Why Philly Unions Piss Me Off

They've made Philadelphia a second-class city. And it's time we did something about it. By David Lipson

The results of the census came out this week and — surprise, surprise —the population of America continues to migrate south. It’s too bad the timing of the report is during another frigid Philadelphia winter. Most of us probably shrug it off and blame the population shift on the lure of palm trees.

Yo, Philly, it’s not about the weather, it’s about jobs and taxes. Do you want to know where most of the cars built in America are built? In the South. Where is Boeing moving its manufacturing? That’s right, the South. Oh, and all those manufacturing jobs are not held by unionized labor. [SIGNUP]

There’s an interesting scene taking place outside one of Philadelphia’s last remaining independent retail stores. There, outside Boyds, is a large blow-up rat that is attended to by union types. I’m not being metaphorical here, I’m talking about a 12-foot scary-looking rodent. Their complaint is that the owners aren’t willing to sit down and work out a collective bargaining agreement. I asked how long they’ll stay out there. One of the union guys, the leader of the pack, told me that they’ll be in front of the store for as long as it takes. He told me that he managed one blow-up rat job for about two years, until the company finally caved.

I wonder what the tipping point will be when those of us who are not part of unions — that would be most of us living in the region — finally say “enough is enough.” What value are these unions bringing to our city, to our workers and to the vitality of our lives? How many stories do we have to hear about union fights on the Convention Center floor or the holding up of a construction project to install copper piping where none is needed? Why is it okay that it costs up to twice as much to build a house in the city than in the suburbs? When will we wake up to the fact that the power of the unions is due to their ability to fund raise for our elected officials?

My blood boiled as I walked past Boyds. I asked rhetorically, “Why don’t you guys get a real job?” But as soon as I asked I knew the answer. This is their job and they’re actually getting paid to sit by their rat. So there’s our choice, Philadelphia. Do we want real jobs, or do we want to become a city where the only positions needed are for those of us who want to stand with a blow-up rat on a frigid Philadelphia afternoon?