Friday, November 20, 2015
Are unions still needed today?
We are rapidly approaching a new reality in this country, where the productive are enslaved by the public employee unions.
While we in the private sector must earn a living subject to a measure of merit, the public employee unions are able to combine their resources, elect like-minded representatives and force a higher cost non-merit based system on the private sector. If we succeed economically, we are "evil underserving rich" who don't pay their share, while they have better benefits at our expense and are depicted by the media as the victims.
Our states are in dire need of belt tightening. They can't do it with public sector union leaders holding guns to the heads of the fiscally responsible governors.
What do we need? We need jobs, more revenue and business expansion. We can't get it from increasing taxes because that has been proven to be unsuccessful in the long run.
Collective bargaining will mean year after year, the same problem will arise. Remember, the most progressive President, Roosevelt, abhorred public sector unions. He recognized the dangers--just what the states are facing now.
Many union contracts were negotiated on an unlevel playing field, and now we are struggling to get that problem solved. If the public sector union leaders would think of the people they serve (their members and the public at large) they would be willing to give every person the right to work without being forced to join a union and pay dues.
Right to work is progressive. Forcing someone to be in a union is tantamount to dictatorship.
Unfortunately, life as a union member has been too sweet and easy as compared to the private sector where people have to truly work to stay hired and get ahead.
Yesteryear unions protected worker's safety and negotiated fair wages and reasonable working conditions, all of that good and necessary for the times where that was relevant.
Unions are an anachronism. They have nothing of value to offer anymore.
Most of what the unions originally fought for -- reasonable pay, safe working conditions, safe work rules, etc -- were mandated by government. All employees, union or not, get these benefits.
And they've sold out new employees and retirees in favor of short-term pay for current workers so many times that it is starting to catch up with them. It happened at CAT in 2005, and has happened at 100's of other U.S. companies -- current workers got pay raises while new workers could be brought in at much lower wages and retirees had to contribute more to their health coverage and/or get reduced pension COLAs.
So for the money charged to union members, very few private sector unions deliver comparable benefit. That is why union membership in the private sector has fallen to such low numbers.
If unions want to survive much more of the 21st century, they need to change their value proposition to both their members and their employers. The 1950's model of negotiations and antagonism that so many still practice simply isn't relevant in 2012 and beyond.
Employees have every right to unionize, and every right to leverage their unity to get whatever they can. But if the union brings no value to the equation, neither employer nor employee will respect that unity.
These days it's all about greed and stuffing the pockets of union leaders to support political forces favorable to them. It's turned into a corruption engine -- the more money gets raked in through growing union representation and bargaining gains, the more money finds its way to get union -loving candidates elected, thus yielding more lucrative union contracts. It's now a runaway engine and needs to be throttled down big time.
The “bennies” are just too expensive and prohibitive.
The crass behavior of those in Madison demonstrate selfish greed and an uncaring attitude that taxpayers, already tapped out, have to pay for services that are an embarrassment of inefficiency and poor performance in the classroom. These people demanding more have no shame in what they “produce”.
Working conditions are guaranteed by a plethora of federal and state laws. Collective bargaining is not needed for that purpose; it has been achieved.
The truth is that collective bargaining is a way for workers to exercise pricing power over employers. By banding together, they avoid being evaluated for their individual performance and extract more money for their services than the value they add. The weak and the lazy can hide behind the strong and the productive--at least until the strong and productive quit in disgust. Unions thus act to create mediocrity in the workforce.
Unions also restrain employers for hiring non-union workers to compete with union workers. The lack of competition also creates mediocrity among workers--teachers are a good example.
Unions claim to have helped develop the middle class. In fact there were many different types of middle class developed during the last century.
The unions created non-sustainable middle classes that were like sugar highs for workers - sugar highs that only led to permanent sugar comas.
The middle classes that were created by non-unionized industries are the ones that survived. The ones that are long term sustainable. The only ones that were not sustainable were the union created ones, such as in Flint, Saginaw and Detroit.
Over the long run, unions are job killers and hence are essentially nothing more than mafia hits on the next generation of workers.
In an open market, labor is priced based on its availability and the demand it is in. If you feel your skills could fetch better money working elsewhere, then by all means your best avenue is to look for a better position. Your current employer will undoubtedly recognize that losing a trained employee due to minor difference in wages is not in their best interest and increase your salary - to a point.
So, if you cannot make more than retail, it's not because your employer is screwing you over. It's because you have a skill that is in relatively low demand, or very high supply. In this case, your best option is to upgrade your skills to something that is in demand. You wages will upgrade as well.
Unions artificially increase wages, but that doesn't necessarily help anyone in the long run. It lowers productivity, which is what our societal standard of living is based upon.
The days are gone when a person could learn one skill and expect it to be in demand for their entire lives, and that is the fundamental reason why unions are just not going to help you in the end.
In short, we must promote a well-informed, fast-moving, efficient, free marketplace, so that the best workers, thinkers, employers, etc, are rewarded commensurate to what they produce.