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Follow up to B&H - Workers Unionize


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and we weren't always living this way. We lived 70,000 years or more as hunter gatherers. A time where the average work week was about 20 to 30 hours. And men and women were equal. We've only lived in a land of exploitation for about i think 3000 years.  A blip compared to 70000 years.

 

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Since Mr. Jones brought it up -  As a follow-up story to B&H Photo Video and Worker Abuses - they have unionized.   And this is partly because of people like you and me: "The workers received addi

They have unionized because they voted to do so last November. The vote was conducted under the supervision of the NLRB whcih found no evidence of any interference up to or during the vote by any B&am

No offense, Ed, but if you aren't an expert in these matters, perhaps you shouldn't be passing judgment. Posting an opinion (what your gut tells you, as you put it) as fact is both unfair and dangerou

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33 minutes ago, Ed David said:

and we weren't always living this way. We lived 70,000 years or more as hunter gatherers. A time where the average work week was about 20 to 30 hours. And men and women were equal. We've only lived in a land of exploitation for about i think 3000 years.  A blip compared to 70000 years.

 

Hard to say without having lived back then, eh? I doubt that the basics were much different.

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55 minutes ago, Ed David said:

Actually it's not that hard to say - a lot of anthropologists have studied this subject very thoroughly.

 

Sure there were people like that, but they weren't everyone or even a majority apparently. The world of today couldn't have turned out the way it did otherwise.

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Actually yes (and sorry because I have a BA in anthropology) - this was how the majority of the world operated for roughly 70,000 years.  

There was no farming. There were no lords or slaves.  We lived tribal-based.  And we worked 20 hours about a week.

The world of today is based on the simple fact that life became unsustainable with the increasing population growth.  Not enough nuts on the ground.  Hunting animals was actually more done recreationally, as it wasn't easy back then with rudimentary tools to hunt down animals that are faster than us and stronger than us.

Agriculture started because of the population increase.

This is when different structures of society formed. In China, it was more a rent-based farming structure.  Rice was the main crop.  You would have your own rice paddies, and give a cut to the person who owned the land.

In Europe, it was feudal. Most people were serfs.  You worked for a king.

The world of today is run primarily by the military-industrial complex, as president Eisenhauer mentioned.  Our lives are dictated by those who have the biggest guns (nuclear weapons) and the most money (corporations).  

We can't ever go back to Hunting/Gathering.  There are simply too many people and not enough resources.

It's this world we were born into.

We can choose to run and participate in our countries in a fair and just way, such as many European countries and Australia/New Zealand, or side more with the USA, Russia, and China, which run their countries based on fear.

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The current state of big business in the US (and the entire planet) is based on the bottom line and lacks any sense of morality.  I was in this world before getting into video.  It is so discouraging.  

I herniated a disk in my back and tried to push through and keep working (on my feet all day lifting and driving forklift).  My managers didn't DIRECTLY say that I couldn't go home, but it was very much insinuated that I shouldn't.  In hindsight, this is still affecting me.  At times it was so bad I had to lay down on the cement and ease the pain before going back to work. Once I finally went to the doctor and it was discovered that it was indeed a herniated disk, the doctor insisted that I stay in bed and heal up.  I was fired for missing work.  Then, when I tried to get unemployment, the company fought it.  It went to a judge and I had to fight to get anything from them.  This was after I did irreparable damage to my back because they couldn't afford to give me the day off.  

Once I was fired, they replaced me with some other kid.  It didn't matter to them.  I was a blip on the radar.  It's not so much a problem with B and H (although, it could be)...it's the system in general.  It's just not good anywhere.  If you're part of the working class, you're replaceable, and therefore you have almost no power.  

Unions can be great.  Any amount of power taken away from the top and given to the guys at the bottom is good.  Without that, there is no balance and what you are left with is no reason for accountability or morality.  

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Unions, although flawed, cause they are run by humans, which are, like all of us, flawed, are perhaps one of the few innovations of the past two hundred years to prevent exploitation of workers.

They exist in places, because they are needed.

The reverse are countries like China, where they do not care at all for worker's safety, and workers will literally sleep at a job site.

I was offered a job shooting a feature over there were it was 7-days straight for 16 hours a day, for a month. When I asked for a day off or two, they said that was standard working in China.

Sorry to hear about your back. That must have been horrible.

 

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9 hours ago, Neumann Films said:

The current state of big business in the US is based on the bottom line and lacks any sense of morality.

Indeed.  It's one of the fascinating things to me regarding US politics insomuch as the pro biz party also has in its corner the evangelical religious folks, who you'd think would be pretty clear headed about the morality of things.  Then again, maybe they're not really that concerned with a philosophical morality, only how they perceive their own.  

Anyway, I'm on record as saying I don't think capitalism makes it out of the 21st century.  That's not exactly great insight.  Many people smarter than me are on board with that assertion.  I mean, look, less than 100 people have more wealth than 3.5 billion people on the planet.  I mean, I'm not against affluence, but hoarding wealth is just not healthy for a culture.  It is immoral.  Society is just going in the wrong direction; does;t mean we're doomed, just that we need to adjust.

Enterprising people and moneymakers will always be around, but the system and culture of modern capitalism is too reliant on gluttony and exploitation to survive the social and economic stresses of the future.  I suppose it could be argued that it's gone already, if it ever really existed in the first place.  How does one see an "invisible hand" anyway? ;-)  I doubt Adam Smith would even approve of the twisted version of his system as practiced today.

Unions are really the only effective way, right now, to push back against those that willingly exploit.  

And unions aren't needed everywhere.  I assert a business, any business, can be healthy and generous without maximizing profits at the expense of their employees.  Their are nobler goals to strive for.  

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Funny story.  My wife and I went to Montana to do a Real Estate video for what was, no joke, the most amazing house I have ever been to.  We stayed there for a week.  When we walked in our jaws hit the floor and we just couldn't believe it.  A few days in however and we started critiquing the house a little bit:

"I don't really like where that 3rd hot tub is placed"  

"Gold is SO ugly"

"Ugh...WiFi is so bad here"

Things of that nature.  It hit us both pretty hard.  How despicable.  That was BUILT into us.  No contentment.  Always wanting more.  

Being happy with what you have is a virtue.  It is something that we, as Americans, have to actually WORK at.  We expect more, we want more, because "more" is always at our fingertips.  

How can you stop that train?  Capitalism didn't make it out of the 20th century in my opinion.  True Capitalism at least.

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Well, how did the French stop the train of monarchy?  They revolted.

Now where is monarchy?

Communism was an attempt to stop the train of capitalism, but it put in another corrupt system of government more aligned to dictatorship.

Now we have a corporate-oligarchy where human life is irrelevant.  Where rich people make more just on their interest than by attempting to do business. 

And that's the issue I see - rich people are just sitting on their investments, and have great advisors working on their portfolios.

Are they consciously evil?  No, I don't think many people are.  I don't even think the Koch brothers see themselves at that - they see themselves as great businessmen.

But it requires enough voices to call them out either through political change, as has been the dominant driving force of American politics since the 60's with the black, woman, and gay political revolutions, or via violence, like the the 1960 black movement.  

I don't know if violence will happen nowadays.  It's possible - occasionally we get things like the Bundy guys in Oregon, but the difference now is there is welfare and basic medical care for the poor.  In essence the superrich have it pretty much locked down.

I see the only way to change the course of the world is to affect the richest people's youth - those who are still impressionable.

That's why I give money to Habitat for Humanity and ASP - Appalachia Service Project - helping teenagers rebuild houses in poor areas in the South and others.  This exposes rich kids to poverty for the first time, up close.  On a ladder, on a roof, under a building.

This was a turning point in my ideology - the first time I escaped my bubble of Connecticut to see how the world really is.  This is when I probably started to become conscious of it all.

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18 hours ago, Neumann Films said:

...it's the system in general.  It's just not good anywhere.  

In Italy or in Spain, when there is a corruption case, they always say it's a bad apple. But it's not a bad apple, the system doesn't work if you can steal money while being a politician or a high white-collar. It's the same system that makes most business to have adequate. If you competitor pay low-wages, don't pay software and pays with a 6 month delay, it's very difficult you can compete paying good wages, in time, etc. So with the idea of making money, the moral/economic/politic standards are plumbeting... 

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On March 3, 2016 at 10:10 AM, Ed David said:

Actually it's not that hard to say - a lot of anthropologists have studied this subject very thoroughly.

The last tribe that lived this way is the !Kung.

Heck,

There's no reason to look at tribal culture.  I have experience with my grandmother as an example.  She and I grew up next to each other as neighbors, so I know all about her history.  

She was born in 1920 and grew up on the family farm.  It was hard labor during certain times of the year, but the hard labor side of it wasn't that daunting or time consuming.  Most of that farm life was just, as it happened, life.  You know, feeding the chickens wasn't really work per se, it's just a chore and something you do as part of your existence.  With her, her mother, and her father farming was a certainly a job often, but it was on their own terms and certainly less than 40 hours of hard labor a week.

This was during the same time that Flint was upending the manufacturing model with the establishment of the UAW about 45 miles down the road.  So, there's context to all of this.  It's not like these guys working in the factory didn't understand what their physical limits were.  Yes, we can certainly put in a lot of hours of work in a week, but parts of American culture used to know how to balance it and what was reasonable.

I don't know if something like the UAW would have happened if car manufacturing set itself up on the east coast --which had been exploiting workers quite harshly since the dawn of the industrial age and where urban life was actually a lot more demanding and competitive.

The agrarian legacy of labor expectations lasted well into the American 20th, 21st century. 

Anyway, you can also look the lives of USA farmers in the 18th and 19th century as well.  Assuming they avoided disease and dramatic injury, the quality of life was actually pretty good.  Lots of recreational time while waiting for things to happen seasonally.  It was actually normal to go to bed early, wake up in the middle of the night, spent some hours just relaxing or socializing, then going back to bed 'til dawn.  Sort of a reverse siesta.

Farmers in the States (and most USA citizens used to be farmers) played by their own rules as they decided how and when to do what they needed to do.  2/3rds of our social history was a result that rugged individualism, so if you've ever been curious why Americans culture is the way it is, there's a clue... I'd say Americans and Aussies have a very common kinship... but I'm rambling now.  Time to get back to a corporate edit and suck on some irony.

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1 hour ago, Ed David said:

I gotta use that degree somehow. ☺ yep america used to be 75 percent rural until around after world war one.

I'm interested to know if you changed your opinion on the BH topic once you heard about some of the facts of the case here in the forums? I don't think any company can be perfect, but the actions of BH sure sounds like a company that is earnest about fixing issues as they might arise. And as I asked elsewhere, where do you buy your shoes? 

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9 hours ago, Orangenz said:

I'm interested to know if you changed your opinion on the BH topic once you heard about some of the facts of the case here in the forums? I don't think any company can be perfect, but the actions of BH sure sounds like a company that is earnest about fixing issues as they might arise. And as I asked elsewhere, where do you buy your shoes? 

Actually,

I am even more adamant about siding with the workers, especially after one person posted the history of lawsuits they settled on worker discrimination. 

Quote

 

In October 2007, it was announced that B&H Photo agreed to pay US$4.3 million to settle allegations that it discriminated against Hispanic workers.[6]

In November 2009, a lawsuit against B&H Photo alleged that the store refused to hire women, in violation of New York City and New York State Human Rights Laws.[7] The lawsuit, brought by four women, sought class action status on behalf of all women discriminated against by B&H over the course of many years.[8] Given B&H's prior alleged discriminatory practices,[6] the lawsuit sought US$19 million in compensatory and punitive damages in order to deter future discriminatory practices.[9]

In 2011, a lawsuit alleged discrimination against Hispanic workers.[10][11]

In February 2016 the Labor Department filed a lawsuit against B&H alleging that the company had only hired Hispanic men into entry-level jobs in a Brooklyn warehouse and then subjecting them to harassment and unsanitary conditions.[12]

 

So B&H settled in 2007 for $4.3 million. Also the Feb case, B&H tried to settle, and the Labor Department refused.  They are going to trial.  That's a big deal.  That means the Labor department knows they are going to win. What happened to the 2009 trial?  Well seems like it was thrown out and B&H won that one.  http://law.justia.com/cases/new-york/other-courts/2011/2011-ny-slip-op-33861-u.html

And now we have the Feb 2016 case.

 

Quote

"I see. You presume we need to reform because you're presuming the as yet unproven allegations are true. Maybe they're not all true and if so, maybe we don't need to reform.

 

This is telling, in that, he is stating that the allegations are unproven, and yet they already wanted to settle with the department of labor, and have a history of lawsuits that they have settled.  

2011 and 2016 have new lawsuits.  2007 wasn't that long ago.  $4.3 million dollars back then against discrimination against Hispanic workers.  And zero proof of women being in executive positions.  The eagerness for workers to unionize.

All these things point me towards siding with the workers.

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44 minutes ago, AKH said:

 

Wow. Amazing the department of labor report.

No bathrooms for female workers.  Seperate bathrooms for whites and nonwhites..  Firing workers for collective bargaining. Nice bathrooms for white employees, unsanitary bathrooms for Hispanic workers.

And this is from the department of labor.  Great links, thanks.

ANd also:

Occupational Safety & Health confirmed the reports of the horrible work conditions in the factories, which contradict the PR person who has been posting on here, his statements.

So the department of health, and the occupational safety and health industry both conflict with his statements.

Hmmm, the chance that this paid employee of B&H is hiding things, I feel, is pretty high.

Maybe he isn't aware of what's going on behind the scenes.

I mean, after all, he's just the head of PR.

A talking figurehead who's job is to protect a company's reputation.

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I don't know much about Orthodox Judaism, but is the ownership of B&H having a hard time balancing a religious social bias with the demands of operating a business under secular labor rules?

Obviously, if so, that's not a problem unique to their particular belief. A lot of US businesses with stringently devout religious attitudes have to tangle with that reality.

Anyone know if their religious culture might be the sticking point, or is it more just old-fashioned exploitation?

I dont have much context in that regard. Any that can be offered by those closer to the situation is appreciated.

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