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Economy and My Son’s Union Job

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
posted by B-Daddy

After about a year of looking for work, my youngest son (M) got two job offers within a matter of a week.  The first was with a fast food outlet and the second with a grocery chain.  Signs that the local economy is picking up?  I hope so.  The alternate explanation is that hiring by local stores, ramping up for Christmas, left other openings in the economy.

My son shares my political philosophies, but he didn’t hesitate to take the union grocery job as the better offer of the two.  It didn’t help that the fast food outlet seemed to have challenges with its hiring process, a week after their offer, he still didn’t have a start date.  I am leaving store names off this story to respect his privacy.

Meanwhile, the grocery chain made it clear that the sooner he joined the union the better it would be, so it was off to Mission Valley.  They asked him to donate to their political fund, which he declined; but it was good to see that no undue pressure was placed on him.

When he came home, I told him that now that he had joined the union, I expected him to go on strike if it came down to it.  By joining, he had made a promise and keeping one’s word is more important than our personal political beliefs.  I have lived through the 2003-2004 grocery strike in this city and think the union made a terrible decision; but that is irrelevant to M’s personal circumstances.  The 2003-2004 strike went on far too long, and I believe the union suffered long term damage.

If the union could provide more reliable and more productive workers, they would be doing employers a service that justifies higher wages over the non-union competition.  But no one argues this is the case, do they?

I am hoping that the local economy is turning around; people have suffered long enough over the last four years.

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2 Responses to “Economy and My Son’s Union Job”

  1. Brian Brady Brian Brady says:

    That second to the last paragraph is right on target

  2. I’d say the nonunion staff at Trader Joe’s is more consumer friendly (and likely more flexible and productive) than any union grocery store chain. And reputedly their staff is higher paid (though benefits aren’t quite as good). DEFINITELY Trader Joe’s personnel are not INFERIOR to grocery store folks.

    That being said, I now buy 85% of our groceries at Costco. What they lack in personal touch, they more than make up for in price. My Von’s is my glorified 7-11 convenience store and small grocery item center. No volume spent there any more — especially with their soaring prices.

    And yes, Costco is largely unionized (it’s a store by store decision, as I understand it), but it’s the more compliant Teamsters union. No Costco strikes (yet), in spite of somewhat lower compensation than regular union stores.

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