Cross Every Picket Line

Circumstances have made me slow to respond to this, and my position will hardly be a surprise, but I did want to express — ahem — solidarity with RIGOP Chairman Gio Cicione (as well as the RI Young Republicans) on the matter of crossing a union picket line to hold a Central Committee meeting at the Westin Providence hotel:

Explaining why the state Republican Party, along with the Rhode Island Young Republicans, decided to hold its State Central Committee meeting at the hotel, party chairman Giovanni Cicione said: “If Democrats continue to torture every local business with threats of strikes and boycotts, especially in the midst of this recession, Rhode Island will soon find itself with no employers left.”

I’ll go further: All taxpayers should make a point of doing business with companies that are facing union strikes. Trying to hurt employers in the midst of this recession is among the most asinine strategies that Rhode Island’s unionists have yet conceived.

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michael
michael
11 years ago

Ever see the scene in Animal House where John Beluschi makes a speech and charges out of the courtroom expecting a mob of supporters?
Republicans will continue to be the vast minority with moves like this. Great strategy, keep up the good work.

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

Without giving a blanket endorsement to the idea of crossing all picket lines, I note that the union in this dispute is the notoriously corrupt, ACORN-affiliated, Obamunist ally in fascism, SEIU. I will gladly go out of my way to cross their picket lines and otherwise frustrate them at every opportunity.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

The funny thing is that those businesses which Justin wants everyone to use are probably hiring the most illegals!
Forge on, my friends!
Being a reasonable man, I am also against some of the ridiculous tactics of the RI Unions (like when they ruined the mayors conference)……yet at the same time, this stuff does not rise to the level of a boycott. I would always respect picket lines if possible….but, frankly, might not give that same company my business in the future if I thought either the union or the company was unreasonable.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
11 years ago

>>Republicans will continue to be the vast minority with moves like this. Great strategy, keep up the good work.
Actually, this could signal that the Republicans are ahead of the curve (albeit likely unwittingly).
Unionization is increasingly a public sector phenomenon (as unions continue to kill the golden egg laying geese in the private sector).
In turn, the public is becoming increasingly aware of how public sector unions have gamed the political system and are raping the taxpayers in order to coddle themselves with grossly unwarranted pay and benefits.
Further, the Democrat Party is now wholly-owned by a syndicate of special interests, including ideologue environmentalists (e.g., Al Gore and the Sierra Club); poverty pimps (e.g., the NAACP); neo-Marxist revolutionaries (e.g., Obama and John Podesta), and organized labor (e.g, the Marxist union SEIU).
In future years, as the public awakens, it’s going to be an electoral battle between the Democrat army of tax-consuming / Marxist special interests and Republicans representing the real “working families” and those who support America rather than despise it.
So for patriotic Americans, crossing picket lines whenever and wherever possible is just, well, patriotic!

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

Here’s a case that illustrates the depth to which SEIU will sink: From Investor’s Daily: Bloody-Minded Union Posted 06/03/2010 06:54 PM ET Big Labor: Is there any low to which the SEIU won’t stoop? Now it’s interrupting blood donations in a strike against the American Red Cross. The Boy Scouts and Baptist churches are also on unions’ enemies list. Demanding higher wages and better benefits, the Service Employees International Union on Wednesday launched a three-day strike against the Red Cross’ blood donation operations. The job action comes as the nonprofit, in a realistic response to the weak economy, is cutting salaries, ending bonuses and reducing pensions. SEIU thinks its members should not only be exempt from the Red Cross’ efforts to live within its means, but actually get a raise. But it’s not about the money, you see. It’s really about safety. “Cutting jobs, slashing wages and benefits of employees and cutting corners are affecting the safety of the blood supply,” the union’s Frank Hornick told the Parkersburg (W.Va.) News & Sentinel. So SEIU’s way to get a safe supply is to pay higher union wages? It’s hardly compassion for consumers to hold 40% of the nation’s blood supply hostage. The union’s strike probably won’t affect blood supplies much, but it sends a message: Consumers who need transfusions come second to union wish lists. Feel safer now? SEIU’s attack on the Red Cross is one in a series of actions against privately funded civil society groups. By foisting union work rules and union salaries on volunteer groups, SEIU seems to want to make them as bloated, costly and inefficient as U.S. automakers. Service groups operate on a shoestring and can’t raise their “prices” to donors the way companies can. They’re stuck. The Red Cross isn’t the only one feeling this… Read more »

michael
michael
11 years ago

Hmm, I’ve given gallons of blood to the Red Cross and never got a dime. Maybe the SEIU could have negotiated a better deal.
The Republican Party went out of their way to cross a picket line. The SEIU represents housekeepers and kitchen staff at the Westin. Not a bright or ballsy move from the leadership of the party.
They should have crossed the firefighters picket lines at the Mayor’s conference, or better yet, the Democrats Cicillini and Lombardi fundraisers. That would have raised some eyebrows. And everybody likes to pick on picketing firefighters. Crossing the janitors and dishwashers picket line sends a cowardly, elitist message, regardless of the SEUI’s reputation.
The “real” working people of Rhode Island see right through this, and will respond accordingly on election day. Another rout of the Republicans because of stupidity at the top.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

Michael, if you think that the “vast majority” of the public are sympathetic to unions (or especially public unions) then you are living in a warped and insulated unionist world.
Comments on the Boston Globe website (hardly a right-wing organization) typically run around 50 to 1 against the firefighters and police unions up there, both well-known to be corrupt and owning the state legislature in their pockets. Even if 1/3 of these people were right wing plants or some such thing, that is still a solid majority vehemently against those unions. You might be very surprised to find that outside of your own circle of self-interested friends and colleagues, most members of the general public see unions as basically greedy, selfish, entitled, corrupt, and disruptive to the economy. The engineers and blue-collar contractors I worked with at a large engineering company absolutely despised the plant’s union without exception. Almost all of the hardcore liberal Democrats I was friends with in law school disagreed with unionism also.

Will
11 years ago

Michael, I respect the work that you do, but I have to strongly disagree with your analysis and frankly, the unionist mentality behind it. The vast majority of Rhode Islanders are not union members. Unions are by their very nature, elitist — motivated by an “us” vs. “them” mentality. “Real” working people in Rhode Island are the one’s who are represented only by themselves, and are rewarded for their work based on merit, not simply based on their luck of membership in a union which appears to only be interested in what it’s members can squeeze out of everyone else who isn’t a member, regardless of extraordinary external economic circumstances. I don’t per se have a problem with unions in the private sector, because when they overreach, the market will take care of it, i.e. there will be layoffs or the business will close. While the Westin union would technically be considered a “private sector” union, because they deal with public accomodations, I tend to think of them more in the public sense. While it may be true that the majority of people at the Westin who are members of that particular union are not high-rollers, they have to realize that the Westin is a for-profit corporation, and has a self-interest to stay that way. They can either be cooperative with the hotel management and come to a reasonable consensus regarding their pay and benefits given the current economic circumstances — or in the case where they won’t budge, the hard choices will be made unilaterally by the hotel, which is exactly what happened. I don’t like the idea of some far-left union trying to tell me and others where we are “allowed” to do business. In addition, I find the logic behind such a boycott to be ridiculous on… Read more »

michael
michael
11 years ago

Dan, newsflash…the majority of people don’t read the newspapers, and the majority of those that do don’t engage in the commentary. 50-1 means nothing. It is you who needs to get out of your little insulated world. I’m living in the middle of middle class America, and working in the heart of low income America. These people, the majority of Americans believe in fair pay for honest work, the backbone of union philosophy.
Republicans don’t get it. Democrats play the game and pander to the unions and social services to stay in office. People who tell it like it is will never succeed in politics, will seldom win elections and if they do will be rendered useless by the people handling the money. And the people handling the money are not the middle and low income workers. At least with our collective power, which pales in comparison to the true wealth, we have a voice.
Keep reading the commentary in the Globe. The mutual admiration society there will keep you in the dark and happy.

don roach
don roach
11 years ago

I found this to be GOP’ers taking a stand. For every little pain felt by unions there generally is a picket. And the usual rhetoric is that which Michael spews, “but what about the little guy?!?!”
The problem with that is that it ignores larger economic problems. It’s as if Republicans stay awake at night thinking, “how can I screw the little guy today?” If you believe that I have a hot tub in Alaska, I’d like to sell you.
There’s a balance, a balance between what both management and the union want. That’s the point of a union to bring a collective bargaining unit to the table. doesn’t mean unions get to dictate the terms and cry foul when they lose as many unions do regularly (see: Central Falls).
And this time, the GOP said enough is enough and made the decision to publicly back the Westin management team. Until union supporters come to grips that it’s a negotiation and not a demand-session there needs to be a group of people defending the rights of management to make sound business decisions. As Justin aptly put it, “Trying to hurt employers in the midst of this recession is among the most asinine strategies that Rhode Island’s unionists have yet conceived. “

Will
11 years ago

“Democrats play the game and pander to the unions and social services to stay in office.”
Never has a truer statement been said.
Republicans, at least the vast majority who adhere to conservative principles, have a philosophical disagreement with that line of reasoning. We see this as part of what is wrong with the state, not a kind of corruption which we should try to emulate, just to gain temporal power for ourselves.
Basically, you’re saying that the Democrats in the General Assembly are whoring themselves out to the highest bidder. Our “problem,” if one wants to consider it one, is that Republicans aren’t trying to appease special interests just to get elected or to stay in office. Unions, whether or not you like to think of them as such, are special interests — that is, groups of people who are not working for the general interests.

michael
michael
11 years ago

After years of working for David Ciccillini, I’m a bit bitter toward the Democratic party. “Democrat in name only” is an apt description of our Mayor.
Back to the point of this post, I think the Republican Party, and the Young Republicans made a mistake by seeking out the Westin for the purpose of crossing the picket line. It cost more than it gained, perception wise. And believe me, I know what I’m talking about when it comes to picket lines and losing the war of perception.

Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
11 years ago

>>The way I look at it, if the right people are mad at you for actually taking a stand based on principle, you’re probably doing the right thing.
Will sounds downright Churchillian:
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

Michael, you have a couple statements here that are a little contradictory:
“the majority of people don’t read the newspapers”
and
“It cost more than it gained, perception wise. ”
Among who? I totally agree with your first statement. The vast, vast majority of the electorate is completely uninformed. Call a random sample of 20, 50, 100, however many registered voters and ask what they know about the situation. Ask things like “Where did the Republican Central Committee recently hold a meeting?” “Why did they hold it there?” “Who is the SEIU?”
I’m guessing you might get at best 5% who can answer any of those questions. The rest will think you’re a loon for asking. The Republican party lost face for their actions? I’m feeling like that’s a little bit of an exaggeration on your part.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

I am not going to comment on crossing a picket line,but I will comment on one union.The UFCW Union.They f**ked over my son after he was a dues paying member for six years and was fired for no good reason.It sent him on a downward spiral which I haven’t seen the end of yet and it doesn’t look too good.
I hope the leadership all get serious food poisoning at their next”let’s spend the dues”banquet.
The SEIU leadership,as opposed to the rank and file,are scum.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

I’m with Micheal in thinking that you righties are completely destroying yourselves and any chances that you have of actually getting involved and making changes. I do follow politics quite closely, and the type of radical tea partiers that we see here are ruining things big time for the GOP right now all over the country! It’s big news – check it out!
Thanks Justin and Dan! We progressives could never have done as good of a job as you are……as they say, give a man (or tea party) enough rope and they will hang themselves.
But, heck, Justin gets a thrill out of it, and than should be all that matters! Consider that everything is easy for the people who never have to actually do it, so perhaps the right just likes to complain and therefore they are 7th heaven as it is.
I hate to gloat, but you folks are really self-destructing! I’m actually trying to help you, but it seems you don’t appreciate the idea of being reasonable. All you can say is:
“I hate unions”
“Progressives – dumbest people on earth”
“Rhode Island, worst place in the world”…..
C’mon, do you have any idea how that sounds to the average person who actually THINKS?

Swazool
Swazool
11 years ago

It is true, most people won’t know where the republicans had there meeting. It doesn’t matter, as usual when they return to the polls they will be voting master lever democrat, just like their parents did. If the percentage changes from 80-20 it might go down to 75-25 but let’s not kid ourselves. The republicans, tea party, or what ever party can try but the political leanings are too deep to change, and it has little to do with unions.

michael
michael
11 years ago

Very perceptive, Patrick. Truth be told, I had no idea there even was a meeting at the Westin until I read Justin’s post. I’m sure most people are not aware of it, or if they are don’t care one way or the other.
I spoke for myself about the costing more than it gained, perception wise. Picketing the mayors conference ultimately got Mayor Cicillini to negotiate a contract with Local 799, for no reason other than his own political gain, but the public that does pay attention was none too pleased.
Will said “They can either be cooperative with the hotel management and come to a reasonable consensus regarding their pay and benefits given the current economic circumstances –”
Local 799 tried to negotiate with the Ciccilini administration. There were no negotiations. The contract the city offered was designed to fail, I still can’t figure out the reasoning behind it. We were left with no choice but to protest the only way we could, loudly and publicly. The only reason we ended up with a deal is because Cicillini knew his road to Washington would be a dead end with our issue unresolved.
The whole process makes me sick. I imagine the workers at the Westin were in a similar position. Having the Republican Committee meeting there because of the labor unrest is simply arrogant and ineffective, for no reason.

Will
11 years ago

Michael, I think you (often) make valid points. However, I think your objectively “bad” experience with the Cicilline administration re the needless dragging out of the firefighters contract issue may be clouding your over all perception of the particular union issue at the Westin. The Westin (management) is simply trying to adjust their expenses to their income, just like any other responsible for-profit business does. The GOP, of which I am an active member, for the most part believes that business owners know best what is good for their own businesses, in order for them to remain in business. It’s their capital which is being put at risk. Whether salary and benefit negotiations are done on a one-by-one basis, or is done collectively is up to both sides. If one side isn’t willing to budge, why shouldn’t the other side try to impose reasonable terms in the absence of the agreement? There’s nothing that says that these people have to continue working for the Westin hotel if the don’t like their new pay and benefit situation. Feel free to quit. Your job could be filled before you make it to your car in the parking garage. I just can’t correlate in any way whatsoever the work of housekeepers and room service to that public safety professionals, and they can’t be expected to be treated as if there were some kind of moral or other equivalence there. The workers at the Westin aren’t risking their lives daily, doing hazardous work, or working round the clock shifts. The Westin workers in question are for the most part unskilled and could be easily replaced on a moments notice. It’s an apples and oranges argument. When I said earlier, something like “unionist mentality”, I mean the almost knee-jerk reaction by some that the management… Read more »

michael
michael
11 years ago

Will, all good points, most if not all I agree with. Being an independent union member whose views are more right than left is a slippery slope. The main reason I even post comments here is my frustration with Democrats being blindly pro-union and Republicans vigorously anti-union. It is my opinion that the union members are being used by the political parties to furthur their agenda and create a divide that should not exist.
Travis Rowley, Joe Trillo, Laffey, Governor Carcieri and some others I can’t think of right now are synonomous with union busters, while Fox, Lynch and that gang are considered heroes to labor. I hear nothing but disingenuous BS when I hear them speak.
I’m tired of being used as a pawn in these power grabs. My goal is to make people think and consider the issues fairly as opposed to walking the party line.
In my opinion, the Republican party purposely going to the Westin, and making their own members cross a picket line was evidence that their stance is anti-union, no matter what the issue.

Ken Block
Ken Block
11 years ago

Michael –
Based on your last post, I would suggest you check out http://www.moderate-ri.org!
Ken

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

“They can either be cooperative with the hotel management and come to a reasonable consensus regarding their pay and benefits given the current economic circumstances — or in the case where they won’t budge, the hard choices will be made unilaterally by the hotel, which is exactly what happened.” Ocean State Republican Will
There’s Will’s two cents on labor negotiation. The hotel tells the workers what is reasonable. Take it of leave it. It’s not like the workers are being hurt by harsh economic times.
“The Westin workers in question are for the most part unskilled and could be easily replaced on a moments notice”
There goes Will again.
There’s the hammer. You don’t like it hit the bricks. Now why would anyone want to be a part of a union?
” If one side isn’t willing to budge, why shouldn’t the other side try to impose reasonable terms in the absence of the agreement?”
Let’s guess whose side Will always thinks is reasonable. He and his republican pals know who they represent and it is not those who do not have capital.

don roach
don roach
11 years ago

Ok, I’m a registered Republican and I like unions.
Geez, feel like I’m at an AA union. One of the greatest lies the Dems have been chucking at us is that Republicans are anti-union.
I think the concept of unions is as American as apple pie, providing a class of people without power the power to negotiate as a collective rather than individuals. That’s great.
But the key phrase there is negotiate. And unfortunately, many unions in this state try to dictate terms & man politicians just cow-tow to that. We shouldn’t. There has to be a healthy balance.

Phil
Phil
11 years ago

Let’s let BP and Massey Energy decide what is reasonable when it comes to working conditions and safety. Those companies would’nt do anything unsafe or unwise because to quote our friend Will ” business owners know best what is good for their own businesses,”.
What could go wrong? They may have to “replace” some workers though.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Michael,
I’ve got a line of questions about this comment of yours:

At least with our collective power, which pales in comparison to the true wealth, we have a voice.

Do you, really? Do you have a voice? Or are you just obligated to give your voice away to the desires of union leaders… not only of your union but of every union on the globe?
Sorry if that echoes sharply, but I’ve observed, over the years, the pattern that you have an instant strong reaction in favor of any union action and against any opposition thereto and mitigate only after extensive and detailed discussion. (And even so, your mitigation is not extensive.) You’re certainly not alone in that; it’s characteristic of union members.
So, again: Do you have a voice, or do you simply accept that the voice of The Union must be taken as yours?

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

Michael makes the same mistake that the animals in Animal Farm made – thinking that the pigs would make better masters than the humans because they are closer in species. But by the end of the story the pigs are always sleeping in beds, drinking alcohol, and indistinguishable from Farmer Jones in every meaningful way. And the only rule left is that some union members are more equal than others.

michael
michael
11 years ago

Justin, I don’t recall endorsing the union in this case’s picket. Rather, I voiced my opinion that the Republican Party made a tactical mistake by purposely looking for a fight, much like a gang of thugs looking for trouble on a Friday night.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

John Galt, Animal Farms, the Tooth Fairy, The Emporers New Clothes (Bush), the End Times, Walking on Water….seems like every fairy tale, superstition and work of fiction ever written is the creed of the far right.
Reality, on the other hand, seems to be something they have a problem with!

Will
11 years ago

Here are some quick responses to Phil’s, ahem, observations regarding my comments: “They can either be cooperative with the hotel management and come to a reasonable consensus regarding their pay and benefits given the current economic circumstances — or in the case where they won’t budge, the hard choices will be made unilaterally by the hotel, which is exactly what happened.” Ocean State Republican Will There’s Will’s two cents on labor negotiation. The hotel tells the workers what is reasonable. Take it of leave it. It’s not like the workers are being hurt by harsh economic times. The hotel knows what it can afford, since it’s their money. I believe in the free market, and it’s ability to set prices. The employers offer what they believe is enough in order to obtain the type of worker they wish to attract. If they want Motel 6 quality, they’d pay for Motel 6 level workers. As it happens, the Westin pays its employees more than the average in the RI hospitality industry, as one might expect of a higher-end hotel. All workers everywhere are being hurt by hard economic times, as are many businesses, especially those in the hospitality industry. The way businesses adjust to hard economic times is by doing what people do in that situation as well — they reduce their expenses. “The Westin workers in question are for the most part unskilled and could be easily replaced on a moments notice” There goes Will again. There’s the hammer. You don’t like it hit the bricks. Now why would anyone want to be a part of a union? I’m not exactly sure where the argument is here? No one is forced to work anywhere. If you don’t like the pay at your job, I’m sure someone else out there will… Read more »

David S
David S
11 years ago

What a surprise! Republicans crossing a picket line. Same story as the dog bites man story. The red meat conservatives here have stated in past comments that they have no-NO- problem with private sector unions. It is all about PUBLIC SECTOR UNIONS. WHOOPS. I quess you are making an exception for SEIU. I think the reality ( such as it is these days) is that you AR people think of yourselves as the capitalists( the Galts) and have no inclination whatsoever to see the labor point of view whether public or private.

michael
michael
11 years ago

I’ve got a line of questions about this comment of yours:
At least with our collective power, which pales in comparison to the true wealth, we have a voice.
Do you, really? Do you have a voice? Or are you just obligated to give your voice away to the desires of union leaders… not only of your union but of every union on the globe?
So, again: Do you have a voice, or do you simply accept that the voice of The Union must be taken as yours?
What part of “we” and “collective power” needs explanation?

rhody
rhody
11 years ago

Republicans, in an official party capacity, interjecting themselves into a private sector labor dispute…this was just an ego move by the state GOP and Young Republicans chairmen. These guys are acting, basically, as soccer hooligans.
And if this whole dispute costs Providence a badly needed convention…way to be pro-business, guys. I’m sure there are a quite a few restaurant and bar owners in Providence who wish these chest-thumpers who run the Westin would just take a pill, too.

Stuart
Stuart
11 years ago

I think it needs repeating that John Galt is a made up character, and even if he was not the righties of RI do not in any way, shape or form fit the description. They are more of an unruly crowd of losers than entrepreneurs.
In a day and age where worker productivity has doubled – while wages have remain stagnant or went down – one has to imagine the Republicans as part of a cartoon up high in a tree chopping down the very branch they stand upon!
John Galt, my butt! We have Dan, who is employed by the Federal Government, Justin who will not dare step out of line and become a “Galt”, Joe who worked for the Government, Ragin who is just an angry man…and a host of other comics.
Ok, I’m converted. WHERE IS JOHN GALT?
🙂
Fact is, those who are more like John Galts fictional character (yours truly, Michael, etc.) tend to think things through just a bit more. John Galt, fictional character, was not an ideologue – in fact, he spoke out against Christian society:
“Galt spoke against what he saw as the “evil” of Christian ideas of collective sin and guilt”
So, there you go….a blog run by a purportedly religious Catholic who asks readers to hurt business, and who makes a fiction character one of his heros…but that very character speaks out against Christian religion.
I’m confused.

Tom Kenney
Tom Kenney
11 years ago

Justin,
You have a lot of nerve suggesting that you are an impartial, fair person who deals with issues on their own merit…as opposed to the unions and union members who cow-tow to the wishes of their leadership because we’re too uninformed to think for ourselves.
What kind of thinking person states that “All taxpayers should make a point of doing business with companies that are facing union strikes.”
I guess issues don’t really matter. The only thing that matters is that the employer has a right to tell the worker what he/she is worth and what his/her working conditions will be.
Even now you and many of the people who think like you don’t realize that my union’s (Local 799 – Prov FF’s) reason for fighting the mayor and ultimately picketing (our only weapon) had everything to do with public and FF safety and nothing to do with demanding outrageous raises or benefits. Likewise, at least in some part, the picketing at the Westin has to do with their union (and its members) belief that three workers were fired unjustly. Many of those picketing are afraid that they will be next.
Unions help workers who would otherwise have no voice individually. Yes, unions need to be reasonable and aware of many factors, including the economic conditions of their environment.
I fully support unions, but I won’t support stupidity no matter the source.
You, on the other hand, think all unions are wrong in every conflict between labor and management. How downright ignorant that is.

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