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Volume 68, Issue 4, Thursday, August 29, 2002

Opinion

Labor unions a thing of the past

From the opinion editor
 

Stuart Clements

As the Opinion editor this semester, I opted to have my own column, not because I really think anyone wants to hear what I have to say, but just
because I like pulling rank, which is not unlike blue-collar workers and UH administrators.

Blue-collar workers

I want to say a few words about my summer job for the purposes of making an analogy that's probably false, but I don't care.

I worked a miserable construction job downtown in one of the new buildings at the Houston Center. 

The pay was decent, and since I was pretty much out of options, I took the job.

What I found when I arrived was a slew of savvy, motivated workers that felt protected in their mediocrity by means of labor unions.

I know labor unions have done great things in the past (improved working conditions, higher wages and the elimination of child labor), but today,
labor unions are vehicles for unmotivated workers to have job stability.

It's the opinion of this writer that labor unions are obsolete. What my company needed this summer was a little motivation. The project was a
little behind schedule and way over budget.

A little fear would be a much better motivation than negotiating with uninterested representatives from a labor union.

Monopolies at UH

So I'd like to find a comparison between the mediocrity that labor unions entail and the monopolies that "Cougar High" establishes.

First, I don't pretend to care about parking. Parking is an issue everywhere. I can't find a damn parking spot at Wal-Mart, so what's it matter if I
can't park at school? Sometimes I actually want to go to Wal-Mart.

No, I want to talk about two things: the UH Bookstore and Chartwell's.

Anyone who spends any time on campus has to, at one point or another, confront their inhibitions and give in to one or both of these on-campus
monopolies.

I'm going to single out Coogs, particularly Harlon's, and rip into it for a while.

I've been there almost everyday this week to get a baked potato with beef, and at $5, I expect to get what I want.

But do I get treated with respect? Do I get a meal that is comparable to anything I could fix myself? Was I satisfied with myself after I dumped
hard-earned money into the greedy sponge that is UH and its subsidiaries?

The answers are no, no and only marginally so. I have to eat, so obviously I felt full, but the experience was hardly worth the pain my heart and
pocketbook suffered.

Once, I asked if I could have more beef on my potato and learned my lesson fast. Extra beef is two bucks. They're selling brisket fat in barbecue
sauce for two bucks.

It gets better, people. It gets much, much better. I went to buy my books at the bookstore yesterday, and after I searched for the required texts on
my own (I had three assistants direct me to the wrong books before realizing I would be more effective on my own), I collected them and walked
to the cashier.

I was glad to be received almost instantly by a man who could barely speak the English language and tallied the bill, which was exorbitant.

I wrote a check for the full amount and gave it to the man, who examined it and said that the bookstore didn't take out-of-state checks. 

I asked how they expected out-of-state students to buy their books, and then he said he'd just check for me at least I think that's what he said.

Finally, they decided that yes, this one time they could take an out-of-state check.

My point

I think I lost my point in all my ranting, but I'll try and fetch it. What UH has done is construct its own little labor union by limiting options on
campus. 

The services that students "enjoy" are below average and should be much better for the price we pay to go here.

I think the University has forgotten that we're customers once it all boils down. 

We would like some respect we and don't have room in our lives to be patronized.

The path of education is paved with stupidity and sloth, and I'm ready to see it end.

Clements, a junior philosophy
major, can be reached at dccampus@mail.uh.edu
 Send comments to dccampus@mail.uh.edu
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