Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wendy's Not the Only Witch of the West

Please also know that because of the federal labor laws regulating the organizing drive, I can't make any promises to you. What I can tell you is I came out here with the mission of keeping The Times a great newspaper, and changing it and making it better - and doing that working with you as a team. I believe we can do that best by working together and communicating directly with each other - and not through some outside third party. So I am personally asking you to vote "no" to the Union.

Bet you got to the part where it says The Times and it threw you, no? For today, instead of examining the latest in the News-Press Mess (and there's always a latest--go check out BlogaBarbara and see the paranoid ravings of "Neville Flynn" if you want a laugh), INOTBB will turn its cyber-eye south to see that no paper wants to deal with the Teamsters. But the LA Times, being a big paper and all, has opted to create an entire website to decry union involvement.

Of course it's little surprise that the paper once run by Harrison Gray Otis, one of the fiercest anti-union figures the world has ever seen, hasn't shifted far from its early 20th century open shop roots. Otis was so hated/feared that people tried to blow his house up (alas, some radical unionists did bomb the Times building, setting back the labor movement in LA for decades). But it sure wasn't because Otis wanted to "work together as a team."

Owners, whether Otis in his day, the Tribune Company with publisher David Hiller as its factotum today, or old what's-her-name here in Santa Barbara, they don't want to develop a team, or camaraderie, or an environment where smart people work hard because people value their ideas so they then come up with even more valuable ones. They just want everyone to do what he or she is told and shut up. Workers must be loyal to the employer; the employer must have the right to fire anyone for looking cross-eyed at the wrong time. All they feel they have is fear (sure enough, Otis motored about town in an armored car with a machine gun bolted to the hood).

Today's Times holds a different kind of gun to its employees' heads, writing:

Bargaining is a two way street. The National Labor Relations Board has ruled that the following statement was a factually accurate observation regarding a possible negative outcome of collective bargaining.

"In collective bargaining you could lose what you have now."
-- Wild Oats Market, Inc., 344 NLRB No. 86, slip op. at p. 1 (2005)


If the Union were to win, The Times would bargain in good faith. And after bargaining you could end up with more - and you could end up with the same (but be paying union dues to keep it) - but you COULD also end up with LESS (and still be paying union dues).

How in the world would cutting your employees' pay, making worse their working conditions, or denying them benefits be "bargaining in good faith"? How much good faith can you expect from people who threaten you with the worst possible outcome for something? I mean, it's as if someone said to you, "You can drive to work today, and it might be a good day at work, or all your projects could go wrong, or you could even get in a huge car accident and die--do you still want to go to work?"

For what all these anti-unionists fail to see is that when workers vote to join a union, it's no longer a third party. It's not like shady characters who talk in dem-dat-dose tones fly in (first class, natch) from Jersey to run the Teamsters' negotiation team. It's a way of banding together to have one unified voice to present to the Boss. And when the Boss blithely sees over 30 employees leave/get fired and think things are a-ok, or when the Boss says, "You should trust us right now, but you never know what might happen if you trust us to bargain with you," it's time to get a union pronto.


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