Lessons: West Coast Port Strike '02    rev.01.07.2007 Back to Lessons Page

West Coast Port Strike '02 .... help me understand this.....

According to the San Jose Mercury News,

So, I, who retired from the technology rat race after 34 years, having maxing out my salary at less than the clerks or dockworkers, with no yearly pension other than what I can do with my 401(k) rollover.... got to pay deductibles on medical, etc., etc., for my entire working career.

What's the difference?
I didn't belong to a union with the power to shut down an entire US coast's shipping.

Let me make two points....

  1. The strike has caused, according to several accounts, billions of dollars of financial injury per day to citizens ranging from vegetable peddlers around our area to assembly-line workers at the Nummi auto manufacturing plant across the Bay from where I live, to truckers who carry the goods to and from the docks.
  2. The strike is allegedly over potential lost jobs due to automation improvements at the ports.

The unions don't have to take any responsibility for those damages.

The US government may beg them to go back to work, or try to sell the Taft-Hartley Act to a Judiciary which doesn't have to implement it.....

And when the union dockworkers go back to work, they just go back to work. Like people making over $100,000 a year in the Bay Area are really suffering if they take a few weeks of unpaid vacation... oops... does the union subsidize their days on the picket line?

Do some math.

10,500 workers, not all of whom are at risk of losing their jobs... let's say, maybe 10%? That number hasn't been mentioned on prime time news, has it?

1050 workers, $100,000 a year. That's a bit over a hundred million dollars a year, if they lost their jobs altogether. Ignore pensions, etc., for the time being.

Now, if they're an average age of 30 [have you heard that number reported?], they've got about 35 more years to work.

That's about three and a half billion dollars of income lost, if they couldn't get another job any time in the next thirty-five years, or more, with raises... maybe twice that, altogether. $7 Billion.

So, nearly the entire payroll cost of all of the lost jobs has already been taken out of the US economy in a few weeks, by the strike.

The automation improvements at the ports would alleviate the roughly ten percent of shipments which "go missing," on average.

So, these guys would rather keep their hundred-k-plus per year jobs than help the West Coast Ports track containers that go missing, which might contain....
let your imagination play with that a while....

Remember that, the next time you see a pickup truck with the bumpersticker, "Honor Labor" on it.

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