Mom used to say, "Give me a boss I can hate."
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My Mom was a working woman her entire adult life.
Mostly she did secretarial work in offices big and small.
“Give me a boss I can hate,” she used to say.
Don’t be confused. She wasn’t some kind of masochist who enjoyed being treated badly.
She could pretty much count on that anyway.
But she didn’t like a phony and she wanted the distinctions between the boss and the worker clearly understood.
I remember one contract bargaining session between our local teacher union and the board of education.
One of the board members, a guy named Joe Baldi, leaned across the table and looking straight into my eyes, said, “Klonsky. What you have to understand is that teachers are just one more cost that has to be contained.”
None of our team responded to that provocation.
But I wrote the words down and at the very next membership meeting to report on how things were going I quoted Joe Baldi.
You could feel the air being sucked out of the room. The strike authorization vote went 97% to strike.
I was thinking about that when I heard that the Amazon union had won the vote at the Amazon warehouse, JFK8.
In trying to destroy the efforts to unionize, they had done everything to make it succeed.
“Make Chris Smalls the face of the union,” an Amazon lawyer said in a memo. “He’s not smart or articulate.”
The memo got out, of course. Its racist meaning was clear to the workers at JFK8, many who looked and talked just like Chris Smalls who looks or talks nothing like top Amazon management.
The distinctions between workers and management were explicitly clear.
In anticipation of another upcoming union vote at a nearby Amazon warehouse, The Intercepts has reported on a list of banned words the Amazon bosses have distributed.
Words like “union” and “plantation.”
That will be worth some union votes.
Word is that Howard Schultz back as CEO at Starbucks.
Starbucks stores have seen a wave of workers signing union cards.
Schultz had stepped down from Starbucks but is back to fight the union drive.
In November 2021, he told a group of Starbucks baristas in Buffalo that they didn’t need to unionize because the company already shared its prosperity with them in a way that reminded him of an anecdote about Holocaust prisoners sharing a blanket. (Schultz is Jewish.) The questionable analogy, which one could argue is insulting to both Starbucks employees and victims of the Holocaust, made national headlines, and then five stores in Buffalo voted to unionize anyway. (The company has been criticized by workers in the past for paying too little, scheduling shifts in an erratic and disruptive way, and systemically understaffing its stores.)
Mom would be pleased.