Guitar Center workers want to unionize
The music equipment chain's New York employees are trying to battle Bain Capital's shrinking commissions and pressure to sell warranties.
In a case of rockers vs. squares normally reserved for '90s films like "Airheads" -- or at least a time when the increasingly antiquated notion of “rock 'n' roll” still had cultural impact -- Guitar Center workers in New York City are attempting to unionize with some help from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.
They've filed an election petition to unionize the music equipment chain's flagship store in Manhattan and, according to The Huffington Post, have signatures from 80% of workers in their expected bargaining unit.
Who are the suits inspiring this move? Let's just say they look a lot like this guy. Bain Capital, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's old firm, bought the Guitar Center chain for $2.1 billion in October 2007, with Goldman Sachs sitting in as an adviser on the deal. Since then, employees claim worker commissions have been increasingly cut as Bain pushes employees to sell unpopular extended warranties.
Founded in 1959 in Southern California, Guitar Center now has 244 stores in 44 states. Its sales totaled $2.1 billion last year. However, Bain Capital doesn't swoop in and buy a company because it's doing well. The chain's parent company, Guitar Center Holdings, is carrying $1.6 billion in debt, had its credit downgraded by Moody's in 2010 and has seen its turf encroached upon by only outlets like Amazon (AMZN).
The union thinks the chain can still compensate its employees better and launched an online petition to generate public interest in the workers' cause. Among the signers so far are musicians including Billy Bragg, Steve Earle, Rage Against The Machine and Audioslave member Tom Morello and Bikini Kill and Le Tigre frontwoman Kathleen Hanna.
Bain refused to comment, but the union notes that Guitar Center has hired the Jackson Lewis firm -- which has built its reputation on helping companies avoid unionization -- as its representative. As for the workers, their move could have far broader implications for retail salespeople, who have the most common job in the country. There are about 4.3 million retail salespeople in the U.S. making an average of $25,000 a year. That's well below the average median wage of $45,790, but still a dream paycheck for Guitar Center workers who make the $7.25-an-hour minimum and have to sell a certain amount of product against their base pay before earning a commission.
Time to close and move out of state...
I would NEVER hire or OPEN a business in any non-right to work state.
Marxist unions are not the answer... They are the problem!
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