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Apple Store Employee Attempts To Form Union 1008

An anonymous reader writes "Cory Moll, a part-time employee at an Apple store in San Francisco, is attempting unionize Apple store employees. The Apple Retail Workers Union is an attempt to fight for better wages and benefits and to address what he says are unfair practices in the company's glass-and-steel retail showrooms. 'The core issues are definitely involve compensation, pay, benefits,' said Mr. Moll, who has received little public support from employees so far, though he said he has emails expressing support. An Apple representative confirmed Mr. Moll is an employee, but declined to comment on the union effort."
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Apple Store Employee Attempts To Form Union

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  • Unionize this (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:03PM (#36420300)
    Yeah, go ahead and form your "union". You will quickly find out just how replaceable [flickr.com] you are.
  • Re:Unionize this (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:06PM (#36420316)

    When there are no employees left, how will humans earn the money to buy products with?

    Your point is entirely valid. Automation and robotics are replacing jobs faster than they are being created now.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:06PM (#36420324)

    Is how many of them that don't allow their own employees to unionize.

  • Re:Unionize this (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:08PM (#36420340) Journal

    When that happens, we change the the economic system. If we really don't need any human workers to produce everything, then.. we don't need humans to have to work to get the stuff.

  • by rmstar ( 114746 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:14PM (#36420380)

    If you feel you're not being paid enough, ask for a raise. If you don't get it and you're still unhappy, then change workplace.

    Do you really believe that is easy? Getting a new job involves time searching for it. Also, not having a job even for a short period of time is not an attractive option for most people, which complicates the matter further. There's a lot of friction in the job market, which is why it doesn't work well at all without unions and regulation.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:15PM (#36420392)

    Reminds me that Americans are assholes when it comes to labor rights.

  • Re:Unionize this (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Threni ( 635302 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:16PM (#36420400)

    When that happens, *they* (the rich/powerful/police etc) will have all the guns/food, control of all purchases/transport/employment etc. And you'll be utterly fucked.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:17PM (#36420404)

    If you feel you're not being paid enough, ask for a raise. If you don't get it and you're still unhappy, then change workplace. It's not that hard. And this is even from a part-time employee...

    I'm not fond of unions myself. I like the idea, but unions are like every other organization: they refuse to disband or become inactive when their goals are accomplished. For unions, once safe workplaces and decent wages are established, the next growth area for them is politics and that's the problem. But to play Devil's advocate here... I have a question for you.

    If we do things your way it will turn into a race to the bottom. If you are not being paid enough (and actually have a legitimate reason to believe that), sure you can change jobs. That won't be easy in this job market but it can be done. The problem is, your replacement is going to make the same inadequate wage that you did and is likely to make less since they just joined and haven't been with the company any length of time. You have no guarantee you won't end up in the same situation at the new company you work for, especially in the form of added responsibilities with no matching increase in pay. When this keeps happening across an industry it serves to stagnate wages or even drive them down.

    Just think about mobile phone providers in the US. There are several different companies. They compete with each other. You'd think this would have certain effects, such as at least one company that charges a realistic rate for text messaging that actually reflects the marginal cost of delivery. The first company to do that could seriously undercut the competition. Fact is, they all grossly overcharge for texting and they all make more money that way. None of them want to rock that boat. It's de facto collusion, of the sort that doesn't have to be deliberately pre-arranged. Why do you think that can't happen to the job market? If no employer will pay a wage that realistically reflects the value you provide for the company, you either suck it up or get a new skillset and find a different line of work.

    A union can actually force an employer to pay a higher, or if you like more reasonable, wage. That can be the case whether the employee is you or someone else. They can increase the average "going rate" for a worker in your industry, something other companies do look at when deciding how to attract the talent they want. Unions are an answer to the fact that any single employee is going to be replacable and that employers generally have the advantage in the job market due to overwhelming resources and the effects of "organization vs. individual, let's bargain".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:17PM (#36420410)

    What is it that Americans have against unions? Do you enjoy knowing that your employer has all the power and you're their bitch? At heart a union is an organisation that defends workers' rights and if a case blows up with their employer provides money and support to fight it in court. Or is a union in America more like a bunch of mobsters going around eating babies and raping people's cats? Because the American reaction to someone talking about a union seems at least as strong as if they were swearing fealty to Castro, wiping their ass with the constitution and swearing to bring the Revolution to America by blood and force and GOD FUCK EVERYONE. I mean seriously, we had a lot of trouble with unions before and they had got out of hand... but at heart, unions are a good thing and a line of defense against abuse from your employer that you simply don't have the means to provide for yourself.

    Honest question, I just don't understand the attitude. Or maybe I've only heard from the ones that are opposed to unions, for whatever reason.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:26PM (#36420494)
    except an entire economy that's being engineered by a greedy ruling class to create a massive disenfranchised poor for their own benefit. The world's more complicated than either Adam Smith or Ayn Rand believed, and the super wealthy really are out to get you. It's what they do all day.
  • by retchdog ( 1319261 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:28PM (#36420502) Journal

    why shouldn't employees (who are free to associate, right?) try to leverage the sunk costs of their training into higher salary? assuming (for sake of argument) that there is no government interference on their behalf and that the unionizers don't initiate "violence" against the non-unionizers, why is this not a rational approach compatible with Libertarianism(tm)?

    note, a reply should either explain how unionizing under these assumptions is irrational or give a coherent argument along the lines that these assumptions are impossible to satisfy (i.e. convince me that government interference and/or violence is an absolutely inevitable effect of voluntary unionization).

  • Re:Pathetic... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DurendalMac ( 736637 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:32PM (#36420528)
    Look into what Apple Store employees get paid. Look into their benefits. Then look at the rest of the retail industry and see what they get paid. Then shut the hell up because Apple actually treats their employees better than most.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:33PM (#36420534)

    > Honest question, I just don't understand the attitude

    It's about justice, agreements being voluntary to both sides, and reality reflecting the true economic value of labor.

    In addition, there is a long tradition here of unions protecting incompetent employees, "pay for seniority", and other unfair practices. While it's highly imperfect, non-union places at least *try* to pay for performance rather than merely how many years you sat on your ass.

    I can't find the link now, I'm sorry, but there was an article several years ago comparing US unionized steel plants to non-union plants. The ONLY profitable plants were the non-union plants. Their working condition were no worse than the unionized plants, and they were succeeding against foreign competitors in a way the union plants were not. When workers are protected no matter how lax they get, they get lax.

    Ultimately you don't get to have your cake and eat it too. If another competitor (say, China) is willing to have labor reflect its true economic value, and you are not, well, your jobs go to China. We're seeing that effect now, and it is killing the nation as our entire manufacturing base moves overseas.

    My industry is non-union and it is one of the last remaining one where the US has a domestic presence. Coincidence? Well, I doubt it. Obviously other will disagree.

  • by telekon ( 185072 ) <canweriotnow@gmail. c o m> on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:38PM (#36420580) Homepage Journal
    Unions are a relic of the movements that won us the 8-hour day, workplace safety laws, OSHA, the Fair Labor Standards Act, whistle-blower protection laws, retirement benefits, employer-subsidized health insurance... and that's just off the top of my head.
  • Re:China, India (Score:3, Insightful)

    by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:40PM (#36420596) Homepage

    It's not about how much you make, it's how much you can afford. Not everything costs the same worldwide.

  • Re:China, India (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:42PM (#36420614)
    When does the cost of living ever go down? The end goal of capitalism is for profits to be ever increasing, and that money must come from somewhere!
  • In other news... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) <slashdot AT uberm00 DOT net> on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:44PM (#36420628) Homepage Journal

    Cory Moll was reported missing today by his family. They also expressed concern about a chrome statue placed in front of the local Apple store in Cory's exact image and dimensions. An Apple store representative said, "We wished to express our gratitude for Mr. Moll's concerns and have thus erected this statue, and will do so for any other employee who does the same."

  • by kuzb ( 724081 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:52PM (#36420674)

    Something tells me you've never had to look for a job before.

    You should probably move out of the basement before you comment further.

  • Good. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by PotatoHead ( 12771 ) <doug AT opengeek DOT org> on Sunday June 12, 2011 @07:58PM (#36420722) Homepage Journal

    We need more union labor in the US. And it seems to me, Apple operates on a high margin anyway. Nothing wrong with that, mind you. They compete extremely well, offering holistically designed and well managed solutions. People will pay nicely for that added value.

    It makes perfect sense for the employees to expect the same values in like kind, doesn't it? Sure it does! They will offer the highest value they can, and they know the company can afford that loyalty and excellent service, because it's a hall mark of how their CEO does things.

    Perfect. I like unions, and believe that everybody should persue every opportunity to see themselves and their peers properly valued. That means value in their person, equality under the law, not discriminated against, nor criminalized against for who they are born to be

    , and

    that means value in their labor, such that their labor is a net gain for them.

    In this ever increasing push to distribute cost and risk onto ordinary people, organizing to push some of it right back, or secure enough dollars from their labor to actually bear it, makes perfect sense. ...or, let's get started on some improvements to health care, public works projects to help the economy and boost wages, and bring back defined benefit plans so that people can retire comfortably on, say $10 per hour, which seems to be the target wage most of these asses want to pay anyway.

  • by DesScorp ( 410532 ) <DesScorp@noSpAM.Gmail.com> on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:15PM (#36420828) Homepage Journal

    except an entire economy that's being engineered by a greedy ruling class to create a massive disenfranchised poor for their own benefit. The world's more complicated than either Adam Smith or Ayn Rand believed, and the super wealthy really are out to get you. It's what they do all day.

    I have a hard time believing people are serious when they say schlock like this. Except that I realize that, yes, some people really are this stupid and paranoid.

    Why, oh why, would "the rich" want to keep people from bettering themselves and making more money? More money for the general population means more money for... the rich. More people buying the products and services they make.

    You're either making the very old, very silly mistake that there is a fixed amount of wealth, and that if one guy makes more, another must make less... or you're simply paranoid and think the world is truly one big conspiracy. Either way, you're to be pitied as much as you're to be mocked.

  • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CharlyFoxtrot ( 1607527 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:20PM (#36420878)

    Your disdain for the common working man is remarkable. As is the attitude that people don't deserve better until they're up the ladder pissing down on little people. It takes everyone from the laborer to the CEO to make a successful company and ALL of these people deserve a fair deal and some dignity.

  • Re:Wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:25PM (#36420918)

    I think this asshat needs to take a long, hard look at the rest of the industry. He's working a retail storefront job. He's getting paid $14/hr when hardly any other retail job is going to pay like that, and Apple happens to offer very good benefits. Medical starts from day 1 for full-time employees, at least. Want to go to school? Apple will help you do it! The employee discounts aren't bad at all, either, usually 25% off.

    If the employees are happy with their renumeration and benefits then the union bid will fail. If they're unhappy, it's more likely to succeed.

    In Ontario, Canada there's a good amount of car manufacturing that goes on with quite a few different companies. GM is fairly prevalent to the areas to the east of Toronto (e.g., Oshawa), and all of the plants are unionized (AFAIK). To the west of Toronto, Toyota has a manufacturing plant in Cambridge. The CAW (~UAW) has been trying to unionize it for over a decade, and every time a vote came up, the workers have rejected unionization.

    If you have an enlightened employer you don't need a union. I've never worked there, but from what I've heard, Apple is generally a pretty good company to work for.

    If this employee has grievances and/or problems with the job, I would hope Apple would look at them and hopefully address some of them. If they're egregious grievances, and Apple is brushing them off, then a union may be the only way to rectify things. While the labour code has certainly improved since the time of Charles Dickens, it still takes resources to fight a legal battle if you've been aggrieved, and a union has better resources than a regular schmoe—who may be forced to get a second-rate settlement because they can't the lawyer's fee for proper 'justice'.

    You can certainly go too far in the power of unions, but so too can you go too far in the lack of them and the power of large companies. The trick is finding a balance between the rights & responsibilities of workers and the rights & responsibilities of companies. Demonizing one or the other completely is just silliness.


    Perhaps. (I have always liked the line (supposedly) from Charles De Gaulle: The graveyards are full of indispensable men.)

    However, treating your employees like cogs (or used tissues) is not a good way to run a company (IMHO), or to keep morale up. It's why unions were formed in the first place: so that employees couldn't be tossed aside while refuse, and that they were treated with some kind of respect.

  • Re:Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JAlexoi ( 1085785 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:26PM (#36420922) Homepage
    Having good benefits is a reason not to get unionised!?!?!?
    Unions are there not only to fight for something new, but to make sure that benefits aren't taken away without a good reason. Getting quarterly results up is not a good reason...
  • Re:Wow. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by RightSaidFred99 ( 874576 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:39PM (#36421016)

    Why would Apple pay anyone more than they're willing to work for? It makes 0 sense. You pay people according to the market for labor.

    What's the next bit of nonsense, should Apple charge 20% less for their products so everyone can afford their products (out of fairness, natch).

  • by smash ( 1351 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:39PM (#36421018) Homepage Journal
    No. He's right. I've been continually employed for the past 16 years, have changed jobs multiple times (i've been head-hunted twice - other companies have approached me whilst i was still employed), and if you make yourself worth money, people pay you money to do stuff.
  • Re:Unionize this (Score:3, Insightful)

    by whiteboy86 ( 1930018 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:46PM (#36421062)
    Anyone who is easily replaceable by a robot should reconsider his 'career'.
  • Re:China, India (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Stormthirst ( 66538 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @08:55PM (#36421122)

    It is the goal of producers to maximize profit. It is the goal of consumers to get what they want at the lowest price. Free market Capitalism is the system where producers and consumers are free to set that price.

    But consumers never are free to set that price. When was the last time you went into a supermarket and say the to checkout girl "Actually I don't think that banana is worth that much, I want to pay 10% less". The people in the western world don't know how to haggle any more.

    And if some idiot tells me that I can vote with my wallet I would point out to them that I don't particularly like starving.

    The real reason the cost of living doesn't go down is because of the federal reserve. They are constantly inflating the money supply to slowly steal the wealth of the country for the politicians and wall street bankers. If there was sound money all prices including wages would be constantly falling as people saved and became more productive. The goal for the last 100 years has been to inflate enough to keep prices stable so that people don't notice the theft.

    [citation needed]
    No seriously. You need to re-examine your evidence. This has been going on in all countries everywhere since the "free market" and capitalism was invented. This is not a problem specific to America (land of the relatively inexpensive), but it's a problem with capitalism and basic human greed. The aim of the rich is to get richer. The aim of the poor is not to starve to death.

    Please stop whining about how it's the government's fault, and realise that it's human nature to want more.

  • Re:China, India (Score:2, Insightful)

    by stewbacca ( 1033764 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:15PM (#36421238)

    Laugh all you want, while I laugh all the way to the bank as I sell another chunk of 100 or so Apple shares for a little spending money. There's a reason they are number one in nearly every business measurable, and it's not because of an incessant hand-wringing over the bottom line.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:20PM (#36421272)
    "Why, oh why, would "the rich" want to keep people from bettering themselves"

    You're misunderstanding their intentions. They don't want money (they've got that in spades), they want Power. The power to control humanity for whatever ends they see fit.

    "You're either making the very old, very silly mistake that there is a fixed amount of wealth,"

    You're right, wealth is not finite, but neither is human greed & lust for power.

    Whatever you have, I can make myself rich by taking it away from you, no matter how small. That's because if I can take away just a small amount of wealth from a million people, I'm rich. There's an unlimited supply of asshats willing to do that. Keeping them in check is your 'price of freedom'.

    To put it more succinctly: "What good is being rich if nobody's poor?"

    On the subject of conspiracies, all I can say is God Damn the JFK'ers. There are real conspiracies against the working man. Lots of them. Their not even hiding the fact. You can go to the web sites of any right wing think tank and they talk openly about them. A conspiracy is just bunch of people working towards a specific goal. Stop confusing the right wing conspiracy to lower the standard of living of most Americans with nut jobs going off about JFK and space aliens. Until you can get past that they'll just divide and conqueror us.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:29PM (#36421350)

    I like the idea, but unions are like every other organization: they refuse to disband or become inactive when their goals are accomplished.

    March of Dimes was founded to combat polio. However, it has done much good after polio was defeated. MADD was useful up until the late 80s or maybe early 90s, when it became more an organization of puritanical teetotalers looking to eliminate alcohol and uninterested in road safety. The number of drunk drivers who kill others because they are drunk is under 10% of fatalities now. Still not eliminated, but there are cheaper and easier targets that would save more lives that are being ignored because MADD won't just declare victory and disband.

    However, unions still have a distinct goal that can't ever be accomplished. In the US, the ratio of the CEO pay to the lowest worker and average pay has increased greatly (CEOs are taking a larger and larger percentage of the payroll). The CEOs are paying themselves more compared to the average worker because they set their own salaries, and those of the people below them (whether directly or indirectly, the effect is the same). The unions need to gain power just to raise the average pay to rise with the CEO pay. That is adversarial and ongoing. If the working conditions were perfect, the CEO would still give himself a larger raise than everyone else. The board of directors won't complain because that CEO is on the board of a company that board member is a CEO of (or, to put it another way, the CEOs are members of the CEO union, they just pay dues in time spent on boards of other companies). So without collective bargaining, the employees will lose buying power year after year with that buying power transferred to the CEOs.

  • Re:China, India (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DJRumpy ( 1345787 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:33PM (#36421374)

    While I agree with some of your post regarding cost of living, I have to disagree with your statement about consumers never setting price. In a free market, demand will set the price once a product is past it's initial release. Once you get past the early stages where production is low and costs are high, the consumer demand sets the price. That doesn't mean someone can walk into a store and demand a set price, but if consumers aren't buying a product, they are forced to either cater to a richer audience if that's an option, or they make it cheaper, innovate to add features to make it seem more of a value, or fail against the competition and possibly go out of business entirely unless they lower their prices.

    That model does weaken on consumables that are a necessity for most, like fuel. In those instances, the effect is blunted, but even fuel, if driven too high, will effect sales. It is directly measurable to demand. If the price is too high, people travel less, and demand drops, along with the price. If a local grocery store's price is too high, they will either become a high end store, or if there is too much competition, they will be forced to lower prices. If there is a war in the middle east, people become concerned that supplies will be interrupted and prices skyrocket.

    Don't confuse a lack of ability to haggle with market demand on a larger scale. If a new energy source was discovered tomorrow that made gasoline optional or opened up competition in the fuel market, the price of gas would plummet.

  • by Monchanger ( 637670 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:33PM (#36421380) Journal

    That was a joke, right?

    In case you're actually as clueless as that, we're talking about people who need to work at the Apple store to scrape by, not engineers making cushy 6-figure salaries. There's a huge chasm between having recruiters calling daily to poach you and not being able to take take off an hour in the middle of the workday because rent is due. You're one of the lucky few to be completely oblivious to how most Americans actually live. Work retail for a few months without using your current assets and credit- you'll get a real education. It ain't pretty.

  • Re:Good. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Eil ( 82413 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:46PM (#36421450) Homepage Journal

    We need more union labor in the US.

    No. Unions are useful in one case, and only one case: when a lack of industry regulation puts workers in peril. Unions were once necessary to combat hazardous working conditions, unreasonable hours, and mistreatment (i.e., verbal and physical abuse). In today's industrialized countries, strong laws and regulations exist to protect employees from these perils and thus unions are, in the vast majority of cases, completely unnecessary.

    Today's unions are used not for protecting workers, but instead:
    - bargaining for pay raises and other benefit increases
    - organizing election votes along the union's party line
    - making it unduly difficult to fire under-performing employees
    - making it impossible (and sometimes illegal) to hire otherwise qualified non-union employees
    - requiring that a worker join the union upon employment and pay union dues, even if she desires no union representation

    So, unions probably are necessary right now in some newly-industrialized countries like China where "middle-class" just means "don't have to steal food anymore." But here in the good old Magnited States of America, our society has evolved to include strong worker protection laws.

    Now, even if I were to believe that most unions had a place in modern western industrialized nations, Apple Inc. employees would still pretty much the last ones in the entire universe who would be qualified to join the trade union party. I have close friends who worked in Apple stores and they certainly did not think they were mistreated. Yeah, you have to drink a lot of Apple koolaid. And yes, they said it was demanding work. But the benefits sounded quite reasonable (certainly better than what I was getting at the time for similar work) and they gained experience, solid resume material, and tons of networking. I think most any Slashdotter will agree that most entry-level I.T. and retail jobs are far worse than having to pitch Apple gear all day long.


  • Re:Wow. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CharlyFoxtrot ( 1607527 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @09:47PM (#36421456)

    They are not worth tons of money. There is a large pool of potential employees. You cannot expect awesome wages and awesome benefits in that situation, period. You can call it disdain. I call it fucking reality.

    Show me the stone tablets where this is inscribed. Why should all the money go to shareholders or in bonuses to people who are already very well off ? Why can't a company offer awesome wages and benefits to all its employees when it can afford it like Apple clearly can ? This reality is what you make it.

    You want to get paid a lot? Work a job where you're worth a lot to the employer. You can cry all you want about the big bad men at the top, but that's how it is. Supply and demand applies to labor. That's how it is. Furthermore, when these people are making better wages and getting better benefits than most in similar jobs, you can hardly say that they're getting pissed on. But go ahead, keep assigning your own meaning to what I write if that helps you continue your idiotic ranting.

    So why can't solidarity figure into it ? Why make it impossible for workers to say: "this is not how I want to be treated and all of us are willing to stand up for it together" ? This is freedom of association, a basic right in Europe.

  • Re:Unionize this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @10:26PM (#36421724) Journal

    But he's not the only one...

  • by CharlyFoxtrot ( 1607527 ) on Sunday June 12, 2011 @10:37PM (#36421792)

    You won't find me arguing for exorbitant wages but I don't think allowing workers to organize throws the balance of power in favor of labor. I live in country where most people are unionized and I can tell you we don't all live like kings.

  • Okie Dokie (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PotatoHead ( 12771 ) <doug AT opengeek DOT org> on Sunday June 12, 2011 @11:18PM (#36422012) Homepage Journal

    Wages have been flat in the US for too many years. Labor in general needs to push back, and on that basis alone, I will support unions.

    You should look around. The nations you speak of do have strong unions, and formal representation of labor in their politics. We could use more of that here, because people have been significantly devalued.

  • by vorlich ( 972710 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @01:35AM (#36422558) Homepage Journal
    Here in Europe the right to join a collective organisation is a legal right so Apple or any other employees can engage in free collective bargaining with the man. Heck, here we even have tenants unions where our lawyers are smarter and cheaper than their lawyers. This freedom can often be a huge surprise to some American Companies. For eight years Walmart attempted to colonise the German retail industry. They were unaware of a) cultural differences and b) the power of the Workers Committee. Their Orwellian behaviour, spying on employees, banning staff romances and trying to coerce the staff into informing on each other was not surprisingly resisted by ver.di (the union), the staff and the general consensus of popular opinion. The experience proved so unmanageable for them they eventually disposed of their German assets to Metro and left the country.
    Sadly Huey Helicopters were not involved but would have looked so good.
  • Re:Unionize this (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tftp ( 111690 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @02:39AM (#36422756) Homepage

    When that happens, you download an .stl file and print whatever object it is you wanted.

    You are jumping too far ahead. Automation doesn't mean that you can just waltz in and run your program on that automated production line. Having one at home is not an option because of costs.

    Here is a specific example. Imagine that Bill Gates, our favorite super-villain, bought all industry in the USA and made it fully automated. Gas stations sell fuel with credit cards (just as it is now,) McD sells sandwiches from vending machines, and so on.

    In this world BG can produce - or not produce - whatever he wants. No workers are needed (let's forget for the moment about engineers.) There are 300+ million people without jobs and without food. BG has food, and it costs him just the energy and the amortization of machines.

    In essence, BG would not need those people. He may want to feed them for free, just so they don't riot, but for every practical purpose they are irrelevant. Kings wanted to have many subjects because they could tax them and use them as soldiers. But BG can't tax poor people, and he has noone to wage war with.

    That brave new world that you are talking about doesn't appear to be such a great place. From the POV of communism at this stage BG should declare world peace and just give things to people as they need them - and if they want to work (say, weave baskets) it's OK too. But will BG do that? Why should he do that? What happens after he does that? If you say BG will be that communist, and he will share... then some out of those 300 million will be not so kind, and they will take over. Human nature is a well known factor.

    You need to be practically an omnipotent god to be completely free from the environment and from other people. Since we haven't figured out yet how to use dark energy (and build gravity guns with it) our industry will be for quite some time based on physical resources of the planet. Even if we imagine a perfect communist world where energy and resources are monetarily free, those resources aren't free to the society. There is so much fresh water on the planet, for example... you can't just open all taps and go on a year-long vacation. But that's what people will do; we value only what we pay for. USSR tried to educate "a new human" and failed miserably.

  • by w0mprat ( 1317953 ) on Monday June 13, 2011 @05:45AM (#36423304)

    If you feel you're not being paid enough, ask for a raise. If you don't get it and you're still unhappy, then change workplace. It's not that hard. And this is even from a part-time employee...

    What a standard line. You've clearly never worked in a hostile workplace have you? The "If you don't like it, there's the door" attitude is nice in theory. The In practice all that happens is any self-respecting ambitious individual moves on to some other job, and you're left with the disrespectful unambitious drips that can't work anywhere else. Often the employer just uses the high staff turnover to have a workplace full of cheap expendable employees, some middle manager gets a wage raise himself, out of all this. Costs saved from paying your staff less, neglecting the work environment are quickly wiped out by abject business failure. You quickly end up with employees who don't give a damn, you know the kind. Customer service standards will degrade, sales will struggle, you'll have more employees acting up, management will struggle with discipline, will have to be harsh. Showing up drunk or not at all and some outright bilking the business. Eventually, something has to give. You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

    I've been a middle manager in a hostile work place, I moved real quick on rather than standing my ground and trying to fix things. Later the union did move into the work place - a rather easy target due to the catastrophically low moral and flagging sales.

    But as you say, people could ask for raises and make demands, you can't get fired for asking nicely and stating your case, and if you do, in most countries you can dispute wrongful dismissal. It's disappointing that more employees don't put up more of a fight if they want their work place to be better. It's just a shame that unions have to be paid to do it for them.

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!