Random Thoughts: Tightening the belt in hard economic times

I had a craving for Stella D’Oro cookies today. You know, — these:

Stella D'Oro Continental Cookie collection

Stella D'Oro Continental Cookie collection. (Source: Amazon Groceries)

Well, perhaps not the 12-pack, but in my heyday, I could have made a sizable dent in just one of those Continental Collections. They were one of the major food groups, as far as I was concerned, during my four-month stay in San Francisco back in the ’80s.

You can’t get them any more. The cookie plant shut down in 2009 after the workers’ union refused to take a pay cut. Of course, things worked out so that the workers got lots of financial compensation out of it, but they lost their jobs – the company had offered a pay cut but couldn’t afford to pay them what they demanded.

At the risk of bringing down the wrath of do-or-die union supporters upon my head, I must say I’m not sorry for those workers at all. I’m sorry that I couldn’t get those cookies today. I have money to buy them, you see, because I was willing to take a 30% cut in pay back a year or two ago and start all over again at the bottom of the feeding chain in order to keep working as a medical transcriptionist.

It’s not that I’m anti-union. It’s not that I deny that companies, especially in the early to mid-20th century (and beyond), have messed with their employees. It’s that I know there is no stable condition in economic times – we Americans lucked out after the war with booming economic times, but it couldn’t last forever. We have the greatest country in the world, but it does not owe us a living. That’s ours to make, and it involves occasional sacrifice over the short term.

Somewhere along the line, some of us seem to have forgotten that. I really wish the workers at the Stella D’Oro cookie plant in the Bronx had remembered it (I’ve been in the neighborhood – the air smelled wonderful around the factory) and had been willing to take a short-term cut so the factory could have stayed open.

On the other hand, I now have money to spend on cookies, and there’s this terrific little Italian bakery, Bella Napoli, just across the river…..

Categories: Random thoughts

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