Chakrabortty suggests that London hotel unions should be Mafia run

That’s at least the implication of his piece:

Back to school time, so let’s start with a quick quiz. The minimum wage in Britain is £6.31 an hour, while in New York it’s $8 an hour, or £4.93. So who do you think’s better paid: a hotel cleaner in London or one in Manhattan? You at the back: stop Googling. At the heart of this question lies one of the most important issues in economics and politics today – who gets paid what, and how. And the answer: New York City wins.

A cleaner on London’s Park Lane will almost certainly be on or around the minimum wage, say £6.31 for each hour. Her counterpart (because, let’s face it, it’s almost always women doing this physically punishing work) on New York’s Park Avenue is likely to be on nearly three times as much: an agreed hourly rate of $28.50, or £17.66.

Sure, it’s union power. And what a union:

The other is Vito J. Pitta, a 62-year-old Sicilian-born former hotel busboy. As business manager of Local 6 of the Hotel and Restaurant Employees International Union, and president of the New York City Hotel Trades Council, Mr. Pitta has moved outside Local 6’s traditional jurisdiction, hotels, into the realm of its sister unit, Local 100, which represents restaurants. Organized Crime’s Influence

The President’s Commission on Organized Crime reported in 1986 that Locals 6 and 100 were ”influenced by organized crime” – the Colombo and Gambino families – and ”were used to dictate the way in which restaurants could do business in New York.”

Ho hum.

This is a preliminary report on the organized crime influence in the labor unions today in the United States. The picture that it presents is thoroughly frightening. At least four international unions are completely dominated by men who either have strong ties to or are members of the organized crime syndicate. A majority of the locals in most major cities of the United States in the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), Hotel and Restaurant Employees Union (HRE), Laborers International Union of North America (Laborers), and International Longshoreman’s Association (ILA) unions are completely dominated by organized crime. The officials of these unions are firmly entrenched; there is little hope of removing them by a free election process. Convictions for misconduct have been sparse and when one corrupt official is removed another soon takes his place. The result has been a complete domination of certain industries by hoodlums. Management personnel in the companies who must deal with these hoodlums have despaired of getting help from law enforcement authorities. They pay the price of labor peace so that they may survive. The cost is passed on to the consumer.

It’s always exceedingly dangerous to look to the US unions as examples of desirable outcomes. Foreign really is a different country.

9 comments on “Chakrabortty suggests that London hotel unions should be Mafia run

  1. Here in Italy it is very difficult to distinguish mafia run institutions from state run institutions, and certainly the state on occasion behaves like the mafia – fewer knee cappings or roastings over an electric hob perhaps, but definitely a good old-fashioned contempt for the law when it’s inconvenient.

    And since all these lefties love state-run institutions, it’s only a small leap from there to the mafia.

    I’m sure Chakraborty only loves these high priced places because when he goes there someone else is paying the bill… probably with money extorted from tax payers, frequently at or just above the minimum wage.

    Ain’t life grand.

  2. I wonder what the real wages are, after deductions for the bribe to get the job, the extra kickbacks, etc.

    Goons to enforce the workforce as well as the employers don’t come cheap, you know.

  3. I don’t really understand the intended meaning of this bit:

    “(because, let’s face it, it’s almost always women doing this physically punishing work) ”

    is the implication that it’s somehow wrong to make women do physically demanding work? Isn’t that point of view somewhat erm … outdated? So why mention the fact it’s a physical job?

  4. otoh if they can manage it without being criminals, I think it’s reasonable to ask why cleaners etc. don’t unionise in this country.

  5. Let’s follow the logic here. Manhattan hotel maids earn well above the minimum wage. Therefore there is substantial competition for such jobs. Thanks to the union-imposed minimum wage, ugly maids now cost the same as pretty maids (whereas in a freer market the prettier women might choose a more client-facing and tip-based job instead, like waitering). The hotel manager will naturally choose the pretty maids. Which means DSK wasn’t mad to go chasing after one.

  6. I blame Will Hutton and his book The State We Are In. I know he wasn’t the first, but he popularised the idea that you could cast around all countries and cherry pick the best bits without looking at the consequences or seeing the whole picture.

    As an example from memory, at the time Singapore was held as the model for some social engineering that he wanted, but he completely ignored the authoritarian and very anti left nature of the Government which was a necessity for it to work. (Something to do with housing IIRC) I can’t be bothered going back over it all but I remember similar pieces of legislation taken out of context from Germany and Sweden which would have meant wholesale changes here that he wouldn’t have approved of.

  7. Might be interesting for someone in the US to see which politicians are sponsored by these unions. I’d bet they only represent one party.

  8. Most London hotels would be better if they were Mafia run.

    This is a comment on the lack of competence of the London hotel market which is driven by the whole location-location-location argument. They have the location, therefore have to make no further effort. I note this is a collective condemnation – you do actually get some really great and helpful individuals working at London hotels. Although they aren’t, in my experience, ever Londoners. And the hotels are still crap.

    Since actually having worked for a London based company a few years ago, and suffered really exemplar London accom, I now usually stay at the A&N. Or down and up.

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.