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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Brand Value

by digby

So, I get this in my email today for some reason:
Let me first put it out there that, unlike some of my fellow conservatives/libertarians, I don't believe unions are inherently bad, or at least the larger labor movement isn't. In the past, it was a force for good, producing some much needed reforms at a time when some companies were beyond corrupt.

However, I also believe that absolute power corrupts absolutely, and many, if not most, unions have gained absolute power wherever they set up shop.

Take Philadelphia, for example, where the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America is trying to give a business a bad name. Not because they make their employees work backbreaking long hours. Not even because they won't negotiate better wages or benefits. No, it's because their landlord won't hire from within their union to do construction work on the building.

Apparently, you hire only union workers in Philly or face the consequences.
Oh please. Of course unions are going to complain if their landlord hires non-union labor. In fact, they are going to complain if anyone hires non-union labor. They explain why right there in the article --- it lowers wages and work standards in their community. I don't know when it became a crime for union workers to complain about non-union shops, but it's a fairly recent development.

But this seems to be a new theme. If a labor union complains about an employer they are "hurting the brand" which in America, in 2011, is akin to stealing someone's first born child:
Six key organizers with the Jimmy John’s Workers’ Union in Minneapolis were fired on Tuesday, March 22, after putting up posters around the city demanding paid sick days from the sandwich chain. According to David Boehnke, one of the discharged workers, the six workers received notices that they were fired for “defaming the brand and disloyalty to the company.”

The Jimmy John’s Workers’ Union, which is affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), garnered national media attention last year, as it would have been the first union in the American fast food industry. These workers' struggles could have implications for the entire service sector.

The firings come in the wake of a National Labor Relations Board settlement which threw out the results from an October 22 union election that the Jimmy John’s Workers’ Union narrowly lost, 87-85. In filings with the NLRB after the elections, the union alleged that the Mulligans, owners of the Minneapolis franchises, had threatened to freeze wages, falsely accused union supporters of sabotage, and engaged in other illegal actions prior to the election. The settlement allowed the union to call for a new election anytime in the next 18 months.

Over the past two months, union supporters had been campaigning to get the Mulligans to negotiate over their “10-Point Program for Justice at Jimmy John’s,” which includes wage increases, guaranteed hours, and better job security. Recently, they had begun to emphasize their demand for paid sick days, wearing buttons that said “Sick of Working Sick” and beginning to put up posters around the city.

I don't know about you, but I really don't want sick people making my food for me. More than that, I really don't want to live in a country where people don't get sick pay as a matter of course. Unions shouldn't have to fight for this one --- it should be a federal law.

However, that's not really the point, is it? The most important thing in all that is that the "brand" suffers when its business practices are called into question. And nothing is more valuable than a brand --- in fact, nothing else even matters.