Piggly Wiggly Midwest has agreed to pay more than $570,000 in back pay to 500 union employees at six of its Wisconsin stores as part of a recent settlement reached with the National Labor Relations Board.The unions had to file more than 120 charges of unfair labor practices over the past several years. Charges included multiple counts of bad faith bargaining, arbitrary and unilateral changes to wages and working conditions, unlawful firings, and an illegal attempt to get the workers to de-certify their union.
The deal also includes new collective bargaining agreements with the union representing Piggly Wiggly employees, reinstating discharged workers and the previously announced decision to keep open a south-side Sheboygan store that had been slated for closure.
This victory shows the importance of unions in these days, despite the right's arguments that they are obsolete and no longer needed.
Unless these workers are all independently wealthy people who just happen to like to bag groceries for minimum wage, a single worker would not be able to afford the time or the money that it would take to defend their rights against bullies like the management of this grocery chain.
And the argument that the unions are just greedy people is ludicrous. They need the stores to thrive for them to thrive. They are fully aware that bankrupting the store would only hurt themselves as well. The unions are only trying to get a fair wage for their members and to protect their rights.
On the other hand, if it weren't for the unions, and the laws that they have fought for, there would be nothing to keep the greedy CEO's from ruining their workers, especially in the current economy where things are slowly turning around to a more positive outlook, but where there is still a dearth of family-supporting jobs. The current mindset of too many companies, especially the big ones, is that their employees are expendable tools and not people just trying to make it.
And yes, the same goes for the public sector workers, who just had a big win with the Act 10 rulings.
Hopefully, some day not too far off in the future, the self-described masters of industry will realize that they would be nothing without labor, and that it would be mutually beneficial for both sides to pull together and move forward instead of having to fight each other and have both sides lose ground.