Saturday, January 19, 2008

Taking Sides

Yesterday I was in City Hall with a bit of time to kill. I wandered over to a bulletin board that had official county notices, forclosures, job openings and such, as well as notices not to remove anything on the board. On the same board were union notices with the same notice not to remove anything. So I read one of the union notices concerning a business in Burlington. According to the notice, the business changed owners recently and the new owner more or less fired everyone and rehired many but with fewer benefits. The new owner met with the union as proscribed by law but did not budge on the issue. The notice calls on people to boycott the business.

Now, allow me to be quite clear on what the subject is that I hope to discuss. It is NOT which side is right, union or ownership. It IS whether it is right, proper, wise, ethical for city and county government to appear to be taking sides in an internal business dispute. Feel free to weigh in.

7 comments:

colt said...

I have looked at the same board you have. I see no issues if only becuse the Union area is marked as such.

Denis Navratil said...

You are correct colt insofar as the union notices are marked as as union notices. However, being right next to and on the same board as government notices, there is the appearance of government support there. Why is there a space for union notices at all? Unions have meeting places, union halls, newsletters etc... why not distribute the info there? Suppose some advocate of economic freedom wanted to inform the public about the excesses of unions, their costs to consumers, the process for decertifying unions etc... will the city government provide that forum for me next to the union notices? Somehow I doubt it. If so, then we do, in fact, have a government that is taking sides, in this case, against a law abiding, (so far as we know) taxpaying business owner. This is not right in my view.

Greg Helding said...

Denis -

I do not know this for sure, but I would not be surprised to find that the bulletin board space is provided as part of a contract, labor law, or past court decision. Whatever the cause, the language probably requires the space to be provided and forbids management from censoring what is placed there.

Again, I do not know for sure, but that is my guess.

One would have to be dim witted or spoiling for a disagreement to read government support into any of the union notices.

It may be that there are restrictions on what can be placed on the boards, but enforcing them would no doubt lead to a grievance or some other waste of time to stop a notice encouraging something that probably has almost no practical effect. In other words, pick your battles.

Denis Navratil said...

Well this is a small issue Greg, I would agree. However, given that you support the various government efforts to stimulate economic development, I would think you might at least express some dismay that unions are calling for boycotts of a local business and advertising the fact at city hall. Isn't this undermining the efforts of you and your planning colleagues? Picking the right battles is important, I would agree. But I don't see anyone picking any battles, small or big, right or wrong. I guess this means that the taxpayers are getting a great deal, enjoying the opportunity to pay for extravagant health care coverage, high salaries and job protection that they can't afford for themselves. If that is the sentiment that you find among your constituents, then we will get what we deserve I suppose.

Regarding the notion that one would be dim witted to read government support into the union notice, I disagree. I might be inclined to agree if the public had the same right to display information in the same manner as do the unions. In that case, someone might be able to offer an alternative point of view. Absent that opportunity, unions can display information harmful to businesses while business owners would not have an equal opportunity to post a rebuttal. That looks like picking sides to me. Now that may be the result of union negotiations, court orders or whatever, but it is still biased in favor of unions and against business.

UP said...

Perhaps we should support the non-union business. Would you be willing to post the name? If I need what they have, I'd consider that in my descision.

Denis Navratil said...

up, I had thought about that. Truth is, I can't remember the name but it sounded German, like Speigelhoffs or something. I thought it might have been a grocery store but I can't be sure. Anyway, be sure to patronize German sounding businesses in Burlington.

Anonymous said...

Yes it was something like Speigelhoffs. I saw a Billboard in Kenosha encouraging the boycott. I'll see if they have something I need and I'll make it a point to shop there.

Capitalism Works.
Unions kill more jobs than they save. (except for the Govt. jobs, HHMMMMMM).