UFCW-8 Picketing Fresh & Easy in Modesto, California
How the Unions Pay Less than Minimum Wage
In 2008, my wife worked for a Rite Aid under UFCW-8 Golden State. She would have received the state minimum wage- except the union was taking (extorting) $100 per month in dues. My wife worked there less than 6 months. This means her "benefits" never actually became active.
In fact, when another Rite Aid employee slandered her (this woman did not like Jesus or Christians), and began to become verbally violent against her for everything my wife did or said, the union did nothing to stop the discrimination. We filed the proper forms, and a union rep came down. But, nothing happened. Later, when the same anti-Christian bigotted hater spray painted my wife's locker, we filed the same forms again. The union repeated it's performance, with- nothing.
What we did receive, in exchange for less than state mandated minimum wage, was a mailbox full of flyers supporting Democrat candidates in every election, major and minor, while she worked for Rite Aid, and for several months afterward, as well.
I called the union office to ask why my wife earned only $8.00 per hour, and had to pay union dues, making her pay less than minimum wage. Oblivious to the concept, the woman on the other end of the phone replied,
"We negotiated for those wages."
The pride was evident in her voice. "As far as I know," I responded, "The State of California negotiated those wages. Eight dollars per hour is the state minimum wage. You can't possibly negotiate a lower wage than this. And you are proud that you negotiated the state minimum wage for those you represent?"
For those who still don't see how the union is claiming to benefit the workers, when they don't, here is some math:
My wife worked 30 to 32 hours per week. There are 4.33 weeks in a month. This averages to about 134 hours per week. After the $100 dues are subtracted, she earned only (134 x 8 - 100) / 134 = $7.25 per hour. That is almost 10% below the state minimum wage.
The unions look less and less like vehicles to benefit the people and more and more like the tools of powerful political organizations.
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How the unions are like the mafia
The mafia used to extort "protection" money from businesses. The protection was primarily from the mafia itself, and to a lesser extent, from other thugs. The mafia did not provide nothing. They really did (and do) protect the businesses that paid them. When I lived in Philadelphia, I was told that it is safe to walk through the Italian neighborhoods of south Philly. The reason is that the Italian mobsters there do not tolerate any crime. However, if you don't pay them, then they take the money from you by breaking windows or by robbing the store themselves.
How is the union different? Fresh & Easy workers do not want to unionize. I have spoken with several employees since they opened on Oakdale Road. They really like working for Fresh & Easy. They don't want to go union.
So, what does the union do? They take away the store's money (and jobs) by standing out front and chasing away customers. I'm all for the right to picket. But, I do not like the picketers from UFCW-8.
Do you know what they say?
What the picketers say
When Fresh & Easy opened, they sent out coupons in the mail. After a few weeks, I went to redeem my $10 coupon. As I parked, I noticed the picketers. Always curious, I asked about the issue(s) the picketers have with the store.
The union worker began to tell me that this store sells products from England. For example, he told me, only one beef product is supplied locally. He pointed out that the store profits all go to England, not to American companies. He said they are stealing American jobs. Mentioning that all the employees must certainly be local hires, I asked how jobs are stolen. He told me there are no cashiers, so jobs are lost. Perhaps this picketer does not know that North America is the most expensive labor market in the world, and American business is highly respected for innovations which reduce labor. And, self-check-out stations are not novel to Fresh & Easy. Raley's, just two blocks down the road, also has a few of these all-automated check out stands.
And, to be honest, I prefer that profits go to England rather than China. I have never seen the UFCW-8 picketing out in front of Wal-Mart, China's #5 buyer.
As I walked through the store, I noted that the products were international. One of my favorite cheeses is a white cheddar that comes from Ireland. I also buy Belgian chocolate there. Fresh & Easy carries some amazing cookies, too. Examining the beef case, I quickly realized that the picketer had lied to me. More than half- a lot more than half - of the beef was all labeled as coming from a local beef ranch here in the valley.
(September 1, 2012) My bank sits in the same lot as Modesto's Fresh 'n Easy. As pushback, most of the times I do some banking, I also grab a cart and cruise the aisles of Fresh 'n Easy.
The UFCW picketers are there less and less frequently. They occasionally can be seen there: leaning on the store's balusters, or standing behind a concrete column, texting someone. There seems to be either two or three of them there each time. But, I have never found more than one of them dutifully marching back and forth, picket sign leaning in the shoulder arms position.
I am glad to see them gone. It feels more like America.
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