Mi Abuela and The Toll of Unions
At four foot ten and sixty-something, as always she greeted me with a warm smile, two latte’s in her hands and her signature “hellooo Meester David”. I never ask her for the high end ‘rainforest’ coffee for me and my colleague to give us the energy boost before we start our seminar, yet, each month she greets us in our hotel boardroom with a genuine desire to make sure I am happy. We discuss her daughter’s new beau, her grandson’s soccer games and what’s new with my own sons. Yet on Saturday, her normal gleam in her eye was missing. Her open heart betrayed that she was covering up a sadness. I asked, “what’s wrong, everything ok?” After a pause, she looked around as if she was to impart what happened to DB Cooper. “Awe, Meester David…” tears welled up “I need a new job. I now to sell my house. There is no money here anymore. So very slow.”
I just finished running a series of seminars we do for my business, something we have done for 25 years. We frequent a high-end boutique brand owned by a large hotel chain (rhymes with Chariot). The hotel sent our recent BEO for my signature and reviewing it I noticed the cost for using the exact same boardroom with the exact same “AV equipment” skyrocketed (AV = television screen/monitor attached to the wall which we hook up to our computer). The charge for the boardroom would stay the same, but we would now incur a fee to ‘use’ the TV. The additional cost would be 175% of the room fee, daily. For just one day of using the flatscreen, we could buy a couple of decent new TV’s and we are their multiple days. My eyes Marty Feldman’ed. It’s not hard to do the math why mi Abuela is about to be out of work.
We have had our pricing in place, only increasing ever so slightly (maybe 5-10% every few years) since GW Bush nominated his cleaning lady to SCOTUS. We are a reliable, long-time customer that not only spends on the events but uses the hotel restaurant, pays for multiple guest rooms, and too many other costs to list.
I called my Banquet Manager, whom I have known for a decade, to discuss this in person and he showed up yesterday morning donning a pro-union button on his lapel. I asked him why the hotel seems on intent on losing a loyal customer as we certainly cannot afford such a large price increase. He said the reason is the AV “Engineer” (a 26-year-old donning a hair-bun) will have to stay on premises because you are using our monitor.
He continued, “This is now required by the union.”
I replied, “you are charging your guests an exorbitant fee for some guy to sit in the back of the hotel and do nothing?”
He looked down and muttered his department is now a union department.
Pointing to his lapel, I asked: “how’s that working out for you?”
He stood up straight and proudly proclaimed they are trying to unionize the rest of the hotel.
I told him we would have to make other plans. Small businesses like ours can’t absorb price increases like this just because you all decided to unionize.
We worked out a deal where they would honor our original pricing but our next seminar will be on the new contract. He left the room and I had to shake off my anger before getting back to the podium.
There was once a time when workers needed unions to safeguard against dangerous working conditions. Now, there are laws on the books that cover all workers. Unions today are simply a demand-driven entitlement creation machine going against any rational supply-side economic theory.
With their massive stranglehold on the Democratic party, last year they went all in for Hillary Clinton and lost. In light of their embarrassing failure and large capital expenditure in Wisconsin where Governor Scott Walker successfully cracked down on collective bargaining, we could now see Walker’s right-to-work win serve as a template for President Trump who suggested he would overhaul the federal workforce.
As more right-to-work laws are passed across the county, unions will be prohibited from requiring all workers, not just union members, to pay union dues. This will continue to financially squeeze cash-strapped unions even further until we only see them in remaining leftist enclaves, like California, causing clients like my firm to find more business-friendly climes.
Union membership today is only half as much as 30 years ago. People understand the days when Unions benefitted workers are far behind us. Now, many see them as the cause of job destruction to the very people they claim to be working for.
They promote “Work Union” so a few union leaders can “Live Well”.
Mi Abuela just wants to work.