October 09, 2003

Something smells.

Chicago and the suburbs have been stinkified by a garbage collectors strike for the past nine days. A few places (like our apartment complex, thank God) have been serviced by trucks driven by supervisors at the trash hauling companies. But most people have just had it piling up.

Now, I understand that while garbage collection is not what one would call a mentally demanding job, it is also a pretty unpleasant one. So I wouldn't expect it to be at or near the minimum wage. But then, I wouldn't expect it to be the gateway to wealth, either.

These people, represented by the Teamsters, were making $10 to $21 an hour before their contract expired. This strikes me as a little high on the top end - I don't know why an experienced trash collector should be paid more than 100% higher than a new one. They struck because they were not offered a big enough increase. The strike paid off for them, because a federal mediator persuaded the Chicago Area Refuse Haulers Association to accept the Teamsters offer of a 28% increase in pay and benefits over five years.

Now, I don't know about you. Maybe things are different where you are. But from where I sit, making up to $56K a year before overtime to pick up the trash might damn well induce me to change careers, if I didn't already have tens of thousands of dollars in education and 10 years of experience invested in this one that just got me above the new top-end garbageman threshold fairly recently.

Labor unions used to have a purpose back in the day when a mining company representative could shoot you if you didn't care to go down into an unsafe coal mine. But now they're all about legalized extortion. In fact, I did a very informative Google search on Teamsters violence. Among the 18,100 hits was this NRO article by Deroy Murdock, which explains:

In the 1973 U.S. v. Enmons case, the Supreme Court exempted unions from the 1946 Hobbs Anti-Extortion Act, which forbids the obstruction of interstate commerce through violence or blackmail. Thanks to the Enmons loophole, organized labor can escape federal Hobbs Act prosecution, provided its mayhem furthers "legitimate union objectives," such as higher wages. At least 15 states similarly shield labor brutality.

That's right, kids! Union goons can beat you to death for crossing a picket line and the feds and 15 states say that's A-OK! As long as your beating serves their objectives, that is. Imagine how the world would be different if bank robbers had a similar loophole.

Criminal: Your Honor, I swear I was not going to give any of that money to the poor. I was going to keep it all for myself.
Judge: Well, all right then. Not guilty.

I can't imagine what it would be like to be in a position where I had to choose between putting food on my family's table and getting beaten, maybe killed, by thugs who would escape prosecution. This is so obviously a hideous perversion of justice that I think I'd buy a shotgun, blow away any of the bastards who came within 10 feet of me, and take my chances with a jury.

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) introduced a bill that would close the federal loophole, the Freedom from Union Violence Act. The bill was referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary in April 2003, and sent along to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security in May, where it has sat ever since. Now, I'm no expert on the workings of Congress, but I have to suspect that it's deader than Nixon. And even if it makes it to a vote, it very well might not pass. As Murdock asks rhetorically:

Will compassionate Democrats help stop this savagery, or will they wink at the thuggery practiced by too many unionists? After all, labor gave Democrats $89,882,124 for the 2002 elections, vs. $6,441,332 to Republicans (or 93 vs. 7 percent of donations), reports the Center for Responsive Politics' opensecrets.org campaign-finance database. Unions also gave Democrats generous, undeclared in-kind contributions.

Why is it that I never knew about this? I’ll bet most people don’t know about the Enmons loophole. Forget black quarterbacks, I think this is a real media conspiracy.

Posted by Mr Green at October 9, 2003 09:17 PM

Nicely done. Puts the little St. Louis grocery strike to serious shame.


Posted by: hln at October 10, 2003 07:37 PM