Global Economic
Trend Analysis

Recent Posts

Sunday, November 08, 2009 11:20 AM

Living Wages, Sheep, and Grocery Store Strikes

Mish Moved to MishTalk.Com Click to Visit.

Let's play a game of Q&A. The time to go on strike is:

1: Company profits are soaring and competition for hiring by employers is strong
2: Company profits are sinking, corporate taxes are rising, competition for jobs by employees is going through the roof

This may seem like a no-brainer, but not if you have the mind of some union workers.

Inquiring minds note Strike looming for employees at Fry's, Safeway stores.

About 20,000 Fry's and Safeway grocery workers in Arizona could walk off the job at 6 p.m. next Friday if the companies and the workers' union fail to reach a contract deal by the deadline.

If a deal is not reached, it would be the first general Arizona grocery strike in decades.

The union representing the workers delivered its ultimatum to the companies Thursday after no progress was made in this week's round of negotiations. In a note to members, the president of United Food & Commercial Local 99, Jim McLaughlin, said a strike against one or more of the companies now appears likely.

While the two sides remain at odds over numerous salary and benefit issues, the main stumbling block is health care. The companies traditionally have picked up the tab for their employees' health insurance and now want them to shoulder more of the cost. That proposal has been unacceptable to the union and its members.

"With the recent negotiating sessions, it became clear their goal is to force us into a position of a strike," McLaughlin said. "We have been clear to the employers as to what an acceptable offer is. They know what it is, but they have refused to cooperate."

Safeway spokeswoman Cathy Kloos said it was a shame the union has put the parties on a collision course over health-care costs similar to or less than what many other workers already pay.

"Most working Americans would consider $5 a week for individual health coverage and $15 a week to cover an entire family a bargain, " she said.

The workers would be entitled to about $150 per week in strike pay should they walk out.
Colorado Unions Join The Insanity

The previous article was in reference to Arizona.

Colorado wants a piece of the action as well. Please consider Denver News Safeway Workers Wait For Strike Sanction.
Unionized Safeway workers in Colorado have voted to authorize a strike as contract talks drag on, but it's unclear if union leaders will OK one.

UFCW Local 7 President Ernest Duran Jr. responded by asking union leaders to sanction a strike before the holiday season.

UFCW Local 7 represents about 17,000 grocery workers at Safeway, King Soopers, City Market and Albertsons whose contracts expired in May.
Who Has The Upper Hand?

Inquiring minds are asking "Who has the upper hand?"

The answer should be obvious but in case not, please consider Fry's, Safeway prepping for possible strike.
In less than a week, unionized workers at two Arizona grocery store chains may be walking a picket line instead of stocking shelves and cutting meat.

Fry's Food Stores has begun advertising for thousands of temporary workers in the event its estimated 13,000 hourly workers strike.

Fry's recruitment ads began running Saturday and offer a starting wage of $9.50 per hour. Safeway spokeswoman Cathy Kloos said the chain is preparing to do the same.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 99 has threatened to call a strike if the companies and the union fail to reach a contract deal by 6 p.m. Friday.

The union represents most hourly workers at the two grocery chains, including clerks, stockers, meat cutters, produce workers and baggers.

The workers typically make between $7.20 and $12.05 per hour and can expect to receive $100 per week in strike pay if they walk out.
Upper Hand

Regardless of what one considers "fair", neither politics nor the free market is beanbag.

Grocery stores will have an endless parade of workers willing to take a job at $7.20-$12.05 per hour.

Indeed if the union strikes, management just might be so inclined as to lower their offer if the replacement workers do a good job. After all, how tough is bagging groceries or operating a cash register scanning goods?

Finding qualified meat cutters will be more difficult but perhaps some can be persuaded to cross picket lines. If not, I would like to point out a recent trend to more prepackaged meats, already cut and packaged and requiring no more skill than putting packages on shelves.

Will it kill a store to be without a dedicated meat cutter? If it does now, I assure you it will not happen next time.

Living Wages

The above viewpoint will undoubtedly bring up endless chater about a "living wage". The problems with "living wages" are many.

Somehow a "living wage" has morphed into a new SUV every 4 years, a 4 bedroom 2,200 square foot home (or better), flat panel TVs in 3 rooms, cell phones for every member of the household, etc. etc.

The first problem with "living wages" is unrealistic lifestyle expectations and attempts to live far beyond ones means. A second and bigger problem, as I have pointed out many times, is that concern ought to be how far the dollar goes (not how many dollars one makes).

If government would stop wasting trillions of dollars in needless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, if we could cut out stimulus spending, stop propping up banks at the expense of taxpayers, stop giving handouts to home builders (and everyone else), and in general just get the hell out of the way, wages would fall (but prices would fall even more), and the purchasing power of the dollar would rise.

If the US slashed corporate income taxes and had a genuine free trade policy (regardless of what any other country does), small business hiring in the US would soar.

Instead, sheep scream for the wolves in Congress to protect them while union leaders prey on their own flock. Never before in history have so many sheep begged to be watched by wolves. Yet, this should not be surprising given we live in a world where sheep are taught to be sensitive to the needs of wolves.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
Click Here To Scroll Thru My Recent Post List

Last 10 Posts

Copyright 2009 Mike Shedlock. All Rights Reserved.
View My Stats