Last week I was in the checkout line at a downtown Olympia grocery store when the cashier started growling about thieves. He pointed to two shady-looking guys wandering around near the liquor aisle.
He said these two had just been in two hours before and robbed the store of food and beverages. He angrily complained, “And now they’re back to rob us again and I can’t do anything about it.”
The cashier was a big man, a former truck driver, but he’d been warned by store managers to never confront thieves.
“They won’t get arrested,” he explained, “because Washington state laws allow shoplifters to take $950 worth of merchandise without criminal penalty. So I have to stand by passively when these punks rob my store.”
Every person I know who lives in a western Washington city like Olympia or Seattle has a story like this one. Everyone in western Washington has witnessed brazen theft by thieves who know they’ll get away with it.
As a result of state-sanctioned shoplifting, Washington leads the nation in retail theft, which also endangers store employees and customers while increasing costs for everyone.
What can be done?
One union, the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 3000, is actually instructing its members to go on strike and protest the reality that store managers are permitting criminality.
This past weekend, in fact, hundreds of Macy’s employees walked off the job in several stores in western Washington to raise awareness about shoplifting and lack of security.
I am a firm believer that government unions do nothing for their members. The only thing these organizations desire is bigger government and more taxes. Left unchecked, they will bankrupt cities, states and even the nation.
A private sector union like UFCW, however, can do something positive for both its members and society.
Strikes by Macy’s employees are a good a start. But if UFCW is serious about the problem, how about convincing liberal legislators to impose jail time for thieves and to encourage police and prosecutors to arrest and charge shoplifters?
Ironically, UFCW supported the election of the very lawmakers whose laws now endanger store clerks who are UFCW members.
It’s time for the union to play hardball. No more campaign funds for legislators who refuse to put thieves in jail.
When UFCW takes this step, I will support the union because it’s the right thing to do.