Although McLaughlin is usually soft-spoken and generally trusted by union leaders, they can also expect him to be as hard-nosed as any of his predecessors. He has notified the unions that it is uncertain whether some companies will withdraw to negotiate their own, separate contracts. Some sources contend that a few markets want to bargain on their own so that they can reach agreements without trying to force concessions and thus avoid a strike.
Others speculate that the markets haven't yet decided which ones will take part in the multi-employer bargaining for just the opposite reason: They are afraid that the Food Employers Council will not be hard-nosed enough in fighting the unions.
In the end, most of the supermarkets will probably continue their tradition of negotiating as a group. But that won't go very far toward resolving the unions' dilemma.
Labor Merit Badge
Despite the outrage voiced by the anti-union National Right to Work Committee and some corporate leaders, the Boy Scouts of America will have a union-oriented merit badge to help balance the badge created in 1967 for American business.
Scout executives said the American labor merit badge, which was proposed by the Scouts' Labor Advisory Committee more than a year ago, has already been approved in principle by several key Scout committees. However, requirements for winning the badge have been a subject of debate, with the right-to-work group complaining that they are slanted too much toward unions. But, since the business merit badge is tilted toward the corporate point of view, there is an obvious need for balance.
The Scouts' proposed labor merit badge asks candidates for the badge to, among other things, list the achievements of America's unions, draw diagrams of a typical union structure and compare U.S. unions with those in another country.
Scouts who want to earn the labor badge are also asked to visit a union hall, gather information about union goals and problems from several sources and be prepared to answer questions on those topics and to explain words and phrases used in labor-management relations.
To earn the business merit badge, Scouts are expected to, among other things, explain the key features of the "free enterprise system" and describe its "benefits and responsibilities." They are asked to tell how the laws of Scouting apply to business and free enterprise, visit a bank and talk with its officers, diagram its organization and its relationship with other banks and explain the place of profit in business.
They are also asked to select two or more stocks and keep a record of what would happen if they actually invested $1,000 in those stocks for three months. And they are asked to run a small business--selling products they make themselves or taking a newspaper route, for example--and then report on how "salesmanship, hard work and friendliness" helped their business.
Harold Sokolsky, administrative assistant to chief Scout executive Ben J. Love, said that some "moderate changes" are expected to be made in the requirements for the labor badge over the next few months and that it should then win formal approval--but not in time for it to be introduced at this year's Jamboree, to be held July 24-30 in Fort Hill, Va.
"It is obvious to me that the business and labor merit badges each take the point of view of their subjects and should balance one another," Sokolsky said.
Organized labor has fought for years, with little success, to get public schools to teach students about the role that unions have played in American history. The squabble over the Scout badge is an indication of the trouble that unions have had in trying to tell their story to youngsters.
"We (Scout leaders) don't want to get caught in the middle of a fight between unions and their enemies," Sokolsky said. "But my feeling is that the American labor movement has done a great deal for the welfare of this country and should be commended for its achievements."
The proposed requirements for the labor badge were written by University of Minnesota Prof. John F. Flagler at the request of Scout executives.
Sokolsky noted that there were no objections from organized labor to the business badge requirements, and he insisted that the decision to modify the labor merit badge requirements was made before a "flood" of letters arrived at Scout headquarters in Irving, Tex., from supporters of the National Right to Work Committee.
"Support for Scouting includes both the labor and corporate community, and we want to take a closer look at the labor merit badge to make sure it represents our desire to appeal to our broad-based constituency," he said.
The labor merit badge should help balance the information that Scouts get from business about America's economic system and help Scouting keep its reputation for fair play.
Hitting the Jackpot
In the sort of "jackpot" win that one might expect, nearly 200 retirees from Las Vegas resort hotels and restaurants will divide about $2 million as a result of changes made in the Southern Nevada Culinary and Bartenders Pension Fund.
Irving Baldinger, senior vice president of the American Benefit Plan Administrators, said union and management trustees of the fund, which covers about 30,000 workers, voted in 1982 to make major improvements in the workers' benefits and eligibility requirements and make them retroactive to 1971, when the plan was started.
Since that decision, a check was made of 1,200 applicants for benefits who had previously been declared ineligible but are now entitled to benefits. It took more than two years to verify the eligibility of retired workers and then locate the widely scattered "missing" pensioners, Baldinger said.