Don't Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.

PA County Hires World Class Union-Buster (and Recluse Loser) Ahead of Human Services Department Unionization Vote

In affluent Chester County, PA, attempts by the Human Services Department to unionize are being met by hired gun Peter List, a union busting wingnut who was formerly a CWA steward.

The employees attempting to unionize have scheduled an authorization vote but county commissioners are bringing in the heavy anti-union artillery in order to ensure that HSD workers remain the lowest paid in the region. Until the vote, ChesCo HSD employees are being subjected to mandatory meetings with the union busting specialist List, a radical ‘individualism ideologue.’ According to the Raging Chicken Press,

The proposed bargaining unit consists of approximately 160 ‘caseworkers’ from the county’s human services departments. These departments include Aging, Children and Youth, Drug & Alcohol, Mental Health/ IDD and the Youth Center. The caseworkers are charged with working with the most needy and vulnerable of the county’s citizens, in many cases those unable to care for themselves. Despite the wealth all around them, these employees are frustrated by increasing workloads and budget cutbacks. They are constantly being asked to do more with less. They have not received a raise in four years and many feel they can no longer afford to live in the county they serve. They remain the lowest paid in the 5-county Philadelphia area. Read the published open letter from the Teamsters’ organizer, “Commissioners take aim at Chester County’s elderly and disabled, again”.

Bringing in List has escalated the situation according to Chris O’Donnell, business agent for Teamster Local 384 of Norristown. In a statement, he accused Chester County commissioners of turning their backs on the aged and needy by bringing in union busters:

The County is spending tens of thousands in taxpayer dollars to hire anti-union consultants to combat the DHS employees’ attempts to insure fair compensation,” O’Donnell said in the release. “Chester Countians expect our elected officials to be responsible stewards of our tax dollars. This includes helping our families when they are in crisis, taking care of our elderly, children and the disabled, being accountable to taxpayers, and dealing fairly with county workers.      
“Our county commissioners are failing us,” he said.

Despite their unscrupulous nature, mandatory union-busting meetings are old news. The extent of List’s anti-labor resentment, however, is not commonplace. He is the kookiest of kooks. After seeing his job outsourced to Mexico in 1992 he returned to school and used his Labor Relations degree to assist in the diminution of things he once swore by. According to this CNN piece on List, his ideology has evolved into wing nut radicalism and isolationism:

Over time List developed a strongly pro-capitalist, anti-government ideology that still guides him. As a firm believer in Ayn Rand’s philosophy of radical individualism, he opposes all state efforts to regulate labor relations. The website of his company, the North American Employers Group, features links to Capitalism Magazine, the Center for the Moral Defense of Capitalism, and the Ayn Rand Institute. You won’t find a business address or phone number on the site, however. The only way to reach List is by e-mail.

Rich Eline, a Chester County employee who authored the Raging Chicken Press article, did his research on List and attended his mandatory meeting. The results were comically incredible:

And so I entered my forced attendance indoctrination session. I had told myself I was going to stay calm, keep my mouth shut and just get through it. I lasted 20 minutes. The lies were becoming too blatant. I called them on it. They apologized for “misspeaking”. And it was on. Others began to question the “teacher’. Turns out Mr. List’ reputation preceded him. He was not prepared to deviate from his stump speech and could not keep up with the questions from my colleagues. $2500 a day well spent, commissioners He seriously did not prepare for this type employment situation. I view myself as a “socialist social worker”. We take money (funding) from the state and distribute it back to the needy and unfortunate among us. For me, helping others is the only work worth doing. List did not understand the type of work we do. Apparently capitalism and social work cannot coexist in his world. Obviously not used to and confused by the strength of the push-back, the meeting ended early, to the delight of ALL the employees. It took me the rest of the day to calm down. Being forced spoon-fed ideological nonsense that is against all your being is not good for your health. I am writing this as a form of therapy for myself, and as a message of hope to others who may find themselves in a similar situation.

Unfortunately the union is fighting an uphill battle. List, via his company Kulture, has taken on 35 union campaigns and squashed 32 of them. The unionization vote is being held on April 11th.


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