Labor Law Guy

Another Union ‘Wins’ by Losing

Posted in Federal Labor Law, Random Musings, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on April 21, 2009

When I worked for a teachers’ union a few years back, we supported the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) when its members went on strike against Southern California supermarkets.

The effort drug on for months (drug is a good metaphor here, as you shall see momentarily) with management and scabs handling the storefronts quite well and profitably, thank you. Meanwhile, those on strike faced extremely hard times. Many were forced to leave their profession and take new jobs. Others crossed the picket lines. Others lost their homes.

Months later, UFCW leaders–the president pulled down his $270,0o0 a year throughout the strike–were forced to accept a contract that was decidedly worse in pay and benefits than the one they initially–and arrogantly–rejected at the git-go.

The next day the UFCW Web site proclaimed a stunning victory. George Orwell would’ve been proud.

The same has now happened to a star-studded union called the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Months ago, it rejected a contract from the movie studios that was little different from the one they agreed to this week. Meanwhile, union members fought among themselves like Hatfields and McCoys–and ended up firing their executive director and chief negotiator before being able to get a contract. In the interim, since the new contract is not retroactive, SAG members lost a reported $65 million in compensation.

Another stunning victory.

(Sadly, it’s the same old union story. SAG operating costs have gone up 26 percent in the past three years while membership has grown just 3 percent and revenues barely 5 percent. Read it all here. Believe me, all unions are the same lousy bargain even when they represent the likes of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.)

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