I have discovered a conservative/Ayn Rand type blog post about the Baker's Union and the reasoning for the strike. "Did the Baker's Union Go Galt?" by Peter Ingemi, a right wing radio host, actually considered the possibility that the Bakers were offered so little that we had no choice. The assumption that worker bees like the Bakers can make rational decisions regarding their self-interest is truly unique among right wing commentary on this issue.
Of course the post settles on the same tired assumptions that have appeared EVERYWHERE in the mainstream media. You know, 92% of pay is better than none, better to have a job while looking, Bakers are a minority that forced their will on other workers....... All false and demonstrably so.
I was fascinated by his unique view so I responded and have been shown nothing but respect from the man. I sent him a letter and he published it as a comment and as a guest post. I will be on his radio show, airing from Worcester, MA on Saturday at 11am Eastern time to discuss the Hostess strike.
I believe you can listen in at this site. http://www.wcrnradio.com/
Saturday, Jan 12, 11am Eastern, 10am Central.
Make no mistake about me. I do not consider Ayn Rand a serious economist and right wing conservative radio tends to be fact free, downright misleading. But I can't wait to do the show. The opportunity to share actual facts with a conservative anti-Union audience is something I have hoped for in this whole process. It is about changing minds about the Baker's Union, preaching to the choir doesn't help us. I hope it is a call-in show so I can set his listeners straight, who have no doubt been pummeled with misinformation by other right wing media choices.
Below the fold is a copy of my comments to him. You can read his original post and my response in the comments with the link at the top of this post.
Follow on Twitter to keep up on Saturday. @bluebarnstormer
I have 14 years in at the Hostess Bakery in Lenexa, KS and I have been hunting down misinformation against the Union all over the web. It seems the company press releases are being treated as the gospel truth in the mainstream media. Both Fox and MSNBC have botched the story and left out the voice of the Union.
No story is complete without both sides. In my travels across the web this post may be the first accurate attempt to visualize the mental state of the Baker's Union from an outside source. You are the only right of center site to come close. You are looking at it in the same way I am, you just describe it differently. And better than the main stream media, especially Fox. I am shocked to see it happen on a right wing site. A site who's users are likely anti-Union to begin with.
I will never understand the right wing aversion to something as capitalist as a Union. The right can scream 'commie' all they want but on a fundamental level being in a Union is about using your leverage to get paid what you deserve. That is 100% true for every member of a Union. It is about getting paid what you deserve for your role in wealth generation. I am a capitalist first and foremost and going on strike was the most American thing I have ever done. You may be the first right winger I have come across to see this obvious connection between Unions and self-interest.
You have nailed it on style. Your substance and conclusions however, are missing some details. That is not your fault though, the main stream media has done everything they can to portray the company spin as accurate. They have done a horrendous job of presenting the chronology of events or the concepts of 'cause and effect'. Your 3 'factors' are skewed by this misinformation paired with the lack of details from the other side. Except for number 3, which is dead on. And proves our commitment. Every Union member has more at risk than any executive.
There are 18,000 total employees. 8500 are Teamsters who got stuck with the deal. Presumably the vast majority of the rest are in the Baker's Union and some are in the various Engineering Unions. The Engineers also turned it down, we weren't alone. Less than 3000 Teamsters voted for the offer. The other 5500 Teamsters either voted no, had their ballots disqualified, or didn't vote. The Bakers voted 92% to strike nationwide and 72-0 at my location. The Baker's used a secret ballot box, contrary to the main stream media story of a voice vote. Be sure to forever question any source in the media you see a voice vote mentioned. It is bull. I have never cast an important vote by voice unless it was a non-controversial point. Which, frankly, this would have qualified.
I may be a liberal but my coworkers run the gauntlet. I have argued politics for years with these people and many are Fox news/Talk radio lovers who come to me with the most predictable FAUX news crap. The strike is one of those rare issues that brought all stripes of people together. Again, it was 72-0. One of my closest coworkers and friends is a life long conservative who has been on Bill Oreilly's side of every argument we ever had. It is, after all, more fun to debate people you don't agree with. He has been instrumental in orchestrating this strike locally.
The Union has handled this the best way possible considering the circumstances. I realize that may sound ridiculous to many but that is only because they haven't been properly exposed to our side of the story. What the company has done to us is wrong and doing it proves their total lack of respect for our skills as mass food producers. We were forced to show them the role of our skills in the business of bread.
Being a Baker may sound like something anyone can do but that is true about everything until you do it. Not everyone can handle the heat, hours, paperwork, and hard physical labor. There is no making up for our collective skills, training, and experience as Bakers. It is the only leverage we have.
Whoever the new owners are, if they want to meet the demand of the $2.5 BILLION in sales from last year they will have to reopen most of the currently closed Hostess bakeries. With the Union they can be back on the shelves in 2 weeks. Without, it will take years to replace the current supply of the over 30 brands up for sale. Some production may move to the other facilities of the new owners but no one in the industry has enough capacity to handle an increase of $2.5 Billion in production without most of our Hostess facilities.
Even if the new owners offer us non-Union jobs, and they will be offered to us first, we still win if we are paid more than the contract offer we just had jammed down our throats. Our pension is already stolen, whether we stay with these owners or are sold to new ones. It is more than likely that any of the Baker's Union members who are rehired will make less than they used to but more than they were offered. If that happens, we won and the strike was clearly the right thing to do. If that doesn't happen, which is unlikely, then it was at least worth the risk.
The CEO and hedge funds only pretend to be Galt, insisting all along that they didn't need us. They said we could walk if we wanted and they would replace us with new hires over time. The entire management crew, not just supervisors but all steps of the management food chain, were brought in to the big bakeries to run them at least 12 hours a day without the Unions and keep the main brands on the shelf. They were unable to do so.
They had at least 6 months of preparation for us walking, adding and 'training' new hires all along the way, and yet they were closed within the week. They were told we would walk if they imposed the contract, in other words, they controlled the date of the strike. They couldn't run the most efficient and high tech bakeries in the world with their best and brightest (and well paid) for even a week. Some leadership.
Make fun of Marx or Rand if you want, but they both represent subsets of human economic behavior well. Marx was right that workers control the means of production and we have to protect our value. Rand thought the competent should be rewarded and the incompetent would be cast aside to the trash. Goodbye hedge fund owners. This time they were both right. Smith was right too, the strike is the balance that has emerged from all parties searching for their definition of the greater good.
Perhaps economic truth lies in the middle of a triangle of economic extremes, with Rand, Marx, and Smith at the corners (and no, Smith and Rand are not in the same corner). Some issues may require answers from different corners of the triangle, always grinding, seeking balance. In that case the strike is nothing more than the invisible hand smacking a failed ownership in their deserving face. It is leverage being used and nothing more complicated than that. It just sticks out in an era when Unions have been losing battles and numbers for 30 years.
The company could have sold us at anytime prior to the strike, they knew the sale of the company was our stated goal. Yet they miscalculated that we wouldn't follow through. Another management misstep. And for the myth that there were no buyers around, they fought off a bid of almost $600Million in 2007 from Bimbo's to hold out for more from someone else. They would have made 100's of millions if they had done it and the Union would be in place and confident in leadership with a baking background. Hostess would be profitable by now, had Bimbo's/Sara Lee taken over. Not only that, but since the liquidation announcement there are reports of over 110 possible suitors.
If the Bakers are right, then the invisible hand will guide them into the reopened bakeries one at a time because of the obvious role of quality work for production in the marketplace. If experience and training is valuable in the mass production of safely baked goods then the Bakers will be successful capitalists. If we fail, then put us on the list of failures and we'll try something else. Sounds awfully capitalistic to me.
My personal belief (experience) is that most right wingers are not interested in details of a story if they don't support their pre-existing beliefs. It is a remarkable trait that pops up everywhere. Most right wingers will embrace any 'fact' from a friendly and disregard out of hand anything that contradicts the accepted fact. Do not try to tell me both sides do it, it ain't even close. That is not just a generalized dig at right wingers, it is what the right wing media has proven to me with their reporting of the Hostess strike and the harsh anti-Union comments that inevitably follow below, leaving out the entire Union side of the equation.
You appear to be the rare rightie who can acknowledge that the Union actually does have a side to their story. I have been immersed in this for weeks and it is sad that so many people, especially on the right, know so little of what has happened and yet have these set in stone opinions about the Union being at fault. Blaming the Union for Hostesses failure is not analysis no matter where it comes from, it is conclusion jumping based on wishful thinking. Anyway, hope I don't make right wingers hate you by liking your analysis. Thanks for actually thinking this issue through. And sorry for the occasional dig at right wingers, it's what I do. And I'm not really sorry.
If you want to know why we did it from the mouth of one Baker's Union member then read here. It is just me, I speak for no one else.
Sat Jan 12, 2013 at 9:37 AM PT: I just finished the show. It was well done and very open to my comments. They treated me with respect. Completely different than my second trip to CNBC where I was interrupted and distracted repeatedly by one of the hosts and the guest. I will try to get a link to the clip and post it as soon as I can. I feel like I was able to get a lot of information out in that hour. Thank you to Peter Ingemi and his staff.