October 09, 2003

Local Lockout

And in other news, grocery stores in the St. Louis metro area have undergone some unplanned and unexpected staffing changes...temporarily, at least. Here's today's report.

I have a Schnucks near me, and a Dierbergs near work. Milling strikers clutter the parking lot entrances. People honk and the strikers wave.

Unions are foreign to me. I understand the concept, but, in my experience working in Human Resources, the benefits don't go to the little guy - the same "guy" whom unions are purporting to protect.

Custodians for the University of Missouri, Columbia had a pay range with four steps and a "Lead" title that could allow one to achieve a fifth "step." These were non-negotiable (having already been negotated by someone other than the singular custodian, of course). When you'd been with the University x amount of time, you received y pay. Period. End of story. No merit increase, pure seniority.

That bites.

You could clean the toilets twice a day, use fewer cleaning supplies than the other 27 custodians, bring up the mood of others around you, and do twice as good a job as anyone who'd ever worked there. Guess what - doesn't matter.

And that's the problem I have with unions.

Back to the case in point, though - the grocery store lockout. Not many facts about this strike/lockout are available. This is from an article on 10/6/03:

    Union workers who gathered this morning at America's Center voted 4,252 for a strike, 1,670 against the strike. That means 72 percent approved the strike, more than the two-thirds necessary of those voting.
Okay - conditions that caused the vote to be so negative, also in this article:
    Just two weeks ago, union leaders and supermarket officials were working closely to win ratification.

    The four-year pact would give many workers a 75-cent-an-hour raise over three years; baggers would get a 15-cent-an-hour raise during that period. All workers would have gotten a 20-cent-an-hour bonus if the contact had been ratified. They still would receive the bonus if there's no strike, grocery officials have said.

    The contract also would require employees to pay a greater share of their medical costs through new annual deductibles and co-pays on services, such as emergency-room treatment and chiropractic visits.

    The proposal would no longer cover spouses who are offered health insurance at their own workplaces. But workers still would not pay health-care premiums.

    Supermarket executives say they need the concessions to remain competitive with non-union rivals, including Costco Wholesale Corp., Walgreen Co. and particularly discount giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

    For the first time, union leaders used a mail-in ballot on the original vote, a move intended to maximize response and increase the chances for passage, experts say. Both the companies and union officials hoped workers would have time to study the 47-page contract in the privacy of their homes, not in a noisy mass meeting., the site from which I'm taking this information, yesterday held a poll - would you cross the picket line to get your groceries. At the time I voted, it was 51% yes and 49% no.

I was a yes. This thing's gonna last a while.


Posted by hln at October 9, 2003 12:29 PM | St. Louis | TrackBack

I'm 100% anti-union. The guaranteed salary and benefit increases tied to seniority promote lazy. The only thing they move fast for is the lunch truck!

In my field I ocassionally have to hire union help. I pay the guy 3 times what I'm making to do 1/3 of the work and I have to tell him how to do it.

If I paid them what they were actually worth to me, they would make more at McDonalds.

Posted by: Psycho Dad at October 11, 2003 02:42 AM

I got to Albertson's early today, before they really cranked it up. There was only one or two people with little signs wandering about, yet that didn't stop them from asking me why I was "crossing the line."
Because I need milk, I told them.
I was treated to a rambling explanation of why my desire for milk was bad for the common man.
I finally asked the lady if, prior to all this, she had a job?
A job that gave her a steady paycheck?
Well, I said, it's more than I have, and that pretty much kills any sympathy points for you.
Then I took my milk and went home.

Posted by: LeeAnn at October 12, 2003 05:31 PM