Keep it up, unions!

I don’t agree with Alec Baldwin, the oldest and most liberal of the Baldwin brothers, about much of anything. But there is one opinion we do share: we both love Wegmans. Or, I should say, his mother and I both love Wegmans. Back in May Baldwin told David Letterman that his mother loves Wegmans so much she refuses to leave her home in frigid upstate New York to move in with brother Billy in sunny southern California.

Wegmans is a regional supermarket chain based in Rochester, New York. Several years ago they arrived in Maryland, where they built a large store in the then-declining Hunt Valley Town Center.

It has become my favorite place to shop. The selection is huge, fresh meats, produce, cheeses and baked goods are consistently of the highest quality, the house brands are first rate, employees are always helpful and friendly, the store is clean, checkout lines are short, and prices are competitive.

About the only thing I’ve ever found annoying about the store is that sometimes I have trouble finding a parking space. That’s because many customers drive 30 or more miles just to shop there.

People all over Maryland literally pray that a Wegmans will open in their community. Which might make you kind of wonder why some Anne Arundel County residents are opposing the opening of a new Wegmans near Crofton.

Ostensibly, the opposition is due to the fact that the shopping center that will house the store is being built atop a site where Constellation Energy once dumped fly ash from coal-fired electricity generating plants. Two years ago the energy utility agreed to clean up the waste and pay damages to residents who found carcinogens in their wells.

However, building on top of a place where fly ash was dumped in the past isn’t going to make things any worse. It appears that the opposition is really being fueled and funded by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, which has filed suits to block other Wegmans stores. The best evidence of this is the refusal of the lawyer representing the opponents to say whether he is being paid by the union. If he is not, there would be no reason for him to refuse to answer the question.

Wegmans has no unions, a fact that, along with family ownership, makes it such a class operation. Furthermore, the company’s workers have no desire to join a union. Wegmans has been one of Fortune‘s 100 best companies to work for since the magazine started publishing the list in 1998.

To the UFCW it doesn’t matter why Wegmans has no unions. Just being non-union makes the grocery chain evil, especially since there is no way Wegmans employees would ever vote in a fair certification election to have the UFCW represent them. This is, of course, why the union supports the Orwellian “Employee Free Choice Act” which would do away secret-ballot union certification elections. Instead, union thugs would come to your home and hand you a card which you had better sign, or else. In the meantime, the union will continue to file lawsuits to try to prevent Wegmans from opening new stores.

In taking on Wegmans, the UFCW has picked the wrong enemy. Even here in the deep blue, pro-union, People’s Republic of Maryland, Wegmans is very popular with consumers. If the union succeeds in keeping a Wegmans from opening in the community, there are going to be a lot of unhappy campers.

Meanwhile, up north in The Big Apple, a union representing New York City sanitation workers and another union representing their supervisors have angered residents by deliberately sabotaging the cleanup from the blizzard in order to protest cuts to the Sanitation Department’s budget. Several sanitation workers told a city councilman that workers

used a variety of tactics to drag out the plowing process — and pad overtime checks — which included keeping plows slightly higher than the roadways and skipping over streets along their routes . . . they were told to keep their plows off most streets and to wait for orders before attacking the accumulating piles of snow.

Some of these sanitation workers are paid over $100,000 per year. Plus, they enjoy the usual perks that go with municipal employment — generous pensions, early retirement, Cadillac health insurance plans.

Says talk radio host Dana Loesch:

If union bosses are trying to send a message by refusing to do the work that they get paid six figures for, then message received: they’re extortionists and irrelevant. Every single one of them, from the bosses on down — except for the brave souls whose hearts are soft and felt the need to blow the whistle — should be fired and responsible for any suit by [those] who suffered.

Is it possible that union bosses have become so out of touch that they are genuinely unaware of the harvest of resentment they are reaping? Or are they just so arrogant that they don’t care?

In a way, I suppose we should be grateful to the UFCW and the New York sanitation unions. Because of them, more and more people are taking a dim view of unions. Unions — especially public employees unions — are destroying this country. They have destroyed the automobile, steel and shipping industries. They have been a major factor in forcing newspapers to close. They have driven several states to the brink of bankruptcy. They have destroyed what was once the greatest system of public education in the world.

As the American people come to understand, through first-hand experience, just how destructive unions are, they will be ready to elect leaders who will stand up to them.