Unions....helping or hurting the American job's image?

Once the backbone of the hard-working American, how they now stand for greed and protecting the worst of the worst.

By William Gallegos
Published on LatinoLA: August 6, 2012

Unions....helping or hurting the American job's image?

A couple of months ago, I was at the Fresh And Easy market near my work when I noticed 4-5 individuals in the parking lot stopping would-be customers. One of these individuals would stop me as well, asking me to boycott the store because, according to this individual, the company had threatened employees who favored Fresh And Easy being unionized. Only because I did not want to hear from this person anymore, I got back into my car and left the store. I would end up going to the Fresh And Easy location near my house (no one in that parking lot that day).

So then a week or two later, I was at the location near my house when a new group of individuals were in that store's parking lot, asking would-be customers to once again boycott the store and therefore, shop at one of the nearby union stores. This time, I spoke up by telling the individual who stopped me that I was not going to shop at nearby Albertsons, Vons, or Ralphs simply because their prices were too high and because I, like most Americans today, was on a very tight budget. The individual respected my decision and there, I walked right into the store. Around a week or two later, I was once again stopped by an individual at this same location but before she could ask me to boycott the store, I told her that I was aware of what she was going to tell me and that I was still going to shop here for the same reason I gave the last time.

So just recently, I once again went to this same store and saw these same individuals in the parking lot (they did not bother me since they already knew who I was). This time, I decided to finally ask the employee bagging my groceries what the story was with these "pests". According to this employee, these individuals were union reps who were asking would-be customers to boycott the store not because the store threatened employees who favored Fresh And Easy being a union store but because Fresh And Easy made it clear to this union that they did not want to be a "union store". These individuals standing outside the store were nothing more than union representatives trying to make a "fast buck". This Fresh And Easy employee also made it clear to me that Fresh And Easy pays him well, offers great benefits, and has one of the best 401(k) plans out there. All this without a union!

This employee claimed he once worked for one of the big union supermarkets but after the last major strike some years ago, fell victim to layoffs brought on by losses and store closures. His union, he says, were nowhere to be found when he needed their representation and help. It was obvious that the union reps in the parking lot were doing nothing more than looking after themselves. I have since been told by a fellow employee of Fresh And Easy that the unions have abandoned the parking lots (perhaps due to the warmer weather) and are now going after Fresh And Easy by harassing them through phone calls. Having once worked for the now-extinct "Alpha Beta" supermarket in the early 1990's, I too can tell you how worthless supermarket unions are.

What I saw here was nothing more than what I have always seen when it comes to unions.....greed, greed, and more greed. You do not have to be a brain surgeon to know that the moment a non-union store becomes union, prices skyrocket (how else are the markets going to cover the costs of the increased pay and benefits for their employees?). Look what happened years ago as a result of one of the worst supermarket strikes in SoCal history.....prices went up, resulting in customers going elsewhere, resulting in stores closing, resulting in layoffs. What these markets and unions seem to forget is that today there is plenty more competition out there compared to 15-20 years ago. From Fresh And Easy to Costco and from more not-so-well known non-union chained stores in the mostly Latino and black communities to grocery departments at Walmart and Target, the once packed stores of Albertsons, Ralphs, and Vons are now too expensive (thanks to their unions), too empty, and are in fear of more store closures, resulting in more possible layoffs. Now it seems that Albertsons have since laid off off as many as 2500 employees (someone out there want to tell me the economy is getting better?).

You think the high demands brought on by the unions played a part in these layoffs? I think so!

As for these 2500 layoffs, any unions reps ready to come to the rescue? Nah! All they have to do is quietly raise their union dues to make up for the loss of dues from those 2500 individuals getting laid off and before you know it, their profit numbers are still the same.

So once I arrive home after my latest trip at the market, I turn on the tube and there I see a story about layoffs of a different kind. It seems that in spite of all those idiots, otherwise known as "democratic politicians", who insist the economy is getting better, that other idiot we know as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is on the verge of laying off a large number of city workers. This, of course, is due to the millions of dollars in the red that the city is in. And in my opinion, who do I see as the ones partly to blame for this problem?

The unions, of course! Let me explain.

I was once reading two publications, The LA Weekly and Los Angeles Magazine, that both had stories about how the city of Los Angeles was bound for even more financial trouble than ever. According to one of these two stories, it was said that one out of every six to seven LA city tax dollars is used today solely for city worker pensions. It was predicted in this story that in less than a decade, it could likely be one out of every three city tax dollars (these stories came out some 8-12 months ago). Former Mayor Richard Riordan has even predicted that the city is bound for bankruptcy in less than a decade. A recent report even revealed this, claiming the city will be close to 300 million in the red by 2015. But yet every time I see or read a story where the Mayor is asked how this can be avoided, he says the same ol' bullcrap line...."we need to sit down with the unions and work together". Governor Jerry Brown was even asked about what he was going to do with the unions when it came to cuts, should his tax measure fail this November. He insisted that he too will work with unions in getting their members into taking paycuts as well. Are you kidding me? The last thing any Democrat politician wants to do is piss off the unions because of the fact that those politicians would risk losing both an endorsement and campaign donations at election time. Trying to get the unions to convince their members to take cuts is like trying to convince Israel and Iran into getting along. It just won't happen!!!

Of course, there are those other ways besides supposedly sitting down with the unions to where we could solve the financial mess. It was suggested by the LAUSD that LA City voters approve a parcel tax that would fix the mess, similar to the measure Governor Jerry Brown wants suckers, oops....I mean voters, to approve this November. Then there was the right way in fixing the problem, where individuals standing in front of the markets and post offices would ask individuals to sign a petition that would put a measure on the ballot that would bring reform to those horrific pension plans your city and state tax dollars are going to (San Diego and San Jose introduced similar measures, which both easily passed). But yet, in a matter of time, petition signers, would-be petition signers, and the rest of the public were being told through ridiculous radio commercials that by signing these petitions, one could fall victim to identity theft. It was later revealed that the unions were behind these commercials, as a way to prevent people from signing these petitions. The funny thing is that I don't ever recall the Mayor, the Governor, or any other democratic politician lashing out at those union reps behind these false radio commercials. Thank goodness for KFI radio!

As for these city layoffs, one would not be surprised to hear that the LAPD were exempt from these layoffs, considering that just like pensions, the millions in tax dollars spent each year paying off victims of LAPD police brutality is a big reason to why we are also in the red.

Oh.....did I mention that besides being about greed, greed, and more greed, unions are also known for protecting the worst of the worst employees at any union-represented job? If you recall my story from a couple of years ago (Reformed or not reformed...that is the question), from the Rampart Scandal to the MacArthur Park melee, unions were there to protect LAPD's worst. Though I will give credit to the LAPD and to those few good officers who will admit on occasion that bad cops do exist in their department, the LAPD Protective league (the LAPD's union) won't ever admit this. They even once had the nerves of blaming the media for what had happened at the MacArthur Park melee.

Here is a very interesting thought.....what would happen if there was a measure put on the ballot making it mandatory for all cops to take a drug test following a police involved shooting, altercation, or car crash, whether on-duty or off? How about a measure that would do away with "paid leave" and replacing it with "unpaid leave" every time a cop or two is in the center of a controversial incident? Any average person would be mandated to one of the above tests following a police-related incident, so why can't cops be required to take one of these tests as well?

Or what if there was a measure that made it mandatory to have all cop cars installed with a GPS device? How many times have you witnessed or heard stories about cops taking multiple or expanded lunches and/or breaks or stories about cops hanging out far too long somewhere, whether in or outside their jurisdiction? I once was at a bar and grill while on vacation and sitting next to me the entire time was a cop who was socializing with a hot-looking girl. He was there when I arrived and was still there when I left some 1-2 hours later. Or what about that story years ago involving a Denver Airport Police officer who was busted for watching an entire Broncos playoff game at an airport bar while on the clock? Years ago, I once dated a girl in the Boyle Heights area who said that almost everyday an LAPD police car would be parked across the street from her house (I saw the cop car several times myself). According to this girl, the cop was fooling around with the girl who lived there. And just recently, I saw two Irwindale police officers at a fast food restaurant having lunch. Some 90 minutes later, those two officers were still there!

And people want to know why police response times are so bad.

And what's the story when it comes to delaying the installing of cameras inside LAPD cop cars? It wasn't that long ago when we were told how they would finally be installed but yet, to this day, I have not seen them. Are the unions afraid that an incident such as a shooting or an altercation may actually hurt than help a cop's story when it comes to how and why the incident happened? Remember the Orlando police officer who, along with his fellow officers, created a fictitious story to explain why that officer crashed his car into a girl's parked car, only to later realize that the camera of his patrol car had recorded his entire conversation?

And what about putting a measure that would go after cops who spend less time watching the streets and more time socializing on their cell phones while driving in their patrol cars?

Don't even attempt to tell me that those calls are business-related!

With our tax dollars going to the salaries of these many bad cops who choose not to abide with both the law and work-related policies, you know the majority of voters would be heavily in favor of these measures. Therefore, police unions would be shooting bricks should these measures pass. As for the Mayor and other city politicians creating measures like these....sadly, you know that would never happen. Once again, no politician would be stupid enough to do something that would cost them key endorsements from the police departments, its chiefs, and its unions, once election time nears.

And to all those morons who are going to remind me about the many cops who lose their lives each year, no need to remind me for I am aware of this. May I in return remind you of the many Caltrans workers, commercial pilots, firefighters, and late-night convenience-store workers who also lose their lives each year. As one LA Weekly reader commenting on a story about a dirty Hermosa Beach Police Officer put it..."the only difference is that those employees don't become a**holes through their jobs". Remember the last time a Caltrans worker harassed you for being black or Latino? How about the last time a commercial pilot committed brutality on you and then along with his or her fellow co-pilot did a cover-up? Or what about the last time a convenience-store worker shot your dog (not sure what I mean by this? Google "Austin cop shoots dog from wrong house" to see what I mean). Like that LA Weekly reader commenting on the dirty Hermosa Beach officer story, once again put it....."The rest of us slaves have to obey the rules, unlike our masters in blue".

And then there are those Dave Goldberg investigative stories on channels 2 and 9 about LA City employees getting busted on the job by drinking and attending strip clubs while on the clock. I just saw another story about how a drunk LA Department of Water and Power employee crashed his company car into a parked car while on the job. Despite the witnesses, the photographs of the damaged vehicle, and the bottles of alcohol the arresting cop held in his hand, Water and Power representatives have yet to fire the employee. They will only say that they are "doing a full investigation".

Then there was that story about a couple of nurses who were quietly giving manicures and pedicures to their fellow co-workers while on the clock and while in the presense of patients. Though their side job was dangerous due to the fact that it involved chemicals that were in the presense of young and sick patients, the only thing their superiors would say it that, "we will go ahead and investigate".

Can you say, "fear of the union"?

Just use the same ol' "PAYOFF THAN PUNISH" method, where we throw our tax dollars towards out of court settlements and just move on, right? No one wants to see the Mayor upset the unions representing the drunk man, the strip-club attendees, the nurses, or the bad cops who prey on Los Angeles citizens. Once again, we would hate to see Villaraigosa lose any election-time endorsements.

Speaking of "payoff than punish", what about all those teachers getting busted for committing disgusting acts with children? It seems that no matter how digusting the crime is or how many victims have stepped forward, these teachers are still getting a nice, fat, paycheck. And you can thank their unions for that.

Monica Garcia, the heavy-set president of the LA School board, who for weeks was avoiding the press, finally had no other choice but to speak up to the media about this problem involving the many sexually-perverted teachers. There, at this same press conference, was some white lady who happens to represent the school district in some way (and who I am guessing has children who likely attend private schools, even though she believes the LAUSD is one of the best school districts in the country). She explains to the media why it is far too difficult to fire these perverts as well as the other bad but non-sexual predator teachers and why paying each of them off somewhere in the 5-6 figure range is always the easier solution. And who just happens to be the ones paying off these teachers in this price range? The taxpayers of the city of Los Angeles of course. Another reason why the city of Los Angeles is in the red.

So just recently, Assemblyman Alex Padilla, one of the few Latino politicians from Los Angeles or Orange County who has yet to get himself involved in some kind of controversy or scandal (unless there was a negative story or two that I missed about him), had decided to introduce a bill that would fire rather than pay off teachers busted for these kind of sexually-involved acts with children. The bill would eventually be defeated, with the powerful teacher unions being the main ones behind this defeat. The unions would respond to this defeat by calling it a "victory".

Stop and think about this, readers.......just what in the hell goes on in the mind of a lawmaker who opposes such a bill or in the mind of a union representative who calls the defeat of a bill that would have automatically fired teachers involved in sexually activities with little kids a "victory"? How can one not be in favor of a bill that would, for example, automatically fire a Miramonte Elementary teacher who puts his own sperm on a cookie, only to then get aroused as he watches a young student of his eat it? I can just imagine what would have happened if ex-Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky had instead been a teacher for the LAUSD at the time he was sexually assaulting those dozen kids or so a decade ago. I can guarantee you these same unions would have come to his defense, regardless of how much evidence there was against him and regardless of how many of his victims are still scarred to this day.

Many of you are very much aware of the many past stories I have done for LatinoLA and yes, many of you have found my stories to be both controversial and offensive (though I have found them to simply being "honest"). Regardless of whether or not you are a fan of my stories, one thing is too would be a sicko not to side with me when it comes to these unions and lawmakers opposing this bill.

I once attended Garvarza elementary in the Highland Park area during my kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade school years during the later half of the 1970's before heading to St Ignatius elementary for the 1979-80 school year. It was during my 2nd grade year at Garvanza that my parents started asking one too many questions about what I was learning in class. Being a young Star Wars fan at the time, I was coming home almost every day with drawings of Darth Vader, Han Solo, and the other popular characters that my friends and I drew in class. With a couple of months left in my 2nd grade school year, my parents decided to talk to my teacher, Mrs Rivera, about what she was teaching in class and how I always had time to draw Star Wars characters in class almost every day. This teacher would play dumb by asking me why I was spending time drawing all day in class, as if she did not know (classroom sizes were not so large during this era). My parents would exit the meeting not feeling confident that things would improve in class for the remainder of the year. It would actually be the 1st grade teacher, Mrs Cox (who taught my sister and I), who would tell my parents to get us out of Garvanza and into a private school. This veteran teacher, who probably had been with the LAUSD since the 1950's (when the LAUSD was likely a respected school district), claimed the LAUSD was a joke and that she was still employed with them only because of the many years already spent with them.

And to think.....this was the 1970's, when budget problems were not an issue! What happened here was proof that lack of money had nothing to do with the problems of the LAUSD.

Having spent the majority of my educational years at private schools, I would eventually ask myself why the public schools were far worse off than the private schools. I remember CNN's Soledad O'Brien interviewing Monica Garcia on the troubles of the LAUSD. Ms Garcia came up with what I thought was one of the worst responses to why the LAUSD has been going downhill for years.

She said it was because...."the times have gone by so fast and we have yet to catch up". Talk about stupid one-liners!!!

It is obvious that private schools do better than the public schools for one reason......private schools won't tolerate bad or lazy teachers and therefore can dismiss them without the possibility of unions getting in the way. Any hard working American can tell you that private employers do better than union-backed employers due to a better workforce and a better morale. Anyone who is going to disagree with me on this is either a devoted Democrat, a representative of a union, a typical lazy employee, some of the above, or all of the above.

And to think....there are people like Monica Garcia and that idiot Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who still insist that the best is yet to come for the LAUSD.

I once went to a friend's house for a small party several years ago and there, met a friend of his who just happened to be a teacher for the LAUSD. He was talking about how unfair it was to be getting the same pay as those who he felt were "worthless teachers". He was telling all those listening in on the conversation about how he believed that regardless of who the employee was, one should be paid according to how well of a teacher you are and not by your years of service. I totally had to agree with this individual. The question was....would the union support this hard-working teacher's opinion? I don't think so.

Speaking of hard-working teachers......a close friend of mine was working for the same LAUSD school for the past 12 years. This was a friend who, as a high school senior, was honored by the city of LA for his work in the community. He would later be named one of several "distinguished alumni" by his high school in 2009. This guy busted his butt studying the books in college to become the best teacher he could be. All the hard work and dedication to his school and community and what happens to him in return, just recently? The LAUSD displaces him. And yet, not only is his union nowhere to be found when it comes to coming to his rescue but it is likely the lazy teachers he worked with will still have a job, thanks to both their seniority and the union. Fortunately for my friend, he has proven to all that there are still some great teachers out there.

The funny thing is that everyone insists that lack of money from both the state and city is a big reason for the problems going on with the students and classrooms in the LAUSD. That is not all entirely true! All the money in the world won't change anything for the better. Remember when the LAUSD tried putting less students per classroom, claiming it would improve education? That did not work. What about those measures put on the ballot in the past that would improve education if passed? Some of these measures did past but yet did we see any improvements? Nope!

Of course, with another measure on the november ballot that, if passed, will result in a tax hike, the unions representing the teachers will claim the tax increases are about "the kids" (just like how the unions representing the cops and firefighters will claim that a tax increase is about "safety").

Wrong and wrong!!!!

I can guarantee you the money from all tax hikes are about nothing more than "salaries, pensions, and legal-related expenses"!!!

As for that tax hike Jerry Brown wants us to pass this november, now he is telling university students that if they don't want any more tuition fee increases, they need to vote "yes" for the tax hike. So what the governor is saying is that during the entire duration of this temporary tax hike, students can be assured that there will not be any more increases in tuition fees? I not only can guarantee you that the universities will raise tuition fees again during the duration of this tax hike, but that the Governor will then act out the role of an outraged and shocked politician who will pretend he did not see this coming. He will then fight to have the increased fees overturned, even though he already knows that will never happen.

And the Oscar for best actor in a leading role goes to........

It is these predictions as well as past experiences that have made more and more voters oppose new, present-day, measures that will supposedly be going straight to helping improve education and safety. I am not afraid to say that anyone now considering on voting for his tax measure would be nothing more than a total sucker!

And what about those union reps who like to use well-known events as a way to get what they want?

Do you all remember the days following 9/11? Whether you were watching ESPN, ABC, FOX, or MTV, you could not find a channel that did not have a story related to 9/11. After days of coverage, we would finally get local television. I remember watching the 10pm news on channel 11 when they finally had a local story not related to 9/11. It was about a group of Orange County trash collectors who were refusing to pick up residents' trash and were ready to go on strike because they felt they were not being given a contract that was "fair". I remember the reporter interviewing the union spokesperson representing these strikers.

This idiot spokesperson had the nerves of saying, "just like all of us in this country, we too have been affected by 9/11 and all we are simply asking for is our fair share".

What in the hell does picking up trash in an Orange County neighborhood have to do with one of America's most darkest moments? Pure disgusting!!!! This guy should have been ashamed of himself for using 9/11 as a way to get a contract.

Speaking of idiot union spokespeople.....this past May, we once again experienced "May Day", where all we saw on the news were the large number of angry protesters walking and picketing throughout Los Angeles. These same protesters, who had nothing better to do but to cause trouble, were even praised by Nancy Pelosi when she was quoted saying "God Bless the Occupy Protesters". It was the picketing some several miles away at LAX that caught my attention because of a different idiot union spokesperson. It seemed that this man, with dozens of airport employees picketing behind him, was talking to a channel 11 reporter in the early morning, claiming that the picketers were demanding rights because of the unsafe conditions they were dealing with at work but yet, no matter how many times both this idiot and his picketers were bringing up the fact that they worked in unsafe conditions, he never seemed to bring up examples of the kind of unsafe conditions they supposedly were dealing with, every time he was asked by the reporter.

Hmmm...funny, isn't it.

Interesting fact....Travel and Leisure magazine recently came out with an airport survey rating 22 different airports in seven categories....flight delays, design, amenities, food and drink, check-in/security, service, and transportation/location. LAX was ranked in the bottom or near-bottom in almost every category. Does one really think that should these picketers get what they deserve, their airport will rank far much higher in the next Travel and Leisure magazine survey, when it comes to the above categories? I don't think so!

Speaking of conditions, I remember going for the day to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah. This was the second biggest sporting event following 9/11 (Super Bowl 36 being the first). When I went through the metal detector that morning at LAX, I went through it successfully without it going on. I then went straight to the McDonalds, took the keys out of my pocket in order to reach for the several loose dollars in that same pocket, ate my food, and headed to my gate to get my flight. That night, I headed to the Salt Lake City Airport, took the keys out of my pocket before successfully walking through the detectors, and then headed to my flight.

As takeoff began, I had myself thinking.........just 45 minutes earlier, I took the keys out of my pocket BEFORE walking through the detectors sucessfully but yet, that morning at LAX, I did not take the keys out of my pocket until AFTER I successfully walked through the detectors. This was not something where maybe it was likely I took the keys out of my pocket at LAX before going through the detectors. I was 100% certain the keys were still in my pocket when going through the detectors at LAX successfully. Delta Airlines would respond to me some 4-5 days after sending them my complaint. They would tell me the usually, carbon-copy, blah, blah, blah crap about how they "strive to make their airlines the safest for all". I suppose that if this incident had happened last week, the unions representing the airport employees would have likely put the blame on their members not getting a well-deserving contract. Right?

So anyway, this union spokesperson at LAX brought up the fact that the picketing would continue later in the day on nearby Century Blvd, resulting in traffic delays and the closure of Century Blvd near Airport Blvd due to the picketers laying on the streets. The reporter interviewing this union spokesperson then asked what he should he say to those whose right to fly is being violated by the picketers blocking streets, possibly resulting in individuals not catching their flights on time?

The union spokesperson's response? "It's okay because we are all in this together"!

Are you kidding me? What an idiot!

Think of this....what if you were rushing to make it to LAX that day due to a sudden family emergency back home in the country you came from or in some other US state. Or what if you were a businessman or woman rushing to make it to LAX as well to attend an important, last-minute business meeting on the East Coast, a meeting that could result in some type of financial contribution for a local Latino charity. If you were one of these two individuals, it was likely you could have missed your flight thanks in part to the traffic caused on Century Blvd by these LAX employees.

But according to that idiot spokesperson, it's okay. You know why? Because "we are all in this together"!

And yet, despite of these union-supported picketers and protestors at both LAX and Downtown LA, as well as those other union-supported picketers and protesters weeks later in Chicago during the NATO summit, who were all seen in both cities blocking traffic, assaulting police officers, littering, urinating in public, committing vandalism, starting fires, and using profanity in the presense of news teams doing live stories, it is the Tea Party people that are looked at by both unions and their supporters as "the bad guys".

As I end this story, I want to make all aware of the love I have for this country, its great history, its heroes, and its important values. I believe all should be entitled to rights at the workplace but this is not what today's unions are about. Gone are the days when a union was about representing the hard-working American employee who worked his or her butt off for not only the good of their employer but for the good of their country. That is not the union we see today. The unions we see today are about defending the worst of the worst, are about greed and even more greed, are about spending one's hard earned union dues on special interests such as campaigning donations (why should one's union dues go to support a candidate that union member may not support), and most important, unions are about looking after themselves and only themselves. A hard-working individual who deals with lazy or bad co-workers will back me up on this story easily. A union rep, a Democrat, and a lazy or bad individual known for crying to their union reps on a weekly basis will likely not. You can call me anti-American (which I am not). I"ll call myself a proud and hard-working American who is simply being "honest".

God bless America!!!

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