Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Public Sector Unions

Stephen Greenhouse is the erudite reporter and best-selling author of the current well-reviewed book, The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker, a very pro-union tome. The Washington Monthly says, “An excellent book . . . Greenhouse exhibits outrage and moral indignation and an idealism one doesn’t necessarily expect from a hard-bitten New York Times reporter.”

Today I listened to an interview of Mr. Greenhouse on NPR, a distribution media often thought to be somewhat left-leaning. In that interview, Mr. Greenhouse stated that the approriate role of a union is the protection and preservation of all that is in the best interests of the worker. This often puts the union in the position of advocating positions that are clearly not in the best interest of the employer. I find no fault in his analysis.

He went on to point out that this "appropriate" union role has a very interesting impact when the union represents public employees, to wit: Unions are paid by mandatory deductions from the salaries of the public employees. Those salaries are paid by the taxpayers. Thus, the taxpayers are the employers. Thus, unions are paid by the taxpayers to advocate positions that are clearly not in the best interests of the taxpayers. Therefore, every public employee who pays taxes is a member of "management" and thus not eligible for union membership. There you have it. From a pro-union voice.

Let me end this by pointing out that I am NOT anti-union. I am anti-mandatory union membership. I strongly believe that private-sector workers MUST have the right to free association, to organize and authorize unions to enter into collective bargaining in their name. I strongly believe that neither employers nor unions may be allowed to use harassment, violence, or unfair practices dealing with labor issues. I am also vehemently opposed to the union-supported "card-check" union elections (which steal from the worker the essential and elementary right to a secret ballot.) People who push the hardest for mandatory unions and card-check union elections are the very same people who cry that it's a discriminatory hardship to require U.S. citizens to show a photo ID to vote in our government's elections. Talk about inconsistent!

I believe that management needs labor -- otherwise, bargaining, collective or otherwise, would be impossible. I believe that our economy (thus, labor) needs management--entrepenuers and financiers. Without them, labor would be worth much less: only the value of basic subsistence. If management needs labor, and if labor needs management, then we have a common starting point from which negotiations may begin. If such is not the case, there is no common ground, and no way to reach mutually beneficial agreement. Close the plant and go home. There is no reason to be here: no salary, no benefits, no profit.