The surest way to kill an economy is to kill its entrepreneurial spirit.
In the brief, 10-year history of the Business Times, we’ve seen this attempted on a few occasions.
The killers can wear suits — as in the case of the tort lawyer who went up and down the Central Coast filing Americans for Disabilities Act lawsuits against small restaurants and retail establishments and forcing them to spend precious dollars to prove they were in compliance or exempt.
Now comes the Carpenter’s Union, which is mounting a picketing action against Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab, an Arroyo Grande company whose only offense is leasing space in a Santa Maria mall where the union has a labor dispute with an unrelated drywall installation company.
Doc Burnstein’s is not unfair to labor. In fact, it was honored by the Business Times and the U.S. Small Business Administration at our annual Spirit of Small Business Awards last year.
The company, its story and its ambition to expand into a new market are the epitome of the spirit of entrepreneurship that we are counting on to lead California and the United States out of the worst recession since the Great Depression.
To its credit, even the Central Labor Council of the AFL-CIO recognizes this problem — it is not joining or endorsing the carpenters’ protest.
What’s happening to Doc Burnstein’s is really an attempt by a rogue union to do economic damage to an innocent small business simply because it has the right to protest.
Doing things like this — just like filing dozens of toxic tort claims — is not illegal. But they are murderous to the entrepreneurial spirit not only because the affect real companies but also because publicity about cases such as these discourage people from starting or expanding their own companies.
If the carpenters had an ounce of brains they would realize that in making a statement they are undermining future jobs for their own members.
We think the proper antidote for this extreme behavior is to provide as much support for Doc Burnstein’s as possible.
So go ahead. Drive to Arroyo Grande. Enjoy its wonderful, locally owned retail shops. And, oh yes, by all means treat yourself to a scoop of Peanut Butter Cup Delight or Apple Caramel Swirl.