Notes from around the Human Experience…
TO UNIONIZE OR NOT UNIONIZE, THAT IS THE QUESTION: Last week workers at a Nissan plant in Mississippi voted against joining the United Auto Workers (UAW). The vote wasn’t particularly close with a bit less than two-thirds of workers voting no.
Now, the Deep South has never been a union stronghold, but still, the UAW’s rejection is telling, because it is hardly the only time they’ve been told no in recent years.
Get Your Official Daily Dose Policy Right Here: OK, great, don’t unionize. We would have said OK, great if they had voted to unionize. We don’t really care. It’s the free market, and American labor law, at work.
Dry, Technical Matter: The disappearance of the private sector American labor union is one of the great stories of the American economy the past couple of generations. To deny it is one of the reasons profitable businesses are able to keep wages low is folly.
But you know what? If American workers are content to take what employers are offering without – either individually or collectively – standing up for themselves then so be it. Besides, all of us are free to identify a job that does pay what we want, and then put the work in that is required to get that job. It’s the American way.
Back On Message: Walmart is a great example of the decline of the American union. They are the world’s largest private employer and supremely profitable and like any other business it doesn’t pay anymore than it has to to get the work it needs done.
Brother Can You Spare A Dime: It isn’t that much, of course, and it’s a big reason why between two-thirds and three-quarters of Walmart employees don’t make it to Year Two. Those that do stick around do so either because they genuinely enjoy working for Walmart – there are opportunities for those willing to work, like there are anywhere – while others shrug their shoulders and say it’s not that bad.
What In Thee Hell Is Going On Here?: What we’ve always found interesting is American unions are not fighting tooth and nail to get into Walmart because Walmart employees are ripe for unionization. Relatively low pay, not the best benefits and irregular schedules are just some of the things a good union would have taken care of before anybody could say Jimmy Hoffa.
But we have some experience in these matters and unionizing is not a big topic among Walmart employees. They will, as employees everywhere do, gripe about this and that, but whining is one of the privileges of punching a clock.
The Bottom Line: You can say this about Walmart’s anti-union policies and you can say that, but if the worker it ain’t interested, nothing is going to happen.
GREAT MOMENTS IN KILLING OTHER PEOPLE: The electric chair is used to execute a prisoner for the first time when the state of New York puts William Kemmler to death for murdering his common-law wife on this date in 1890.
We have always found it funny that accounts of Kemmler’s last day begin with him being woken up at 5am because if we were getting executed first thing in the morning we think we would probably have trouble getting some shut-eye. And we’re sure he ate breakfast mostly out of habit.
Whoops, Our Bad: It actually took two jolts to kill Kemmler because the initial jolt of 1,000 volts for 17 seconds wasn’t enough.
“We Live In A Higher Civilization From This Day!” The electric chair had been invented in Buffalo, New York by, of all things, a dentist named Alfred Southwick. Inspired by a story where a drunk died instantly after touching a generator, he first tried his theory out on stray dogs. Over the next several years several botched hangings got people talking about newer methods of killing criminals, and from concept to execution the electric chair took about ten years to implement.
Great Moments In Killing Lots Of Other People: Mankind uses nuclear weapons for the first time when the United States drops an atomic bomb, code named Little Boy, on Hiroshima, Japan on this date in 1945.
The bomb was dropped at 8:15am local time from an altitude of 31,000 feet and Little Boy fell 44 seconds before detonating about 1,900 feet above the city.
Though the Japanese knew something had happened because Hiroshima’s television station, telegraph and military communications had ceased, they didn’t know exactly what had happened, though some railroad stations had reported an explosion. A junior army officer was flown south to see what in the hell was going on, but the smoke cloud prevented his getting too close and the Japanese weren’t completely certain they had been bombed by a new type of weapon until President Harry Truman announced it to the world 16 hours after the fact.
Fly In The Ointment: Due to wind, the bomb missed its target by 800 feet, detonating over a surgical clinic instead of a bridge in central Hiroshima.
Fly In The Ointment II: Despite the damage, Little Boy was considered very inefficient, as only 1.7% of its material fissioned. We don’t know what this means, either.
Quote Book: If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end certainties. – Francis Bacon
Answer To The Last Trivia Question: Freddie “Boom Boom” Cannon appeared the most times on American Bandstand, 110.
Today’s Stumper: When was the electric chair last used in the United States? – Answer next time!