Recent letters from Tom Dawson (March 20 and March 25) and Tony Boutin (March 26) address an important topic — Right-to-Works Laws. Dawson argues for compulsory unionization while Boutin argues for “Right-to-Work”.
Dawson makes the absurd claim that forcing workers to join unions empowers workers. Compulsory unionization doesn’t empower workers, it empowers union bosses and the politicians they support.
Progressives fight for compulsory unionization because most union leadership uses union funds to support progressive politicians and their progressive political agenda.
In my youth, America was world leader in every aspect of industry, mining, manufacturing, transportation, etc. American industry provided most American families with comfortable lives on a single income. Yet as government increasingly grew and implemented progressive policies, new rules and regulations have greatly increased the cost of doing business making companies fail, reduce wages and/or cut jobs, or move jobs overseas. Jobs that provide high value products or services and thus support good wages have been eliminated increasingly leaving only jobs providing little value which only can provide low wages.
For example, the American steel industry has almost disappeared and thousands of American manufacturing businesses have been forced to close, eliminating tens of millions of good-paying jobs.
World-leading economic freedom enabled the U.S. to become the world-leading economic power providing economic growth, opportunity, and prosperity for most American citizens. But progressive policies have reduced our economic freedoms (reducing our ranking to 12th) and stifled our economic growth. For the first time ever, fewer U.S. businesses were created in 2014 than went out of business. No wonder millions of Americans have trouble finding good jobs and earning a decent living.
Most American workers don’t have Ivy League degrees, but they are not stupid. American workers know that their employers must succeed for them to keep their jobs or get raises and that the more our economy grows the more opportunities there are for American workers. Yet they see their unions supporting progressive politicians and policies that make it difficult for businesses to succeed and stifle American economic growth.
Workers see progressive government regulations destroying and preventing the creation of good jobs in mining, energy, manufacturing, etc. They see apparent favors to special interests and big donors like Buffett and Steyer that prevent creation of thousands of good jobs building the Keystone XL pipeline which would lower American energy costs, improve safety, and help make us become energy independent. They aren’t happy with the prospect of paying the Obamacare Cadillac tax on their health insurance that their union leadership supported. Workers see their unions actively supporting politicians who encourage legal and illegal immigration which drive down wages, take jobs from Americans, and take welfare benefits (meant for down-on-their-luck Americans) driving up their taxes.
Recently, as big donors Gates, Zuckerberg, and others desire, President Obama increased the number of L-1B visas, allowing American companies to bring foreign high tech workers to work here at the wages far below typical American wages or even below our minimum wage.
Many American union members see progressive policies as anti-American, anti-individual freedom, anti-prosperity, anti-opportunity, and pro-special interest. They see poor futures for their children because progressive policies lock them into poor and dangerous schools, leave them faced with an enormous national debt, and are destroying our nation’s future prosperity and freedoms.
Whatever the intent, progressives and their policies are destroying middle class America. In President Obama’s years alone, despite the rich getting richer which should raise the median income, the American median income has declined 4 percent — $2000.
Many union members also disagree with union policies that protect disruptive, non-productive, or even criminal workers. They see union corruption and union bosses with fat salaries, generous expense accounts, and fully funded benefits while their benefits aren’t fully funded. They see union bosses making deals that aren’t in workers best interests, e.g., that send workers into unsafe mines.
Thus, when a Right-to-Work law is passed, many workers quickly give up their union memberships and happily negotiate their own wages, benefits and working conditions (like most other American workers).
The purpose of Right-to-Work laws is not to eliminate unions, as Boutin indicates, but to empower workers. Right-to-Work laws do not interfere with the ability of workers to form a union or stay in a union if they wish, those laws are unchanged. Right-to-Work laws simply give workers the freedom to work without joining or paying a union.
Right-to-Work laws force unions to provide value and be responsive to union members’ wishes, otherwise they will lose members, income, and power. Right-to-Work laws force unions to win members by providing desired services in acceptable ways at an acceptable cost, just like anything else Americans purchase in the free market.