Supermarket Strike in CA


Phaedrus at No Fear of Freedom has another great post up. This one’s about the CA supermarket strike and media responsibility for (suprise!) careless reporting.

When it began, ta give ya an example of management lies and how the media runs right home and reports them, lotta peebles was tellin’ me how silly the workers were to strike over over only $5 a week in increased insurance payments.

He pretty much demolishes that nonsense–

Workers are losing their homes, their cars, their health coverage. The markets have lost $2 billion in sales. Is there some semi-rational person somewhere who honestly believes that either side would put themselves through such misery over $5 per week per worker?

–and goes on to explain what the fairy tale was meant to cover:

We call this a two tier wage structure, and it benefits management in at least four ways. First, it reduces labor costs immediately. Second, it results in a permanent reduction in wages over time, since new hires will eventually be the only hires left. Third, it creates a situation where management gains if they can find a way to force out or fire the top tier workers. Fourth, and probably most importantly, it’s a union busting tactic. Say you’re a new hire. How you gonna feel ’bout the higher paid workers who sold you out? How you gonna feel about the union, which also sold you out? How you gonna feel about payin’ union dues? How you gonna feel about solidarity?

The supermarket chains are either 1) genuinely running scared from Wal-mart’s proven ability to use its odious and sometimes illegal employment policies to destroy its competition, or 2) using Wal-mart as an excuse to break the unions and add to their profits by lowering their weekly payroll–a favorite corporate scam when sales are flat. Either way, the workers are caught in the middle of a Corporate Greed War (remember, these chains were quite profitable before the strike) in the global Race-to-the-Bottom.

Paul Clark, a Penn State labor relations professor who edited a recent book on trends in collective bargaining, said the dispute could have nationwide repercussions.”If the union loses this and has to give back a significant portion of their health benefits,” Professor Clark said, “you’re really moving down the road to everybody beginning to be a Wal-Mart worker with low wages and low benefits.”

Which is, of course, precisely what management’s intractable offer was all about.

Go read the rest, especially if you’re under the impression that corporations “just don’t do that kind of thing any more.”

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