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What are unions?
Apr 16, 2024
Season 6 | Episode 2

What are unions?

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And why scabbing is a big no-no!

This week, Bridget and Ryan are working hard to answer a question many listeners sent in, including Benicio, about labor unions and how they work. They get some help from a group of middle school babysitters called The Caregiver Crew who want to form a union. We’ll learn the ins and outs of negotiations, collective bargaining, strikes, and even … scabbing.

Tips for grownups listening to “Million Bazillion” with kids

Money Talks

After you listen to the episode, here are some questions you can ask your kid listener to see how much they learned about how unions work:

  1. What are some of the reasons a group of workers might want to form a union?
  2. If you were part of the Caregiver Crew’s labor union, what else would you add to their list of demands for better working conditions?
  3. *Bonus* Not So Random Question: How many hours a day should a person work?

Tip Jar

For listeners who want to keep learning more about unions and how they work, we’ve got ideas!

  • To learn more about the history of how unions and labor movements changed the way we work, listeners can check out their local libraries for age-appropriate titles. One suggestion is Susan Campbell Bartoletti’s “Kids on Strike!” for ages 10 to 12.
  • When the Caregiver Crew went on strike in this episode, they struggled to make money outside of babysitting gigs. You can learn more about the impact of strikes on workers in this video from CBC Kids News.
  • The Caregiver Crew relied on negotiation to come to agreement with the town’s parents. Negotiation is a super important skill — and we’ve got a Million Bazillion episode all about it!
  • This isn’t the first time Million Bazillionaires have had questions about the workplace. If you missed our episode about why some people get paid more than others (and the wage gap), you can check that out here.

Gimme Five

Thanks for listening to this episode! Do your kids have more questions about the way we work, or things they’ve seen in the news that they want us to answer? Send them to us using this online form.

This episode is sponsored by Greenlight. Get one month free and earn $10 today when you sign up for Greenlight at greenlight.com/million.

(SFX: AUDITORIUM-SIZED CROWD “OOO”S and “AHHHS” AS IF WATCHING A CIRCUS) 

BRIDGET: Ok Ryan, we’re on right after this aerial yoga performance is over. How you feeling?

RYAN: (NERVOUS) I always just get a little nervous before these school presentations. The last one did not go well.

BRIDGET: Well, I think it’ll go better this time if only for the fact that you didn’t bring any illegal fireworks. (BEAT) You didn’t bring any illegal fireworks today, right?

RYAN: Of course not, Bridget. You think I’m daft? 

BRIDGET: “Daft”? Why are you talking, like, British all of the sudden?

RYAN: What? “Daft.” That’s a word. Anyone can say daft, it’s in the dictionary, innit?

BRIDGET: Wait. Did you say “innit”? You sound British again.

RYAN: OK, go easy on me right now. You’re getting in my head. 

BRIDGET: Ok, fine, fine…

(SFX: MUSIC AND AUDIENCE APPLAUDS)

SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: Let’s hear it for those aerial yogis! Ok, students of Smokey Brook Middle School, next up, please welcome the hosts of your favorite money podcast, Million Bazillion, Bridget and Ryan!

BRIDGET: That’s our cue. 

BRIDGET: Hey, kids! I’m Bridget!

RYAN: Cheerio! I’m Ryan! Sorry, that sounded British. I was worried I’d sound British, so of course it happened. Won’t happen again. Thanks for letting us come talk to your middle school!

BRIDGET: Yeah. On Million Bazillion, we help dollars make more cents! 

STUDENT #1: (CACKLES) I just got that!

RYAN:  That’s right. We’re here to answer questions that you kids have about money. And look, hey, we know middle school can be tough. Why, when I was in middle school, I had no friends. And now, as a grown adult, I have three friends.

(BEAT, AUDIENCE COUGHS)

RYAN: So, it gets better, is what I’m saying. (BEAT) Oy, let’s hear a question! Gahh, sorry, that sounded British again. That was the last one, I promise.

BRIDGET: Okay, does anyone have a money question they want us to answer?

BENICIO: My name is Benicio, and I want to know what unions are and what they’re for.

BRIDGET: That’s a great question! I bet a lot of you saw news stories about some of those strikes that have been going on, right?

RYAN: Oh yeah, and you asked your parents, and they started talking about unions and things got messy?

BRIDGET: When you hear people using the word “union” when they’re talking about jobs and work, they probably mean a labor union. A labor union is a group of workers who work together to get more rights and protections on the job. Ryan’s going to help me act this out!

RYAN: Ever so pleased!

BRIDGET: See Ryan wearing that big top hat? He’s the boss. He’s got all the power! And tells his workers what to do.

RYAN: You’re all working 12 hours a day! With no breaks!

BRIDGET: That sounds terrible! But the workers might not have a choice! 

RYAN: [EVIL CACKLE] Profits!! Margins!! Shareholder Value!! Money, money, money, money… MONEY!

BRIDGET: But there are usually more workers than bosses. So a long time ago, workers realized if they joined together with the other people at their job, they could have some power in that boss-employee relationship. I’m going to represent that as these little velcro balls I’m now going to throw at Ryan.

RYAN: Ow! Ow! Ow!… Seriously, stop it! Bridget, stop!

SFX: CHILD AUDIENCE LAUGHTER

BRIDGET: Labor unions do things like negotiate with the bosses for things like better pay, safer working conditions, and benefits like health insurance. When the bosses refuse to talk to the unions, the unions might go on strike! So they refuse to do their work until the bosses change their minds! 

RYAN: Hmm, maybe I should take a look at my workers’ demands after all. Hrmph, hrmph…

BRIDGET: And Unions have fought for stuff that’s now a normal part of the way we work. Like the 8 hour work day!

RYAN: That’s right. [OUT OF BREATH] And it may interest you kids to know that I, Ryan, am myself a proud member of a union- the Screen Actors Guild or SAG. Like many actors, I had to join the union to act in TV and movies. I earned my SAG card playing my most famous role as Digits, the nerdy but sorta unconventionally handsome forensic lab technician on NCIS: Tacoma. Who here recognizes me from that show?

(SFX: SILENCE, A COUGH)

RYAN: None of you kids watched NCIS: Tacoma?

STUDENT #2: I think my grandma watches it.

RYAN: Yes! Thank you. If your grandma were here, she would be impressed by me and that’s what matters.

BRIDGET: In the United States, there are about 16.2 million workers represented by a union. That’s over 11 percent of working adults out there, so maybe about 1 in ten of any adult that you meet. Some types of jobs are more likely to have a union. In fact, a lot of teachers can be represented by a union.

TEACHER: (SHOUTING) United Schoolworkers of Smokey Brook! Represent! 

(SFX: A FEW ADULT CLAPS AND WHOOPS)

SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: OK, very interesting. Let’s thank Ryan and Bridget for being here today! 

BRIDGET: Wait a minute, there’s still so much more to learn about unions. 

SCHOOL PRINCIPAL: Sorry, we gotta wrap up. The aerial yogis went long. Let’s have a round of applause for Million Bazillion!

RYAN: Cheers, mates!- Gah, I mean, bye y’all!

(SFX: APPLAUSE)

(TRANSITION TO OUTDOOR SCHOOL LUNCH AMBI)

BRIDGET: Well, if you ask me, that whole presentation was just too short. We barely scratched the surface of unions.

RYAN: Hey, look on the bright side. We didn’t start a fire, we got to stick around for a lunch of lukewarm nuggets. Today is a win. 

(SFX: FOOTSTEPS APPROACH)

MARISA: Hi, you’re Bridget and Ryan, right?

RYAN: (MOUTHFUL) Yes, you want an autograph?

MARISA: No, my name’s Marisa, and I want to know more about how labor unions work. 

BRIDGET: Really? We’d love to tell you all about it. Unions are-

MARISA: (SECRETIVE) No. Not here. I want the rest of my friends to hear this too. Because we have questions. Meet us after school by the soccer field bleachers. I’ll be there with my crew.

(SFX: SUBTLE MYSTERIOUS MUSIC)

BRIDGET: Your crew? 

MARISA: Yeah, some friends and I run a little babysitting business on the side. We call ourselves… The Caregiver Crew. And yeah, we’re thinking we might wanna form a union. See you at 2pm. Sharp.

(SFX: WALKS OFF)

RYAN: (MOUTHFUL) How ‘bout that? The kids these days- they wanna learn and they think we’re cool. The day just keeps getting better.

BRIDGET: Hmm, I’m not certain about this whole meetup, but I guess we’ll talk more about unions when we come back. Right after this.

–Asking Random Kids NOT SO Random Questions–

ANNOUNCER: And now it’s time for Asking Random Kids Not So Random Questions. Today’s question is: how many hours a day should a person work?

RANDOM KIDS: “I think that a person should work at least like 8 or 7 hours a day.” “6, so that you can have time to spend with your family.” “12 because that’s half of the day.” “One hour work and the other hour vacation.” “My dad works from 10 o’clock in the morning until around 5 or 6 o’clock in the evening.” “I think a person should work zero hours a day because working is boring.”

ANNOUNCER: That was Riel in Edmonton. Emilio and Quinn in California. Veronika in Barcelona. Jonathan in Nanjing, China. And Chris in Illinois. This has been Asking Random Kids Not So Random Questions.

Part 1:

(SFX: OUTSIDE BASEBALL FIELD AMBI)

RYAN: And we’re back! Today on Million Bazillion, we’re answering the question: what are labor unions and what do they do?

BRIDGET: That’s right. And we’re meeting up with a group of middle school babysitters called The Caregiver Crew to explain what unions are all about. Oh look, there they are- already waiting for us by the bleachers.

MARISA: It’s 2:01.

BRIDGET: Yeah?

MARISA: I said 2, sharp. Don’t let it happen again.

RYAN: … Okie dokie.

BRIDGET: Sorry.

MARISA: Let’s get introductions out of the way. I’m Marisa, President of the Caregiver Crew. I’m never without my trademark baseball cap and lead with a firm yet generous hand. This is Lottie, our Vice President.

LOTTIE: Hi. I use my babysitting money to fund my real passion. My Blog and TikTok that reviews popular TV shows. 

MARISA: Carla, our secretary-treasurer.

CARLA: Hi. I’m the resident foodie and I have the best handwriting and I’m the most organized. I’m in physical pain that you were late. 

BRIDGET: Again, very sorry about that. 

MARISA: Julia. Public relations.

JULIA: Hi. I consider myself the memory-maker of the group. Here, this is a homemade fridge magnet I made to commemorate our first meeting, here, under these bleachers!

RYAN: Oh, it’s like a little set of bleachers made out of popsicle sticks. What d’ya know. 

MARISA: Aaaand finally there’s Frederick, the boy.

FREDERICK: Hi. I’m the boy.

(BEAT LIKE WE’RE WAITING FOR HIM TO EXPAND)

BRIDGET: Well, nice to meet you kids.

RYAN: Wait, I have a question. You kids are, like, 12. Who are you babysitting? Kids that are 2 weeks younger than you? 

JULIA: A lot of 12 year-olds babysit. Get with the times, pal.

CARLA: According to our bylaws, the conversation we’re about to have is Level One confidential and we can only have it back at the Caregiver Crew treehouse. No one say anything important until we get there!

MUX: Inspector sting

BRIDGET: [SETTLING IN] Okay, nice treehouse space you have here. 

RYAN: Yeah, you don’t normally see a treehouse built entirely out of popsicle sticks, but it really works when you see it. 

MARISA: I’m gonna cut to the chase because we don’t have all day. We caregivers need to form a union because we’re getting cheated on the job. All the babysitters in this town need better treatment. Our current conditions cannot stand.

BRIDGET: Ok, what are some of the conditions? And have you thought about writing them all down? And then we can figure out if a union would help with them. 

MARISA: Already made a list.

(SFX: LONG PAPER UNFURLING)

BRIDGET: Wow, you’re on it, I see.

MARISA: We’ve been paid $7 an hour for three years now. Our wages are not increasing at the same rate as inflation so we are BASICALLY getting paid less. Everything in the world costs more, even baseball hats, except we’re not getting paid more. 

BRIDGET: Ok, number one, you should probably ask for a raise. That’s one of the big things unions are known for helping with. 

LOTTIE: And! We’re not getting properly compensated for babysitting shifts that go unexpectedly long. Last week, Mrs. Lefitty on Orange Grove paid me to take care of her kid, Mac. $7 an hour for 3 hours. But Mrs. Lefitty got delayed at work an extra two hours. When she finally got home, she gave me $21 bucks! Meaning she never paid me for those extra two hours! On top of that, I missed Jeopardy! And I hate to miss Jeopardy. 

BRIDGET: Can’t you just tape it? 

LOTTIE: Tape it? Like with duct tape?

BRIDGET: Oh, what do the kids say?… Can’t you just watch it online?

LOTTIE: No, I can’t watch Jeopardy late, haven’t you heard of spoilers??

BRIDGET: Spoilers are the worst.

RYAN: Can I interject something here? I had a similar payment issue on the set of NCIS: Tacoma. I played Digits for a season and half. Your grandma would recognize me. Anyway, we were supposed to be shooting normal 12 hour days. And one day, we ended up shooting for 14 hours because the director was this fresh-out-of-film-school punk who thought he was Stanley Kubrick or something. I was like, “Dude this is NCIS, brother. Let’s shoot already.” 

BRIDGET: Ryan, get to the point. 

RYAN: Oh, anyway. When a TV crew works more than the amount of time expected, they are paid overtime. So if you have to work more hours than what you’ve originally agreed to, your job has to pay you MORE than usual for those extra hours.. The union agreement determines how much extra you’re paid. Sometimes it’s one and a half times your usual rate. In show biz, we call that time and a half.

LOTTIE: You’re telling me I could get more than an extra $14?? 

RYAN: Well yeah, with time and a half, you’re probably owed, like, (COUNTS) $20 or 21 dollars.

CARLA: But money isn’t our only complaint. These parents don’t always leave behind enough snacks. I mean, they got plenty of mac and cheese for their own kids. But I’m 12. A 12 year-old does not survive on mac-n-cheese alone. We’d like some olives, hummus, grapes, a charcuterie would be nice, some gabagool, a macaroon or two-

MARISA: I think they get it, Carla.

BRIDGET: Ok, You want more nutritious food in the house? That seems do-able. Honestly, these all seem like reasonable asks, and if you’re all asking for the same thing, that’s one thing a union tries to do. Make everyone’s “ask” stronger because you’re all speaking in one loud voice. That’s called “collective bargaining.” 

MARISA: Got it! Okay, everyone, we’re starting a union! Uh, is there anything else we need to do to make this happen?

BRIDGET: I guess the next step is…you should call a vote of all the babysitters and figure out if they want to be a part of a union with you. 

MARISA: Okay, who’s in favor of joining a union!

GROUP: AYE

MARISA: Any NAY-sayers?

(SFX: CRICKETS)

BRIDGET:  Oh, wait! No, there’s a problem.

JULIA: What?

BRIDGET: I only just thought of this. You all work for different parents. In a real labor action, you have to take all your requests to someone in charge. Like a boss. And then you’ll have a conversation with them, like a negotiation about them. But your demands are no good if there’s no “management” you can take them to.

MARISA: Oh, I think I know who the management is. There’s this one mom, Helen Hendershaw. She’s the self-appointed leader of all the moms in the neighborhood, you know the type-

BRIDGET: Oh, I know the type.

FREDERICK: You can’t get a babysitting job in this town without her approval. She runs the whole show. We take our complaints to Mrs. Hendershaw. She’s all the management we’ll need. 

(MUSIC: HOPEFUL AND INSPIRING SCORE)

BRIDGET: Wow, I think this could really work then. Alright, caregivers, you seem to have your list of demands in order, you’ve agreed to work together as a union, so the next step is- you’re going to management! And you are going to negotiate!

CAREGIVER CREW: (ENTHUSIASTIC CHEERS AND HOLLARS)

(SFX: SUBURBAN EXTERIOR)

(SFX: MARCHING FOOTSTEPS, CROWD OF KIDS)

(MUSIC: MILITARISTIC MOTIVATED MARCHING SOUND)

BRIDGET: Welcome back to Million Bazillion, everyone! Today, we’re helping an adolescent gang of babysitters, The Caregiver Crew, form their own labor union to demand better treatment of all neighborhood babysitters by the neighborhood parents. And from the looks of it, a lot of babysitters must be fed up because a ton more middle school kids have joined in. (QUIETER, TO RYAN) Ryan, I really hope this works.

RYAN: Yeah, me too. This thing kinda blew up bigger than I thought, to be honest.

MARISA: Quiet everyone!

(SFX: CROWD QUIETS)

MARISA (TO CROWD) Attention, neighborhood babysitters!

RYAN: (WHISPERS) Pssst. You should address your union by their number.

MARISA: Why?

RYAN: Oh, most unions have a number. It sounds cooler and more blue collar when you say the number. Make one up. Just call yourselves the Local 425 or something.

MARISA: (WHISPERS) Got it. (LOUD) Attention, Local 425! 

(HUGE, WILD CHEERS)

MARISA: We’re here at Mrs. Hendershaw’s house, about to commence negotiations. Now, only myself and the Caregiver Crew’s lead negotiator, Carla, will be speaking to Mrs. Hendershaw. 

JULIA: Why can’t we all go in, so each of us can state our personal complaints?

(SFX: ANNOYED KIDS AGREEING)

MARISA: Look, we will do our best to represent the group as a whole, and be honest with you as we can about the negotiations. But you can’t all come to the negotiations because that would mean 50 people talking all at once and it would be chaos. Ok, here goes nothing.

FREDERICK: Good luck, ladies! You got this!

BRIDGET: Ok, girls, don’t get rattled. We’ll be close by in these bushes and on our walkie talkies [SFX WALKIE TALKIE BUZZ] if you need anything.

(SFX: DOORBELL)

(SFX: DOOR OPENS)

MRS. HENDERSHAW: Oh, Marisa, Carla. I’m afraid you have the wrong day. Luna doesn’t need to be babysat until tomorrow afternoon.

MARISA: (CLEARS THROAT) We’re not here to babysit your kid, Mrs. Hendershaw.

MRS: HENDERSHAW: Well, if you’re not here to look after my child, why else would you be on my property, speaking to me at all?

MARISA: In light of repeated neglect of our reasonable requests to the neighborhood parents, The Caregiver Crew has formed a union of child-childcare workers. 

MRS HENDERSHAW: A union? Why would you want to do that?? Babysitting is simple! Why do you want to make it more complicated with all the red tape of a union?? It’ll just cost us parents more without really benefiting you babysitters, and to be honest, it’ll make it very difficult for us to fire babysitters who do a bad job. Do you really want that?

MARISA: Well, we know we can’t go on like this! And we’re taking our demands to you, because- let’s face it- everyone knows you’re the neighborhood mom most up in everyone’s business.

MRS: HENDERSHAW: Fair.

SFX: FADE UP LIGHT DRUM MARCH UNDER DEMAND LIST

MARISA: We have some demands. We started with three, but then we kept talking about it, and we’ve added more! One- an hourly wage increase to $10 dollars- USD- to be paid in cash. No “Venmoing our parents” and then you forget, or other funny business.

HELEN: … Okaaay?

MARISA: Second, if you say the gig is three hours, it’s three hours. If you go over the agreed time, you pay us time and a half. That’s our rate, plus 50 percent extra. So $15 an hour for each extra hour.

BRIDGET: [ON WALKIE TALKIE] You’re doing great, Marisa!

HELEN: I see. Anything else…?

MARISA: For every additional kid, we want to be paid another nine dollars an hour! 

HELEN: Ha! Good luck getting that by the Morrisons, they have five kids!

RYAN: [ON WALKIE TALKIE] You’ve got her right where you want her, now go for it!

MARISA: And we want all the parents to pay into a shared dental insurance plan! All us babysitters are headed into our orthodontia years and we want to upgrade to the invisible braces! No more wires for us!

CARLA: (WHISPERS) The snacks. Don’t forget the snacks.

MARISA: Oh, right. Snacks. We need better snacks. Not just toddler stuff. Sophisticated middle school stuff, like- 

CARLA: Carrot sticks, celery, orange slices, some gluten-free bread options, both a 2 percent dairy and oat milk options, actually I’ll just forward you the Whole Foods Instacart we made.

MUX: FADE UP SUBTLY DISSONANT SCORING TO INDICATE NEGOTIATIONS NOT GOING TO PLAN

HELEN: (LAUGHS) Little, adorable girls. Your demands are… silly to me. You’re just a bunch of kids, not to be taken seriously. You’re young, so you don’t realize you’re being unrealistic, and frankly, a little immature. If you don’t want to babysit, there are plenty of kids who will do it cheaper than you without raising a fuss or ever complaining. Maybe I should just ask them.

MARISA: (DISCOURAGED) Oh, well. I- I guess- maybe we don’t need all those demands.

RYAN: (OVER WALKIE TALKIE) No. Marisa, this is a common management tactic. She’s gonna say your demands are unreasonable, no matter what you ask. Now’s the time to hold firm, like you’re enforcing a bedtime on a school night! 

MARISA: Ok, quiet- (TO HENDERSHAW) Sorry, Mrs. Hendershaw. I gotta hold my ground. We’re not budging.

MRS. HENDERSHAW: Well, I’m not budging either. I’m not addressing a single one of your proposals. Did you honestly think that you were going to negotiate with an a-dult? How adorably cute. But sorry, my counteroffer to you… is nothing.

(MUSIC: SUSPENSEFUL MUSIC) 

MARISA: (WHISPERS) Bridget, what do we do now? She won’t negotiate with us!

BRIDGET (WALKIE TALKIE): I didn’t want to have to tell you, but I think you have no other choice… other than to strike. That means everyone in the union is going to refuse to work for any of the parents until the two parties can agree on a deal!

MRS. HENDERSHAW: (A LITTLE NERVOUS) A s-s-strike? Pffff, you wouldn’t dare.

(BEAT)

MARISA: SSSSSSSSTRIKE!!!

CAREGIVER CREW (CHANTING): If the pay’s not fitting, we’re not sitting! If the pay’s not fitting, we’re not sitting!

SFX: STRIKE AMBI, DRUMS, CHANTS

MARISA: So, we’re on strike now. No babysitters working at all. Which is gonna help us… how?

BRIDGET: Oh, yeah- I probably should’ve explained earlier? Okay so during a strike, workers don’t go into work and they refuse to do the jobs that they’re negotiating about. Instead, they spend their time drawing attention to those bosses who won’t negotiate with them. So they might picket outside their workplace. And that means holding signs and chanting and reminding everyone how much better life is when everyone’s doing their job under good conditions. The hope is that management sees how they can’t function without their workers and may be more likely to give into some of your demands.

SFX: WHISTLE

CARLA: [OFF MIC] Okay, Waterbreak time! Everyone take 5!

MARISA: And how long does a strike last? 

BRIDGET: Until one side gives in. Either the bosses agree to negotiate the worker’s requests OR the workers give up. Usually, the two sides decide to negotiate and eventually, they come to some sort of compromise. 

MARISA: But how long will the strike last?

BRIDGET: Nobody knows. Could be 2 hours. Could be 2 months.

MARISA: Bridget! Two months is a long time! If it came to that, I’m sure some babysitters would strike that long, but other babysitters didn’t even want this strike in the first place. What am I supposed to tell them in the meantime?

BRIDGET: That’s all part of running a union. Not every single member agrees on every single issue. You’re gonna have to balance the wants and needs of many different members.

JULIA: Sorry, this is probably the worst possible timing – but as secretary-treasurer, I gotta collect everyone’s union dues. Everyone owes a dollar to the Caregiver Crew Union.

CAREGIVER CREW (DISAPPOINTED GRUMBLES)

FREDERICK: I only have 30 cents.

MARISA: What are dues? 

BRIDGET: Oh boy, I forgot about the dues. You gotta pay those if you’re in a union, they help fund the work the union needs to do on behalf of its members.  And some unions keep a special fund, so they can help out  members financially in case there’s a strike and they can’t earn money. But it’s true, some people don’t like having to pay dues to their union.

(SFX: LOUDER GRUMBLING)

LOTTIE: I can’t believe this! We’re not even working right now because of a protest you authorized! None of us babysitters are earning any money and on top of that, we gotta give you dues? How could this situation get any worse?

JULIA: Hey, has anyone seen Ryan lately?

BRIDGET: Hmm, now that you mention it, not since the strike started. I wonder where he’s been.

(SFX: DOOR SLAM, DISTANT FOOTSTEPS ON CONCRETE)

LOTTIE: Wait, I think I see him. Coming out of that house?

BRIDGET: Wait. Ryan, is that you? Were you… just babysitting for that family?

RYAN: (LYING) Um, no. I was, um, I was just visiting my friend, who happens to be a baby. She was showing me some rattles and things. 

BRIDGET: (GASPS) RYAN??? Did you just cross the picket line?

LOTTIE: What’s “crossing the picket line”?

JULIA: I just read about this! It’s when you do the work the union asked you not to do! 

BRIDGET: And it’s big no-no with the union!

FREDERICK: There’s another not-so-polite word for it that some union members use: scabbing. 

CARLA: Ewwww! Scabs are gross!

LOTTIE: No, they help the body heal! It’s just biology!

RYAN: I wasn’t scabbing! I’m not even in the babysitter’s union! 

BRIDGET: Ryan! You’re still making it easier for the other side to win because the bosses don’t care who’s doing the work for them as long as it’s done! 

SFX: SAD PATHETIC MUSIC UNDER RYAN

RYAN: OK, you caught me! I crossed the picket line! I’m a scab! (IN TEARS) Look, they promised me $6 dollars an hour and leftover mac and cheese. I had to take it, man. I have to take the work for my fam-i-lay!

BRIDGET: Do you mean your cat, Skimbleshanks?

RYAN: (IN TEARS) Yeah, my cat! I needed to do it for my cat, who is fam-i-lay! 

LOTTIE: Ryan, you really fumbled the bag!

RYAN: (IN TEARS) I don’t even know what that means!

LOTTIE: It means you messed up!

RYAN: (IN TEARS) I’m sorry I ruined the whole strike! I let down Local 456!

MARISA: 425!  

RYAN: I mean Local 425!  I resign from Million Bazillion! In shame! I feel so much shaaaaamme!

(SFX: BABIES AND TODDLERS CRYING)

MARISA: Wait a minute! Ryan, be quiet! Everyone be quiet!

(SFX: PROTESTOR CHANTING QUIETS DOWN. TODDLER MISCHIEF HEARD LOUDER)

MOM: #1: (DISTANT) This strike is impossible! I need to miss work today because I can’t find a babysitter!

DAD: (DISTANT) I’m a dad who has to watch my own kid by myself? I don’t know how to do that! What if they have to poop or something?

MOM #2: (DISTANT): It’s more expensive to not have a babysitter than it’d be to pay them more!

BRIDGET: It sounds like the parents may be buckling under the pressure. 

LOTTIE: I feel kinda bad for them. Should we stop picketing?

BRIDGET: No. Keep going. Now’s the time to push harder.

MARISA: You heard the lady! Resume the picketing, even harder this time!

PROTESTORS: (IN UNISON, LOUDER THAN BEFORE) 

It’s been too many days, without a raise

Instead of babysitting, we are quitting

And no changing diapers, because they’re gross! 

That last chant didn’t rhyme, but we don’t care!

SFX: CHEERS AND CLAPS (BRING IN ANYONE ELSE IN OFFICE)

(SFX: FOOTSTEPS RUNNING UP)

HELEN: (OUT OF BREATH) We can’t take it anymore! Marisa, on behalf of the parents and guardians of Smokey Brook- I, Helen Hendershaw, agree to negotiate with your team. After three whole hours without babysitters, we realize we can’t function without the relatively cheap childcare option you provide. We agree to an hourly wage increase, overtime in the case of unexpected delays, and grapes and other healthy snacks befitting a middle school palette. We got a deal? 

CARLA: What about the dental plan? The multi-kid pay bump? The gabagool? Marisa, the gabagool!  

HELEN: (SIGHS) … I couldn’t get widespread support to concede on those issues. We parents disagree on things too, ok?!?! 

MARISA: Look, Carla, we knew going into this that we’d get some of, but not everything we asked for. Considering all the gains we have made…

(BEAT)

MARISA: Attention, Caregivers! I think… we got ourselves… a deal.

(CROWD ERUPTS INTO HUGE CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

(MUSIC: TRIUMPHANT END-OF-MOVIE STYLE)

BRIDGET: Wow! I can’t believe it! The strike actually worked!

RYAN: I know! We did it by working together in solidarity!

JULIA: Um, actually, Ryan, you didn’t really help at all. All you did was stab us in the back.

RYAN: Now, now, that’s water under the bridge. Let’s take a little break to forget all that, and we’ll be back in a minute to wrap up the show!

-mini-seg-

How to: Mail a Letter

TULA: “Hello Million Bazillionaires! I’m Tula from Green Bay, Wisconsin. It’s time for a super cool part of the show called “How To.” Get ready to learn a bazillion new things. Today, I’m here to share tips for how to mail a letter. A letter comes in those envelopes that you get in your mailbox at home. Some of you might have gotten one for your birthday from your grandma, family member, or friend. First, you want to make sure you have an envelope and stamp. Write your name and address at the top left hand side of the envelope. Next, the name and address of the person you’re sending the letter to goes near the bottom right of the envelope. Then, add a stamp at the top right corner. Finally, drop it off in a mailbox and flip the flag up if the mailbox has any. Thanks for listening! Sincerely, Tula.”

Part 3

BRIDGET: Welcome back to Million Bazillion. We’re finishing up here in the town of Smokey Brooke, where the Caregivers Crew formed a labor union and successfully staged a strike against the neighborhood parents. With the strike over, the crew is back to babysitting- only this time, for better pay, under better conditions- (RUSHED) at least until the current contract runs out in three years and they might have to do this all over again, but let’s not think about that right now.

MUX: INSPIRING MUSIC UNDER MARISA’S INSPIRING LIST OF GAINS

MARISA: That’s right. Order has been restored to the town of Smokey Brook. People can hire babysitters again. The kids are happy, the parents are happy, and yes, the babysitters are happy.

RYAN: Well, what did we learn here?

JULIA: Uh, that you’ll fold under the slightest amount of pressure for a cold bowl of mac and cheese?

RYAN: Yes…. But what else?

BRIDGET: Even though every member of a union may not agree with everything their union does, for many workers, the positive changes the union can bring to a workplace are well worth it. Now, just remember, a union is just a group made up of people trying to make their workplace better. They don’t always get it right, but historically, they have been a big part of making the workplace safer and better for their workers. 

MARISA: Thanks for helping us out, Bridget! The Caregiver Crew couldn’t have engaged in a successful negotiation and strike without your guidance. 

BRIDGET: You’re welcome, Marisa. You and the rest of the Caregivers are such a strong and smart bunch. Stay strong and smart. At work, and in life, don’t let anyone walk over you, or treat you mean or be unfair to you. It’s important to know when, and how, to stand up.

FREDERICK: (RUSHING UP, OUT OF BREATH) Guys, guys, guys, I just finished a babysitting shift at Mrs. Lefitty’s house and she asked me if I could come by next week and do some yard work for her. Are there any rules about that in our contract?

MARISA: Wait, is this our chance to expand the union into yardwork?

LOTTIE: I got into this work to be with the kids, not to rake leaves!

JULIA: But I love the optics that the Caregiver Crew can care for for your children, AND your front yard. 

(SFX: RAISED BABYSITTER VOICES)

BRIDGET: Well, I’m sure they’ll be able to work this out amongst themselves. 

RYAN: Glad everything worked out here in Smokey Brook. Come on, we need to get going to the next middle school, located in the strange little town of… Squawkins, Indiana.

(MUSIC: STRANGER THINGS TYPE SYNTH)

BRIDGET: Oh, right! Show starts soon! We better get a move on!

–Theme Music-

RYAN: Alright, that’s it for this episode of Million Bazillion! Thanks for listening! Make sure to check out the tip sheet linked in the show notes if you want to learn more about labor unions.

BRIDGET: We’ll be back next week to answer a question about paying for college. You can send us the money questions you want answered at marketplace.org/million. 

RYAN: Million Bazillion is brought to you by Marketplace, from American Public Media. This episode was written and hosted by me, Ryan Perez and Bridget Bodnar. With additional voicing from Dylan Miettinen, Ava Goldblum, Leila Arizmendi, Thalia Menchaca, Courtney Bergsieker, Maria Hollenhorst, Isaac Lukasavitz, Francesca Levy, Amy Scott, Sophia Paliza-Carre, and Jay Siebold.

BRIGET: Jasmine Romero is our editor. Courtney Bergsieker is our producer. Marissa Cabrera is our senior producer. Thalia Menchaca is our intern. Our sound designer is Chris Julin. And Bekah Wineman mixed this episode. 

RYAN: Our theme music was created by Wonderly. Bridget Bodnar is the Director of Podcasts at Marketplace. Francesca Levy is the Executive Director of Digital. Neal Scarbrough is the VP and General Manager.

BRIDGET: Million Bazillion is funded in part by the Sy Syms Foundation, partnering with organizations and people working for a better and more just future since 1985.

RYAN: If Million Bazillion is helping your family have important conversations about money, consider making a one-time donation today at marketplace.org/givemillion, and thanks for your support.

BRIDGET: Million Bazillion is funded in part by the Sy Syms Foundation, partnering with organizations and people working for a better and more just future since 1985. And special thanks to The Ranzetta Family Charitable Fund and Next Gen Personal Finance for providing the start-up funding for this podcast, and continuing to support Marketplace in our work to make younger audiences smarter about the economy.

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The team

Ryan Perez Co-Host
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