Turning the Strike Tables

Helen makes an interesting suggestion:

Would a strike of non union people be illegal? If everyone who is not in a union stopped working, if business owners refused to open, would that be illegal?

It would certainly be a show of private-sector weight were the Rhode Island economy simply to stop for a couple of days. Just the mere fact of the sort of organization and unity of purpose would send shivers down the spines of those who rely on their ability to siphon their livelihoods through taxes and public fees.
On the other hand, announcing such an event and having limited participation would have the opposite effect — affirming for those in power that they are, indeed, in control. When one considers that a great many people cannot afford to lose a day’s income and that, unlike unionized workforces, they would have nobody with whom to negotiate to receive retroactive pay.
Of course, one truth hovers over the entire discussion: Were emotions so elevated as to make such an event possible, we who desire rightward reform in the state would have been able to accomplish more by the usual route of the election.
Sadly, the more likely outcome is an unorganized, but de facto, strike as productive people leave the state.

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Bob Walsh
Bob Walsh
10 years ago

If you want to engage in concerted activities in the workplace, even without a union, just follow the law:
From the NLRA website:
What are protected concerted activities?
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects employees’ rights to engage in protected concerted activities with or without a union, which are usually group activities (2 or more employees acting together) attempting to improve working conditions, such as wages and benefits. Some examples of such activities include:
a) 2 or more employees addressing their employer about improving their working conditions and pay;
b) 1 employee speaking to his/her employer on behalf of him/herself and one or more co-workers about improving workplace conditions;
c) 2 or more employees discussing pay or other work-related issues with each other.
The NLRA also protects any individual employee’s right to engage in union support, membership, and activities.
The NLRA protects an individual employee’s right not to engage in union activities or in other protected, concerted activities.

Justin Katz
10 years ago

That isn’t quite to the point, Bob. What Helen’s talking about is the private sector striking against those for whom it increasingly appears to be working: the public sector. In a sense, we’re talking about a strike of employers.

David S
David S
10 years ago

Helen swings and misses the point by a mile. Labor laws and workplace rules that involve compensation, overtime, safety to name a few are in place for all workers, union or not, because of the efforts of working people working together. Workers banding together kind osf describes union. It is easy though to take things for granted and most people probably think their working conditions solely the employer’s doing.

Tom Kenney
Tom Kenney
10 years ago

Come on, Justin. Your statement shows exactly what you think of all federal, state and municipal workers:
“those who rely on their ability to siphon their livelihoods through taxes and public fees”
You don’t think any of us are necessary?

Tom Kenney
Tom Kenney
10 years ago

Come on, Justin. Your statement shows exactly what you think of all federal, state and municipal workers:
“those who rely on their ability to siphon their livelihoods through taxes and public fees”
You don’t think any of us are necessary?

Justin Katz
10 years ago

Tom,
I didn’t come anywhere near saying that some public-sector workers “aren’t necessary.” For one thing, that one’s livelihood must be siphoned isn’t necessarily derogatory. I have to siphon my livelihood through the desire of people to build and remodel their homes.
But I didn’t even intend to go that far. If you’ve got a particular ability or expertise — fighting fires, for example — then you don’t rely on your “ability to siphon your livelihood” through taxes and public fees. Rather, you rely on the public’s ability to recognize the value of fighting fires. The yea or nay isn’t so clear for other public employees or public-sector-union ringmasters.

mangeek
mangeek
10 years ago

Interesting thought experiment. I know that if the ‘wheels of commerce’ stopped for a few days, I would still be busy. I work for a non-profit, as does my girlfriend. I’ve heard that the three largest employers in the state are Brown University, RI Hospital, and the state itself. That means that Providence would likely still seem busy during an Atlas Shrugged event.
The public and non-profit sector impact is most easily seen when comparing the highway through Providence vs. Through other cities (like Hartford). Our rush hour starts at 3:30PM as state workers and teachers leave work and ends at 5:30 when most people who work for-profit are on the road. When I worked in Boston, rush hour went from 4:30 to 6:30.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
10 years ago

mangeek-Think about what you said.Isn’t it disquieting?
America as a muscular industrial giant is gone.
I don’t necessarily blame unions-I blame the international free trade agreements and the environmentalists who oddly never criticize China,Russia,or the Third World polluters.

Tom Kenney
Tom Kenney
10 years ago

Joe,
I blame our trade agreements as well. I don’t buy into the American workers are incapable of competing with foriegn workers. I think it’s more like foriegn workers work for less money, less benefits and less safety considerations – including ingrrediants.
Then the American companies cut other corners to bring their price down and end up with inferior products. Then American companies outsource their work.

Tom Kenney
Tom Kenney
10 years ago

Joe,
I blame our trade agreements as well. I don’t buy into the American workers are incapable of competing with foriegn workers. I think it’s more like foriegn workers work for less money, less benefits and less safety considerations – including ingrrediants.
Then the American companies cut other corners to bring their price down and end up with inferior products. Then American companies outsource their work.

Tommy Cranston
Tommy Cranston
10 years ago

Come on, Justin. Your statement shows exactly what you think of all federal, state and municipal workers:
“those who rely on their ability to siphon their livelihoods through taxes and public fees”
You don’t think any of us are necessary?
Posted by Tom Kenney at November 13, 2010 12:25 PM
If we had half the cops, firemen, prison guards, public works, etc. it would still be more per capita than the sanely governed (NH anyone?) parts of America….and I wouldn’t be paying as much in property tax on a 1 bathroom nothing ranch as Laffey does on a 40 acre mansion in Colorado.

Monique
Editor
10 years ago

” and the environmentalists who oddly never criticize China,Russia,or the Third World polluters.”
Yes, the silence on this and other subjects falls under the rubric of broad-mindedness and/or multiculturalism.

Tim
Tim
10 years ago

“Come on, Justin. Your statement shows exactly what you think of all federal, state and municipal workers:
“those who rely on their ability to siphon their livelihoods through taxes and public fees”
You don’t think any of us are necessary?”
Many of you aren’t Tom. Sorry!
Btw both you and Walshie have come back to us after such a long absence. To what do we owe this honor? A caffeinated reaction to this past election perhaps? Suddenly feeling relevant?? Empowered?
Quite humorous really.
This too shall pass. lol

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