November 14, 2003

Don't forget to boycott, too

If you support the Borders strike, remember that the union is asking that you also boycott and Waldenbooks.

Since I'm on the subject, I note an amusing comment on the above link by "anonymous." Let's disuss, shall we?

Forcing Border's [sic] hand this way would harm the market and cause an increase in book prices, eventually harming every reader.

Supporting the union does not mean that the prices of books will increase. Let's remember that under the economic model that 'anonymous' is apparently so enamored of, Borders will price its books at whatever level will maximize its revenue.

The point at which revenue is maximized is some function of the price per book sold and the number of books sold. That has nothing to do with how much Borders pays its employees. If they're paid more, prices won't go up assuming that prices are already at the level which maximizes revenue.

Now, Borders is also trying to minimize its costs. And this is why it's trying to pay its employees as little as possible. If the person who makes your latte or helps you find that book you wanted gets no benefits, Borders doesn't reward you by lowering the price of your book. Borders pockets the extra money as profit.

There's nothing wrong with profit. Without profit, Borders wouldn't be running their store in the first place. But Borders isn't guaranteed any entitlement to the marginal profit increases it gets by systematically undercompensating its workers. After all, it's the workers who open up the store every day, unpack the books, set them on the shelf, help you find them, serve you latte, clean the restrooms, run the registers, and make your visit to Borders a pleasant experience. They work hard, and they earn their money.

I would even volunteer to work for free until your silly strike ends in all of you being unemployed.

And you can work for free because....? Are you a trust-funder? Or are you adequately compensated at your real job? If you enjoy adequate and fair compensation, why shouldn't everyone else? Do you own or run a business? If so, ask yourself how easy it would be to run your business without the labor of the people you employ. The work that Borders employees do for the store has value, and they should be compensated fairly for it.

I am even arranging "sit-ins" of the #1 store- My friends and I will cross the picket lines just to enjoy a hot coffee and the nice atmosphere inside finally freed from all the whining we normally hear.

Let the strike go on long enough, and the clumsy manager making your latte will start whining when he or she learns how it really is to work in the Borders coffee shop all day, selling lattes to people like you. They'll start to whine, too.

Posted by Carey at November 14, 2003 06:11 PM

These comments are based on one thing only: a complete and total lack of empathy.

This person obviously cares about one thing and one thing only: his own personal pleasure. He seems to think that the "whining" he's hearing is some kind of a conspiracy from the union to ruin his shopping experience.

I'm unbearably interested in what this person does for money and how much money he gets.

Posted by: at November 14, 2003 06:35 PM

Ha ha! I responded to that post. :) We're obviously killing time in the same ineffective manner.

Posted by: Heidi at November 14, 2003 06:37 PM

awesome job, folks!

Posted by: bordersunion at November 14, 2003 10:03 PM

I posted that. And I do not have a total lack of empathy- I just don't agree with what you people are doing. I don't have a silver spoon in my mouth, am not a selfish consumer (I hardly ever go into Borders, although the last time I was there about a week before the strike, everyone was complaining and the atmosphere was downright unpleasant and hostile. My wife and I left quickly, feeling driven away by the feeling there.)

Despite my threats, I have not crossed the picket line. Why should I when I rarely shop there anyway?

All I know is that unions have made my life a living hell (the one I belong to, anyway). Doesn't anyone care about that? Doesn't anyone care that MY rights have been trampled on by a union? Nobody even believes it, because everyone is so convinced that unions are the good guys. Well, maybe sometimes they are. But sometimes they are not. No union has ever been good to me.

Posted by: Voiceofreason at November 17, 2003 12:00 AM

One more thing- I have very little money and more people in my family to support than most of you out there. I probably would not work for free. I just WISH I could.

And I am not a whiny customer- I rarely complain no matter how bad things are. Which means that if a manager DID make my "latte" wrong, I would simply smile and sit down. That is what I normally do.

Posted by: Voiceofreason at November 17, 2003 12:07 AM

"There's nothing wrong with profit. Without profit, Borders wouldn't be running their store in the first place. But Borders isn't guaranteed any entitlement to the marginal profit increases it gets by systematically undercompensating its workers"

Neither are workers ever entitled to a living wage you filthy Bolshevik!

: )

Posted by: Ned Flanders at November 17, 2003 03:40 AM

Uh, Voiceofreason, you're saying basically that you don't like your union so you'll ignore anyone who belongs to one? That sounds about as unreasonable as someone who says unions are always the good guys.

I don't think unions are always good. I don't think that unions are always bad. But in the case of the Borders union, Borders acted pretty egregiously, and the workers are well within their rights. So instead of saying "union this" or "union that"--try and think about what it's like in this particular instance. Give reasons why it's bad here, and we'll listen. Argue generalities and you'll get dismissed.

Posted by: Heidi at November 17, 2003 04:00 PM


Just because something is "well within your rights" to do does not necessarily make that action prudent.

Case in point- abortion protesters are "well within" their first amendment rights to picket abortion clinics and display their horrid pictures of dead babies for all to see, but that does not make this action effective or prudent. In fact, it turns many people away from their crusades because they are so loud and obnoxious in exercising their rights.

While you are correct about not judging all unions based solely on my horrific experiences with the UM GEO, I think it is also pretty clear that you can be within your rights to strike, and that it still may not be the most effective thing you could have done. Unfortunately, union "elections" often favor the most radical action because by the time the vote happens, union members have often been whipped into a frenzy by those running the union show, and the mob mentality in the room may obscure reason.

Even anti-union me feels the excitement in the room when the union organizers start screaming and everyone starts chanting. How could people vote no after such a display? At election meetings, the union people don't even bother inviting someone to share the opposite point of view so that union members can make an unbiased and informed decision. At least that is how the typical mass GEO meeting is- maybe at Borders it is a bit more toned down.

I hope this, for you, is not merely arguing generalities.

Posted by: voiceofreason at November 17, 2003 10:12 PM

P.S. You were raised Mormon?

Posted by: voiceofreason at November 17, 2003 10:21 PM