expense and worked digging out bodies for 2 weeks with my union brothers and you crossed a picket because you wanted some diet soda. Yep, you were right to do what you did, you will help insure unions cease to exist and then we can all make minimum wage. Wait, there wouldn’t even be a minimum wage without unions.
You must be proud, showing the working man that they have it great and big business is right. Obviously you company cares a great deal about you, that is why you make such a great living. Keep playing right into the hands of corporate America, they love it.

I think that’s pretty much all you need to know about what’s wrong with the modern “union mentality,” right there.

You nailed it Jodi. Regardless, if the worker believes they are not earning enough to support their family, they should find a higher paying job. If they don’t have the education to do so, tough luck.

Way to play into emotions, Stomp. Bringing up 9/11? Nice move.

I’m just as patriotic and hardworking as you. If I was anywhere close to New York, I would have been one of the first in to volunteer. I’m an amateur radio operator and have participated in several disaster situations, both as a communications tech and as a worker on ther front lines, I consider it a part of my civic duty, not in any way as a union sympathizer or detractor.

Yes, I agree with you, that unions have been very helpful to the working class in the past. But face it, the days of child labor, the 16 hour day, and 5 cent an hour wages are long gone.

When I accepted the job I have now, it was because it was the only thing offered to me. In this economy, a working man has to think that there are not many good jobs out there, and when one is offered, I must consider that the job offered is better than unemployment.

I do believe this is wrong. IIRC, part of the worker’s union dues go into a fund to help pay striking workers. Granted, it is a fraction of what they normally make, but workers are reimbursed by the union for going out on strike. If I am wrong, please correct me on this and provide a cite. I’ve been trying to find one to support my position, but I can’t. I’m drawing from my experience of workers striking a plant I worked at 25 years ago, and the union paying them.

Your post is based on emotion, not facts. The supermarket workers are not striking because they are working 20 hour days, making 25 cents an hour, or are forced to endure substandard conditions. They are striking because their employers would like them to start paying $1040 per year to cover their entire family’s health insurance costs. An average worker would have to work approximately 8 days per YEAR to pay for their health care premium. And that’s a pretty damn good deal, no matter which way you look at it.

If a group of workers was being forced to endure substandard conditions, wages, or hours, and they went on strike to protest that, you bet your last dollar I’d support them. But after looking over the offer that has been made to the supermarket workers and the union’s insistence on “no compromise,” I have to think that this strike is not called for.

Jodi, what do you think is enough to raise a family on? Now, I am not talking about getting food stamps and gov’t cheese. The average rent for a one bedroom apt. here in San diego is around $1000 a month. Child care costs at least 130 per week(just for after school care). What do you do for a living and how much do you make? Is it enough to pay your bills and provide your children with all the things you want for them? I suppose you are one of those people that think it is ok if some CEO makes 20 million a year. I work my ass off for the money I earn. Do you? I suppose you are a multi-millionaire and your wealth will eventually trickle down to the rest of us. It hasn’t happened yet. What is fair in your eyes? How much should we make to be fair? I look forward to your next scathing retort. I would bet you never actually had to work for a living in your entire life. Walk a while in my shoes
I suppose I should never own a home or buy a new car because you feel I earn too much. Here’s the thing, you probably love the fact that we export all our labor to Mexico or elsewhere. Did you ever stop to think that if Americans don’t make a fair wage, we won’t be able to purchase all the goods your corporate buddies produce? Explain to me how it benefits anyone in this country if we don’t make a decent living? Do you realize that in the 50s and 60s a man could make enough to support his family by himself and maybe even send his kids to college. Think about it, it takes 2 incomes just to get by. College, well maybe if you are very affluent. Is that what you want, only rich people educating their kids? You probably do, but who will stop the inevitable class war, haves and have nots finally together, engaged in mortal combat. You think it won’t happen but it will. The police won’t save you Jodi, they are in the union too. You conservatives are recalling governers as quick as you can but nobody touches your president, 47 states are in an economic slump, and we fought a war for no reason(no WMD and no real enemy). Yup must be the fault of the Dems. Let’s elect a body builder to office, I guess MN cornerd the wrastlin’ market. Just make sure those unruly unions mind thier place. Well Jodi, someday soon you will win, unions are a small percentage of the labor pool and hell, you can get Mexicans to do the work anyway. Tell me , where is your customer base?

Duderdude,
I have a college degree. I work iron because I find it rewarding and I am well compensated. I never claimed i wasn’t. I probably make a better living than you, which I am sure you know and that is why you are so bitter.
Rico, thank you for your thoughtful response. I did not write based on emotion, I was merely stating facts. We don’t have the conditions of the past because of unions. Is it your hope that unions cease to exist? You are the one complaining about your wage. Why would eradicating unions help you plight?
As far as the strike at you local food store. No, they do not receive money from a strike fund or any other sort of compensation. Strike funds these days are set up to ensure benefits are paid. (if you want proof just go to their website, their bylaws are clearly stated). Thier contract is up and health benefits are only a part of it. They pay far more then $20 a week, we are all under the crush of HMOs
I am curious to know why you people are so anti-union. We work hardf to ensure that we all make a fair wage. What is wrong with that? Do you think the company you work for has you best intrests at heart?

In my neck of the woods, there are teenagers who work in supermarket jobs. They’re in high school, and probably don’t support their families (although I recognize that some help). More than a few of them are probably also carried on their parents’ insurance, so I can’t imagine that being an issue. I’m not going to honor a picket line where so little (at least to my understanding) is at stake.

All that being said, my professors have voted to authorize a strike over salaries, insurance, and class sizes. They’re not making that big a deal over the salaries and insurance (at least not to our faces), but thy’re making a huge issue over the class sizes. They want smaller class sizes and no TAs. As of yesterday, they’re staying in class for at least the next week, but after that, who knows. What’s pissing me off about that is that no one’s saying anything about what happens if there is a work stoppage. Do we get credit for the semester, partial credit, a refund for the missed time, what?

Yet another reason why I refuse to support unions.

Robin

Mods:

I did not intend for this to turn into a debate. Please feel free to move it if the spirit moves you.

My prediction:

If Stomp doesn’t put the mouse down and step away to take a chill pill and come back and sees that the OP NEVER said anything against unions, this thread will end up in the pit.

Kathy
SoCal born/raised, tree hug’in liberal who is happy to have an income and a place to live in this economy

So, Ms Robyn, you are upset because you profs want smaller classes. I would assume they want this to give more individual attention to the students right? It is too bad this may affect you personally, but maybe it is for the greater good. Who knows, maybe someday you will want your children to go to that school and be happy for the staffs demands. Just a thought

I crossed the picket line at Ralphs today. I didn’t want to, but the missus insists on getting Ralphs’ homogenized milk, and accepts no substitutes.

On the way out, I had a friendly chat with one of the strikers. During the chat, she told me that she only makes $9/hour, and that starting employees only get $7.25/hour or so. Rather a far cry from the $18/hour that the managers were telling the customers.

Consider that a data point for the self-proclaimed experts to chew on.

I ain’t got no huge problem with it. Why not? It’s the American dream, idn’t it?

You’re quick to stereotype.

Not really. Damn unions, making it so expensive to have a workforce in this country.

It’s all this “minimum wage” stuff that raises inflation in the first place! Also, if it’s cheap to produce something, shouldn’t it then make sense that it would be cheap to buy the product?

In the mail the other day my house got The College Guide: For America’s Brightest Students, the 2004 edition. Looking through it, I saw a large number of colleges with a majority of students recieving financial aid.

On the one hand, that’s great. On the other hand, that means tuition costs are higher and once again the middle class guy gets shafted. It’s a toss up.

Not if they can’t buy guys because all their jobs are in Mexico!

I hope the police aren’t as pro-union as you are.

You’re mean.

So were the grocery workers, apparently.

When was Rico talking about taking out unions? **
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crossing a picket is anti-union. Sorry if this offends you and you feel compelled to dump this discussion. Some things need debate, and IMHO this is one of them. I don’t dislike Rico for his opinion, I just think he is reading it wrong. Sometimes on an open forum you will not find everyone in agreement.

For the record: I’m not anti-union, or very conservative. I personally hope to be a carpenter someday.

True, but this isn’t in GD. This is in IMHO. Duh

Kathy

No, crossing picket lines is not anti-union unless you are a union member.

If you’re not a union member, and choose to honor a picket line, that’s union-sympathetic. But my choice to continue with my normal routine marks me as anti-union?

No, it means I’m not sympathetic to the reason for the strike.

Stomp,

First off, you seem to be spouting some kind of double-standard bullcrap that I’m sure is ruffling some feathers: “You’re the one complaining about your shitty job,” for example. That implies that if you don’t like your job, find another: however, if you’re in a union you can bully and hold companies hostage to get what you want without having to find another job. Also, you say the stuff about people complaining about their “shitty jobs,” and then you go on to bitch about apartment prices in San Diego. Well, to you sir, I say “you’re the one complaining about your shitty city.” If you don’t like it, go somewhere else. Most places in this country you can do very well on $20 an hour. Very well.

You say “college, well maybe if you are affluent.” Hah. Again, bullshit. There are systems set up that automatically provide funds for kids to go to college if their parents’ income is below a certain level. I can guarantee you, that level is well below $20/hr. though, because that is generally perceived as more than enough to not be bankrupt. I know, because my parents didn’t make anything close to that, and they were above the level for me to receive grants. . .but I managed just fine. I got a part-time during college, and managed to pay my own way through school making $7-8,000 a year. Not everybody (even those making $20 an hour before overtime) needs to go to Harvard or Stanford. Affluent to attend college, my ass.

Now, we do share some political view apparently, Stomp. I am by no means conservative, or Republican. It disgusts me that the current administration has been trying to reduce provisions in the Fair Labor acts to do such things as increase the number of employees exempt from overtime compensation (which doesn’t affect me as I already am expected to work uncompensated overtime, but I still think it sucks). Everybody elects these politicians right out of the ledger books of mega-conglomerate corporations, wonders why their rights and protections are being stripped away (both civil rights and labor protections), and then turns to these mafia-like entities to try to frighten and intimidate people into supporting their cause? (“I assure you you wouldn’t cross an Ironworkers picket.” What the hell are you implying by that by the way?)