As a Union Officer for a local in the Laborers' International Union of North America, the events in
have me very concerned. But contrary to what you might think, I am not on the side of the public unions. In fact, I believe what is happening now will ultimately hurt not only the public unions, but also the private sector unions. If my fellow brothers in the private sector wish to preserve our unions, we should support Wisconsin ’s governor Scott Walker. Unfortunately, our union leadership has lost sight of the issues and is instead focused on the money. It’s not hard to see why. While union membership has been on a steady decline in the private sector, the public unions and their membership will continue to rise without end until our governments are bankrupt and the voters take their revenge on the unions. The union coffers will overflow and empower new drives to organize the private sector. But in their search for relevancy, the unions have pushed themselves to the brink of extinction. Wisconsin
Labor unions have existed primarily to balance the rights of the business owner with the rights of the individual workers. Apart, each individual worker holds very little leverage in dealing with ownership. But collectively, a group of workers possess a great deal more. Just as the business owner’s first duty is to achieve profit, the workers seek to be compensated properly and treated well for their efforts. This creates a synergetic relationship between employer/employee. When the workers are productive, the business will prosper. As the business prospers, the workers will be rewarded for their productivity. If the workers’ productivity declines, the business will falter and this will lead to a loss of pay and jobs for the workers. Production=Profit=Compensation=Jobs
There are three elements that are fundamental for a healthy union-management relationship:
- Power Balance
- Profit Motive
- Moral Hazards
But what happens if workers are allowed to collectively bargain in the absence of these necessary elements?
In the private sector, the union-employer relationship will tend toward balance. When it does not, whatever the reason, the business can suffer in the marketplace. Often businesses falter if the workers’ unions amass too much leverage. Airlines have gone bankrupt, auto manufacturers have defaulted requiring government bailouts and countless smaller businesses have shut their doors under the weight of poorly negotiated contracts.
The public sector unions on the other hand, have a very different relationship with management. This is first and foremost because the employers are elected officials who ultimately must answer to the voters, among which will be their workers. As a collective, the union forms a voting bloc which creates the opportunity for illegitimate, though not illegal, quid pro quo activity. The union can offer tangible benefits (campaign funds and votes) to elected officials at little or no cost to the individual workers and the elected official can offer tangible benefits (compensation and work rules) to the workers at little or no cost to the official.
Because a profit motive is absent, worker productivity and job security now flow inversely. If worker productivity should lag, it has no perceived negative effect on the state’s vitality. Far from adversely affecting the job security of the current workers, it has the added benefit of increasing their security as more workers are needed to maintain production levels. As their numbers increase, this organized voting bloc will often supersede the rightful owners (taxpayers) at the bargaining table.
Productivity=Jobs-1 UnionCompensation=CampaignFunds Profits=0
In the private sector, the unions work with management to increase worker productivity in order to achieve a higher profit for ownership which ultimately benefits both sides. In contrast, the public sector unions and elected officials seek to enrich and perpetuate the other side at the expense of the actual owners (taxpayers). The public sector workers, so far removed from the mechanisms of the market, have ceased to be a true labor union and are simply just one more aggrieved group seeking favors from our elected officials. As a political action committee they are welcome to lobby their cause, but teachers on strike have forfeited the right to call their work a sacrifice.
We are fast approaching the day of reckoning with the public unions. The current system, which will soon bankrupt our states and local governments, must end before it’s too late. It is my hope that what has begun in
will have a far reaching effect on our nation. I call on the leadership of private sector unions to stand with the taxpayers. If we don’t, I’m afraid the resultant wave of anti-unionism will wipe us out as well. Wisconsin