How unions work, and how they don’t


My sister sent me this joke in an email. As she said, “it pretty much says it all.”

A dedicated Teamsters’ union worker was attending a convention in Las Vegas and decided to check out the local brothels. When he got to the first one, he asked the Madam, “Is this a union house?”

“No,” she replied, “I’m sorry it isn’t.”

“Well, if I pay you $100, what cut do the girls get?”

“The house gets $80 and the girls get $20,” she answered

Offended at such unfair dealings, the union man stomped off down the street in search of a more equitable, hopefully unionized shop. His search continued until finally he reached a brothel where the Madam responded, “Why yes sir, this is a union house. We observe all union rules.”

The man asked, “And if I pay you $100, what cut do the girls get?” “The girls get $80 and the house gets $20.”

“That’s more like it!” the union man said.

He handed the Madam $100, looked around the room, and pointed to a stunningly attractive blonde.

“I’d like her,” he said.

“I’m sure you would, sir,” said the Madam. Then she gestured to a 92-year old woman in the corner, “but Ethel here has 67 years seniority and according to union rules, she’s next.”

Deconstructing a joke always kills the humor, but I think this joke, more than many, explains both how unions do benefit the worker and how they pervert the marketplace.

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  • erp

    You’re half right BW, while unions do pervert the marketplace, they don’t benefit the workers because there are only two workers in the union brothel while the others are presumably teeming (pun intended) with workers.

  • Ymarsakar

    Funny how you talk about deconstructing jokes, I just finished doing it to the Walt one.

    I still find them funny, but not for the same reasons however, you know. Things are funny because at a certain point, you believe in something that you think is true that you think is affected, reflected, or connected to the circumstances illustrated in the joke. Btw, I don’t think your previous jokes were bad.

    I was never a big believer in “you have to shut off your brain, to enjoy a joke”. For me, I’ll still enjoy a joke that premises itself based upon what I believe to be false, but I’d enjoy it because i would be laughing at the pathetic joke instead of laughing along with it.

    The younger workers get jack, because unions are bureacracies. Bureacracies don’t work on merit, they work on who has power and who has held it the longest in terms of political lifespans. It’s just human nature. You need not understand unions if you already understand humans. Although you do need to understand humans, to understand unions.

  • Zhombre

    A CNN reporter in Jerusalem interviewed a certain rabbi. This rabbi was very old and was renowned for his devotion and piety and love of Torah. Every day for the last 50 years, it was said, he had gone to the Wailing Wall and prayed passionately for peace in the Middle East. Is that true? the CNN reported inquired.

    Yes, it has been almost 50 years and every day I have prayed for peace in the Middle East.

    And how do you feel about that?

    Like I’ve been talking to a f**k’n wall.

  • ravana

    Finally, a post I can agree with. I agree with erp’s comment. The only workers who are benefitted are the ones that are already employed. Unions keep the price of labour high and the demand for labour low. There would be more jobs if there were less unions.

  • Greg

    I belong to a union, though not by choice. In government, where I work, it is worse than the joke.

    BTW, I sent the joke to one my older kids (nearly 31 now) and she loved it.

  • Ymarsakar

    A union for a government job, that must be like anti-matter plus matter.