To Strike or to Sue?

What happens when two liberal raisons-d’etre collide? It’s happening right now, as two of the left’s favorite hobbyhorses, heroic unions and evil tobacco, square off in Detroit.

If you haven’t spent your entire waking hours bopping around in the oblivious bubble of your Ipod, or living alone on a desert island and talking to a volleyball, you may have heard something about US auto manufacturers getting slapped around in the market. One of the major problems faced by US companies is rapidly rising healthcare costs, as well as ridiculously high pension burdens and the fact that they make pretty crappy cars. General motors estimates that about $1,525 of each vehicle it sells goes directly to employee healthcare costs.

So it might not seem unreasonable to ask assembly line workers to not smoke while on the assembly line. U.A.W. president Ron Gettelfinger (a.k.a. "Don Ronnie" or “Bull Dog Ron”) saw this request as unreasonable, noting that chemicals used in the plants to put the cars together should be a much greater concern. My God, chemicals are being used! I’ll get Erin Brokovitch on the case right away. Oddly, liberals are normally the first to jump at banning smoking just about anywhere, and to tell citizens that it's for their own good. Many locales in California have banned smoking outdoors as well. But now, a corporation wants to ban smoking. Let's not forget, corporations are evil 'n stuff – they've often been known to exchange blood for oil, or umm. . . I think that I heard that in a chant.

Here’s yet another example of how unions are killing themselves. All the company is asking employees to do is to not smoke while assembling people’s cars, not to quit altogether or to refrain from smoking on breaks (of which I’m sure there are plenty). What right, I wonder, do these employees have to refuse to give up smoking in a private building that they do not own (around all these dangerous plant chemicals, remember), while also complaining about the plant's environmental conditions? Oddly, unions have the right to form a monopoly against their employer, and use threats of force to keep their priveleges, wages, and benefits artificially higher than they ever would be otherwise, although their emlpoyer is not permitted to use threats or force. The result is that unions are slowly chewing away at the hand that is feeding them. Meanwhile, all of the extra costs that unions demand are absorbed into their respective products, which seem awfully expensive for their quality, at least to people who earn market wages. But until the left can figure out which is a great priority – threatening union employers out of more money or suing tobacco companies for more money – I’m left to wonder how G.M. still gets that new car smell in their vehicles with all of that second smoke in their plants. They must use chemicals. I smell another class action suit.


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