Labor has lost again. My co-workers voted tonight on the contract offered to us by the Strand owners. I couldn't go to the vote because I was forced to man the info desk since no one else could who wasn't at the vote. The details of the contract were not told to us before hand, and for good reason, because the details are awful and if the workers had time to mull over them without the union lawyers and reps there to push on us the bad deal they brokered, they surely would have revolted and voted no. I am shocked at how much we got our asses kicked. We lost on every single front, every single issue being negotiated. The vote was something like 11 no's and 36 yes's. Thirty-six of my co-workers wanting the couple hundred dollars backpay agreed to this with the urging of the UAW.
There is no increase in base wage. There is still an annual raise of fifty-two cents. They were able to hold ground on this, but we should have been able to increase this. Fifty-two cents?! This fucking bookstore makes money hand over fist. But now, this is not what has me sad, and wondering how they, the owners get away with this. What has be terribly sad is that our health plan was torn to pieces. If they were going to screw us on health care, we should have been able to secure a wage increase, but no wage increase, and now we are going to be paying through the nose for health. We had had a sweet health plan, one that no one else has had, and that was the one benefit to working at the Strand. It was basically free healthcare. We only had to pay two dollar co-pays for doctor visits and two dollar co-pays for prescriptions. Doctors visits now will require a $25 dollar co-pay, which for someone wondering if they can afford to do laundry this week is a lot of money. Prescriptions are now going to be between $10 and $35. And if you are picking up a couple of prescriptions, something that would have cost $4 will now easily cost $50 or $70. Plus that $25 doctor visit. That's a lot of money.
The UAW folks scared people by talking about how we had no leverage, how there was a large non-unionized staff at the store because of the high turnover. And you might think by this, that we got slapped in every way imaginable, but no, they find still one more way of rubbing our face in the dirt, something that I swear can not be legal. We get a five dollar rebate on doctors visits by bringing in our reciept to the owner. It seems like a way to discourage doctor visits, the fear of presenting your reciept to the owner. It also seems like a scheme to find out who is milking the healthcare and making the premiums go up.
The fifty two cent raise is retroactive to September 1st when our contract expired, so that will add up to a couple hundred dollars, which is nice, but not worth the costs. I am so sad that we lost so badly. It has me so hopeless about progressivism in this country, thinking about unions, about how they don't work in a service economy with people changing jobs so frequently. I imagine Nancy and Fred, the owners eating in some fancy restaurant right now, ordering more champagne, clinking their classes and toasting to themselves, congratulating themselves on crushing us so ruthlessly. We gained not one thing. We lost on every single front. This sucks. Why did you vote yes?