Friday, November 16, 2012

Unions and Papa John's

I could go into writing about why unions came into existence but I'm not going to do that today.  I might add some historical references later.  But for right now I'm going to meander a bit. I'm gonna get there. But not just yet.

Back when we had a farm in Michigan a new company got started.  Papa John's.  I don't know if it started in Michigan.  I always thought it did.  And some time after Papa John's became really successful an anonymous donor said they'd pay for local kids to go to college in Michigan.  Now, I may have some of that wrong.  I'll do some research later.  But for the purpose of what I want to write about, the details of that whole deal, I'm going to set aside.

I remember that a rumor was going around that it was the owner of Papa John's that did this because the college students that bought all of his pizza's were the reason why he became so successful.  Again, cool if this is so.  But I don't know if it is.  It was just an impression, something that people heard about and many accepted as common knowledge.

Papa John's, like many pizza places do a lot of great business because a lot of students buy pizza.  So whether he was the one who offered scholarships to Kalamazoo kids or not, I can't tell ya.  But when I read an article about how he was upset he was going to have to pay a few cents an hour for his employees so they would have health care I got to wondering.  So I started checking out YouTube and found this video.  And I thought it was interesting and wanted to pass it on.

This is what I saw:

This is what so many people are upset about.

Corporations that wouldn't exist if it wasn't for the people buying their products seem to lose touch with the fact that they have workers who are making all of that happen.  It seems the few people at the very tippy top, have become insatiable.  Even if maintaining their life style means their employees won't have access to any health care, decsent wages or reasonable working hours, they don't care.  They just want more. They don't feel any sense of responsibility to the employees that helped to make their success happen in the first place.  They just rationalize that not providing these things to their employees is okay because their employees don't have ambition or aren't educated and that is their fault.  After all these people should be grateful they have a job to go to.  But if their workers can't get health care at work and they don't get paid enough to buy it then how can it be okay that they can just take in the profits and if their workers get sick and die, oh well... not my problem.  That is so cold blooded and well... wrong.

It is a valid point.  And this is why we have voted in Obamacare.  All people are asking for is that everybody contributes a little to a national health care fund so that people can have access to health care.

It is also a valid point that people are getting sick of taxes going up because there are a lot of people who don't want to work.  If we had paper cutout dolls I wonder how many would be attached to each working person whose supporting slackers with their tax money?  There are a lot of able bodied people who have figured out how to work the system so they don't have to work.  Most people don't mind helping those who need it but there are a lot of people who have been taking advantage of the system and this is also common knowledge.

It's like this, if you can't afford to feed them, don't have them.  Bringing in several children into the world and expecting others to feed them and clothe them and pay for all of their needs is irresponsible.  Now, it is great that these things are offered to those who do fall on hard times.  Either because of ill health or some kind of problem or a natural disaster but a lot of people have also been taking this too far.  And that is also true.

The mentality that has been reveered in this country is that if you can get something for nothing you have figured out how to win the game.  The way of least resistance may be easier but it isn't always the best way to go.

The idea that working is honorable and being fair and honest are important virtues to have are rarely even talked about.  I doubt most people could even define what the word virtue means anymore.  They would recognize it though.  Because we all know a true friend is someone who stands with us and who helps us when we are in need.  Need is one thing but mooching is some thing else.  We may like to go the way of least resistance, nature works that way too.  But we can take this shit too far and we need to recognize that too.

For one minute, imagine what we are capable of.  We could be using our strengths and intelligence and heart to take care of the earth and each other and ourselves.  If we did that, what would that look like?

There are some people who are giving.  Whether or not they have a lot or a little, they are giving.  They care about their friends and family and they watch for an opportunity when they can extend a simple helping hand so someone they care about or someone who is working hard and has earned it can do better. 

But there are many who only want to feather their own nests and the luxury they have gotten used to and their affluence has only served to make them feel above then, better than and more entitled to whatever.... because they have figured out a way to make money off of the labor of others and the merchandise they are selling.  And there is nothing wrong with that to a point.  Just like there is nothing wrong with helping people who need it.  But unchecked people can also take this too far.  Every revolution and war  in history attests to this fact. 

And that is why we need to work together and that is also why we need unions and Obamacare.  A work force needs to be healthy.  They need to be able to earn a living so they can support themselves.  Their rights to work in a safe environment and to have proper training so they don't get hurt on the job needs to be protected.  Workers need to have the freedom to be able to freakin' go to the bathroom or take a break and eat some lunch or dinner or get a couple of days off every week.  And they need to get compensated for work related expenses and overtime.  They need to have pension funds and they need those funds to be protected so nobody can steel their money so that when they are too old to work anymore, they will be able to take care of themselves.  These are all things that people have fought hard for.  Some even lost their lives for making this stand, the founders of our unions.  These are the things unions provide to working people.  And not to just people who are in unions either.  These practices used to be the norm until downsizing became the new way to get people to do two or three jobs instead of one.  Now people are treated like traitors if they want to take vacation time or if they want to take time off to eat a meal or run an errand.  The times they have been a changin' and not in a good way.

Can unions get greedy?  Of course.  Any group of people that comes together to take care of other people's money that they haven't earned, are in a position where they can take advantage of people and get something for nothing.

And that is what our problem has been.  That mentality that getting something for nothing instead of focusing on how each of us can contribute to our families, our jobs or our community is what we are lacking these days.  Before judging others we need to start our day asking ourselves.... what contribution am I making to  life and this world?  Look, we could all be doing better.  So we need to just do the damn thing. 

Until we have that all figured out, we need unions and representatives because otherwise we would never be able to get anything done.  If our representatives fail us it is because we are being lazy and we need to be more involved.  We saw what a difference just voting made this past election.  Imagine what a difference it would make if people who had the time, went to county and village meetings?  And then blogged about what they saw and heard there.  Because that is where the policies are made that effect business and our environment and our daily lives.  We don't need to be rock stars or millionaires.  We just need to give a shit.

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