After reading a story about a planned protest among Walmart employees on Black Friday, I scanned the comments and noticed an interesting jab: someone attacked someone else for speaking out against the workers’ plans with this interesting take:
“Another moron who thinks that corporations should own you and have 100 percent of the power and the workers zero percent.”
Too often, it seems, what organized labor has become is a glorified power struggle in which workers and their employers sometimes seems more interested in being in control than in doing what’s better for the organization as a whole.
Should employers “own” their employees? Of course not. But corporations do have the power and should. They’re the ones who have to make the decisions that ultimately keep the workers working.
A few readers criticized — by comment or private message — my take on the Hostess strike that left the company seeing liquidation; it wasn’t the workers’ fault, she said, citing outrageously high bonuses from executives and various other types of mismanagement. I don’t disagree that there were contributing factors. However, when a dozen individuals each push a car a bit closer to the edge of a cliff — for their own reasons — the car doesn’t go over the cliff until a bit more pushing happens.
The workers, no matter how far others had gotten the front tires to the edge, pushed it the rest of the way. Does it mean that the workers are solely to blame for the Hostess shutdown? Of course not. But were their actions the last nail in a badly constructed coffin? That one’s a lot harder to deny. If the car’s already near the edge, you have to decide how much you want to push it.
The workers either believed that they had more room than they actually did, or assumed that someone would come along and push it back at the last second.
Either way, they miscalculated.
Obviously, the company miscalculated as well, creating a situation in which the workers were unhappy enough to stifle any chance of moving forward.
But miscalculation occurred on both sides.
And late Tuesday, word came that last-minute mediation efforts failed. This pretty much dispels the notion that the workers really didn’t believe the company was serious about liquidating: by then, the liquidation was already sought and the mediation was the absolute last chance to keep the jobs.
So what’s likely to happen now? It appears there’s a chance that not only will the brands be sold, but the union representation that wouldn’t come to agreement with the company in a last-ditch effort won’t be part of the operation when a new owner takes over.
Not only does the union members lose their jobs, the union itself loses its hold. The only people likely to be pleased with the latter are the business owners who no longer have to deal with them.
What I see more and more is a workforce that seems to have forgotten a simple principle: when everyone is in charge, then no one is in charge. There’s a reason we have managers and employees.
There are bad managers. There’s no question about that.
But there are bad workers as well. A lot of those who are so militant about the labor movement, as well as the Occupy movement, are far too quick to forget that fact.
All evil is not held on those in positions of authority.
There are lazy workers, dishonest workers, even malicious workers. Sometimes, it’s the workers who are the problem. And once in a while, union workers are the problem. Not always, but once in a while.
Anyone who paints unions as angelic are about as correct as those who paint corporate America as angelic.
Until more people are willing to work as a team and drop the “we vs. they” mentality, there will be these unnecessary stressors for everyone. Who wants that?