Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Union at the NY Sofitel

A good story on the role of the union in protecting workers like the woman allegedly assaulted by DSK.

8 comments:

Cincinna said...

 Exactly what do Unions have to do with l’affaire DSK? The management of Sofitel and her colleagues were the first to support the victim on the spot. 
  The Union rent-a-mob that showed up at the indictment was late to the dance.
  
 If the incident had occurred in a Sofitel or any similar hotel in a non-unionized state like Texas, Florida, or Georgia, the result would have been exactly the same. 
  If Unions are so wonderful, why do so few Americans choose to join?
  
  From the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics:
 ”In 2010, the union membership rate–the percent of wage and salary workers who were
members of a union–was 11.9 percent, down from 12.3 percent a year earlier, the U.S.

  States like NY, are the most unionized, with 24.2%
North Carolina the lowest at 3.2 %”.

“Right to work” states like Texas and Florida, where Union membership is not forced, but optional, are the states with the highest growth rate in America. They are also low tax states, with no State income tax. Triple tax states like Ca, NY & NJ are losing population & losing jobs.
   
 If there is one generalization that can be made about Americans across the board, across all economic, social, ethnic, religious, racial, & political lines, is that we Americans do not like being told what to do. 
Joining a Union is a good example. Unions may well have served a purpose in the heavily industrialized North East pre-WWII. In recent times, however, Unions have become a powerful Lobby and fund raising, money laundering,political apparatus. 
  Americans get this, and when they are not forced to join a Union, don't choose to do so. If one wants to donate one's hard earned money to a political party or candidate, you can do so privately, by choice, not through forced Union dues.

gregory brown said...

" If there is one generalization that can be made about Americans across the board, " its that we should not make generalizations across the board!

Thanks for posting Art. I presume this means you consider the sub. fee for Mediapart worth it?

Phenomenologist said...

Response to Cincinna:

The union-DSK affair link being alleged here is that unions pressure management to protect housemaids from abusive customers.

I also want to demonstrate the patent falsity of some of your anti-union assertions:

1. "The management of Sofitel and her colleagues were the first to support the victim on the spot." Actually, management waited nearly 90 minutes after finding out about the alleged incident to report it to NYPD, and some have wondered what took them so long.

2. You called the demonstration organized by the New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council a "rent-a-mob." Actually, the demonstrators were housemaids who were members of the union. They took time off work to demonstrate, which means, if anything, that they lost income in order to support the alleged victim.

3. "If the incident had occurred...in a non-unionized state like Texas, Florida, or Georgia, the result would have been exactly the same." Actually, to cite only one example, a housekeeper at the San Antonio Hyatt Regency reported a sexual assault. The management's response was to ignore the allegation and make the employee take a drug test.

4. "we Americans do not like being told what to do. Joining a Union is a good example." Actually, working Americans take orders from their employers on a daily basis. In right-wing discourse, this is somehow sacrosanct and selectively ignored in the strident calls for "freedom" and "personal choice."

5. Correlation is not causation.

6. "Triple tax states like Ca, NY & NJ are losing population & losing jobs." Actually, California's population grew by 5 million from 2000 to 2010, and New York's population grew by over 8 million from 2000 to 2009. From September 2010 to March 2011, California added 200k jobs, a growth rate of 1.5% compared to the national average of 0.6%.

7. You accuse unions of engaging in "money laundering." Where's your evidence?

8. "...when [Americans] are not forced to join a Union, don't choose to do so." Actually, to cite only one example, 40k TSA screeners just voted to unionize.

9. "If one wants to donate one's hard earned money to a political party or candidate, you can do so privately, by choice, not through forced Union dues." Actually, companies have been completely liberated by the Citizens United decision to fund political advertisements to influence elections. Your AT&T phone bill, for instance, pays for their political propaganda.

Nick said...

Thanks for dealing with that, Phenomenologist. I started getting all geared up to respond to Cincinna's rant, but then a weariness overtook me. So many ill-informed and sloppily argued points to contradict, so little time.

Cincinna said...

@Phenomenologist & his echo Nick:

My first suggestion to you would be to realize that America is not France, and has no desire to be. Next, drop the propaganda talking points and think for yourself. Instead of name calling.. "right wing" this, that,  and the other, come to terms with the political reality in the US. the understanding that  conservatism is a valid, intellectually consistent  system of political & social thought that is based on a completely different world view from yours. 
If you want yours to be respected, you must start by respecting others. 
 
To answer your points:
1.  Another cockamamie
 conspiracy theory? My sources in the legal dept of NYPD & DA Office tell me everything was done according to protocol. The woman was hysterical, hiding in a stairway, after she was calmed down and could actually speak, Sofitel called Authorities. They were called approximately 20 min after the attack.

2. We here in NY are all too familiar with Unions in NYC who are well known for the rent-a-mob technique. All that was missing was the "family spokesman". I guess the Rev Al wasn't available. 

3. The San Antonio "case" you relate is specious hearsay
based on third hand statements. Where are the legal suits? Filed in which court? By whom? 
 
4. We all follow orders: from our parents when we are children, and sometimes from our bosses at work. We just don't like being arbitrarily told what to do by the Government.  We dont want them telling us what to do, how to live, what kind of car to drive, what to eat, or how to raise our children. 


6. Check your stats. The actual unemployment rate is 16%. the only jobs that have been created are givernment jobs, and they don't create or produce wealth. 
 All states are gaining population, but not gaining working, tax-paying popularion. NYS only has a population of 19.2 million people, thus an 8M growth is ridiculous. Here in NY because we are   
over-regulated  over-taxed & overspending. We are losing our revenue producing tax base to lower tax states with less regulation

7. Money laundering of enormous amounts of money in union dues funneled into polital campaigns, donations, lobbies, and PACS. All this without member's consent. 

8. RES IPSOS LOQUITOR -  Less than 15% of the workforce in America is union. That means 85% is not 

10. Do you understand basic HS economics and the free market economy?
 No one is forced to use ATT or have any phone company or Internet provider. If I do want one, I have a wide choice of options to choose from. 

Cincinna said...

@Phenomenologist and his echo Nick
RES IPSOS LOQUITOR

Unionization if American workforce is less than 12%
NYS only has 19.2 M people, so your supposed gain of 8M is ridiculous.

Another cockamamie conspiracy theory?
My sources in the NYPD Law Dept tell be proper notice was given in a reasonable perion of time.

The San Antonio story is specious hearsay, based on third hand evidence. Where is the criminal case? In which court?

If Americans wanted to join unionize, they would. They don't.

As you well know, the once all powerful CGT and CGST & othe French communist dominated unions are losing money, power & members. Now that the ex-Soviet Union isn't there to train them & back them financially, the French have turned their back on them.

Phenomenologist said...

Response to Cincinna:

At the risk of going entirely off-topic from Mr. Goldhammer's post, I will reply to you.

You wrote, "If you want yours to be respected, you must start by respecting others." Point well taken, and I have respected your engagement by replying with rational argument supported by evidence. Unfortunately, you have responded with insults - "cockamamie conspiracy theory," suggesting that I lack basic competence in economics. As you admit yourself, you are speaking from a "conservative" point of view. Therefore, it is entirely accurate that I made a reference to "right-wing discourse" in my previous post. There are a few elements of contemporary American conservatism that I find to be intellectually valuable: (1) Hayek's notion of price signals, (2) postmodernism as a steady march towards nihilism that is perhaps not so desirable.

That said, I want to reply to some of your other assertions:

1. "Sofitel called Authorities. They were called approximately 20 min after the attack." Actually, Reuters reported that it took Sofitel management about an hour to do so. See http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/05/19/us-strausskahn-timing-idUSTRE74I0GW20110519

2. "The San Antonio 'case' you relate is specious hearsay." It is hearsay, but it is not specious. The media coverage of the DSK story has prompted a number of hotel maids and even a hotel security consultant to report on the problem of sexual harassment in the lodging industry - see http://abcnews.go.com/Business/strauss-kahn-case-reveals-surprising-dangers-hotel-work/story?id=13672496&page=2

3. "We all follow orders: from our parents when we are children, and sometimes from our bosses at work. We just don't like being arbitrarily told what to do by the Government." You have just admitted that the conservative opposition to government - which is always against welfare for the poor but curiously silent on welfare for the rich - is biased and irrational.

4. "...the only jobs that have been created are givernment jobs, and they don't create or produce wealth." Actually, according to the U.S. Congress Joint Committee on Economic Activity, private sector job growth has occurred in tandem with public sector layoffs. In April 2011, 39 states reduced their unemployment rates - CA went from 12.3% to 11.7%. In 42 states, private sector employment increased - adding 20,100 jobs in CA. More generally, government workers who provide merely administrative functions do not produce wealth. But government workers in state-controlled industries such as electronics do, in fact, create wealth. Observe the developmental states of the "Asian Tigers" of the late 20th century that played a crucial role in leading capitalist development.

5. "Check your stats." Actually, you should check your stats, because you made a whole bunch of claims that I demonstrated to be empirically groundless. I will admit that population growth for NY state was less than I previously asserted - 2.1% increase from 2000-2010. However, this would still be sufficient for falsifying your assertion that, "Triple tax states like Ca, NY & NJ are losing population & losing jobs."

Phenomenologist said...

6. Your accusation of "money laundering" is rhetorically inflammatory, intellectually absurd, and empirically baseless. Money laundering is the practice of disguising the origins of illegally obtained money. Union contributions are perfectly legal, and union members know that their money is going towards political activities. It is surprising to me that you do not mention the billions that large corporations spend to corrupt our political process.

7. "res ipsos loquitor." Reductio ad absurdum: (1) There are 412 US billionaires in 2011 out of a population of 308,745,538 - according to the Census, (2)308,745,162 Americans do not want to be billionaires, (3) Since (2) is manifestly absurd, it is false to conclude what people really want on the basis of their life outcomes. By the way, corporations fight unionization as much as they can. See http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/28/union-busting-tactics_n_886203.html

8. "No one is forced to use ATT or have any phone company or Internet provider. If I do want one, I have a wide choice of options to choose from." You're missing the point. What I am pointing out is that Citizens United legalized unlimited funding of political advertisements, so that NO MATTER WHOM YOU BUY FROM, that company can spend its proceeds on corrupting the political process.

Neoliberalism - and the correlative union busting - has been a miserable failure on even its own goals of economic growth with the notable exceptions of China and India. According to the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization: 3.5% global growth rate in the 1960s, 2.4% in the 1970s, fell to 1.4% in the 1980s with the widespread advent of neoliberalism, fell to 1.1% in 1990s with the advance of market fundamentalist policies. According to the OECD, Norway - with an extensive welfare state - ranks 2nd in per capita GDP adjusted for purchasing, ahead of the US. Indeed, Norway had 0 national debt and an 11% budget surplus in 2009, which allow its finance minister to buy up US stock at bargain prices during the downturn. See http://www.dailyfinance.com/2009/05/14/norways-success-in-socialism-has-me-turning-red-with-envy/

European social democracies offer their citizens a better life relatively free of the Hobbesian condition of the poor - and increasingly the "middle class" - in the US. This is why union strength can function in the public interest as well as why it is imperative to preserve and advance the historical legacy of the "working-class" movement!