The growing number of lockouts—where employers close the doors or gates in order to wring concessions out of workers—“represents an overreach on the part of employers,” writes Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson in an op-ed piece today in the Minneapolis StarTribune.
For examples of these lockouts, Knutson points to the more than 13-month lockout of American Crystal Sugar workers, the NFL lockouts of referees and players, Cooper Tires recent lockout and this month’s lockout of the Minnesota Orchestra (American Federation of Musicians of the United States and Canada [AFM] Local 30-73), where management is seeking 30% to 50% pay cuts.
Lockouts have not been very common in the past, because usually businesses would prefer to keep operating and getting the value of workers' labor. But in the current economic climate, even profitable enterprises are seeking to wrangle a few extra dollars out of workers.
But while corporations try to paint their action as fiscally necessary and the workers as greedy, public support continues to line up on the side of the workers.
Here’s why, writes Knutson:
We are not sympathetic to rich people deciding that they want to rewrite the rules of the game when they are already winning. Nor are we sympathetic to corporate executives mismanaging their shareholders' investment and rewarding themselves with a raise.