B&H Photo Video will cut staff as it begins retreat from Brooklyn

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by rick_reno, May 12, 2017.

  1. rick_reno


    Dec 3, 2012
    N Idaho
    B&H Photo Video will cut staff as it begins retreat from Brooklyn

    The photo and electronics retailer, which has been in a dispute with its unionized workers, will close its Bushwick warehouse in August.

    B&H Photo Video, whose Midtown shop has served the needs of gadget hounds for 20 years, will close its warehouse in Bushwick in August. Fifty-seven employees will lose their jobs, according to a filing with the state Department of Labor.

    The announcement was expected. B&H said in January that it would close its Brooklyn storage facilities and relocate them to New Jersey, affecting 335 jobs. The decision came a little more than a year after B&H warehouse employees voted to join the United Steelworkers union.

    Jacob Mittelman, vice president for operations, said B&H has put together a severance package for some employees who don't want to move to New Jersey, but the steelworkers union hasn't signed off.

    That should come as little surprise because B&H and the union have been battling for a long time.
  2. Kingfisher


    Dec 26, 2010
    Can't rightfully blame B&H for moving to avoid union extortion. It's got to be hard enough for them to compete with Amazon. Throwing unnecessary expenses created by the union will only put them out of business.
  3. You never know the truth of these situations from the outside, which are the bad guys and good guys (or just two the same but in disagreement), but in several cases where I have been on the inside in these, it boggles my mind that union management, fully convinced and absolutely sure that the alternative is a company closing/moving, will continue to hold firm and cost their members' jobs rather than give ground.
  4. Ray Vonn

    Ray Vonn Guest

    Maybe I'm wrong but the words "Unions" and "America" don't often go in the same sentence do they?
  5. Not sure if that's a question or a statement, but there are many very strong unions still here, and they go up and down in penetration into the labor market. They also vary widely in usefulness (for want of a better word). I have seen unions in really "tough" cities, such as Chicago, be flexible and work with business to achieve good results. I have seen others (Mailers in Philly for example) who were the worst stereotypes of excess, greed, and lack of any inclination to build a partnership - it was all confrontation. I've been in management forever, but I can also see cases where Unions have really done good things - a business has an incentive to keep workers happy, but less so in a market where there are lots of people looking for jobs. Striking some balance in power, when both parties will work to meet in the middle is not a bad thing. But it absolutely amazes me how often a union will shut down a business rather than negotiate, just so they do not see a precedent of some sort as soft.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  6. Ray Vonn

    Ray Vonn Guest

    Not a statement and I appreciate the answer. I genuinely didn't know there were strong unions in America and thought things were favoured towards company owners.
  7. Randy


    May 11, 2006
    Should we assume the government will protect workers ?
    Maybe there are some bad unions but I'd rather take my chances then depend on Uncle Sam
    • Agree Agree x 1
  8. It depends on your viewpoint. I've also worked in the UK and Canada, and worked with companies in some EU countries, and there is a huge difference. To an American (at least an American businessman) some of these laws look like unbelievably generous benefits and guaranteed employment even for workers who are crooks or completely incompetent. From their perspective we look like abusive employers, I mean who are we to give new workers only 2-3 weeks vacation instead of 6-8?

    Unions are very regional here, with areas almost locked in (i.e. you hire people in a particular type of role you must hire union), and areas almost locked out, where unions cannot gain a foothold. Some areas push a union agenda at the government level (e.g. any work done for the municipality must be done with union labor) and others push a non-union agenda, marketing themselves as a "employer friendly" place so please relocate here. Some states here have "right to work" laws, so a union shop can hire someone non-union and they are not forced to join; others are not, if you work in a union shop, you must join the union and support them with dues. A lot of work related laws are state laws, not federal, so there is a lot of variation in what management and unions can do (there are federal laws as well, so there's a big over-arching framework, but a lot of the details that matter are state driven).
    • Informative Informative x 1
  9. While I'm on a bit of a rant, I'll add one more aspect - one issue I have personally always had with unions, and with labor laws in Canada in particular, is that they favor the employee even when the employee has run amok. Theft of company property is not grounds for discharge as far as unions are concerned; in one case the union basically said "we consider it part of their benefit package" to a distributor in NYC; off the record of course. In Canada, our counsel (while trying to educate this American on Canadian labor practices) told a story of an employee who came to work, walked in and for no reason punch out his boss. They fired him, the employee took them to court and won, and had to be rehired. No matter how serious the mis-behavior, I always had to go back and negotiate months (or years) long settlements to fire people; they consider it just the normal course that every termination leads to an attorney writing a letter to negotiate better separation. Unions here are much like that, the process to get rid of someone is horrendously long.

    Non-union shops in the US, though - theft (serious theft, not talking about taking home a stapler) can yield immediate termination. There's almost nothing that can yield immediate termination in a union shop (well -- except if they stop paying their union dues -- now that's considered fatal).

    Personally I think the US strikes a decent balance most places, but I'm biased by living and working here. And frankly if I was a worker, not previously in management, I might want to work in the Netherlands. ;)
  10. william hortis

    william hortis

    Nov 30, 2013
    We have union in the UK whose workers earn £50k pa basic/8 weeks hols pa and retire at 50, not good enough or these very semi skilled workers they strike most holidays (busiest periods), also the same union has been destroying London Train service for perhaps 2 years or more, the punters pay upwards of £5k pa to get to work and for much of the year that don't get to work ,on strike no service no settlement, this union took 600 workers out in Scotland and the owner sacked everybody and closed down, the union leader eventually ate humble pie and the operation was reopened. Also ask the French government what they think of unions if I were you in the US I would settle for what you have it ain't no different anywhere, unions are great it's the leaders that have their own political agendas.
  11. Kingfisher


    Dec 26, 2010
    I've made it this far in my life without union "protection" in my career. I guess I never seen a need to have a parasitical entity in my wallet as I have always made myself valuable to my employer. In other words, I did my job to the fullest of my ability, a concept that is almost dead in America.
  12. rpracing


    Mar 7, 2011
    S. WI
    Local auto plant was a perfect example of this. Not just theft either. Caught selling/using drugs, drinking on the job. Had a drug bust there years ago. 4 employees were arrested for selling/using cocaine. All but 1 kept their job. Theres a bar outside the main entrance of the plant. Employees went there for lunch and beer. As for theft, happened a lot there also. Guy stole a whole bunch of starters he used for his part time auto repair business out of his house. Yep kept his job also.
  13. This is sad. But I found a guy in Va. who treats me right. Even emails me on occasion to see how I'm doing and lets me know of some deals. That's how you treat customers. Randy knows who I'm talking about.