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!