Noah Wethepeople slugs military coffee down his gullet, hoping that the jolt will get him get through a difficult discussion with rabble rousers inside of his union. This is a strategic meeting, covering the direction of his Computer Router Assembly Plant Union (CRAP-U). He is caught between two extremists – Larry Left wants to strike for a minimum $18 an hour for everyone with increased benefits and more time off. Larry cites how great life is in Europe, particularly Greece – to which Noah is quick to note that Greece as an entire country just went bankrupt. Larry says, “Screw it – we deserve our dinars, too.” On Noah’s right is Ruth Rippy who pushes back on Larry, “Then they will just move assembly to China or Mexico, like everyone else is doing.” Larry retorts, “Then we’ll go on a campaign with the press – we’ll decry how awful they are and tell everyone to stop buying these routers!” Ruth replies, “Awesome thinking. Then we’re all out of jobs.” Finally Larry shuts up.
Noah’s day is like this. Almost every day. He is pulled Left then Right. On the one hand, he wants to take care of his people, to get them the best deal that he can; but on the other hand, he knows that if he negotiates too hard, the Big Boss will move operations or worse, they’ll just close the plant entirely. It’s hard to compete against China, India, Mexico and Brazil, where skilled labor is just a dollar an hour.
Noah zips into the office of the Big Boss, Dwight Deeppockets. He’s going to make one last attempt to arrive at a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), but he’s not counting any chickens.
“You got a few minutes, Dwight?”
Dwight sighs deeply. Like Noah, he tires of the continual power struggle. But ah well. Having to keep the little people happy is a small price to pay for being able to manage and own such a big, booming business. Besides, he knows he holds most of the cards.
“Hit me with it,” he says.
“We want 18 an hour. Considering the recent layoffs and subsequent increased work load for those of us that are still here, I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable.”
“I’m sorry, Noah, I can’t do it. I’m holding firm at 15. I start paying 18 an hour to every Tom, Dick and Harry in this joint and we’ll have to fold before the year’s out.”
“I highly doubt that. Profits are up this quarter. You can well afford to spread the wealth.”
“Not when we’re planning to grow our operations, Noah. We’ve exceeded our capacity here. Construction is planned on two more plants – one in Canon Park and one in Hillsborough – this is not the time to start spreading ourselves too thin.”
“If that’s the case, you can probably anticipate a strike.”
“Well, I guess it’s just a risk I’m going to have to take…”
And… impasse. It’s back to the other workers in the union to convey this information, try to put as positive a spin on it as possible, and do his best to keep the peace.
He’ll meet again with the union tomorrow morning, at which point he will try to convince them that the time isn’t quite right to take action. The more favorable option is to wait until the two new plants are built and operational; if by then the company is still showing profit, they’ll be in a better position to demand the $18/hour. It isn’t going to be easy, though, to appease the masses… quite honestly, they should already be getting the wages they’re demanding. It’s not like they’re asking for the moon (which Deeppockets would be more likely to fork over than a $3/hour raise).