I'm an organizer with a small union. We have a storefront which we open to the public four days a week. We unionize people who make their living on the street, like buskers, scrappers, pickers, panhandlers, and so on, so none of us have very much money. Because we understand what it's like not to have any place to hang out when you're broke, we make sure our union hall always has an urn of fresh, hot coffee and some snacks available so that people can come in, sit down, relax, and chill without having to pay anything.
We assumed that people would come in and grab a coffee and a snack. Most people do. But we've started getting a growing number of people who come in, shove $10+ worth of snacks in a bag, and leave. One guy brings his whole family in, who fill their pockets. A few days ago, we had two homeless people come in and, over a period of two days, consume $60+ worth of snacks.
I pay for most of it out of my own pocket, since the union can't afford it, and I'm being put in the position of going without food myself to keep the snacks stocked. I don't want to put restrictions on the snacks; if people are desperate, they should be able to grab more than one snack. But it's simply not sustainable to have people walking out with shopping bags full of Twinkies, cookies, and potato chips.
What do we do?
>Twinkies, cookies, and potato chips.
switch to crackers, the cheap kinds. If people are coming just for food I'm not sure if you want them to be apart of your organization.
If supplying food just becomes unsustainable then just stop doing it.
> if people are desperate
If you live in the west like the rest of us then those people are fine. Its absolutely unrealistic to think that those peoples only option for food are the twinkies youre paying for.
overall it sounds like youre getting played, OP
For the record, I'm a mutualist anarchist, which is generally considered slightly right of centre. This isn't /pol/ and I'm genuinely and magnificently uninterested in your O'Reilly Talking Points view of unions. (PS: You're welcome for weekends, sick days, and not dying of black lung at the age of 35.)
And we're not going to close the union hall to the public. We know what it's like to walk down the street with no money in your pocket and not be able to get a drink when it's hot or warm up out of the cold when it's freezing.
>switch to crackers, the cheap kinds
We've started doing something like that. Instead of stocking whole bags of potato chips, we bought cookies and sealable plastic bags, and divvied them up into bunches of two or three.
>those people are fine
I forget that this is 4chan. I know empathy is an alien concept here. You'll just have to take my word for it that we actually want to give people stuff. We're fine with giving people coffee and a snack. We're not fine with handing out shopping bags full of Ding Dongs. We want a way that we can allow people to enjoy a snack or two without suffering the tragedy of the commons by having people stuff everything in a pillow case and saunter out.
Have you thought of asking for donations from businesses surrounding who share a philosophical affinity for unions? Might sound farfetched, but some people are very pro the existence of unions, even if they are business owners.
Limit what's out on the counter to 2 or 3 of each thing. Keep the rest hidden and refill as needed.
Or hide everything, and only offer goodies as you chat with them about the union.
Yes, and we've gotten donations of cash from some fellow unions and other fellow-travellers, but we're in a hundred year old building and it needs lots of renovations, so we're constantly short on cash. A local pizza place was giving us their left-over pizzas each night for a while, but the manager there got wind of it and shut it down; he'd rather toss it all in the trash than see it given away free. Places which regularly have non-perishable food to give away generally give it to soup kitchens or food banks, and we don't want to take food away from them.
Yeah, that's a pretty good idea, and I've started doing exactly that. One problem we've had, though, is a few people have spotted our supplies and said, "Holy crap, look how many Ding Dongs/Twinkies/et al. you have! I'm gonna grab a bunch!" As in, at least three times in the last few weeks. I guess we could hide the supplies, but we shouldn't need to. Ideally we'd like a solution which doesn't involve dishonesty or making the non-greedy people feel like they're thieves.
>We're fine with giving people coffee and a snack.
Then leave it to that, no need for twinkies and cookies
Or, you can try wht >>16790311 said. Try bringing out the sweet stuff after you guys chat.
Maybe leave someone in charge of giving away the snacks instead of leaving it so people can stuff their pockets.
Give someone a finger, and they take a hand. Sadly these kinds of assholes are everywhere. Back in my retail days we used to have a small bowl with bananas that were going a bit overripe or that looked unappetizing where people could "eat a banana while shopping and were hungry ". This escalated quickly into situations where people would just take one, walk around the store eating it and go back and take a new one over and over. Some people would want to take the banana with them and eat later, whole families would just stand around the bowl and gorge themselves, we started to find banana peels EVERYWHERE in the store. A lot of people didnt even buy anything, they'd just eat. All this is unfortunate, but the worst part is that people got so accustomed to getting a banana every single time while shopping they'd just take a fresh one from the ones we were selling if there was no free ones. Eventually we couldn't sustain this nicety and everyone had to suffer for it. Now we just give a free banana to small kids that are hungry and if people ask. Which is what you should do.
That "someone" would be me. I'm the one who does at least half of the shifts in the storefront. It seems like a big pain in the ass to have to ask each person individually if they'd like a snack, then figure out what they want and whether we have it, or give them a list of what we have and then have to explain why we can't just show it to them. I'm not trying to create more work for myself, but it may turn out that I have to, I guess.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could have nice things? It's the 80/20 rule which shows up everywhere you look: 20% of any group will give you 80% of the problems. Or, to quote Andrew Dice Clay, "So many assholes, so few bullets."
>We want a way that we can allow people to enjoy a snack or two without suffering the tragedy of the commons by having people stuff everything in a pillow case and saunter out.
If you can figure out a way around the tragedy of the commons, there is probably a Nobel prize with your name on it.
I'm curious: what does a union for people on the street do? Where does it get its money? With whom does it bargain?
We're members of the IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World, which has a 110 year tradition of organizing in places no other union will touch. During the Great Depression, for example, the IWW went into work camps and organized the men to fight for better conditions. And so many hobos were members of the IWW that if you tried to hop a train, the hobos would demand to see your union card and pitch you off the train if you couldn't produce one.
We get our money from our own pockets and from a crowdfunding campaign. You can see pictures of our hall on the page at Go Fund Me dot com slash SLOW-IWW if you're interested.