So I get an email today advising that the arbitrator our union and the company hired to hash out an argument over health benefits has decided we peons are going to take on a greater share of costs. I won’t divulge the details – I try to keep work out of this blog for obvious reasons – but the arbitrator came to some conclusions to support the decision that I found interesting.
He apparently did some comparison between us and non-union call center workers, and discovered that we make a much better wage and pay far less for better health care than our non-union peers.
That made me sit and stare for a moment. I hadn’t known the percentages before. They were, shall we say, considerable. And even after the rise in costs negotiated with the arbitrator, the difference will still be considerable.
And should folks start screaming that unions destroy business and union workers are overpaid and all the rest of the anti-union tropes, I’d like to just point out one thing: my company is actually growing during this economic fuckfest.
Unions help ensure that employees get to share in the bounty they create. And employees who earn more get to spend more, which keeps the economy rolling along – fuckery with deregulation and financial shell games had a lot to do with the current mess, but there’s also the sad fact that a consumer economy depends on consumers who have the cash to consume, and with wages flat over the past several years, that ain’t a happenin’ thing.
Cons, of course, can’t comprehend simple truths such as this. It seems there’s at least one Dem having trouble with the concept as well:
While giving herself “room to support the measure if it’s brought up later,” Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) said yesterday that “she doesn’t think federal legislation that would allow labor organizations to unionize workplaces without secret-ballot elections is necessary.” The legislation in question is the Employee Free Choice Act, which allow workers to form a union if a majority sign cards of consent, instead of having to undergo a full and very often unfair “election” process.
The Center for Economic and Policy Research has found that “unionization raises the wages of the typical low-wage worker (one in the 10th percentile) by 20.6 percent.” Furthermore, were the Free Choice Act to pass, it is estimated that an additional 14,157 workers in Arkansas would receive health insurance, while 11,164 would receive pension benefits.
But heaven forfend that companies may have to slightly reduce gargantuan executive salaries to pay for such things. Gods forbid that employees who want to unionize should find it easy to do so. And as long as Sen. Lincoln gets those big cash infusions from the fat cats at Wal-Mart HQ, I guess she doesn’t need the little people to contribute to her campaign.
She does, however, need them to vote. And I think that’s something we peons need to point out more often.