Last weekend my husband and I were in Pennsylvania to see a show at the Keswick Theatre in Glenside, Pa. When we walked down the block from the parking lot, I noticed some people gathered in front of the theater holding picket signs. My first reaction was, of course, give me the camera, this is going to be blog material! My husband rolled his eyes but remained silent, he's getting used to this. So I snapped a couple of pictures and collected the handout before going inside.
According to the handout, the Keswick is not conforming to "area standards set by the IATSE Local 8" for wages for stagehands and technicians. The standard is $36.22 per hour including health care and retirement benefits. As a result of the Keswick not paying the Local 8 standard wage, other employers in the area are pressured to lower wages and benefits. Working families earnings are being reduced. Nothing about jobs being lost, just a decrease in earnings. The handout mentions 9 other area venues that, we are to gather from this, are being pressured to lower wages. Should we assume that 1 theater is pressuring the other 9 to reduce wages? Does the Keswick have that much power over 9 other venues? I don't know who else would be doing the pressuring, the well known Pennsylvania MOB? Sounds pretty lame to me.
Be assured, I hate to see anyone lose their job or have their wages reduced. This is not my point. Actually, several things began swirling around in my fuzzy brain.
1. In my opinion, Unions are 40 years past their prime. We have OSHA, we have strict labor laws. Unions are a waste of time and money.
2. It is still a free country, if you don't want to work in this place, go elsewhere.
3. Perhaps the theater is reacting to the down economy by cost cutting without jobs cutting, and I see that as a very responsible reaction.
I have had first hand experience with unions, on both sides of the fence, and from what I have seen, the unions do nothing but cost people money. The company pays in time wasted and the members pay in dues. The union ends up oppressing the star performers and protecting the under achievers. Is this effective or efficient?
* In the 1950's and 1960's, Unions controlled 65% of the market share nationwide. Today they hold only 12% and I think they should be abolished. Just look at the auto industry. When profits started declining back in the 1970's, the big 3 started pushing light trucks for the higher, immediate profits instead of going into fuel efficient designs. The unions were not willing to make concessions then and weren't until faced with bankruptcy.
I know this is not a funny or entertaining post today, but it obviously is a subject that just sticks in my gut. To me it seems like a no-brainer. If you want lean manufacturing then cut the extraneous baggage. Do you have any experience or thoughts on the subject? Go ahead and tell me if you think I'm wrong.