Tattoo Parlor Based Anti-Card Check Web Game Lets You Get High, Resist Union Intimidation (But Not Give Tattoos)


When I found out that Grover Norquist's anti-tax advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform, had released a video game about working in a tattoo parlor, which can be found online here, I got really excited. Perhaps I'd finally be able to give Norquist the Don't Tread on Me tat I've long thought would go so well with his signature beard and glasses. But my hopes were quickly dashed. Turns out there isn't any tattooing to be done in the game, which in truth, is hardly a game at all. Instead, it's a series of comic stills and scripted choices that take you through the process of unionization under card check. 

But so what if it's not Grand Theft Auto IV? It's still fun, kind of, at least if you like cheesy Flash-animated stereotypes spouting absurdisms, Z-movie dialog, and out-of-date slang. Over the course of the game, you'll meet union thugs who promise voice-over gigs on the Simpsons, a tie-die wearing longhair who specializes in tattoos depicting "peace signs, rainbows, and other unoriginal and conformist hippie symbols," and a Fonzie-like neogreaser in a black leather jacket who actually uses the phrase "pretty sketch" to describe some union thugs lingering in a parking lot. The best part, however, is that if you play long enough, you can get high! But then those tricky union bullies will take advantage of you.

You can't win! Of course, that's exactly the point: With card check, you're bound to lose. Very clever, Mr. Norquist. Very clever indeed. But I'm still disappointed that the game won't let me give anyone tattoos. Pretty sketch, I think.

Last year, Dave Weigel wrote about union glee over the prospect of card check. In June, Shikha Dalmia warned of the advancing union juggernaut


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  1. “Last year, Dave Weigel wrote about union glee over the prospect of card check.”

    I remember Dave Weigel.

    My heart goes out to his grieving family.

  2. Typical libertarian disregard for the good of the working man. Before they were crippled in the 80’s, unions provided a chance for certain people with poor educations and few prospects to prosper if they only did their job. Card check will bring back those good old days!

    I mean, when unions lost the ability to force people to join them, a lot of union enforcers lost their jobs. They’d spent years learning how to break limbs in painful but non-fatal ways and then suddenly they were out of a job. Where is 50 year old whose only skills are physical intimidation and wearing gold chains supposed to get a good job these days?

    Please, please, people! Think of the goons!

  3. a Fonzie-like neogreaser in a black leather jacket


  4. Last night on The News Hour, Ray Suarez interviewed Larry Cohen, president of the Communication Workers of America and chair of the AFL-CIO’s Organizing Committee and Randel Johnson, senior vice president of labor policy with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    Johnson kicked the union guy’s ass. The union guy’s argument in favor of unions was the US has only 7% of it’s workforce unionized, which is far below the next lowest country, Japan, which has 20% of it’s workforce unionized.

    Apparently the union guy wants to build a bandwagon factory.

    It’s well worth watching.

  5. From the piece:

    RANDEL JOHNSON: Well, I have to read — here’s a former organizer who testified on the Hill. “I was taught to manipulate workers just to get a majority on the cards. I learned that promises made by organizers at the worker’s house had little to do with how the union actually functions at a service organization.”

    RANDEL JOHNSON: Well, but it’s the employer who’s going to have to come up with the profit margins to pay the wages to actually run the workplace. Even under current law, even under organized workplaces, it’s still the responsibility of the employer to run the workplace, to come up with the profit margins so that they can pay their employees.

    It’s not the unions. They can help set work rules, et cetera, but in the end it’s the employer who has to come up with and meet the bottom line. And so it’s the employer that’s going to have to live with the arbitrator’s decisions.

    For example, in Canada, some provisions allow for this card-check process in arbitration. Wal-Mart went into arbitration, and the arbitrator came back with a one-third increase in the workers’ wages. And Wal-Mart in that case couldn’t pay those wages, and so they closed down.

    I mean, money is — it’s easy for an arbitrator to come up with a decision and say, “Oh, just raise everyone’s wages.” The employer in the end has to come up with that money to pay those wages, not the unions.

  6. The major problem with unionization in the U.S., in my opinion, is the partial immunity they are granted for destruction of property, assaults and trespassing by the Depression Era legislation as well as the perpetual monopoly they are granted once they “organize” a business.

    Employers are really the customers of employees, paying money in exchange for the employees’ labor services.

    If a grocery store, for example, was allowed to prevent a prospective customer from shopping in another grocery store, most people would recognize how unjust and socially unhealthy and economically problematic such a policy was.

    Of course the monopolist grocery store would do a shoddy job, its customers would be worse off, and the grocery store that had its business interfered with would struggle or even go bankrupt.

    Having worked in a unionized and non-unionized steel mill, I observed this process quite closely; the labor services provided by the USWA were inferior to those of its competitors – being more expensive and of far lower quality. People who wished to sell their labor services to the unionized mill but were not members of the USWA generally struggled to earn money or sat on welfare. In the meantime the USWA’s customer, drowning in a sea of red-ink, prevented from changing its business processes thanks to a contract it was forced to sign at gunpoint ended up going bankrupt.

    In fact, many of the people whose labor services were being sold under the USWA banner were quite unhappy – they wished to charge lower prices or agree to modified ways of doing business, but were also bound by a contract that was completely out of their control.

    While this was going on, the steel mill that as not a customer of USWA labor services was lean, mean, and making money. The people who were providing labor services were happier, and people in the surrounding community were happier too, hard work would get them a decently paying job at the mill.

    The USWA would regularly send members to stand at the gate of the steel mill that did not purchase their services and try to cajole/intimidate their competitors into joining them. The workers at the non-union mill met them with a mixture of scorn and pity – scorn because they were standing around in front of our gate while their customers were going bankrupt, pity because they were such sad-sacks.

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