Recent polls indicate Americans are fed up with big labor’s schoolyard bully tactics and utilization of taxpayer money to support political candidates and union agendas. Additionally, Americans are tired of government deficits driven by public sector pay, overblown benefits, and restrictive work rules. Americans, including union rank and file members, are tired of big labor’s attempt to deprive them of freedom. They voiced their displeasure in last November’s election (see Union Members Not Happy with Their Leader’s Political Spending and Union Members Overwhelmingly Oppose Union Boss Political Spending on 2010 Midterm Elections). Now in states like Wisconsin, Ohio and Indiana, recently elected officials have heard the people’s mandate and are proposing “right to work” legislation (“RTW”) that will provide each and every American the right to personally decide, without fearing the threat of reprisal, if they wish to be represented by a union. What could be more American than the freedom of choice?
Big labor would have you believe they have an altruistic mission to provide people the right to be represented in the workplace. If big labor was so concerned about peoples’ rights, why wouldn’t they be in favor of allowing each employee freedom of choice, as expressed by a non-union worker in a union company (see Republicans Didn’t Run When Democrats Were in Charge)? The simple answer is that big labor fears many will leave the union rolls because there is no intrinsic benefit to membership, resulting in the unions losing their coveted dues, which is the true objective. Why? Because these Gasping Dinosaurs are nearly extinct and they need membership dues to elect sympathetic politicians who in turn will pass laws or appoint members to the NLRB who will utilize their regulatory power to administer labor’s agenda, thereby forcing unionism on more public and private employees (see Card Check through Regulation vs. Legislation, Actions Speak Louder than Words). In return, big labor will pour more membership dues into sympathetic political coffers. It is simply a circulating money pump with big labor bosses and liberal politicians the big winners (see Union Power for Thee, But Not for Me).
RTW provides freedom of choice for employees and provides unions the opportunity to compete in a free market society without taxpayer or employee subsidies. See Steve Austin’s letter to the editor of Inside Indiana Business. At one point in history unions were necessary and beneficial; however they have hastened their own demise. Despite big labor’s claim to “protecting the middle class” it actually created an unsustainable system due to out-of-control wages and benefits in both the private and public sectors, which will ultimately hurt the people comprising its membership. The American Auto and Steel industries are perfect examples of unions’ destruction of viable industries and reduction of the very middle class jobs they claim to protect. Simply put, in private industry there are limits as to what the unions can obtain due to price competitiveness and the need for the companies to be profitable. Public sector unions, however, believe the coffer is limitless. Here is where they have made their mistake, as you can only tax the electorate so much before it rebels. When labor costs per person rise, the only logical response to avoid bankruptcy is reduction of the number of jobs. Hence decline in the number of middle class jobs in the auto and steel industries, and the current threat facing public teachers. It is a threat of the union’s own making.
Unions also claim that under RTW it is unfair that some people would benefit from union negotiations without paying union dues (see Should Workers Have to Pay Union Dues?). The question that must be asked, however, is why would so many people choose not to participate if they had a choice? If unions provided a viable service or product, employees would be more inclined to buy. However, unions rarely provide meaningful benefits such as job and/or safety training, and instead only emphasize growth for the sake of growth and ultimately money and power for big labor bosses. Union dues are viewed as a means to an end instead of an investment to improve the skills and safety of its membership. Unions would fare better if they spent more time developing products and services that would benefit both employees and employers. The typical response of labor unions is to lean solely on the excuse of employee “collective bargaining” rights. If they had a viable product or service, they would be able to attract enough employees to form a collective bargaining unit that was engaged instead of attempting to force unionism on people who are not interested. Unfortunately, the goal of big labor bosses is not to serve its members, but to impose socialism on the American public.
As Labor Supporters Plan More Rallies in Indiana, which are the same tactics the SEIU utilized against EMS as described in The Devil at My Doorstep, the GOP Retreats on Indiana Labor Law sacrificing the freedom of choice for over 70% of Indiana employees who support RTW (see Viewpoint Poll), the true opportunity for effective and beneficial union growth and triumph of the free market system.
Ultimately, it is an issue of the right to private property, one’s labor. This is a right for which politicians should become conversant. The right of private property is a triumph of Western Civilization, not just for those with property but especially for those who work hard to earn property. Our founding fathers designed a marvelous system that guarantees social and economic justice by establishing individual responsibility. We can only hope that our elected officials will wake up and protect our property rights before it is too late.
About the author: 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,” based on his experiences fighting back against one of the most powerful unions in existence today.