Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Short-sighted Union Self Interest

Oh, is there any other kind?

The cabin crews of British Airways have voted to strike from Dec. 22 through Jan. 2, effectively putting the airline out of operation during the busiest time of the year. Of course, the cabin crews (who, if they’re like U.S. flight attendants, consider themselves in the security business rather than in customer service) could care less about the million-plus passengers who will be affected.

They’ve also been duped by their union bosses (whose agenda, like that of all union politicians, is simply more power at the top) into believing this will give them more money, more job security, yada, yada, yada. Since 92.4% of the union voted to strike, that means less than 1 out of every 10 attendants understands Economics 101: If you don’t have a company to work for, you don’t have a job there.

My first instinct is to suggest that if the cabin crews strike from Dec. 22 to Jan. 2, that passengers “strike” from then on – boycotting the airline. But that would kill the goose. The union leadership would go on in their usual positions of power; the attendants would be out of their jobs; BA would go bankrupt; and many other ancillary jobs would be lost also.

The only upside is that a BA bankruptcy would probably lead to some other airline buying the dregs of BA, reducing the airline’s huge pension obligations, and paying the cabin crews lower wages.

See, kids, aren’t unions still useful in the 21st century?