To strike or not to strike?
I have been involved, in one way or another, with the trade union movement for years. I have advised, advocated and at times encouraged labor action. So what I am about to say comes from a place steeped in understanding and empathy.
My question is, at what point is a strike not worth it? I’m motivated by the current Hostess bakeries bankruptcy and liquidation process. As I understand it, 15,000 workers, many of which were on strike, will now be jobless. Was it the strike’s fault? Clearly not per se. Corporate problems are always upstream, they are caused by economic circumstance, management error, competition and other business factors. But when times are tough, it’s sometimes the last hair that breaks that camel’s back and causes it to collapse.
Regardless, the fact is that 15,000 are now to be unemployed. Should they have stood their ground? Should they, at the last minute, given in? Was it worth taking a 20% cut in pay to keep their job?
My vision is, and always has been, that the worker to management divide is too great. I can’t justify or understand a CEO being paid $170,000,000 a year (I heard about one of these yesterday on the news). I don’t care how good they are. I don’t care how much money they make for the company. $170,000,000 in one year is obscene when one’s own workers often cannot pay for food or rent.
So back to the main issue, should strikes be reconsidered at the last minute? Does that open the door for further management abuse knowing that labor will always cave in at the last minute? I’m not starting a new conversation. This one has been going on for decades/centuries. I do know that if it was me, if I was down to my last dollars and the choice was to either lose my job or take a cut in pay, I would take the cut. I would probably start to look for work elsewhere but barring success I would at least have food on the table.
I continue to call for — not ‘redistribution’ as some call it but — economic sanity. Maybe some day we will find the road to equitability and equilibrium; ¿quién sabe?