20 votes

McDonald’s workers in Denmark won good pay and benefits through striking

11 comments

  1. [11]
    joplin
    Link
    I'm curious how others feel about this? I definitely think McDonald's is a shit company and they should pay more here in the States and elsewhere. I'm glad the workers there got what they want....

    I'm curious how others feel about this? I definitely think McDonald's is a shit company and they should pay more here in the States and elsewhere. I'm glad the workers there got what they want. However, I've been on the other end of union bullying and I find it really troubling. I grew up in the suburbs of Flint, MI where the auto unions were started. They were constantly in the news fighting for the rights of their workers. For the most part, I agreed with them on those sorts of issues. (Or at least, I would probably agree with them now. I didn't really have a great understanding of what they were talking about when I was a kid.)

    But when they started working with other unrelated unions, things got weird. In my particular suburb we had a couple of different grocery stores. One was union and a new one came in that was non-union. GM had laid-off a bunch of union workers that summer because they were producing shitty cars that nobody wanted to buy. (GM as a whole, that is, I'm not blaming the union workers, though after reading Rivethead, they probably do share some of the blame.) So the union would pay them a few bucks an hour to stand outside the non-union store and harass customers going into the store. You'd be walking in to buy some milk like your parents asked, and suddenly some guy with a picket sign is screaming at you and threatening you with physical violence.

    It's great that people can band together to advocate for better treatment of workers. But this can just as easily turn into discrimination and harassment. In Denmark it was a company that deserved it, but it could just as easily have been a company that supported gay rights, or abortion rights, or whatever other thing some people don't like. That troubles me.

    And no, this wasn't some weird one-off interaction. This happened to just about everyone I knew at the time in different situations. Intimidation is a tactic frequently used by unions in the Midwest. 20 years later, a neighbor ran into a similar thing with some small 2-person shop he was buying something from. They were being harassed because they were a non-union shop. The union set up a giant blow-up rat across the street from their office and they harassed customers going in and out of the shop. It's like, really? This is what it's come to? It's no longer billion dollar companies mistreating hundreds or thousands of workers, but even the small guy on the corner trying to get his business off the ground? It really makes it hard for me to support unions here in the US because they seem pretty corrupt. I love the idea, but I hate the implementation. I'd prefer to see something closer to what I've heard is done in Germany. If I recall (feel free to correct me if I've got the details wrong), something like any group of 5 or more workers is a de-facto union. That seems a lot more healthy than what we have here.

    6 votes
    1. [8]
      hungariantoast
      Link Parent
      I understand why, but at the same time I don't. Best way I can respond to this is by picking quotes But that's true of pretty much any organization of people? Democratic governments do shitty...

      That troubles me

      I understand why, but at the same time I don't. Best way I can respond to this is by picking quotes

      but it could just as easily have been a company that supported gay rights, or abortion rights, or whatever other thing some people don't like

      But that's true of pretty much any organization of people? Democratic governments do shitty things all the time, but I'm not about to be "troubled" about the idea of democracy. Unions are just tools for organized labor to advance their interests. Police unions are a great example of shitty unions, but I'm not about to let them soil the overall idea for me.

      It's great that people can band together to advocate for better treatment of workers. But this can just as easily turn into discrimination and harassment

      What alternative is there than to organize? Capital cannot be trusted with the interest of labor.

      Fundamentally, unions should be a tool for labor to organize and democratically leverage their power against capital in the interest of the workers. Obviously, because we do not live in a perfect world, unions are not always as democratic and beneficial as they should be. That really sucks, and it's something that should be called out and worked on, but the solution to the issue of bad unions is not to get rid of unions, it is to reform or replace them with better alternatives for the workers.

      9 votes
      1. [7]
        joplin
        Link Parent
        I guess the main thing that bugged me about the article is that I felt they framed it as "unions are great because they can bully others into getting their way!" rather than "unions are great...

        I guess the main thing that bugged me about the article is that I felt they framed it as "unions are great because they can bully others into getting their way!" rather than "unions are great because they increase the power of workers to fight for equitable conditions!"

        the solution to the issue of bad unions is not to get rid of unions, it is to reform or replace them with better alternatives for the workers.

        Yeah, I fully agree with what you're saying here. The problem is that I don't feel like anyone (in the US) is really looking for ways to improve unions. Whenever someone tries to point out the shitty system we currently have, they get shut down as being pro-corporate and anti-union. (Thank you, by the way, for not doing that.) That's what troubles me so much about this. The current (US) system is shitty (and isn't really working very well for the majority of workers in the US), but nobody (including workers as far as I can tell) seems to want to fix it.

        5 votes
        1. [6]
          FlippantGod
          Link Parent
          You might be interested in Louis Rossman's YouTube channel. He is a small apple repair shop owner who does a lot of political commentary. Recently he espoused a belief that people put out of a...

          You might be interested in Louis Rossman's YouTube channel. He is a small apple repair shop owner who does a lot of political commentary. Recently he espoused a belief that people put out of a job, or even just required to stop remoting, will realize they can make more money self-employed. Even if only a portion of those who decide to try manage to make it work, that seems like a big win; more, more motivated people, who can't rely on economies of scale to outcompete.

          I don't know if having more self-employed and/or small business owners and/or coops will fix things, but it seems like a step in the right direction.

          4 votes
          1. [5]
            mtset
            Link Parent
            I would be cautious about putting too much stock in Rossman's political commentary, given his occasional espousal of the ultra-right-wing publication Freedom Comix.

            I would be cautious about putting too much stock in Rossman's political commentary, given his occasional espousal of the ultra-right-wing publication Freedom Comix.

            5 votes
            1. [2]
              lou
              Link Parent
              Rossman is a repair man that wants everything to be easily repairable. That's about it. I can't fathom why anyone would give credence to him in other matters. But then, politicians came from...

              Rossman is a repair man that wants everything to be easily repairable. That's about it. I can't fathom why anyone would give credence to him in other matters. But then, politicians came from weirder places, so who am I to complain?

              4 votes
              1. mtset
                Link Parent
                Unfortunately, that's a crucial part of the alt-right pipeline these days. They find people who are well-known for some other thing, like a technical skill, a piece of entertainment, or simply...

                Unfortunately, that's a crucial part of the alt-right pipeline these days. They find people who are well-known for some other thing, like a technical skill, a piece of entertainment, or simply being a celebrity, and use them to direct people toward right-wing media. Often, those people are just contrarians who feel that promoting such things makes them seem "cool" - and it's a self fulfilling prophecy, since their audience will the fill up with people who agree with them politically, meaning that espousing those political views will help them grow their audience.

                6 votes
            2. [2]
              FlippantGod
              Link Parent
              Did I give that impression?

              Did I give that impression?

              1. mtset
                Link Parent
                You mentioned that he does political commentary. I just wanted to mention to other readers the kind of political commentary he does, because it's kind of incongruous with the main political...

                You mentioned that he does political commentary. I just wanted to mention to other readers the kind of political commentary he does, because it's kind of incongruous with the main political message he puts out, which is that the government should force companies to make their products a more repairable - by definition a progressive opinion.

                8 votes
    2. [2]
      lou
      Link Parent
      Unions are generally good, but, like lots of good things, they too must be regulated.

      Unions are generally good, but, like lots of good things, they too must be regulated.

      8 votes
      1. mtset
        Link Parent
        Yep, I agree with this. Any organization can promote bad things; that doesn't mean organizations are bad. We rely on government to check the activities of individuals and groups, and unions...

        Yep, I agree with this. Any organization can promote bad things; that doesn't mean organizations are bad. We rely on government to check the activities of individuals and groups, and unions shouldn't be exempt from that. Similarly, we rely on other groups to check the government's power, and unions are a part of that. Very dialectical. :)

        6 votes