Alpine Summit

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

NEA: Lots of Whine, but No Wine

Michelle Malkin strikes again! Captain's quarters is also due some credit. This is a link to the new business items by the NEA at their latest annual meeting. What did they talk about? New teaching techniques? How to improve student-teacher relations? No. Among other things, they advocate a boycott of Gallo wine. There are many other worthless resolutions, but I'll focus on one many don't understand.

I've seen a number of blogs today wondering what idiocy number 32 is all about, so I did a little digging. First off, the resolution introduced (and adopted) goes like this:

New Business Item 32

Move that NEA, utilizing existing policy, study the feasibility of initiating a boycott of Gallo wine.


So who cares about Gallo wine? Well, I found this story on the whole situation. Apparently, Gallo and its seasonal employees have been under a contract through the United Farm Workers Union (UFWU) guaranteeing wages of all Gallo's field workers to be on the same pay scale. Up until 18 months ago, that is.

The United Farm Workers' last contract guaranteed the same wages for all workers but provided health benefits, grievance procedures and vacation only for those hired directly by Gallo. But all the workers, about 85 Gallo employees and as many as 220 seasonal contract workers, pay the same 2 percent union dues. That disparity in benefits fueled efforts by some workers to oust the United Farm Workers in 2003.

So, even though only the contract employees got benefits, all of them had to pay the same percentage fee to the UFWU. So, the union is now fighting to get some kind of bonus package installed for the seasonal workers in lieu of benefits (health, dental, etc.). Gallo isn't willing to do this and the union simply walked out on talks with the company, who were actually trying to find some compromise. No, the UFWU decided it would be better to boycott.

The president of the union said that they're fighting the new contract deal on principle. Supposedly, they care about those seasonal workers, but then this little gem:

Others, including union leaders, point out a more pragmatic concern: Another two-tiered contract would almost certainly prompt a second attempt to vote the union out.

So the REAL reason they're fighting this is that the union would be put on the chopping block by Gallo's employees if they end up getting (what they perceive to be) a raw deal. From what I can tell, Gallo isn't doing anything wrong in terms of how it treats its employees. They're following the terms of the contract and really, it isn't their fault that dues have to go to the union. That's a matter for the employees and union leadership.

My professor last semester spoke about how unions are really going the way of the dodo. This is, in part, because companies have recognized that happy employees are productive employees. So they (companies) are now much more proactive in giving fair wages and employee safety on their own. The union has become an obsolete inudstrial revolution hold-over. I would think losing Gallo as an employer will not only weaken the union, but allow current employees to take 2% more money home if not more. Of course, the fear mongering by the union tries to convince their base that wages will go down to 1970 levels and families will starve, etc. Just the typical fear-mongering propaganda that never comes true we should all be used to by now.

So, the question is, what does this have to do with the NEA? The only reason I can think of is that it's jut one union trying to help another union because it certainly has nothing to do with educating children... at least on anything they're supposed to be learning, like math or reading.

Also, here are some additional links to check out if you're interested:
Gallo's website had nothing I could find on the issue, but here it is anyway.
UFW Website
Gallo is Unfair
A quick synopsis at Wine Expression