Thursday, December 18, 2003

Grocery Workers' Health Fund Low: Joint union-company fund will be empty by the end of the year because the three supermarket companies in the strike

Los Angeles Times

Those bastard supermarkets won't pay the benefits of people who refuse to work for them. This again proves that corporations are evil. Why aren't they paying the strikers' salaries too?

And lets be clear on why the UFCW is striking. As the article mentions, the strikers are "fighting to maintain health benefits — traditionally fully paid by the supermarket employers — for its 70,000 members in Southern and Central California." Health care costs are rising dramatically, and these employees refuse to chip in. Maybe a total loss of healthcare will bring to light both how expensive healthcare is to maintain for 70,000 people, and how having a few bucks less in your pocket every month is preferable to having no healthcare at all.

I think unions can be valuable when they're used as a reasonable collective-bargaining tool to solve serious collective-action problems (workers' safety regs for employees without individual bargaining power and few substitute jobs, for example). But when the act to buffer employees from the market forces facing employers, they can destroy themselves and their company. Just ask United Airlines.

UPDATE: David Brooks has more comments on the union approach to the modern economy here.

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