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The Sun-Times - Heber Springs, AR
  • Jerry Jackson: How to lose 18,500 jobs

  • What entities gave the most money to Obama and gave only a pittance to the Republican nominee? Answer, the unions.
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  • One might wonder why Arkansans so soundly defeated Obama in the 2012 presidential election.  If you figure out that landslide, how do you account for Cleburne County residents giving Obama only 22 percent of their vote?
    Here is the answer or at least one of the answers.  What entities gave the most money to Obama and gave only a pittance to the Republican nominee?   Answer, the unions.
    Union action is so divorced from the way most Arkansans think and act, that the principles of unionism are simply distasteful to most of us.  Throughout this state and most of the Southern states management and labor have worked together and for the most part have avoided strikes, violence and nasty demonstrations.  The major exception to this has been the teacher’s unions in and around Pulaski County.  Suffice it to say these Pulaski County schools are not the beacon of light on how our youth should be educated.
    The latest episode on union stupidity and thuggery has been recent strikes by Caterpillar and Hostess Brands.  After months of work stoppage Caterpillar strikers apparently realized their mistakes and basically conceded and accepted management’s original offer before the strike.
    Not so with the teamsters and bakers unions fighting with management at Hostess Brands.  This company had been struggling to stay viable for several years.  Hostess Brands originally filed for bankruptcy in 2008 and after emerging from bankruptcy, the company has struggled to keep the doors open.
    In 2011 Hostess posted sales of 2.5 billion but suffered a loss of 341 million.  The company had 36 plants and employed 18,500 workers.  Management attempted to bring the company back to profitability.  CEO Gregory Rayburn proposed the workers take an 8 percent cut in wages and have them pay in a little more on their health care costs.  
    No-way says the unions and immediately they went on strike.  With no indication of the unions accepting this proposal, the company again declared bankruptcy and this time it wasn’t to reorganize but to completely liquidate, sell what assets they have and lay off 18,500 employees.
    Why, you might ask are labor costs so important the company must cease operations?  In 2011 the snack giant endured 52 million dollars in workers compensation claims.  Hostess had 372 collective bargaining agreements and they were required to have 80 different health and benefit plans and a mandated increase of 32 million dollars in wages and health care benefits for 2012.  The company had a small army of attorneys and supporting administrative staff just to keep up with all these agreements and challenges by union personnel.
    Perhaps the kicker which resulted in management to throw up their hands was the union work rules.  In today’s economy you might think these rules which can only be described as arcane and destructive are no longer in existence.  You would be wrong!
    Page 2 of 2 - At Hostess Brands union rules required cake and bread products to be delivered to a single retail location using two separate trucks.  Drivers weren’t allowed to load their own vehicles and the workers who loaded bread weren’t allowed to load cakes.  On many delivery routes another “pull up” employee moved products from back rooms to shelves.  Just imagine how labor hours could be reduced if management had the right to assign tasks on a sensible basis.    
    Instead the unions decided they would rather lose their jobs and 18,500 would be unemployed.  Do you think their membership would have taken the same action if these laid-off workers could not collect unemployment compensation, food stamps, welfare payments, Obamacare and a multitude of other federal and state benefits that would be available in our cradle to grave “look after me” society?
    Under the Obama administration these obscene demands of unions will only increase.  The heads of the most powerful unions visited The White House something like 126 times during the period of 2009 thru 2011.  Obama is attempting to load the National Labor Relations Board with personnel not independent but highly biased toward labor.
    As Arkansans we can be thankful that we are not dominated by union thuggery that has ruined industry after industry in this country.  Railroads, airline companies, steel and construction are only a few of such examples.
    Currently the unions in federal, state and local governments are doing their best to ruin our economy and our country.  When the budgets of cities and states encompass up to 50 percent of the total covering retirees’ pension and health care costs, you know we are in an unsustainable position.
                       ************************
    In the 2012 election there was a group of 59 precincts in Philadelphia, PA who in total had 19,605 votes for Obama and zero for Romney.  How to explain?  Surely this is not a racist situation – it is probably just a case of innocent fraud.  Ya think?
    (Jerry Jackson of Heber Springs writes his “conservative viewpoint” column each Wednesday)
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