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Friday, June 21
The Indiana Daily Student


The irony of Bloomingfood's unionization

A fight brews between oppressive management and underpaid workers. Negotiations have reached a critical point.

We could be talking about the historical enmity between the United Auto Workers and state governments or the teeth-grindingly difficult issue of state employee unions, most notably when Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s reforms drew an immediate backlash.

But no. We are talking about Bloomingfoods.

Bloomingfoods, everyone’s favorite co-op purveyor of gluten-free, fair trade and organic foodstuffs, is under fire from its employees for allegedly not taking care of its workers.

This is the kind of charge one would expect to see against corporate titans such as Wal-Mart or McDonald’s.

These workers are attempting to organize under United Food and Commercial Workers Local 700, which is based out of ?Indianapolis.

In response, Bloomingfoods administrators have contacted an anti-union consultant.

This move makes it painfully clear to the union that Bloomingfoods is “going to run a destructive campaign, especially when you consider that co-ops have a particular stance on social equality,” as stated by Patrick Barrett, the organizing director of UFCW Local 700.

As a conservative, one might expect I would be rubbing my hands in glee at the prospect of such a beloved company here in the liberal citadel of Monroe County resorting to such underhanded tactics. And you would be right.

But another part of me wants to shake my head and bemoan the state for the lack of trust between workers and administrators in even the most socially responsible of companies.

One does not need to be Volkswagen to know the costs of unionizing workers, and the downfall and struggling infancy of the new General Motors, Ford and Chrysler speaks volumes to the danger of ?letting unions run amok.

There was indeed a time when the power of labor prices was almost exclusively with that of the firm, and collective bargaining certainly helped offset the inordinate power industry moguls had over unskilled labor.

But these institutions have increasingly become irrelevant as the United States’ workforce has expanded, modernized, mechanized and ?intellectualized.

The days of primarily unskilled manufacturing have long since been sent to places with a much more competitive, or lower, minimum wage.

Now unions are in a fight to justify their existence and seek to gobble up what remains of those inclined to sympathize with them.

We might never know exactly why these workers sought collective bargaining, as their list of grievances includes amorphous items such as “failing to address workers’ concerns,” and “lacking consistent policy.”

But the owners of this co-op are still, at heart, a business and seek to protect their interests as well as those who seek to eat ?responsibly.

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