McConnor's Corner
No More Strikes
By Sean McConnor
Nov 1, 2003 - 12:00:00 AM

LOS ANGELES — Here we go again. It is the beginning of a new century and in Southern California we are facing the same labor disputes we had in the last century, by the same people: the bus drivers, the market workers, and law enforcement officers. And this time, if the media is to be believed, it is because of healthcare benefits.

Meantime, guess who suffers again? A man in line at the bank tells another person that he had lost his job when the bus drivers went on strike a couple of years ago. A hospital worker has to take three buses to get somewhere where one or two would suffice because of the bus strike now. People are struggling along in heavy traffic on bikes to get to work. Still some poor souls wait at bus stops for transportation that will never arrive.

Jenna Skarzenski / Canyon News

Let me say now: I favor unions. My grandfather lost his job in Chicago on the eve of the Great Depression because he tried to organize a union. My mother and my grandmother belonged to unions in a canning factory and a movie studio, respectively, in Southern California. I have belonged to the Teamsters and AFI-CIO unions but now I have had enough.

We live in the 21st Century. Binding Arbitration or Alternate Dispute Resolutions or Settlement Conferences are used by courts, unions, and private industry today to settle things. The issues are presented to an independent judge or panel and they look and listen and make a decision. Sometimes one side is happy or both are unhappy, but that is life. We don't live in a sandbox like kids and get everything we want.

The bottom line is this: We have 500,000 people deprived of public transportation, 70,000 market workers out of work, thousands of transportation people not working, and hundreds of sheriff's deputies having the "blue" flu and calling in sick. The economy is losing millions (one estimate is $4 million a day and that is conservative) and thousands upon thousands are suffering needlessly.

Workers will have to give up their right to strike under binding arbitration and employers the right to lock them out, but they will retain their ultimate rights: quit their jobs or close the store permanently. However, under a system of arbitration, they will get something back: the privilege to keep making money and resolving differences that keep them from doing so. Pretty good deal, huh?

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