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Mob Protests in Lansing, Michigan Today

“Michigan Right-To-Work Union protest mob
attacks tent in Lansing”

I was just watching “The Five” on Fox, and wanted to see what all the “ruckus” was about. Bob Beckel pointed out that Michigan ranks 46th of the 50 states in unemployment (currently 9.1%). Beckel also described what unions, he believes, have been instrumental in improving labor conditions. For example, he listed child labor laws and a five-day work week. This is true.

At the time when unions were first formed, they played a powerful influence in providing these conditions. However, Andrea Tantaros countered with this statement: “In America, you should not be forced to join an organization.” Andrea called unions a “protective racket.” That is true. Think of how Obama has cozied up to the likes of Andy Stern of SEIU (Service Employees International Union). There is more about what I witnessed re SEIU below.

Here is a portion of what Reuters reported:

Michigan’s Republican-led Legislature approved a ban on mandatory union membership on Tuesday, dealing a stunning blow to organized labor in the state that is home to U.S. automakers and the symbol of industrial labor in the United States.

As more than 12,000 unionized workers and supporters protested at the Capitol in Lansing, the state House of Representatives gave final approval to a pair of “right-to-work” bills covering public- and private-sector unions. …

As some of you may recall, I described what I observed in two hospitals. In each instance, I noticed that an SEIU representative had cornered an LPN or RN, and was lecturing her, wagging her finger at her. The LPN/RN tried to back away, but the SEIU rep took her arm and held on to it, and talked to her some more. I was out of range, unable to hear what they were arguing about. I assume that the SEIU rep was pressuring the nurses to participate attending an SEIU meeting or encouraging others to develop a strategy to force the hospital to pay them higher wages. At yet another hospital, I recall a picket line of nurses and orderlies marching around the back of one of the best hospitals in the Pacific Northwest.

I wondered what their beef was. Particularly at the “best hospital.” I have met and dealt with many of their staff and nurses. They are all excellent, of course. Yes, it is expensive to live in a large city, with rents rising and mortgages more difficult to get. However, perhaps they could do away with a few items — such as buying lots of cosmetics, buying a full package of HBO/Showtime/Starz. Perhaps they have three or four TVs and want a DVR on every box. A friend I know has made many purchases like those described above. She also has a large collection of jewelry in two jewelry chests. I offered one day to help her separate the chains and lay them out neatly. I kept wondering why she bought so much jewelry. That’s just one small example of some of the “niceties” of modern life that, of course, we’d all like to enjoy. But everyone can give up some of those items. For example, I bet my friend is buying more jewelry, and probably has set up a DVR with one of those “enhanced packages” so she can get every channel she wishes to. I haven’t seen her in a while, and wonder what I’ll say if I do. I’ve decided, should that occasion arise, I’ll just say “Hi,” and walk on by.

I am glad that unions helped established those laws. Would we ever have had such improvements in workers’ conditions, such as “child labor laws and a five-day work week”?

Here’s an example of Pinkerton guards trying to bust up a union:

The history of union busting in the United States dates back to the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century which produced a rapid expansion in factories and manufacturing capabilities. As workers moved away from farm work to factories, mines and other hard labor, they faced harsh working conditions such as long hours, low pay and health risks.

Pinkerton guards escort strikebreakers in Buchtel, Ohio, 1884

Children and women worked in factories and generally received lower pay than men. The government did little to limit these injustices.

Labor movements in the industrialized world developed that lobbied for better rights and safer conditions. Shaped by wars, depressions, government policies, judicial rulings, and global competition, the early years of the battleground between unions and management were adversarial and often identified with aggressive hostility.

Contemporary opposition to trade unions known as union busting started in the 1940s and continues to present challenges to the labor movement.

Union busting is a term used by labor organizations and trade unions to describe the activities that may be undertaken by employers, their proxies, workers and in certain instances states and governments usually triggered by events such as picketing, card check, organizing, and strike actions.

Labor legislation has changed the nature of union busting, as well as the organizing tactics that labor organizations commonly use. …

So. There are many large companies that provide excellent compensation without having to deal with unions. Costco treats its employees well. I’ve also noticed that Costco goes out of its way to hire as many females as males — in fact, I think there are more females than men at the Costco nearby. Every time I have a request, they are always glad to oblige. For example, last night I told the cashier and customer service rep that I didn’t want any more of the boxes they cut up. (I have several of those already and am trying to figure out how to get rid of them.) So, one of the customer service reps allowed me to drive my electric cart out, while she pushed a cart out that contained a few file folders I’d wanted to get. I had also asked her if she would mind opening the box for me, and she did. Those kinds of customer service are exceptional.

I also regularly use their drug store, because it is the least expensive, best-managed pharmacy I’ve ever gone to. By the way, one reason I use Costco, besides its good prices, is that I have become aware that certain generic drugs are bought at certain stores. (For example, I used to buy generic drugs at a Walmart store, and I noticed that their generics were of the cheapest quality they could buy. Furthermore, Walmart USES YOU AND ME (sorry for “shouting,” but it bugs me) — WalMart uses our TAX DOLLARS to force their employees to use Medicaid (for their children), as well as other social services that are already bursting at the seams with OTHER people who truly need the help.

So, I’ve decided, I am not going to shop at WalMart anymore. That’s tough for me to say, since they often have the cheapest prices. But I can get the same products at Costco. Besides, at Costco, I can return any product they sell at any time. However, at Walmart a couple years ago, I had tried out some electronic equipment, but decided to return it. Luckily, I got to the store on the 15th day. WalMart has a policy that permits exchanges and refunds for 15 days. Costco doesn’t.

Those are just more of my experiences with unions vs. non-unions. WalMart should get its act together. Perhaps they’d have to train fewer employees if they provided better health care packages.

Let us know about your own experiences with unions and their members.

  • DianaLC

    At one time, we had both a Costco and a Sam’s Club (WalMart) membership. W dropped the Costco because the purpose of those clubs for us is to use them for the items we can save money by stocking up on them (paper towels, Kleenex boxes, toilet paper, laundry supplies, the yogurt I eat daily, etc.). We found that we would walk into Costco and come out empty handed. Their prices were slightly higher than Sam’s and often they just didn’t have anything we were looking for. It seemed like a slightly more upscale Sam’s, and the customers are snootier. (One of my son’s friends works at Costco and often mentions the rude treatment he receives.)

    Costco does, for example, still give its employees time and a half for working on Sunday and higher hourly wages. That’s nice–but it IS reflected in the prices. As I mentioned, it also brings with it some disconnect for its workers. A co-worker of my son’s friend has worked there for over 20 years and so is now earning a fairly substantial wage and has a good retirement built up. He knows that the customers who come in and treat him with disrespect probably are earning the same as he does or maybe even less than he does. He just has to take abuse.

    Sam’s Culb employees I deal with are every bit as helpful as what you described. I don’t use the cut up boxes because in my van I just don’t need them. But if I did, our city requires all trash collection services to provide recycling (at a slightly higher monthly rate). I don’t live in a poor neighborhood. This is a golf club community. I am the ONLY person on my block who uses the recycling services. And I can recycle almost anything. I am amazed at what I can recycle. I have done whatever I could in that regard since the very first Earth Day back when I was a poor newly wed living in an $80 a month basement apartment and still attending college.

    I get my prescriptions filled at my Kaiser pharmacy. At the most I pay $29 a month for basically maintenance medication. I double checked with the WalMart pharmacy a while ago and my KP plan won out on prices.

    As far as unions go, when I was first teaching the AFT and the NEA were first getting going in our state. The AFT is indeed a union and always advertised itself as that. The NEA came in and won the battle mostly in CO by selling itself as a “professional” organization. It works, however, like a union during bargaining. I’ve mentioned it several times……it NEVER bargains for some of the changes I would like in policy that might make education better in our state. It always bargains for more salary and perks only, and then always joins administraton in asking for more tax money for the schools. I gets the right to negotiate for the teachers in CO because it’s reached the magic percentae of teachers in the district to be able to do that. But in CO no one has to join the organization. Most of us do, and I have explained why–the legal insurance membership brings with it. I am almost certain that if there were a different way to get that really cheap legal insurance, many teachers would not join. Besides the teachers and the administrators are figuratively and often literally in bed with administration, so what’s to negotiate? Citizens are the ones who are fooled by thinking the teachers have the best interest of the children in mind. I could rant all day about the waste that goes on in public schools.

    As for family history in Colorado, my ethnic group was the focus of child labor laws. My parents, the children of immigrants, often wonder about that. These people came from an economic system in their communities in Russia at the time that was centered on farming and on the church, which provided the education (a good basic education, too). But most all were going to be farmers or skilled laborers in farm-related jobs. (My great-grandfather, for example, besides being a farmer, was the town’s blacksmith. My own father could do the work of a farrier since he was so good with horses.)

    So when they got to CO after escaping the bolsheviks, they ended up in company supplied shacks doing stoop labor in the fields. Their children began doing that also and the small one-room school’s yearly schedule was altered to fit farming necessities. The wives worked alongside their husbands. My mother, the oldest daughter, tended the little babies and toddlers while my grandmother worked the fields.

    The Hispanic migrant workers came and worked alongside them. They were young men and older men. They earned their wages and spent half on themselves while they were there and sent the rest to Mexico.

    Our old patriarchs took all the wages, divided the earnings to cover living expenses and saved the rest–until later our people took over many of the farms that went into foreclosure because of bad money management. The banks a the time actively sought out the Germans from Russia to make deals with them to take over those farms. They knew these people could farm AND MANAGE MONEY>

    But because the children were asked to work and contribute to the family finances, people came in and decided they were being abused. I’m not saying all those old men were kind fathers and didn’t abuse their children (emotionally especially), but a large percentage were not. My parents never complained really about being abused as children,

    I grew up always understanding my role in the family: to help my mother with some of her chores, to work on the farm where I could when I was needed, to keep the family’s honor by behaving in school. I was definitely abused according to some people I’ve met. It always surprises me. And I am still always surprised when I see young people acting in a way that might bring “shame” to their families.

    Bronwyn, I guess what I am saying is that one’s individual attitude and perspective gained from one’s individual history always colors how one looks at things.

    There is much I hate about going into a WalMart or a Sam’s Club store–mostly the conspicuous consumption that Thornstein Veblen spoke about in his theories. I have fought the battle all my life of trying to get rid of all the stuff I have acquired that I shouldn’t have and that I don’t really need. We are a society that likes STUFF and WalMart makes that possible for everyone.
    But at this point, WalMart also employs an enormous number of people who would not otherwise have jobs. It’s sad that our society is at this point, but it is. It’s a terrible place to have to work, but it is a place where one CAN find work. I’d work there rather than at some party-provided union job where I’d have to hold my tongue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Larson-Gonzales/708649430 Sandy Larson- Gonzales

    Costco is .an obama loving company I won’t go near it.

  • no_longer_a_democrat
  • no_longer_a_democrat

    And as for the video, not all union members are thugs, but these people in the video clearly are. I hope that young man is ok, they even pulled him from behind to beat him up.

    And what does the community agitator in chief have to say about all this…. *crickets*…. absolutely no condemning of this violence.

    • getfitnow

      I read he said wages would go down. I’d say, that statement from a POTUS is “agitation.”

  • no_longer_a_democrat

    I think and absolutely believe unions played a very important role in the past, however now a days they are just a front for the demonrats.

    I fully support MI’s right to work law, and 5 years ago I would not believed myself if I would have gone back in time to say to my 5 year younger self that I supported MI’s right to work law. Unions now enrich themselves to make their “leaders” like that thug moron Trumka massive amounts of monies, not caring as much about the actual union members.

    Most of my family is union, but they all live in right to work states, they CHOSE to join, because the union does a great job, when they did not, they can leave the union, which keeps the union leadership in check to make sure they represent their members, not some ulterior motives, like supporting demonrats over their own members (people will surprised to know how many union members are not progressives, they are hard working conservative, america loving blue collar workers)

    I think forcing someone to join a union is wrong! the people who were bullied by bad management of employers are now the bullies, I think having a healthy tug between management and unions is a good thing, however it only works when both sides are an exercise in voluntary participation, you chose to work in a company, you chose to join a union. It is YOUR choice based on how each of these enterprises respects their employees/members.

    And the whole thing about working conditions etc, most of these are now law, what the unions are doing now are fighting to the point where it is detrimental for companies trying to grow, expand, hire more people, which in turn is what will really increase wages, not bullying by unions about wages, it was to work to include both sides.

    I fully support MI’s right to work new law, and a former liberal, I never thought I would say that! I think more states should have it, unions are there in right to work states like VA, FL, etc, but those union leadership have to do good representation of their members, if they don’t they lose members, if the company does something not good, then people can voluntarily join a union to change certain policies etc. But this healthy tug of war can only work when people have the choice to decide to join a union or not as a prerequisite of being employed in a company.

    There is such a thing as bad union leadership just as there is bad management. Right to work laws make sure to hold to account bad leadership on both sides, especially unions.

  • APO_AE_09173

    All I have to say about Unions is the Pigs are more equal.

  • HARP2

    Just ask a union member if, on condition of employment they were forced to join the Heritage Foundation, and have 75% of their dues go to Conservative causes……I bring it up all the time…………..crickets.

  • Hokma

    Unions have long out lived most of their usefulness. Yes, there was a time when they served a social benefit, but no longer.

  • HELENK2
  • HELENK2

    unions lost sight of their main purpose. to protect the worker, that means from bad workers as well as bad management.
    they are not there to finance a political party.
    funny how many union shop stewards wind up with management jobs

    • getfitnow

      Most unions have become rackets.

  • buzzlatte3

    Having been a union member through no choice of my own ~It was a closed shop and once considered a profession (teaching), I’ll take right to work any day. Besides having more money in the paycheck, it’s easier to get rid of the nonfunctional – When I moved to a RTW state, I loved not having a union tell me who to vote for, what political party to belong to, or shell out a grand plus a year to belong to a union that spent most of the dues on political PACs and conventions.

    Problem is – many are going to have to be responsible without nanny union to take care of them on the job. It will cause workers in Michigan to grow up.

    • BronwynsHarbor

      Right you are. In fact, what you wrote about Michigan made me recall what I saw on Nightline many years ago. The reporter was interviewing several people who were being forced to retire early. I was shocked when he interviewed an older woman who told him that she made over $60,000 per year as a janitor. (Yes, that is hard work and she deserves to be compensated for her years of service to that company. So, she’ll probably get $60,000 or more every year through her pension program. And she’ll continue to get great health insurance. All I can is that she is a damn lucky woman.

      But she is part of a vanishing breed. Sooner or later, nearly every business is going to have go through the grueling task of ridding themselves of unions.

      As you said, Buzz, it IS easier to get rid of the non-functional. Last night, at Costco, I looked at a video camera. I really want one. But I excused myself from the Costco clerk, and asked him to help two other people. I just wanted him to help other people who seemed more interested in purchasing some gadget. Besides, I don’t have any particular need for one. Maybe, someday — if I get lucky, sure. In the meantime, I’d much rather save my money, as much as I can.