A few days ago I encountered a video a major retailer forces all new hires to watch. The retailer is non-union and wants to stay that way and, as you might guess, the video is specifically geared toward dissuading employees from unionizing.
Now this is fair enough. If a company would prefer to remain outside union rules — what with the requirements for worker treatment, pay and benefits a union would negotiate — that company has a right to try and keep unions out. What it does not have the right to do, however, is tell lies to its employees about what unions are, how they work and what they do.
Full disclosure: my grandfathers were in unions, my father and uncles were in unions, my mother was in a union, my wife is in a union. I myself have advocated for union representation at some of my jobs. I’ve seen first-hand what union membership is all about and I know exactly the sort of thing unions exist to prevent: employee exploitation.
Take a look at this video. I’d show you the other one, but I can’t embed it.
This is a typical anti-union propaganda video designed to scare employees away from unions. It dredges up the same dishonest arguments anti-union folks employ every time they’re trying to persuade their employees from organizing. First they say unions exist solely to take money from their members. Then they say unions don’t provide any tangible benefits. After that they tell you some BS horror story about how customer service will suffer if union rules were in effect. To top it all off, they raise the specter of fewer advancement opportunities in a union shop. All of this is either a distortion or an outright lie and, frankly, I’m kind of amazed it’s legal to expose employees to this kind of misinformation.
The fact of the matter is that employers, no matter how much they may say they’re interested in their employees, are in the business of extracting as much value from their people as they can for the least amount of outlay. To be fair, some places do pay solid wages and offer great benefits, but you’ll also find that those places don’t fear unions. It’s only when employers are trying to pull a fast one that the anti-union rhetoric comes out.
Take a look at Walmart. They are so anti-union that they don’t even do meat-cutting in their stores for fear of a union taking root. They actually closed a location in Canada when the employees voted to unionize. Meanwhile the company pays substandard wages, offers no benefits and essentially treats its employees like disposable cogs. Wear one out? Hire a new one for even less money and start the process all over again.
Collective bargaining is a legal right all workers in the United States have. Republicans are doing their damnedest to roll back that right in order to enrich their oligarch paymasters, but so far they have not managed to strip us, the workers, of our basic ability to look after our best interests. In the meanwhile, places like Target and Walmart will tell as many lies as they have to in order to trick workers into thinking a union — which would do nothing but good in a company that pays notoriously low wages and offers shoddy benefits — is a threat to them. It really is sickening.
I’m sure some right-wingnut will comment on this entry and trot out all the same, tired arguments against unionization. I will ignore them. I’ve heard it all before. Unions built this country and they have a place in our working life. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.