Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Unions: Lost in Nostalgia

According to, the city has experienced a 20% increase in hotel bookings directly related to improved work rules at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. 

Record scratch - what?

Check out the numbers in the article. They're impressive.

It's also a mind blowing no-brainer the Pennsylvania Convention Center should have grasped way back when it opened in 1993. But politics and the mentality of residents have changed. The only thing that hasn't changed, it seems, are the tactics of the dying trade unions. And they're not dying because of public perception, they're suffocating themselves by refusing to acknowledge a new millennium...already 14 years old.

How effective are their weekly protests at the Convention Center? Those of us annoyed by their routined rhetoric are local, while the vast majority of convention attendees are not. Conventioneers are simply returning home with a funny story about some inflatable "Fat Cat" they saw in Philadelphia. Their presence has little to no barring on any conventions. Hell, they're even offering up some good music at 12th and Arch.

Lately they've been picketing Boxers, a new bar in the 10am. You know when customers and employees aren't at bars? At 10am. One passerby even commented on the inflatable rat, "I don't get it, are they calling themselves rats?"

They're cluelessness would be sad if they weren't trying to strangle development in the city. Protests at Goldtex Apartments at 12th and Pearl were so misguided that the developers, the Post Brothers, actually highjacked their rhetoric and used it as a marketing ploy. But those acting out were too bent on chasing their waking dream that they didn't get it.

Here's how lost they are: When I was taking pictures of some picketers at an apartment development near Race and Camac one day, a protestor mistook me for someone who gave a shit and said. "Look, dey got den damn Mexicans working up there, you know dey ain't local." 

I didn't even know how to respond. Not because of the racist nature of his remark, but because the racist nature of his remark was about two layers deep. The workers he was pointing at were Chinatown. So I just muttered something about all the New Jersey license plates illegally parked next to him and walked away. 

These are organizations so deeply indebted to their own dysfunctions that they can't even recognize the fact that they need guidance. Philadelphia's sidewalks are a mouse maze of pedestrians staring at their phones and listening to Taylor Swift. The 21st Century cares about a union protest only for as long as it takes to post it on Instagram.

The best thing the more rigid unions could do would be to hire a public relationship manager well versed in marketing organ slimming pills during Real Housewives marathons. Someone who understands that the only causes the modern world cares about are those with a brand and sexy spokespeople. 

But they're lost, buried beneath rhetoric that applied in an era when politicians turned a blind eye to the illegal and violent efforts that got unscrupulous results. But the truth is, politicians were never on their side. Politicians are on the side of what wins elections. And in a new world where picket lines are irrelevant, politicians who join, lose. And the delusions that keep fueling these aging unions' tactics have turned them into a nonsensical circus, and that's exactly why they'll vanish.

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