The Days Of The Unions Have Passed

Just when the economy seems to be showing signs of turning around (but slowly) there comes the news from the UAW and the AFL-CIO that they will be working to stop that recovery in its tracks. Of course they aren't selling the idea the plans they've put forward will do that, but they will.

First, the UAW tells the foreign automakers with plants in the Southern states that they will be unionizing them. Never mind that most of those states are right-to-work states. (That means there is no such thing as a closed shop, where it's mandatory to be a union member in order to work there.) Never mind that the UAW has done such wonderful things for the domestic automakers, like driving two of the three of them into bankruptcy. Never mind that the union leadership really doesn't give a damn about the rank and file rather than the union dues they collect from them which allows them to buy votes at the state and federal level.

Second, the AFL-CIO has targeted groups like the Girl Scouts, the American Red Cross, and the Salvation Army in an effort to force small business owners and their employees into labor contracts neither wants. In effect they want to ban those groups from fund-raising through those businesses unless the unions can launch unionizing efforts without restraint (with the only restraints being laid entirely upon the business owners).

While in the past unions had their legitimate functions and did indeed protect workers, those days are long gone. What the unions fought to achieve has been codified in labor law. Now their only function seems to be extorting businesses into increasing their costs with no benefit to either the business owners or their employees. The only benefit comes to the union leadership.

Far too many unions seem to have the attitude that jobs are 'owed' to their members and that anyone coming along capable of doing the same jobs more efficiently and cost effectively are anti-union, or worse in their eyes, 'scabs'. Both my wife and I have seen this attitude first hand.

I worked in the defense industry for 20 years, all of it with one employer and, unfortunately, under the same union. My first hand view of working under a union contract left me with a distaste for all things union. Far too often you'd hear some of the more rabid union members or shop stewards admonishing someone for working too hard, being accused of “killing the job.” On more than one occasion I was told that and my response to them was invariably “Screw you. They pay me to work, so I work. If you can't keep up that's your problem, not mine.” That attitude was endemic in every facility where I worked. That is not the attitude of success or a means of keeping a job. You kill jobs by not performing, period.

My wife works for the state of New Hampshire and by default she's a member of the state employees association (i.e. the union). On more than one occasion she's heard the stewards come around trying to get their fellow employees to sign petitions against reforming the state pension system (in order to make sure it stays solvent) or allowing the state to outsource some functions (groundskeeping, housekeeping, laundry, etc.) as a means to save money. They seem to have the attitude that the state jobs are theirs for life and that it's wrong for the state to take measures to balance the budget by cutting costs. The act as if they are entitled to what they have. They're wrong.

If we need yet another example, all one needs to do is look at Detroit to see how unions have made a bad situation in the Motor City even worse. In this case the city has been closing schools and greatly increasing class sizes (up to 60+ per class) in order to cut costs. But the cost cutting isn't being done to save the taxpayers of Detroit (or what's left of them) any money. Instead, the savings will be used to pay pensions and benefits to the city's union employees. The city is committing economic suicide at the behest of the unions. Without a decent education system, the city is condemning its own children to economic doom, shortchanging them before they even finish school (if the even manage to do so).

As one commenter wrote:

Unions breed selfishness, undermine education, and destroy initiative, wherever they roam.

I'd say that's just about right.