Update: This piece is satire. Please understand that I sympathize with the workers that the “boss” in this piece tries to make fun of.

Oh ma-a-n. Lumiere Casino kinda has its back up against a wall, poor guys, because Unite Here has been trying to organize its employees into a union. It’s rough for the casino owners, because by last November 20th, almost eighty percent of the workers had signed cards saying they wanted a union. Whoa! At least, thank god, that damn card check silliness isn’t law yet, so Lumiere had a solid three months to put off the election, which takes place today, the 27th.  Knowing how much a union would hurt the workers–not to mention its own bottom line–the company has used every tool at its disposal to try to make its employees see sense.

Or to fire them if they wouldn’t.

The organizers were silly enough to put out a bulletin–with pictures–showing thirty of the employees on the union committee. How helpful of them. At some companies, apparently, doing that offers a modicum of protection for the committee members because the company can’t then claim when it fires someone that it didn’t even realize he was a union guy. Lumiere refused to be intimidated by that tactic: so far it has fired nine of the thirty. Another has been suspended and still another has had his last warning. Take that, you union buttinskies.

Lumiere’s hardball tactics have had an effect, of course. Some people have stopped attending the union organizers’ meetings, and others have even bitched to the organizers that “You made a target outta me!”

One of the key ways of getting rid of troublemakers is to use points against them. Points are black marks on employee records; workers can get points for being late, being absent frequently, or being written up for not doing their jobs well. (Anything over ten points is grounds for dismissal.)

Take that Manning woman, for example. She worked as a porter and had never had any points–never been late, never been absent, never been written up. But then one day she accumulated about a thousand invisible, unofficial points for mouthing off. What she did was to tell her co-workers that Phyllis, a Lumiere director, had said things about the union, at a meeting she conducted, that were untrue.  

Not that Gwendolyn made a scene. No, she kept it quiet, just talking to people standing near her, but–get this–she felt free to contradict what her boss had said. And Phyllis didn’t appreciate her attitude. So Phyllis let her know that she had noticed by going up to her at the end of the meeting and asking Gwendolyn whether she, Phyllis, had said anything wrong about the unions. Gwendolyn played it cool and told her boss that she had a right to say what she wanted. But after that, Gwendolyn’s days at Lumiere were numbered, and she should have known she was in trouble when, at the next meeting, Phyllis asked for her last name.

Phyllis saw her chance when Gwendolyn was mopping a hallway at work a few days later and had to get into a closet that was maybe 3′ x 3′ to rinse out her mop. But two other porters, Kevin and Fidel, were doing something in there, and she had to wait. Phyllis picked up on the cameras that Gwendolyn was just standing around doing nothing, so she watched carefully, hoping for more of the same nothing. She got it too. All right! she thought, and headed straight for that floor. When she got there, she asked what they were doing. Kevin and Fidel started to explain, but Phyllis interrupted and told the guys that they were fine, that she wasn’t talking to them, she was talking to Gwendolyn. She told Gwendolyn that she would be reviewing what the cameras showed had been going on, and that review showed twenty minutes of Gwendolyn doing nothing.

Hey, hey, hey. That was all it took to get Gwendolyn canned. Too bad that Gwendolyn took the issue to the Labor Board, a state agency that mediates disputes. Fortunately for Lumiere, the board’s members, appointed by a Republican governor, sided with the company. But the hearing did make it obvious that Gwendolyn had been singled out, so Kevin and Fidel had to be fired as well. What can I say? Lumiere had to cover its ass. Right? See, that’s what I meant by unions causing problems for innocent workers.

Here’s the thing. These organizers and their toadies get people all riled up over picayune stuff. Say we warn the workers that the union will cost them a couple thousand bucks a year? They’ll start spreading the rumor that we lied and pointing out that the dues are only $37 a month. $37 a month comes out to almost two thousand a year, doesn’t it?

And they’re always reminding the other workers that the hiring ad Lumiere placed when it opened the casino said it would pay $11-$13 an hour, but that when people came in for the interview, it was actually offering $9. Big deal. It’s a measly salary either way. They should take it and be glad they’ve got a job. And besides, nobody held a gun to their heads and made them take the job.

What’s more, the company did tell interviewees that after ninety days, they’d get a $1.25 raise. That’s almost $11, right? But malcontents can’t accept that. They criticize Lumiere for doing performance reviews that said workers were only doing well enough to get a three percent raise. Hey, so what if nobody got the $1.25 raise?  The company has shareholders it’s responsible to. It can’t be paying $10.25 an hour if people will work for $9.00. What kind of economic sense would that make?

I mean, these are hard times. Consider that the rate of growth in Missouri casinos is slowing down. Not that they’re losing money; they just aren’t growing as fast as they had been–only two percent last year. And it might have been zero percent growth if it hadn’t been for Lumiere taking in 86-million dollars in seven months. So the company had to make a choice: pay workers more than they’re worth or reward shareholders. It’s a no-brainer.

Those union instigators are just a bunch of whiners anyway. Those guys that keep the parking garage clean are a prime example of it.  Their office is a shack in the garage–nothing fancy, no windows, no heat, just a couple of metal doors. And before this union folderol came up, the bosses just ignored them when they started the same old sad refrain: Couldn’t we at least have a space heater for days when it’s 17 degrees out here? Hell, no! They’d just go in there and sleep if it was comfortable. And another thing: they were always bellyaching about how unsafe that shack was, just because the company stored diesel fuel, gasoline, floor stripper, stuff like that in there. Or they’d say that the zamboni machine they used to clean the garage was pumping carbon monoxide into the shack. Like it was going to kill them to walk in there just long enough to get some supplies.

You can bet it griped the bosses, once the union negotiations started, to have to give those guys permission to use the inside break rooms to warm up on cold days. Management used to be able to write them up for hanging out in there.

This whole union threat is just a royal pain in the you know where.

One of those union slackers had the nerve, when the general manager, Todd George, was speaking at a meeting of low level employees, to stand up and correct his boss in front of God and everybody. Mr. George forbore to tell him to shut the hell up–until the guy tried it a second time. That was enough already, and Mr. George said he wasn’t taking any questions or comments from those in the audience, and an aide crossed the room, pushed the fella on the shoulder and told him not to show such disrespect. If you can believe it, the guy filed a complaint. Not that we can’t effectively ignore his piddly-assed complaint, but … the gall. Can  you imagine?

I’m telling you, if this country was run the way it ought to be, nobody would even be con
sidering a card check law. Union elections, my Aunt Matilda. They should be outlawed.