Were Those Reasonable Teamsters Really the Bad Guys in Hostess Fight?

Here’s an interesting Hostess liquidation counter-narrative: Though the Teamsters appeared to be trying to be the voice of reason in this union battle with the snack manufacturer, is it because the truckers had a nice little protection racket the bakers union was paying the price for?

Holman W. Jenkins at the Wall Street Journal wrote a column suggesting that the minority union was paying the price not just for bad management and pension underfunding, but for Teamster-friendly expensive distribution regulations:

Union-imposed work rules stopped drivers from helping to load their trucks. A separate worker, arriving at the store in a separate vehicle, had to be employed to shift goods from a storage area to a retailer's shelf. Wonder Bread and Twinkies couldn't ride on the same truck.

Hostess has spent eight of the past 11 years in bankruptcy. As the company explained to its latest judge, the Hostess brands "have not been able to profit from many of their existing delivery stops and have been unable to enter potentially profitable markets, such as dollar stores, vending services and movie theaters."

None of this had much to do with the bakers union:

Under pressure on Monday from Judge Robert Drain to back down from their strike aimed at forcing the company to liquidate, the bakers themselves pointed to "what everyone in the baking industry knew: Hostess's production costs were neither excessive nor out of line with the market but its distribution costs were—to the tune of between $80 million and $130 million annually."

One could always ask about the wisdom of a labor-law structure that causes companies like Hostess to drag on for decades without adapting to their marketplaces. One might question whether the bakers are acting in true and brotherly solidarity. But given the circumstances that actually exist, the bakers might well prefer to hold back further concessions, let the company liquidate, and try their luck with a new owner or owners who might materialize for its bakery operations.

(Hat tip to James Peron of the Moorfield Storey Institute)

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...the bakers might well prefer to hold back further concessions, let the company liquidate, and try their luck with a new owner or owners who might materialize for its bakery operations.

    The workers are willing to relocate to Mexico? How are labor relations south of the border?

    Whether production costs were in line with everyone elso or not is irrelevant. The fact remains they are currently unemployed in a very bad economic environment, the bakers union and the teamsters alike.

  • Sevo||

    "Union-imposed work rules stopped drivers from helping to load their trucks."
    This wouldn't be surprising. Hostess' former management was every bit as stupid as GM's, promising free shit forever in the hopes of temporary labor peace.
    The lesson here is that unions (through the power given them by the government) distort the labor market, and that market can stand only so much distortion before it kills the host.
    See also Fannie, Freddie and 2008.

  • John C. Randolph||

    How are labor relations south of the border?

    ¡Excellente!

    -jcr

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Fist of Etiquette,

    How are labor relations south of the border?


    The current government is proposing changing the labor laws in Mexico to allow for firing workers without the mandatory compensation which made hiring in the first place a teeth-pulling experience for HR managers and the like - for decades.

    Labor laws in Mexico were much more pro-Union and anti-business than anything FDR and Obama could've ever imagined, until very recently. There's a VERY GOOD REASON why the Maquila industry is close to the border - because of a waiver offered by the Mexican government to foreign companies but only if the factories were opened inside a narrow band along the border. Outside, you had to contend with the extremely militant (and thoroughly corrupt) Mexican labor union cartels.

  • Mr Whipple||

    The workers are willing to relocate to Mexico?

    They still make Entennmann's in the US and they are owned by Grupo Bimbo.

  • Drake||

    The Teamster contract prevented Hostess from delivering cakes and bread in the same truck.

    The management, unions, and everyone involved helped in the fail.

  • daveInAustin||

    We should ask our Democrat friends how many pounds of greenhouse gases were released because of stupid rules like this? What good did it do anyone to have a rule like this?
    Peter Druker pointed out that it's ultimately managements fault. During negotiations, they agree to onerous work rules rather than pay increases because they underestimate the true costs of the work rules?

  • Christina||

    So, why wouldn't Hostess push the Teamsters for more concessions (like, drivers unload their own trucks and carry all products), if that was the difference between staying alive and liquidating?

    And if any of the union contracts were the problem, why didn't they relocate to Mexico 11 years ago or this year?

  • ||

    I'm going to guess it had something to do with the Teamsters being a more powerful union than the bakers. However, I also wouldn't be surprised if the reason was simply "incompetence."

  • Tman||

    Why can't it be both?

  • Lewisite||

    "Why can't it be both?"

    Compromise...Good!, I like the bi-partisanship in this.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    When the fuck can we stop calling those who make twinkies "bakers?"

  • veglibertarian||

    The private equity firm Ripplewood that bought Hostess is run by Tim Collins, a Democrat who has ties to the Teamsters union.

    Great summary of the players at ZH: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/.....ie-tumbles

  • AlmightyJB||

    So we'll be bailing them out then? great

  • Julio Cesar Samper Uribe||

    why didn't they relocate to Mexico 11 years ago or this year?

    Well, if the most likely scenario comes to pass (assets being bought out by Grupo Bimbo), this is exactly what will happen.

    And even if the US bakeries remain open somehow, look forward to Tom Peterson being replaced with Tomas Perez.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Why didn't they relocate to Mexico 11 years ago or this year?"

    I know Twinkies have a really long shelf life, but I bet baking products really do deteriorate in quality over time. I bet it leads to some distribution problems.

    It's probably not easy to distribute everything from somewhere in Mexico.

    Coca Cola is like that, too. In low margin businesses, the biggest competitive advantage is distribution. If you want to compete with Coca Cola, you have to build a distribution network as big as theirs is--and local like theirs is, too.

    It's a huge advantage to be able to restock every convenience store/liquor store in the country several times a week--especially in a low margin business.

    You can't do that from Mexico.

  • Ken Shultz||

    I mean, think about it...

    You're gonna restock every convenience store in Maine, Minnesota, and Washington state several times a week...from Mexico?

  • califernian||

    If only you knew what you were talking about.

    Coca cola only licenses their recipes to bottlers. They do not stock retail .

  • Ken Shultz||

    Actually, they produce the syrup, and their bottlers distribute the product.

    Their distribution is their strength. The fact that they--by way of their bottlers--can distribute regularly to every convenience and liquor store in the country is a huge chunk of what makes them so formidable. To achieve their scale, you would have to have their bottling network...

    The other half of their strength is the marketing. To get consumers to even hear about your products over Coke's huge marketing budget--but that's not really applicable to Hostess.

    Hostess' ability to distribute product is. Hostess is trying to get their products restocked regularly every place Coke is distributing to, too. ...and there's no way you can do that from Mexico.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Apparently, Coca Cola owns equity positions in 78% of their U.S. bottlers and 100% of their bottlers in Canada.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L.....y#Bottlers

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Though the Teamsters appeared to be trying to be the voice of reason in this union battle with the snack manufacturer, is it because the truckers had a nice little protection racket the bakers union was paying the price for?"

    What part of that was the bakers' union striking against a company in bankruptcy supposed to fix?

    Even if one union really destroyed the company and not another--what difference is that supposed to make and why?

  • mgd||

    I think this was referring to the Teamsters trying to talk the bakers into taking the management's offer instead of striking.

  • PapayaSF||

    A separate worker, arriving at the store in a separate vehicle, had to be employed to shift goods from a storage area to a retailer's shelf.

    In the battle against union idiocy, this sort of insane work rule should always be highlighted.

  • Jordan||

    One of my coworkers went to a convention in Chicago, IIRC. You weren't allowed to plug in your electronics at the convention center. You had to wait for a union worker to come do it for you.

  • Ken Shultz||

    They're famous for that, there.

    And if they're on break, you can forget about it.

  • RFID||

    My (5 person) software company attended an RFID convention in Florida a while back. In order to use the (union) portal at the back for our equipment we had to pay the union like $300, hand-carry our stuff onto a pallet next to the door, then let the union forklift pick up and carry the pallet out of the portal and drop it next to our truck (which was 10 feet away from the pallet's original location). Hooray for union efficiency. What would we ever do without unions?

  • Lewisite||

    "convention in Florida "...."we had to pay the union"

    Florida is a 'right-to-work' state,..I don't get it, who did you pay?

  • robc||

    Just because it is right to work, doesnt mean that the convention center doesnt have a union contract on work rules. Any non-union members would still fall under the rules, they just arent paying dues.

  • Cyto||

    I had a similar experience with my first convention display. We hired a rock climbing wall for our booth. The hotel was teamster's territory. They wanted $7,500 to transport the rock wall - in a hotel owned freight elevator. Oh, and they wouldn't actually touch the rock wall. Just a straight-up extortion fee. I wanted to spend half that down at the local Gold's Gym for some counter-muscle, but our CEO ended up negotiating a $1,500 payoff.

    The electrician's union hit us up for $350 per "electrical connection". We only told them about one, having learned from our rock wall experience. The "electrician" came by and pointed out the power receptacle for us. No lie. They wanted $500 to connect a computer (we had a half-dozen in our display) - which also consisted of pointing at the same power outlet (a fact we learned from our neighboring booth). In my version of America you get to shoot someone who tries to take money from you in this manner. Unfortunately my version of America seems to have died out around the time I was born.

  • anon||

    Why don't you people just say "Fuck you, no?"

  • John C. Randolph||

    I worked a trade show in NYC at the Javits center once, back in the mid-1980s, and I hope I never have to speak to a union drayer again in my life. My boss was carrying our one-of-a-kind prototype machine into the booth, and some dickweed tried to take it out of his hands. He did back off when my boss told him "fuck you, I spent half a million bucks building this, and if you break it, you'll owe me that money, and I'll sell the debt to a loan shark." The dickweed backed off.

    -jcr

  • Chris Mallory||

    Depending on the size of the truck and the number of stops this does make sense. You don't want your drivers and trucks tied up dealing with trying to stock shelves. That is a waste of resources.

  • PapayaSF||

    It rarely if ever makes sense to codify this sort of thing into inflexible union work rules. If it makes sense, why not just have it be a procedure, which can be easily changed if circumstances warrant?

    And do you also think it's reasonable that the rules say separate trucks must be used for bread and for other baked goods?

  • Ken Shultz||

    You know the real reason Hostess failed? It's because all those union members stupidly chose to bargain collectively instead of individually, like the rest of us do.

    There isn't anything hard to understand about the fact that we're all better off generally when we're free to make choices for ourselves--instead of delegating someone else to make our choices for us.

    Incidentally, requiring us to delegate someone else to make our choices for us is why big government is such a bad idea, too. I don't want Barack Obama or some jackass in Congress making my choices for me. How could anybody be so stupid as to think other people are sufficiently trustworthy to make choices for them?

    About whether we go to war? Okay, maybe. Make my choices for me about whether we strike our company while it's in bankruptcy?! I want to make that choice for myself.

    Jesus, people who work for other companies, but are in those unions that decided to strike Hostess, if they aren't thinking about getting rid of their union leaders right now, then they're the dumbest people on the planet! Their leadership sold them down the river.

  • califernian||

    The dirty little secret about unions is that they *harm their members*.

    Everyone worth a damn would be better off without the union.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Some people ARE better off than they would be otherwise--if they're working for GM courtesy of the UAW and getting paid an average of $71 an hour to screw in lug nuts.

    Whether society is better off generally when people get paid $71 an hour to screw in lug nuts is another question entirely.

    Whether individuals are better off when what's best for everyone else in the union isn't necessarily what's best for them is yet another question...

    The union leaders apparently went into negotiations and mediation--while the company was in bankruptcy--and refused to negotiate to the point that those people don't have jobs anymore? I was reading one of Hostess' truck driving teamsters talking about the other unions' leadership. He was in his late 40s. Says he has a family of five! He's been driving a truck for 25 years...

    I hope he finds something, but I'm seeing other people on other sites who seem to think, for some reason, that when other food product companies buy the brands, they think that somehow is going to mean that the current Hostess employees are going to be rehired--and under a union contract, too!

    Any of them that think that have been totally snowed by their leadership. It would be hilarious if it weren't so tragic.

  • Lewisite||

    "if they're working for GM courtesy of the UAW and getting paid an average of $71 an hour to screw in lug nuts"

    Waiting for the goose to lay its golden egg is time consuming and inefficient, cutting it open and getting all the gold, that is where its at. Of course if the goose gets wind of it, migrating south...forever is the end result. The UAW is learning this lesson at some great cost.

    "somehow is going to mean that the current Hostess employees are going to be rehired--and under a union contract, too!"

    Ignorance is strength!...i guess a fool and his job are soon parted as well.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Ignorance is strength!...i guess a fool and his job are soon parted as well."

    Well I guess the union leadership has to tell them something!

    They obviously can't tell them the truth.

    If the truth is that the union didn't want to appear weak when it went to negotiate with other companies, so they treated the workers at Hostess like so much cannon fodder.

  • Lewisite||

    In the back of my mind, I'm wondering if some sort of envy/jealousy thing between the two unions wasn’t the catalyst...The teamsters quite possibly had a better gig (being larger/more powerful) and the bakers union said "fuck that, I want it all...just like the teamsters,..hell, all they do is drive around all day...we do all of the work." The heads of the bakers union, not wanting to look impotent, were thinking “we are gonna bring home the bacon this time!” The one-upsmanship' asile is pretty big at the union-mart, so to speak.

  • sloopyinca||

    Ah yes. The Veruca Salt method of union negotiation. It goes back nearly 100 years.

  • anon||

    union dick measuring contest.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Whether society is better off generally when people get paid $71 an hour to screw in lug nuts is another question entirely.

    Society in general can choose not to buy GM products and is then unaffected.

  • Lewisite||

    "Society in general can choose not to buy GM products and is then unaffected"

    Until TARP, that is.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Yeah, taking it outta my paycheck kinda matters.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Yes, GM is a unique example because of the bailouts. But in most cases, private sector union goodies don't harm society much.

  • Ken Shultz||

    If artificially inflating the cost of labor doesn't harm society much, does artificially inflating the cost of anything else harm society?!

    What makes artificially inflating the cost of labor different from artificially inflating the cost of anything else?

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Private sector union goodies don't harm society much."

    Have you taken a close look at Detroit lately?

    Did you know the fire department there is looking to codify its practice of not putting out fires in burning buildings unless it can verify that the building is occupied?

    They're getting ready to ask the feds to come in and bulldoze 10,000 vacant homes!

    You think it's a coincidence that part of the country is so pathetic that they don't want to even bother putting out fires in burning buildings anymore? Has there ever been a thriving city reduced to blocks and blocks of real estate that's worth less than nothing--without an act of war before?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Virginia City, NV and all the other boom towns out west.

    The Great Lakes region is littered with cities on life support, that an unfettered free market would have reduced to ghost towns. There isn't much reason for Detroit or Toledo or Buffalo to exist anymore, at least not at the size they once were or still are.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Okay, so we can add that to the list.

    The impact of unions on a metropolis like Detroit is like:

    1) Carpet bombing in wartime

    2) A busted mining town turning into a ghost town.

    3) Tsunami

    I just added that last one. I'd have added "Hurricane", but I think unions have been much more destructive toward Detroit than a hurricane. Even after the levee breach in New Orleans, people wanted to rebuild there.

    Detroit isn't like that. Unions have made it in Detroit so that a lot of standing property is worth less than zero--nobody's trying to rebuild Detroit. Why would they? The unions still control everything--the bombs are still falling. The tsunami still isn't over.

    The fire department is trying to let chunks of Detroit burn down over time, and they're actively trying to make the city smaller.

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_new.....times?lite

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    (2) is totally natural and OK. I thought libertarians were all for creative destruction?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    The point I was trying to make, which unfortunately applies less to a govt-bailed company like GM, is that sellers in a market are always trying to inflate their prices. This isn't an alien thing to the market.

  • ||

    Artificially inflating the cost of labor for some but not all companies only harms those individuals who are clueless enough to buy from the inflated labor costs company.

    Now, if tariffs and other interventionist governmental theft are used to try to coerce individuals into buying from the inflated priced companies, then those interventions harm individuals being robbed by the theft via tariffs.

    There is no "society" buying stuff, just individuals.

    Shorter: individuals are not harmed by artificially inflated labor costs if they do not buy from those companies.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Individuals are not harmed by artificially inflated labor costs if they do not buy from those companies."

    It's inflationary pressure--and artificial. When people are squandering $71 an hour on something that isn't worth that, it is necessarily bad for the economy generally. Artificially imposed inefficiency being bad for the economy--that shouldn't be controversial.

    One of the biggest contributors to growth in the general standard of living is productivity gains. Paying people an average of $71 an hour to screw in lug nuts is the opposite of a productivity gain. And that was true even before the taxpayers were bearing those costs.

    There isn't anything about artificially imposed inefficiency that's good for our standard of living. The individuals who are harmed by artificially inflated labor costs may not realize that's what's hurting them--they may not see a direct connection to themselves. But that doesn't mean it isn't a problem for individuals.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Detroit's true unemployment rate is around 45%. They have some 40,000 abandoned homes. It's so bad, they're asking the military to come in and demolish 10,000 homes! If I'm looking for a job in Detroit, then, yes, artificially inflating the cost of labor has affected me individually. All those people who had to abandon their homes have been affected individually, too. If you want to sell your house in Detroit, then artificially inflated labor costs have affected you individually.

    And those are just the people who are more directly affected. It has a drag on the rest of the economy, too. I don't understand how inefficiency could NOT affect us individually. It may not affect all of us in the same way or to the same extent, but it gets its grubby little hands on each and every one of us.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    If I pay a neighborhood kid $100 an hour to mow my lawn, does that harm society?

    If everyone in Pittsburgh pays $100 an hour for yard work (voluntarily), does that harm society?

    Of course not. If we try to make up for that expenditure by raising our wage demands or prices, our customers/employers can tell us to take a hike.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Society in general can choose not to buy GM products and is then unaffected."

    Society in general was choosing not to buy GM products.

    Unfortunately, because of GM's legacy obligations, they couldn't compete in the categories that were selling well. When you have to cover all sorts of legacy UAW pension obligations, and Nissan and Toyota just don't, it affects what kinds of cars you can build profitably.

    They couldn't lose money on every compact car--and make it up in volume. They had to build high margin SUVs and trucks, which no one wanted to buy when oil was trading at $150 per barrel.

    Even now, they can't really compete on low margin cars--that's why they were pushing their electric car so heavily. ...which, by the way, carries $10,000 in government incentives--per car--on an electric car that sells for $40,000.

    http://www.mychevroletvolt.com.....nd-rebates

    That's right, when it's all said and done, they STILL can't compete in the markets they needed. Nationalizing GM didn't do anything but shift the costs of paying workers an average of $71 an hour from GM shareholders and the UAW to society in general.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Quite true. Of course GM probably would have been OK if it weren't for the CAFE standards.

    The whole thing is an intricate web of deceit and villainy.

  • Ken Shultz||

    It isn't about the standards.

    It's about their workers making $71 an hour to screw in lug nuts.

    It's about their preposterous pension obligations to the UAW.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    It's about those things too. Some events have more than one cause, Ken.

  • sloopyinca||

    Tulpa, how come the CAFE standards killed GM but didn't do the same to Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, etc?

    Nope, all other things being equal (CAFE standards), the labor costs and legacy expenses are what killed GM.

  • ||

    Tulpa, how come the CAFE standards killed GM but didn't do the same to Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, etc?

    The CAFE standards are accelerating the killing off of GM because their profits come from trucks and SUVs (which is being driven by the labor and legacy expenses thing sloopy mentioned).

    Toyota, Honda, Hyundai etc. can make profitable smaller cars, and thus are not hurt as much by CAFE standards.

    It's ironic that the environmentalist wing of the Democratic party is fucking over the union wing with their unhinged-from-reality demands for ultra-high fleet gas mileage, instead of just letting companies build whatever the hell consumers demand.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Toyota, Honda, Hyundai etc. can make profitable smaller cars, and thus are not hurt as much by CAFE standards."

    Why can't GM make profitable smaller cars?

    The reason has nothing to do with CAFE standards.

    It has everything to do with an average of $71 an hour to screw in lug nuts and legacy pension obligations to the UAW.

    Lowering CAFE standards isn't about to make GM's labor contracts any more reasonable. Lowering CAFE standards isn't about to lower GM's legacy pension obligations to the UAW.

    Lowering CAFE standards doesn't address the real problem. Yeah, the patient may be suffering from an earache, and we should probably get around to treating that at some point, but he came into the ER with a bullet wound to the chest. So, I say we take a look at that bullet wound--'cause that earache isn't really THE problem.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Ken, what prote is saying is that CAFE standards combined with the labor ridiculousness are what killed GM. Take either of those two things away and they're probably fine.

    GM had the same horrible labor contracts back in the 1990s and early 2000s when they were flush with cash.

  • John C. Randolph||

    I don't think I'd call that a secret. The only people left who don't know that unions exist to bleed the workers to pay for hookers and blow for mobsters and politicians are stupid white kids in Che shirts.

    -jcr

  • sloopyinca||

    I don't think college professors are in on it yet either.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    try their luck with a new owner or owners who might materialize for its bakery operations.

    Yeah, good luck with that.

  • Ken Shultz||

    About a week ago, I was in Vegas--out in the suburbs.

    I saw this guy holding a sign and dancing in place, you know how they do that, right? He looked like he was in his early 40s to me. It was in the afternoon, and he's dancing with two kids sitting around him doing their homework--probably because he can't afford a babysitter right now. I mean, if you have to dance in place in front of your kids as a human billboard for hours at a time, I'm guessin' that means the cost of babysitting is probably out of reach...

    But I'm supposed to feel sorry for these union idiots--who voted to reject pay cuts and strike--and thereby drove their employer into liquidation?!

    They quit their jobs. They don't deserve to collect unemployment. In fact, I'd like to see some shareholder activists press for some clawbacks against the union. If they were willing to push the company in to liquidation, then they weren't negotiating in good faith.

  • ||

    "In fact, I'd like to see some shareholder activists press for some clawbacks against the union."

    The company is privately owned.

  • Ken Shultz||

    You mean it isn't publicly traded?

    That part about clawbacks was partially tongue in cheek, but there is a point there to made about the difference between how the left treats management when they cause a company to fail--and how the left treats unions when a union causes a company to fail.

    When management causes a company to fail, there are calls for clawbacks and calls for some kind of preliminary criminal investigation and a perp walk. But when a union incompetently forces a company to fail, I don't hear a peep anywhere about anything like that.

    There's a double standard being applied there somewhere.

  • Ted S.||

    I'm sure procedures were being followed.

  • Suellington||

    That is just incredibly sad. Not the union thing, but the dad out there sign dancing in front of his homework doing kids.

    I have done some seriously demanding and dirty physical labour, but that is just something that I would loathe having to do.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    How do you know they were his kids? Maybe they're the boss' kids who are telling him to dance faster or else he's fired.

  • ||

    Might I suggest "homework-doing" next time? The original could have some Unfortunate Implications.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "That is just incredibly sad. Not the union thing, but the dad out there sign dancing in front of his homework doing kids."

    As I passed him on the sidewalk, I felt bad for him, but at the same time I totally respected the guy, too.

    The winners in our economy should be people who are willing to do what needs to be done for themselves. I bet he told his kids that the only job to be ashamed of is a job poorly done--certainly some version of that must have been said at some point. And even if it was never said, it must have been understood.

    I don't know what his political persuasion was, but if I got to pick how people win or lose in our economy, I wouldn't base it on whether you can get in a union or whether you can get a job working for the government. Certainly, after seeing people like the dancing human billboard guy, I have a real hard time feeling sorry for people who rejected making concessions--and chose to drive their company from bankruptcy into liquidation...

    I don't feel sorry for them.

  • califernian||

    I have no problem with unions shooting themselves in the foot.

    I have no love or hatred for unions. Only for the privileges they have recruited the state to enforce for them with violence.

    If unions have the upper hand in a free market, so be it. I'm not against them.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    You know, I've wondered at times what a free market union would look like. I'm guessing wildly different from what you have in general today. My guess is that it would be something akin to a personnel firm. The union would be focused on the training and development of improved skill sets for its members. It would welcome new technologies promising operational efficiencies that it would quickly bring its membership up to speed on. It would probably act to get group rates on things like medical care, competent retirement fund management, or even group discounts for consumer goods and services. Its market position would be based on establishing a premium for its members as offering employers a better service and lower search costs.

  • Jethro||

    To hear my dad talk, that's how the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers operates. And in some ways it is, or at least his local. His local takes care of medical and retirement from his dues, not the shop he works for. They have training programs, and the union hall is available for social activities (we had Thanksgiving there once to accommodate numerous family members). And the ideal, according to him, is that one just pays the premium for better employees. Stuff like that gives me a lingering sentiment for unions. But I also get the impression that training has diminished. He's mentioned that guys who get trained by non-union shops and join the union are more detail oriented, and actually get teased for it. The dealbreaker for me is that my father's motivation to support Obamacare, and perhaps his union's, is that ACA forces their competitors to buy the gold-plated insurance that the local members already buy for themselves. And they call it leveling the playing field. Otherwise my dad doesn't care if other people have insurance.

  • Robert Jordan||

    Who cares? They're unions.

    I obscenity in the milk of the unions.

    Hostess shrugs.

  • ||

    WOLVERINES!

    Better than the first and worse than the first. Entertaining.

  • ||

    I less than eagerly anticpate the bootleg. -)

  • AlmightyJB||

    Your labor coast outgrow uour revenue stream. You can't raise your prices because the demand isn't there. Do you...

    a) bring the labor cost down in line with revenue.
    b) close down so no one makes any money.
    c) lobby the government to either buy your product, force consumers to buy your products, or subsidize your labor cost with taxpayer money and give everyone a 50% raise?

    Unions are involved so I guess we'll be calling the Chinese to borrow money or just printing off some more.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    d) surreptitiously reduce the size of your products while keeping prices constant.

  • ||

    I did notice more air in the bags of chips I bought before I left The States.

    It's kinda hard to sell your products with the lede, "NOW WITH 50% LESS PRODUCT!"

  • John C. Randolph||

    They generally translate that to "now with 50% less calories per serving!"

    -jcr

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    As a numbers guy I noticed it right away a few years ago. "This half gallon ice cream is 1.75 quarts? Wait a minute..."

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    33 cents a can, or 3 for a dollar!

  • ||

    And here I thought the Loonie had more purchasing power.

  • Boehm Houle||

    Been to the Dollar Store have you...

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Seriously! Has any industry been more savaged by the Fed than the dollar store industry?

  • AlmightyJB||

    Do you really want your ding dong or your twinkie smaller?

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    I'm told there are benefits to smallness, not that I would know from personal experience.

  • ||

    Your name is really Dionysius, isn't it? Or do you go by Dion for...ahem...short? -)))

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    My urologist nicknamed me "Priapus". And not because I like to hang out in gardens.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

    Kind of like calling a fat guy "Tiny"

  • ||

    A choad is not an erection, Tulpington Poo. -D

    I was also under the impression you DIY'd all your medical care, a la your Home ESWL Kit.

  • ||

    OT: Happy Thanksgiving, Reasonoids, one and all. A special holiday salutation to you, Sloopy and Banjos, and your impending delivery is in my thoughts and prayers.

  • anon||

    "Impending Delivery" sounds like some kind of sexual innuendo, but I haven't worked out the details yet.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  • Archduke Pantsfan||

  • ||

    The “mistake” was made by a sixth century monk known as Dionysius Exiguus or in English Dennis the Small, the Pontiff says in the book Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives.

    Maybe he was pissed at the implications of his name and this was his payback.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    For a union called Teamsters, they sure don't look out for the good of the team.

  • Mr Whipple||

    is it because the truckers had a nice little protection racket

    What union isn't a protection racket?

    O/T

    Happy Italian Thanksgiving

    http://bit.ly/bb7dhd

  • Mr Whipple||

    ^^DON'T CLICK THAT. Wrong link.

    http://bit.ly/T78cZB

  • waaminn||

    Hope all those striking idiots are happy now. They are jobless! Unions are useless and only suck the lilfe blood out of companies!

    www.Privacy-Max.tk

  • anon||

    Companies forced into union negotiations should use bankruptcy as their -first- option to get rid of the union, because in reality, it is the -only- option if the company wants to survive.

  • Harvard||

    You first have to jump through the hoops of the bankruptcy judge who will often (as in the Hostess case) order the two sides back to the negotiating table to hammer out some (any) agreemen, negating your attempt to go bankrupt.
    The time to make the decision is when the union vote first takes place. You immediately put the operation up for sale, get your best price and move on. I have given an oath to my (100+)employees. I will never....ever...take on a partner that doesn't skinny up with cash for his percentage. A partnership with a union, that has no skin in the game, is the height of inefficiency... and stupidiity.

  • Tulpa (LAOL-PA)||

    Er, that sounds dangerously close to an NLRA violation.

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