Thursday, December 13, 2012

Unions and the Right to Work

Al Sharpton wrote a column about Michigan's new Right to Work law that refers to it in terms of civil rights. This has been a typical reaction from the left. The law does nothing to stop unions from organizing or negotiating. The only thing it does is stop forcing people to join unions if they don't want to. Think about that - the left is treating the freedom to decline membership as a civil rights issue. This should be no surprise since Obamacare fines people for not carrying insurance but it still turns the idea of civil rights on its head.

Modern unions are a relic of earlier days. Their heyday was a century ago when workers rights actually were being abused. They work best in an industrial setting where jobs are narrowly defined and workers are interchangeable. The work poorly in an office setting where everyone does something different and creativity is required. To hear their supporters, they are the only thing that stands between the American worker and the near-slave conditions of 19th century factory jobs.

Their self-image is all wrong. Laws have been made to protect us from the abuses of earlier times. A tight job market does far more to raise individual's pay than a union. In fact, the union insistence on seniority limits competition because it discourages employees from taking other jobs.

The vast majority of Americans manage to exist without being in a union and don't feel the need to organize.

At the same time, unions have become fat and corrupt. They amass huge warchests which they use to get sympathetic legislators elected. This is why Republicans have waged war on them for the last few years - because union money is almost always on the wrong side of union-sponsored ads. Unions have no use for limited-government because that means limiting union jobs. So they are for an ever-expanding government and don't care about the cost.

Right to Work legislation does not stop unions from organizing but it does cut their warchest to just what their members pay. They can no longer take dues from non-members. This will cut their lobbying power which has always been disproportionate to their membership. No civil rights are involved, just a source of money for the Democrats drying up.

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