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Union Workers Spend Big Money At Retailers Who Hire Nonunion Workers

One unfortunate fact is that union members often spend large amounts of cash at retailers who hire few union workers. Fred Meyer stores, which originate in the Pacific Northwest, for years had a stellar reputation as one of the best unionized retailers around. However, in recent years since the company was acquired by Kroger, the retailer has been slow to provide new union jobs even after workers vote to unionize. Kroger is also now well known for hiring cheaper construction workers from free Craigslist ads who would work for just $12 an hour doing remodeling in their stores.

Oregon has a current unemployment rate among construction workers of about 25%. However, providing low wage nonunion construction jobs to some less professional workers recruited from Craigslist hardly seems to be making good use of the far better skills of highly talented and professional union workers who can do a far better quality job and much faster as well. The most talented pool of labor lays idle, while less professional workers whose real skill levels vary in quality are used instead only because of wage considerations, not work quality considerations.

In The Dalles, Oregon, non-food Fred Meyer workers voted to unionize way back in November of 2007, however Kroger management has found ways to slow down progress for workers attaining their first contract. Voting to unionize seems to mean little these days when companies can hire professional labor law firms with experience in preventing workers from unionizing, even after they freely voted to unionize. Some law firms specialize in using Bush Administration era loopholes to delay or prevent onioning by workers who have already voted to unionize. During the Bush Administration, Robert Batista, a lawyer with extensive work with anti-union law firms was appointed by Bush to head the National Labor Relations Board. Batista helped to really weaken the rights of workers to unionize.

Sadly, while union workers will spend large amounts of money at retailers like Fred Meyer, the cae of hiring the $12 an hour nonunion workers from Craigslist to do construction work is way too common of a story. More professional union workers who earn $30 an hour plus $13 am hour in total benefits could probably complete construction on stores at a much faster pace with far more professional results, however Kroger is willing to bet that cheaper less professional nonunion workers can probably produce acceptable results even if the job takes longer, the work less professional or some workers even get injured on the job thanks to unprofessional safety standards compared to better unionized workers. The members of the Harrison Health and Welfare Trust, just one large union that provides medical benefits spend $800,000 a year in prescriptions at Fred Meyer pharmacies for example. And with other union members buying prescriptions at Fred Meyer pharmacies, this figure of total spending far exceeds $1 million a year that union members spend at Fred Meyer pharmacies. When the added value of all union members spending on groceries, nonfood items such as electronics, etc. is added in, union members steer millions of dollars a year in added cash flow to Fred Meyer, yet the parent company,Kroger chooses to use free ads in Craigslist to hire the cheapest possible labor to do work on their stores, and delays union membership to workers who have voted to unionize.

In some departments at Kroger owned Fred Meyer stores such as electronics, all workers might also be part-time workers as well, with too few hours to really provide for their families or pay rent, as well as too few hours to qualify for health insurance coverage. Large employers like this are really doing little to provide health care insurance to many employees or help to be a good partner with Obama Administration goals of all workers having at least some health insurance coverage of some sort.

This is part of the problem for American labor, the higher wage jobs allow the workers to spend more on goods, and to reinvest their wages in the companies they work for, even while some companies such as Kroger seek to weaken union workforces and lower wages. at Kroger, their own brand of economic stimulus to improve their company works in reverse. They want to spend less in wages, and seem content to accept lower cash flow back in return. It all makes no sense.

Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Comments (10)


If you belong to the brainwashed GOP, it makes a lot of sense. The workers get less, the CEO gets more. You know, the trickle down BS that goes up instead of down, and the sheeple just love it.


"...some less professional workers..."

It has been my observation, being associated with the construction industry, that non-union workers are no less professional than union workers. In most cases the opposite is true. Non-union workers know that if they don't produce, they can be fired, while union workers can slack off without the risk of losing their jobs.

Most of the jobs performed by the union workers take longer and cost more, than by their non-union counterparts, unlike what you state.

Cheaper non-union workers means that the goods and services that you buy and use cost less. If all workers were union workers, the higher wages that they make wouldn't allow them to purchase additional goods, as the goods that they purchased simply cost more.

Check out the wages paid to grocery workers in California vs. food cost. Then check out the same wages to cost ratios in areas where there aren't union workers.

How much do you pay for a loaf of bread at your unionized grocery store? a gallon of milk? a pound of good roast turkey sandwich meat? Fresh produce? I've grocery shopped in unionized stores and the prices are outrageous.


Claiming work done by unions is better and faster is akin to claiming fauxbama can think on his feet, w/o a teleprompter.



This entire post is nothing but union propaganda. There is no establishment of fact and it is based solely on unsubstantiated opinions. In essence, par for the course when it comes to Hooson.

Really Paul, who made you the sole arbiter in decisions of pay rate vs. quality? And do you know nothing about free enterprise and those "unprofessional" non-union construction workers. The real truth would be if their work was of poor quality and unprofessional, they woudln't get hired back, they wouldn't get referred anywhere. Give me the non-union guy with the lower cost and the good referrals anyday.



Often I find your columns here to be interesting and well-thought-out, even if my worldview is pretty much diametrically opposed to yours. However, I have to take issue with something you said here:

"Some law firms specialize in using Bush Administration era loopholes to delay or prevent onioning by workers who have already voted to unionize. During the Bush Administration, Robert Batista, a lawyer with extensive work with anti-union law firms was appointed by Bush to head the National Labor Relations Board. Batista helped to really weaken the rights of workers to unionize."

In quoting you, I'd like to make 2 points:
1) If you're going to toss a grenade like that, back it up. How did Batista do that? What does Bush have to do with any of it? Its basic supply and demand - Kroeger is doing what the government is forced to do - go to the lowest bidder.
2) You had a pretty good argument going up until that quoted portion, I thought. Just lay out the facts - if there's shenanigans in there, most of us will recognize it without the literary shove in that direction.

Please try to limit the poo-flinging to Lee Ward, if you please.


"...delay or prevent onioning by workers...."

That sounds pretty bad, it makes me want to cry.

At least I got a good laugh out of this post.


How quaint. Who would ever have thought that people, SPENDING THEIR OWN MONEY, would try to get the most for what they spend. One could almost write a groundbreaking master's thesis on the concept.

Lee Ward:

Exactly - getting the best they can for themselves and to hell with the rest of their countrymen is the hallmark of a Republican mindset.

Unless of course there are people from their church or nazi skinhead chapter - then the conservatives will support those folks.


Taking the best they can for themselves and to hell with the rest of their countrymen is the hallmark of a Pelosi/Reid/Obama democrat mindset. Unless of course there are people that don't pay taxes or support interpreting the U.S. Constitution through international law - then the democrats will support those folks.

Wow - that's so easy! I should have a blog.


Lee, are the union members now Republicans?


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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