Non-Chicago readerswhich is most of youwill recall that a long-time Chicago icon is now gone. Dominicks grocery stores, which had one or two stores in every neighborhood and suburb, closed its doors for good last week.
The problem, very simply, is that the chain was killed by its union. The UFCW demanded high wages for its employees, all of which were passed on to the shoppers in the form of higher prices. As non-union stores proliferated around the area, Dominicks could not compete any longer, and its parent company Safeway pulled the plug. The last store closed in December, 2013.
Just before then, a Dominicks employee named Steve Yamamoto elected to close out his employment by posting a video online. Using a popular iPad-type app that superimposes destructive clips onto your video, he made a fake but highly insulting faux-action movie trailer directed at Safeways executive management. Dont watch it if you dont have to because it already has more hits than it deserves:
To his credit, Mr. Yamamoto did not intend anyone other than fellow employees to watch the video. But by portraying Safeway as a greedy, capitalist running dog bent on crushing the hopes and dreams of underpaid employeesthe whole teenage Marxist worldviewthose same executives got a little annoyed.
So, with one day or so left on his employment, Mr. Yamamoto was suspended.
That should have been the end of that, but Yamamoto worked with the local Chicago-area news channels who were only too happy to spread leftist bullcrap around. Just about every (if not every) local news station in Chicago aired the clip in its entirety, and portrayed Safeway as being so callous and cruel that they would suspend the kid on his last day of employment. Can you believe Safeway would be so horrible?
Frankly, they should have fired his ass.
Heres the deal: in the Czars method of doing business, he would have suspended Mr. Yamamoto for a day and told him to stay home. Then, assuming Mr. Yamamoto learned something about life, paid him for his day off as well as given him the balance of his check.
But the moment Mr. Yamamoto went to the news and elected to comment quite glibly about the story, he would have been fired and lost the days pay. Safeway also has the right to air its views, and it could easily defend itself by bouncing this kid out and ruining his chances of getting a decent reference with another employer.
As it is, Mr. Yamamoto reports that the union went to bat for him and got him his days pay. Which is ironic, because it was the union that eventually cost him his job. Mr. Yamamoto would properly have not made any insulting videos at all, but if he felt the compulsion to do so, might have targeted the worthless UFCW that pocketed a chunk out of his minimal paycheck every couple of weeks to where Dominicks has been replaced.
It would be interesting to see Mr. Yamamoto be employed by one of the non-union competitors, only to see him realize he gets paid a bit more each paycheck, and is treated as a valued employee by managementas opposed to a hostile collective bargaining agent. He might realize how profit works, and why Safeway did what they did. He would likely realize, as adults do, that Safeway had no choice but to do the right thing, and it was the practicality of passing on union costs to shoppers that did Dominicks in.