Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

“I’m ashamed to say that I am a member of SEIU”

The realities of the business world are complex, and leaders have to keep things competitive in an ever-changing market. Nowhere is that more apparent than when the union is the employer.

In yesterday’s Los Angeles Times, reporter Jerry Hirsch noted that the potential for another major grocery strike is rooted in the one just three years ago. UFCW members in Southern California aren’t happy with the deal their union officials cut last time because it created a two-tiered system. (Others aren’t happy with the potential for another strike.) But as we’ve noted, a major UFCW official has enacted the exact same tiered policy for his own unionized staff. Then there is the issue of labor bosses trying to kill off secret ballot voting when workers — except for their own — are deciding their union membership status.

The latest example comes from SEIU, where president Andy Stern has been forcing mergers of local unions in hopes of increasing the union’s power. But all is not well (see here). The head of the BART railway employees chapter of SEIU, Sue Angeli, told the Contra Costa Times that the process has left employees open to — shock — a world in which one must remain flexible and relevant. Those ostensible indignities include reapplying for their jobs and possibly facing pay cuts. What’s bad for union members, it seems, is fine for union employees. The paper reports:

What’s not widely known, Angeli said, is that the union’s new management team has taken a page right out of the books of the employers the union typically battles.

“It’s hypocritical,” said Angeli, also a member of the Pleasant Hill City Council. “How can this organization preach fair treatment of employees and promote the representation of workers and then turn around and screw its own people? I’m ashamed to say that I am a member of SEIU.” …

If BART or any other employer attempted to do to its represented staff what SEIU is doing, Angeli said, “We’d be on strike in a heartbeat.”

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