Shit Conservatives Believe: "unions bad"

There is, unfortunately, a confederacy of dumbasses who collectively call themselves Conservative. You may know some of them - like your cranky (not so) Great Uncle Marv who spends his time ranting that “immigration is killing this country”. [Ed: link to be added when next piece goes live] And then there are really dumb dummies who blame the plight of workers on unions not doing enough, or the unions being too stronk.

The Big Lie: “Corporations Pay People What They’re Worth”

The truth is, corporations have an internal, cartel-set payscale for employees[1] - not revealed at time of hiring. Corporate empires are built on formulas - “playbooks - that detail policies, plans, implementation, and execution. Whether it’s a “small” corporation or a large one is irrelevant: they are built on mass exploitation and rigidly following formulas set out by the finance team.

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More cynically, corporations pay people less for being black[2], less for being a woman[3], and less for being single[4] - all this despite having equal qualifications, skills, presentability, and work ethic.

Retail corporations have colluded to minimize wage and maximize turnover, in a transparent effort to decrease the dependence on individual workers and to maximize executive pay (er, “shareholder value”). Don’t think this isn’t the same case in tech: tech companies tend to be high-stress, with shitty salaries, long commutes, and long workdays (which manages to hit women hardest - since they’re usually the target of hatemob ire[5], in addition to facing harassment at work[6]).

Corporations and capital don’t pay people what they’re worth. They rent warm bodies at the lowest possible cost and work those bodies as hard and fast as possible, and then discard them when injury or burnout occurs.

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Lie #2: “Unions Only Protect Mediocrity”

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Story time, ladies and gentlemen:

There once was a man, whomst we call Shady
who madeth a pass at every lady
he crept upon them at the back of an aisle
and didn’t get fired - well, not for a while

It took him three years to get fingered for theft
whilst meantimes our hardworking ladies had left
Six complaints had against him been opened
Six times, and nothing was done.
until he openly stole on camera.
and then was denied a raise.
so he left.

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Every workplace has a Shady. The name differs - sometimes they’re a Brad, a Tom, John Lasseter[7], Andy Rubin[8] - but they do the exact same shit: they create a hostile work environment and the never pull their own weight. I’ve worked retail, and our store had a Shady - the world’s laziest son of a gun. He got raises, while our hardworking ladies and gents got paltry sums.

Meanwhile, unions actually have means to redress harassment[9].

For three years Shady terrorized our store, somehow failing upwards at every turn. In a unionized workplace, he would have been out on his ass in his first six months.

Union contracts specify raises at specific intervals of hours worked, while also leaving the possibility of performance-tied awards open to reward extraordinary work ethic. Contracts usually include mandatory vacation day allotments and require employers to improve workplace safety. Workplaces without a union have twice as many injuries, even in the same industry[10].

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Lie #3: “Unions run companies into the ground”

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Bullshit.

General Motors’ downfall was the result of corporate incompetence, not the Big Bad Unions Gobbling Up Poor Little GM. After decades of bleeding the company dry via executive bonuses, sharehold dividends, stock selloffs and then buybacks, poorly planned merges, poorly planned buyouts, betting the farm on products nobody asked for and nobody wanted[11], GM is bleeding but far from dead, even with that many self-inflicted shots to the foot.

It took Amazon a full decade to go from .COM startup darling to reporting first profit, and then another 12 years to break one billion in quarterly profit. Instead of spending decades doing an Atari and living it up, Amazon executives kept plowing revenue back into operations, expanding and laying the groundwork for future success.

It’s like Civilization: it doesn’t matter how many cities you have, it matters what your production is.

Unions didn’t GM. Corporate incompetence killed GM, and killed it dead to the tune of “only making” 144Billion in revenue last year[12].

People don’t need a new car every year. People can’t afford a new car every four years, let alone every year. GM’s dealership model killed it flat - while GM could have grown revenue from services like auto repair, it shut itself out of that long long ago so its executives could sell “exclusive area rights” for short-term payoff. We’re seeing the same thing across many industries as companies stagnate and die, having never bothered to focus core competency nor to build a new market.

Tale as old as time, really.

Jacob ate and was full,
Fat waxed Jeshurun and kicked,
—Thou wast fat, thou wast plump, thou wast sleek!
He forsook the God who had made him,
And befooled the Rock of his succour.

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Deuteronomy 32:15

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