2/22/10

Go Lean - Cut The Baggage


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.

 

8 comments:

Grace said...

I think there are still industries where unions are necessary - mining comes quickly to mind.

The fact that there are wage and hours laws and safety laws and job protection laws is directly attributable to unions.

Are they still necessary? Probably 'cause you can bet your sweet patootie that without the threat of unions corporations would be racing to turn the clock back 75 years.

Are unions often unreasonable and their own worst enemy? OH YEAH - big time.

The pervading sense of entitlement that governs this country will ruin us faster than right wing Republicans or left wing Democrats.

Did someone mention common sense? No? There's your answer.

Buggys said...

Oh I have no argument with the fact that unions are largely responsible for the fair labor practices that are in place today. I just think they are completely outdated at this point and cause far more harm than good.
Common sense? We don't have no common sense!

Lin said...

Harm?? Think teacher's unions. They have our schools by the balls. If you think not, try getting rid of a bad teacher. Tenure is the downfall of the field.

And retirement benefits and pensions??? Try a 401K like the rest of us.

Sandee said...

You took second place in the 'Caption This' contest. Congratulations. :)

Ann said...

First off, being someone who makes a fraction of $36 per hour, what the heck is their problem.
Second, my brother has his own construction business (union) and the things he has to pay his workers for is in my opinion outrageous. If they are working a job out of town, not only does he have to pay them for the time they spend traveling he also has to pay for their accommodations.
Maybe some of these people doing the picketing should try living on what I make for awhile.

Jen said...

I hate unions. My ex is in one and because of it he is unemployed for nearly half the year. He can do side work but if he claims it on his taxes he can get kicked out of the union because they consider that being a scab. So he doesn't claim his extra side job earnings which means I don't get the fair share of child support. And he gets a six month vacation every year while he collects unemployment and earns cash on the side.

MikeWJ at Too Many Mornings said...

Here's how things work, in my opinion: Workers will abuse their employers if they can, sometimes by surfing the Interent when they ought to be working, but often via a union; and employers will abuse their workers if they can, often by paying sub-standard wages and making them work horrific hours in substandard conditions (see China and most of Asia for current examples). The key, I think, is to somehow strike a balance between the two. The problem is that it's very hard to do. So the pendulum swing back and forth, back and forth.....

BeadedTail said...

I have no experience with unions at all so can't offer an opinion one way or the other but I do know that I work for someone who would get a union riled up! She wants us to work 10 hours straight with no breaks (none, zero, zilch) during tax season because we're salaried. Until I earn 6 figures like her, it isn't going to happen!