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EDITORIAL: Black Friday’s union blues
Value seekers mop up while gloomy picketers melt down
Question of the Day
The Grinch wants to dampen the holiday spirit, and he’s wearing the union label. On the day after Thanksgiving, when many decide to pick up presents for loved ones at a discount, this spoilsport arranged for activists to frighten shoppers away from non-union stores with picket lines. Americans weren’t deterred.
For the straight second year, Our Walmart, a front group for the United Food and Commercial Workers union, ordered protesters to congregate outside the nation’s largest retail chain carrying signs that said: “1.3 million Wal-Mart jobs, pay us enough to support our families.” Still smarting from last year’s utter failure to turn back the stampede of Black Friday bargain hunters, union chiefs sought an additional edge. This time, they orchestrated incidents of civil disobedience, resulting in several dozen arrests when protesters blocked traffic at stores in California and in Chicago.
Our Walmart agitators were encouraged by a timely gift from the Obama administration. On Nov. 15, the National Labor Relations Board issued a memorandum absolving organizers from wrongdoing during last year’s Black Friday protests when they “encouraged” Wal-Mart employees to picket outside store locations with a $50 gift card. The offer, the board concluded, “did not constitute unlawful restraint or coercion of employees.”
Wal-Mart has always been a target because of its size. With 1.3 million employees who don’t pay dues, unions have longed to convince government officials to force the issue. Wal-Mart employees haven’t been interested in paying tribute to labor bosses since they’re largely satisfied with their jobs. The average hourly wage for employees is $12, and more than 475,000 earned $25,000 or more last year, according to the firm’s head of U.S. operations, Bill Simon.
Manufactured complaints about low pay and living wages mask the reality that many need such jobs as the first rung on the ladder of opportunity. In its early days, Wal-Mart took pride in rewarding top-performing store employees with management roles instead of recruiting outsiders with fancy college degrees. Wal-Mart recently decided to return to its roots with the announcement that Doug McMillon will take the reins as CEO in February after having started with the company as a teenager working summers in a warehouse.
The message of opportunity resonates more clearly than the nasty chants shouted through the bullhorn of a paid protester. That’s why the holiday protests always flop. Wal-Mart announced that it had served more than 22 million shoppers on Thanksgiving Day, or one in 14 Americans.
Opportunity may even win out in Detroit, once the bedrock of unionism. Residents will learn Tuesday whether their city can shed its labor-dominated debts and emerge from bankruptcy. The Motor City’s economic plight is yet another example of why unions belong on the naughty list. Big Labor works hand-in-glove with the Democratic Party to elect tax-and-spend politicians who reward their cronies at the expense of working families. With union membership falling from 17.7 million in 1983 to 14.4 million in 2012, it’s no wonder organizers have resorted to more extreme Black Friday tactics.
The Christmas message to the family of man is “give, and it shall be given to you.” Union picketers demanding their “fair share” seek to spread envy and resentment during a time of good cheer. That’s behavior appropriate only for the Grinch. For that, labor bosses deserve a lump of coal in their Christmas stockings.
About the Author
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