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March 11, 2006

Is it really Walmart's problem?

Hypothetical situation:

I grow up with limited education and questionable skills, so I go to work in the local factory, where I get pressured into joining the local union because "they fight for me." So while I'm doing some mindless job, the union is fighting the company that gave me the job. They fight and fight, foster bad relations with the company and create an adversarial relationship...all for me. The company on the other hand, now doesn't like me because I'm their adversary, and they think they're being pushed into paying me more than other companies (especially overseas) pay their employees to do the same work. Who am I to complain? After all, $15 dollars an hour to make razor blades and beer huggies is pretty good.

Eventually it gets to the point where in order to pay me the money the union requires (in order to not go on strike and stop the company from making any money), they have to either take the quality out of the products we make, or employ less of us. They can't fire any of us because guessed it...union rules. So the company takes the quality out of the product (just like the United Auto Workers forced the car companies to do in the 70's), and sales drop, so less money is coming in. All the while, the union is demanding raises for members and increases in health care coverage and cost of living allowances or they'll stop working until they get it. This is money the company doesn't have, but faced with a strike, they take more quality out of the product in order to limp along under the union rules.

Not able to bear the burden of more money going out than coming in, and with flagging sales, the factory is forced to decide which product line is the least profitable...and stop it. Wouldn't you know, as bad luck would have it, that's my product line. So instead of going with the newest employees first, they lay off everybody...well, everybody except a union steward who magically gets transferred to another line while the rest of us are laid off. A couple months later, I find out the factory now makes the products from my product line, in a factory in China, where people are glad to have a job. Oh, and they just stopped another product line to ship it overseas before they get in such bad financial straits again. Again, the union reps weren't laid off.

So the union, in their greed, lost my job for me. Of course, the union reps all still have jobs, and they want dues from me even though I'm not working...because they're working to get my job back. Sure they are...

Greed is to blame. Greed from companies trying to make a profit; greed from the unions trying to make a profit, and greed from workers thinking they should make 20 bucks an hour to make garbage cans (which now come from China along with the beer huggies, razor blades, garden hoses, shovels, toys, sports equipment, sneakers, and every other damn thing, including the lingerie in the AAFES post exchange catalog.) Why do you think America's biggest company is Wal-Mart and they import 70% of their products from overseas? Americans want to buy cheap shit but it costs too much for companies to make cheap shit...with union labor.

Of course, does the government care about lowering the trade deficit, keeping kids out of sweat shops and factories overseas, and keeping American jobs? About as much as the unions do.

So don't look for the union label, bacause all you'll find is underwear from Mexico, socks from Thailand, T-shirts from Sri Lanka, pants and shoes from China, a belt from Chile, and a hat from Korea. Look around the house for American goods and good luck finding any. Look out in the driveway, and you'll see Japan, Germany, or Korea. Put up an American flag at your's made in China. Sure we invented the TV and the computer, but now those things and all other electronics are made in Asia, where people find nobility in working and aren't born with the idea that someone owes them something.

Want to find the truly American thing in this situation? Greed. Now that's American. Ignorance and arrogance too.

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