Big Labor's Conundrum

Big Labor's Conundrum

Over the past four decades, Big Labor has continued to see its membership shrink drastically as its leaders use the same failed tactics involving forced unionism. The argument that most workers are better off without unions today is supported by the fact that unions now represent approximately 11.3% of the total workforce and 6.6% of the private workforce, a steep fall from their heyday in 1945 when they represented about 35.5% of the workforce. Yet Big Labor has refused to change. Isn’t the definition of insanity, “continuing to do the same thing, but expecting different results?” The inability of Big Labor to generate new organizing strategies or to bring additional value to employees has put unions “between a rock and a hard place,” as succinctly described by pro-labor pundit Jack Rasmus, author of a 4-part essay on the Decline of Labor Unions. Mr. Rasmus’ work is worth reading, both to call attention to labor’s intransigence to make itself relevant to today’s workforce, and to read between the lines for potential strategy changes, if and when labor ever gets its act together.

A sample quote from part one of his essay:

“Had any other movement and its organizations produced so little, for so long, at such a growing financial and other cost to its membership, it would have undertaken a fundamental revision of its basic strategic approach long before now. However, union labor’s efforts to address its failing strategies over the last four decades have been token and tentative at best. Not much has been done to confront, or otherwise challenge and change, labor’s obviously failed strategies of the past four decades—neither at the ‘top’ among its national leadership nor at the ‘local level’ of local union membership. That fundamental strategic discussion is now long overdue.”

Despite its obvious failures, big labor continues, at great cost to its membership and reputation, to engage in ruthless tactics and pursue its own political agenda. It has maintained this course, despite the fact that people are moving away from forced-unionism areas and that membership is declining even in politically favorable locations (see Latest Census Data Show Families Continue to Flee Forced-Unionism States and Even in Liberal Minnesota, Labor Unions Are Losing Members. Big labor continues utilizing its political ties with the current Administration to focus on achieving Card Check, specifically thru rules and regulations recently implemented by President Obama’s National Labor Relations Board, the government agency charged with fairly administering the nation’s labor policy. The following articles outlining new rules and regulations recently handed down by the NLRB at the President’s direction accurately portray the reluctance of the unions to change their business model or otherwise reinvent themselves to serve modern America (see Reinventing America’s Unions for the 21st Century).

  • UNIONS: Focus now is on new laws, not new members
  • The NLRB’s New Election Rules: Quickie Elections and ‘The Mount Everest of Regulations’ to Trap…
  • Federal agencies spend millions on union business 
  • NLRB Opens Door for SEIU at McDonalds
  • NLRB General Counsel Announcement on Joint Employer Status for Franchisors Could Have Significant Implications
  • NLRB ratifies actions taken by unconstitutional labor board

Confounding big labor’s position is the fact that it must go along with the President’s goals of increasing the minimum wage and providing amnesty for undocumented aliens, in an effort to attract a larger base for the President and the Democratic Party in exchange for the pro-labor rules and regulations recently propagated by the Rogue NLRB. These political initiatives are, in fact, not in the best interest of the labor movement. Nevertheless, Big Labor continues to support them due to their need for political backing from the Democratic Party.

First, significantly increasing or doubling the minimum wage — as being pushed by the SEIU — would have devastating consequences on those least able to handle them. As succinctly portrayed by Phil Wilson from the Labor Relations Institute in a recent article:

“If you double the labor costs in these businesses you force these small companies to come up with new ways to operate their business that account for the increased expense. They will hire fewer people and try to make jobs as efficient as they possibly can. They will replace labor with technology everywhere they can (you see this in many restaurants and convenience stores today – you’ll be ordering off an iPad everywhere you go). They will raise prices or reduce selection to just the most profitable items. Remember, we are not talking about a minor adjustment in the minimum wage – this is a massive shift in labor costs that companies will be forced to deal with. For every lucky person who keeps their minimum wage job and rejoices in their doubled income there will be several who cannot find any work, period. You will significantly increase the class of people who are unemployable, along with all the other problems that creates. Be careful what you wish for. Also, these small units would divert attention away from the other bargaining units the unions already represent. If officials take the eye off the ball on these bigger, more stable units they risk losing those units to decertification, further reducing cash flow and profitability of the union. Be careful what you wish for.”

One more comment on the minimum wage increase. It is basically the same fundamental tactic the United Autoworkers and other unions utilized to increase wages in the American auto industry. The American auto industry and Detroit today are a foreshadowing of the affect significantly raising the minimum wage would have on the entire American economy.

Big labor also has been supportive of the President’s executive order, granting amnesty to up to 5.5 million undocumented workers, thereby giving them the ability to legally enter the workforce (see Unions launch recruiting push for immigrants protected by Obama actions). On the surface, this may seem to be a great opportunity for new union members as the big labor bosses would utilize information from the Administration and union foot soldiers to identify these people, help them assimilate into legal jobs, and then use pressure to help them force unionize the employers. However, many of these people will be utilized by companies as independent contractors (see Open Borders Costing American Jobs and Depressing Wages). Big labor will in effect spend a lot of time and money in an effort to force unionize these people at the risk of taking its eye off the ball and disenfranchising and losing a large part of its current membership.

Unfortunately, the big labor Gasping Dinosaurs seem incapable of changing and embracing the need for change. Instead they continue to expose the fact that It’s All About the Dues Money, by utilizing member’s dues as political donations to elect politicians thus expecting political favors in a desperate attempt to protect their lifestyles and reverse the decline of union membership (see Big Labor’s Top 100 and If This Is True, The Amount Of Money The UAW Uses On Politics Is Shocking). Combined with the President’s amnesty and minimum wage agendas reversing union decline is truly a conundrum for the big labor bosses who seem incapable of working legally and professionally within the parameters of the free market system to be successful (see The 2014 Union Corruption Report: A Year In Review). Instead of polishing its approach and providing a quality product people would embrace, Big Labor continues to utilize unsavory political favors and bully tactics in a futile attempt to rebuild its membership at the expense of its current membership. It is Time for Republicans to Go On the Offensive with its majority in both Houses. They need to come to the aid of Americans, defund the Rogue NLRB and stop the Death by a Thousand Cuts being perpetrated on American employees and employers. There is no doubt that Unions Face Challenges in 2015. It is time to add to big labor’s conundrum!

*   *   *

David A. Bego is the President and CEO of EMS, an industry leader in the field of environmental workplace maintenance, employing nearly 5000 workers in thirty-three states. Bego is the author of “The Devil at My Doorstep,” as well as the just released sequel, “The Devil at Our Doorstep,” based on his experiences fighting back against one of the most powerful unions in existence today.

Want more? Get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Thank you, we'll keep you informed!