REALNEO Question For Labor Day: Should REALNEO and REAL COOP Be Pro-Union

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Mon, 09/07/2009 - 16:02.

The Real Coop Local Food and Info proposal submitted to Cuyahoga County, for new economic and workforce development in Northeast Ohio, is designed to create 1,000s of new jobs in Northeast Ohio in career fields as diverse as journalism, communications, engineering, building trades, farming, food processing, warehousing and transportation. It has occurred to me for some time that most of the jobs we create have unions that represent their professions, including for all of the professions I listed above. So, should Real Coop pursue to develop these jobs as union jobs, and work with the unions to develop these workforces?

I have never been a member of a union, but I have friends who are. My general impression is favorable, but I am not certain of the costs and advantages.

I know some officials within some of the unions and expect an outreach to them, to organize the jobs we create as they are created, would be well received. I am ready to explore this matter further.

I am interested in the opinion of other Real Coop members on this issue. When it is possible, should Real Coop pursue to work with and create jobs for and through unions, should we avoid working with uinions and union member workers, or should we not have a policy on this at all?

Please elaborate... and let me know if you want to work on this matter further, for the Coop.


1st Question: What religion should Realneo/Real coop be?

 Norm, I think you are jumping the gun to go right to labor issues for Realneo.  I know it's Labor Day,

but shouldn't the first question be about our Religion/degree of Anti Deism here on Realneo? 


Don't insult my intelligence any more

I realize you don't believe workforce development is possible in this retarded place, and you do not intend to help develop workforce here...
But I do, and there is something called a local foods movement here - ever heard of the pursuit of new economy - so are new farmers and food production workers intended to undercut the existing labor force or add to it. Who will protect them - what are their rewards?

Are you a writer, or not?

Are you interested to be represented by a union.

Get serious, and real, Jeff.. we aren't all retired.

Disrupt IT

definitely jumping the gun

  This is too far out until we have capital and some real production.  Besides, the old models of management/owner and worker don't work...which is why I have some issues with how we discuss the new economy.  It's not an easy discussion.  Under guilds, we had artisans/shared ownership, under unions we have workers.

Unionize the Green Corp

So what is the average wage of Farmers and food prodcution workers in the local foods sector here... how about the web content sector.

What are their futures.

Who will invest in their workforce development.

Shouldn't this be done in partnership with labor? Unions?

Disrupt IT

Let the workers decide if

Let the workers decide if they want to join a union or not.  Of course this decision would have to be based on information about the pros and cons of union vs non union.  I believe an informed workforce can make that decision for themselves.  I am not against unions but I am also not of the opinion that all workers need to be unionized to get a fair wage.  Is there a middle ground between the two?  I don't beleive that anyone should work and not get paid a fair wage...but deciding what is fair is not easy. 

Fair Trade and Living Wages For Green Corps

Good place to start an analysis.

If we are deciding what investment in local foods workforce development is desirable for Northeast Ohio, may one criteria be that it pays a "living wage" and respects some rules of "fair trade"?

What is a living wage, for what work, and what is fair trade regarding local foods, in developing parts of America, like urban Cleveland?

For example, if our local foods economy consists of Cleveland non-profits using local workforce development and social welfare funding to pay youths low wages to tend install rain barrels and build community gardens, or for non-profit management to manage volunteers, is the money helping any people earn a fair or living wage, is it denying funding for workforce development for people who need to earn a living wage, and is the food produced fair trade?

Is the food sold at local farmers markets fair trade?

May the region gain help from organized labor to grow this sector of our economy? May unions help fund the workforce development?

Disrupt IT

think walmart

where any discussion about a labor movement brings in the neutralizers.


New economy pursuit, Labor, and Unionized Realneo


Hello Norm,
you’ve got a Typo in that last sentence - should read (referring to me) We are not all “retarded” (not “retired”)
The whole point of writing is to express yourself.  Same with theater, sculpture, bike polo, - and you get the picture.
Chill those jets.
Unions require dues for the Business Agents. 
Realneo is stressed to the wall just paying for the server every month. 
This is another reason to separate the gardening from the web journalism.


Not interested in sarcasm

I've had enough people mess with my work and cause my family harm here to now ask for straight, intelligent discussion when we look at the core of my proposal.

Jeff, is "Realneo is stressed to the wall just paying for the server every month" your final answer?

I plan to join the National Writers Union for $120 a year to see what benefit it offers. I certainly qualify.

And, I intend to contact the head of the AFL/CIO to see their thoughts on this subject.

I welcome the serious thoughts of all others.

Disrupt IT


 I began on realneo about 6 months ago and read the blogs but skipped the comments. Then I began posting about 2 months ago. I realize that I don't enjoy it. I have anxiety about it. As Lmcshane said when a posting of mine was misinterpreted, we have problems with the new media. I am not sure where I am going with this. When I look at blogs, I think that we at relaneo are more civilized but we still bicker. I don't like to bicker. So I have to reevaluate if I am cut out for all of this, i.e. thin vs thick skin.  Maybe we all take ourselves a bit too seriously, or maybe it is just me.


Dwebb, I enjoy reading the

Dwebb, I enjoy reading the comments on here and on 

And I enjoy reading your posts.  Just because people don't always see eye to eye on every topic it doesn't mean that they disagree on everything.  My husband and I have been married for many years and we still disagree about many things but that doesn't mean that we don't love and cherish one another.  I think it is the same here.  I think we can disagree on some things but find a common bond on other things.  I also think that looking at an opposing point of view is healthy.  It gives us another perspective and gives us food for thought.  I think people learn a lot by looking at an alternate way to view the same situation.  It gives us perspective. 

Please keep on blogging.  You views are important. 

Rational discussion

  Any online discussion gets distorted.  This sort of hashing is better suited to the forum section of RealNEO, but it has never really taken off.  It's always game, set, match...not a great way to conduct a discussion.  We don't need to have a winner in any conversation, just a chance to move forward.

Moving forward with analysis of economics of local foods

As Cuyahoga County development director Paul Oyaski said, he can't support an industry that grows $4 tomatoes.

The reason so much of our food comes from foreign countries is the lower cost of labor elsewhere (like that's a new story). So, is building a multi-billion-dollar local foods economy here about bringing in foreign labor and paying them low wages, or paying people here low wages, or gaming the system as long as possible, or is it about how we innovate with the general local foods system to support paying local labor living wages, or offering better, and growing food that is fair trade.

That is my interest, and that is why I ask this question. It is a serious question... really the core of the local foods economy equation. The biggest cost is not the land, seeds, water, facilities, information technology or transportation, but the labor.

Disrupt IT

Moving forward with analysis of economics of local info

Do you know the economics of new media?

The value of REALNEO is all the result of individual members' time and effort - labor.

Is there more value in our labor than we know and capture, as a cooperative and as individual new media artists?

A union may help us figure that out... perhaps the Newspapers Guild

Founded as a print journalists' union, the Guild today is primarily a media union whose members are diverse in their occupations, but who share the view that the best working conditions are achieved by people who have a say in their workplace.

We have more than 34,000 members in the United States, Canada and in Puerto Rico, and we are journalists, sales and media workers of all kinds.

We are on-line writers and designers, reporters, editorial assistants, photographers, editors, paginators, editorial artists, correspondents, typographers, advertising sales people, marketing, information systems specialists, commercial artists, technicians, accountants, business, customer service reps, drivers, maintenance, mail room, pressroom, telephone operators, circulation and distribution staff.

We are also independent translators and interpreters, non-profit organization staff members, public relations staff and technical workers.

We are part of many communication media: wire services, newspapers, magazines, labor information services, broadcast news, public service and dot com companies.

Or the National Writers Union?

The National Writers Union is the trade union for freelance and contract writers: journalists, book authors, business and technical writers, web content providers, and  poets. With the combined strength of nearly 2,000 members in 16 chapters nationwide, and with the support of the United Automobile Workers (UAW), the Union works to defend the rights and improve the economic and working conditions of all writers.

Disrupt IT

Nail on the Head


In your "Rational Discussion" comment, you hit the nail on the head.  Because as you so rightly state, all too often online discussions do get distorted.  Not everytime, but frequently.

In addition to that I would say as well that I do think that when a conversation morphs into debate, you do have to have a certain degree of combativeness in order to see who's ideas fall apart and who's ideas stand up for the duration.  Individuals and their ideas need to vetted in order to be accepted as worthy of being on the table--being validated.  But you know I'm the kind of person who can be laser focused and assertive, while also being supportive and enthusiastic.  This sometimes confuses people who's intellectual paradigm still functions in the outdated modalities of croynism and nepotism; were criticism of the ones you love and/or admire is simply not allowed; as in do as I say, not as I do...or, be seen but not heard.

But again I share your belief, especially when you say "we don't need to have a winner...just a chance to move forward."

AND as a total sidebar that has absolutely nothing to do with this discussion, would you guys (lmcshane, Jeff B, Norm, Debbie, Debra, Susan Miller et all) check out the Michael Reese Hospital preservation site.  The hospital campus consists of a rare collection of buildings in Chicago that are threatened with imminent demolition.  There's 22 buildings in all, 8 of which were in large part designed by Bauhaus founder and modernist master, Walter Gropius.  There is no other site like this in America, yet because of The City of Chicago's desire to build their Olympic Village there on the same waterfront property, should they be awarded the 2016 games, this historical site of epic proportions hangs in the balance.  I know the guy, Grahm Balkany, who is spearheading the effort to preserve, so definitely give him a shout out.  He needs all the support he can get. 

A new friend in Chicago needs our voice.  Will you heed the call and show him some love?


For Or Against Unions??? (The Lady Or The Tiger???)


About your REALNEO/COOP union question/problem.

Please allow me to offer my two cents, along with some  background on myself.

I am a specialist in the fields of Environmental Safety and Health.

These were both causes that were championed by the "Union" side of the fence.

The laws that are used to enforce these work based behaviors are the OSHA and EPA laws.

Both of these laws were signed by Richard M. Nixon "a Republican" in 1970.

I have worked as a Teamster, I have worked in facilities without union representation, and I have worked in a facility which had an in-house collective bargening unit, that wasn't affiliated with any union group.

There are industries who produce comparable products, from both Union and non-union factories.

Now, my two cents (finally!!!)

If the management of the company is bad and treats the employees badly, the employees will vote a Union in, and the result is a loss of competitive advantage for the company, because they (the company management) were so stupid!!!

They took their employees for granted, they did not see them as an asset to be valued, and they treated them unfairly (maybe even unsafely). Shame on them!!!

Therefore, (in my opinion) it is the failing of company (or corporatorate) management that allows (requires) the presence of unions in the factories (where they are truly needed because of management being SO STUPID!!!).

But, some management styles/philosophies do not make the mistakes that the other (STUPID ONES) do.

They value their employees.

They do their best to keep their employees safe, and healthy.

They do not see their employees as a "Human Resource" (to be logged, stripmined, bulldozed & polluted like our "natural resources").

This is a good thing...  

...and as a result, when the union organizers come looking for disgrundled workers to help with their unionizing efforts at that plant, they only find grundled workers who care about the company - WHY??? - because the company cares about them. (duh)


Therefore, in my opinion it's (Company) "Management" that screws up it's relationship(s) with the employees so badly that the employees want a Union.

In that case that company is the proud owner of an unwelcome third party in it's cozy little bed, along with the employees, (picture a Mother-In Law for instance).

My advice to any management people, treat your employees fairly, keep them safe, keep them healthy, take care of them, and they will treat you farely and take care of your company too.

ALL of this is what this country was built on, and what has brought us to this point in time.

--- Just a thought too ---

I believe (at this time) the UAW is a major stockholder in General Motors. It will be most interesting to see how they handle any labor issues that may come up in the future :-)


"By refusing to deal honorably with others, you dishonor yourself". (Written about (and because of) a former employer)

Bill, in this case, you are the owner, boss and worker

Since WE - REALNEO to Real Coop - are a legal cooperative, owned by US, the members, we own ourselves, the laborers. And if we coopertively decide to move forward in the new economy for financial and other benefits - me using a union to help with contracts and pursue compensation for my photographs, for example - then we may want to do that with some collective intelligence.

I sense unions have collective intelligence, and offer political and economic might.

Unions still matter in the world, in many professions in which I am working, and I am interested in how they fit in the new economy, and how they have value to me.

Like I said, I've never been in a union, but I know union folks, and I see the potential. Now I'm just trying to figure out what that may be.

I look forward to learning more.

Disrupt IT

thats interesting -

 but it places unions in a combative position.

why can't unions just be understood as the representation of the labor force? its really a simple analysis - you have the owners/management whose interest is making money for the company and you have the labor force whose interest is a liveable wage with acceptable conditions. without a union, they have no collective voice. and of course it is not in the labor interest to outprice the company.

i think we get confused by situations like the recent Biscuit Company fiasco where it was reported that the labor demands priced the owners out and they had to sell. the facts were that the owners weren't precluded from making money - they just weren't making what they wanted to and what they promised their shareholders.

so here it is - the interests of the moneymakers over the needs of the workers.

I say union affilliate. and do it from the start, be clear in your philosophy.


I agree. In the end, no matter how kindly the management feels and treats the employee, there will be situations where some will benefit and others decline and not in a way that is based on merit. Take the grievance system: if the end result ends in the decision by the management, as most do, a collective bargining unit is the way to go. And not everyone can perform as highly as the co-workers in some areas but then excells in another. Who sets  performance standards and then who evaluates them?

There just isn't any way around this if one really cares about the well being on the worker AND if equality in the workplace is the desirable result.


Where is the actual proposal that you submitted? I would like to read it in its' enterity if that is something that you can attached here. Thanks, Debbie

Also still having a problem with the Obama posting for the speech. I changed browsers without fixing the problem. I am convinced that the live feed it the problem so I am avoiding that posting,

Read Preamble and Coop Draft and linked book pages

The core components of the proposal are a document called "Preamble: Real Co-op for Open Food, Information and Community Development 2009" and "For REAL COOP Members, Draft Executive Summary of INFO FOOD Initiatives for Cuyahoga County"

Lots of related material linked in the left "Book" menu frame, especially embedded in "The Vision for Cuyahoga County is clear - The world's first "Digital City" and the "Greenest Place On Earth", which I have simplified to making NEO the brightest greenest place on Earth.

As for the Obama speech page... try returning around 11:30 AM tomorrow and it should be streaming live.

Disrupt IT

Nice Overview With Proposal For Coventry Elementary As Well

Also, read "RFP - Request For Partners in Redevelopment of Coventry Elementary School and PEACE Park".

The Cleveland Heights School Board chose the Music School Settlement for Coventry Elementary, but my son is a student there and I have not seen signs of expansion any time soon...

I've been contacted about our Milliken School planning for a suburban farming institute, and will revisit the status on Coventry Elementary when I revisit Milliken...

The proposal gives a great overview of all plans as of November, 2008.

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Don't forget Star Suburban Farming Institute

I love this site and proposed use... so do some people I know in Cleveland Heights.

Anyone have a better use - demo and condos, perhaps. I think not.

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Remember, Help Wanted: Local Food Processing Entrepreneurs

One area of significant local foods workforce development opportunity for our region is with food processing, which is commonly a union field - see United Food and Commercial Workers International.

At the Star Complex we have a food processing facility we propose to put back into operation, as part of our initiatives for Real Coop. We want an experienced plant manager, and we want experienced workers, as we don't want to poison people and produce bad food. Might it make sense to look to the UFCW for help finding this and future talent, and growing the local food processing economy in the future?

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   NORTHERN OHIO FOOD TERMINAL houses a large segment of northern Ohio's wholesale food industry, covering an area of 34 acres from E. 37th to E. 40th streets between Woodland and Orange avenues. Prior to its opening, Cleveland's wholesale food trade occupied scattered quarters along Broadway, Woodland, and Central avenues from E. 6th to E. 9th streets. In 1926 the Northern Ohio Food Terminal Inc. was organized to build a central market supplying locally produced fresh fruits and vegetables, wholesale meats, poultry, and dairy products to the grocery, hotel, and restaurant trade. The Northern Ohio Food Terminal, which modernized Cleveland's handling of perishable foods, opened on 3 June 1929 under the direction of President Charles F. Haas and General Manager Russel Swiler.


The food terminal workers are not local 880 they are teamsters.   



The new food terminal consisted of 4 reinforced-concrete buildings, an auction building, and a Growers' Market, opened in 1930, with covered sheds spread over 4 1/ 2 acres. The Nickel Plate Railroad retained ownership and operation of the terminal's 16-track delivery yard, which handled 18,000 cars annually. In 1954 the terminal was handling 40,000 carloads of food annually valued at $140 million, with more than 100 food merchants employing about 1,500 people. The greatest change in the terminal's operation during its first 25 years was the growth of trucking. In addition to a constant flow of rail cars, more than 20,000 carloads were arriving by truck each year.



What is current status of Food District and Terminal?

That area looks like hell, now - blighted by nearly all.

I'd love to see some data on # jobs in local foods, and relative wages, now and then.

How is the terminal owned and operated and funded?

How is it doing, financially, now?

Core to my overall proposal to redevelop a real local foods economy here is redeveloping this blighted, toxic food and transportation hub area of 100s of acres, sprawling along the abandoned rail and scarred infrastructure grid rooted from there, like a circulatory system destroyed by decades of poor planning and leadership.

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