Get A Union Raise, Lose Your Job

A crystal clear link between a union and unemployment.

The denizens of the New York Times are famous for their inability to see truths staring them in the face from the pages of their own favorite paper.  It isn't every day that the truth, and the contradiction, is entirely contained right in the story's headline.

But here it is: "After Winning a Raise, 175 Casino Workers in Queens Lose Their Jobs."

Nobody's That Stupid!

Our Gentle Readers, being smarter or at least better-informed than the average bear, have probably already figured out exactly what happened:

On Monday, about 175 employees of the buffet restaurant in the slot-machine and electronic gambling casino in Ozone Park learned that the restaurant had been closed and that their jobs no longer existed. The casino had received plaudits when, in late October, a labor arbitrator issued a ruling that doubled the average pay of workers.

Have these people never heard of the Rust Belt, that vast region of the Upper Midwest which once was home to millions of good solid factory jobs, nearly all of which have been moved elsewhere due to excessive union demands?  Do these people truly have no idea where their paycheck comes from - that, as large or as small as it happens to be, the profits the company earns from their own jobs have to be enough to cover it?

Everything you need to know about our modern unemployment situation is right there in the story.  Yes, the casino as a whole is making money, but this particular restaurant isn't making money and wasn't profitable even before the raises.  There are many other restaurants in the area, including others right there in the casino, which weren't subject to this rapacious union and its delusional arbitrator.

After the wage-doubling ruling went into effect, the buffet raised prices.  What did the employees think would happen?  The prices had to go up to pay the doubled wages, but with higher prices, customers walked a few doors down and ate elsewhere.  With no customers and excessive wages, the place shut down.

Or Are They?

The problem is that the workers "won" a raise as opposed to earning one.  They were able to use our legal system and unionization to win a raise by inflicting a defeat upon their employer.  There's a reason the word "won" was used, and it's the right one.

If you defeat your employer, however, that makes your employer weaker and less able to pay you.  When you earn a raise, in contrast, that indicates that you are making more money for your employer than you were before, and he recognizes that and rewards you accordingly.

It's true that not every worker in every job has the ability to earn a raise in this way.  Waiters can't control the quality of the food, the attractiveness of the decor, the appeal of the menu choices, or even the price charged.  An individual waiter could work extra hard and thus increase productivity, but in a union shop, the contract prevents any rewards for hard work other than the extra tips earned.

Every American worker has the right to better themselves by finding other work.  If these waiters wanted more than the $5/hr they were making, they had every right to find another job.  Perhaps their personal waitskills were better than this restaurant deserved and they could find a spot at a higher-class restaurant that values obsequious service and pays more.  Or maybe their customer-service skills could bag them a retail job with a $10 wage.  Maybe even they could have attended night classes and qualified as a healthcare aide or some such.

Perhaps some of them did, or are, and we wish them well.  But "winning" a raise by union force is a sure path to the unemployment line as 175 now ex-union members just discovered the hard way.

We'd hope that the Times and its readers would read and understand this article, but let's face it, the Times itself is dying for lack of customers and excess costs.  If they can't apply their own journalism to their own corporate finances, what hope is there for them?

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Business.
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