Unions vs. America: The Final Battle?

The events taking place in Wisconsin regarding collective bargaining agreements, there’s no better time to address the relationship between unions and businesses. When labor unions began in the late 19th Century, they were desperately needed to represent the interest of workers in America against the exploitative nature of industry. Over the years, these organizations helped institute minimum wage laws, child labor laws, 8-hour work days, vacation time, sick time, and more. These were well-intentioned measures, and most Americans are happy they exist today. But making sure workers have basic rights is not what labor unions are about today. They are about profit, greed, and political influence.

Today, most labor unions are very similar to the “evil corporations” they so frequently rail against. They claim big business doesn’t care about its workers, only profit. But are unions any different? They need members to pay dues, or they cease to exist. Clearly they are also profit-driven. They believe industry has too much influence compared with the working class. But unions have far more influence than their numbers would suggest, given that only 8% of Americans are in unions. And what do many of these labor organizations do with the hard-earned dollars they take from their members in the form of dues? They give them to politicians running for office – almost exclusively in the Democratic Party – whether their members support them or not.

The issue with unions today is a simple math problem. For years, unions have negotiated pretty good contracts for their workers. These contracts typically result in higher pay, better benefits, and more perks than non-union employees receive. As years go by, these contracts are renegotiated over and over again, raising wages and increasing benefits and perks each time. Then, when we have an economic crisis like the Great Recession (2008 – present), companies can no longer afford the expensive contracts they negotiated when profits were good. As the costs of these labor contracts rise, profits must rise along with them – or something needs to give. Either the union agrees to make concessions, or the business goes bankrupt.

This face-off is happening all over the country, including in Wisconsin. During the economic crisis, some unions have agreed to work with businesses to arrive at a mutually-agreeable solution to the problem of expensive contracts and low profits. But that is not always the case. Unions were willing to do very little in the case of Ford, GM and Chrysler, so the companies had no choice but to declare bankruptcy in order to restructure their organization and renegotiate labor contracts. Who are the labor unions helping if their own greed causes businesses to fail? It’s clearly not the workers, who end up out on their collective-bargaining asses when their company closes its doors.

We see this problem everywhere in America, and frankly it is out of control.

In government, collective bargaining agreements are paid by tax dollars. When federal, state and local government experiences drops in revenue due to high unemployment and a slow economy, unions like the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) are unwilling to give up a dime. Governments are then forced to fix their budget issues while suffering under the strains of paying these high-priced contracts – which would never have been agreed to under the present conditions.

In business, the unions’ unwillingness to cooperate often results in businesses going bankrupt or closing altogether. This may be good for the individual unions who get to show off their “power,” but it’s bad for their members who have no jobs, and bad for America. If businesses go away, so do our hopes of putting Americans back to work. Industry should not be allowed to exploit workers, but unions should not be allowed to exploit industry either.

In education, unions may be the largest contributor to our failures. Without declaring financial exigency (think bankruptcy), universities cannot renegotiate their contracts with tenured professors. In K-12 education, unions demand more and more money be spent on education, yet they ensure that very little ever makes it into the classroom. Nevada is the perfect example of the problem with education, since it has the lowest graduation rates in the nation. The Clark County School District (CCSD), which covers Las Vegas and surrounding areas, is the 5th largest school district in the country. Only 11% of its operating budget makes it into the classroom, yet unions and education officials are screaming bloody murder over impending budget cuts. The University of Nevada – Las Vegas (UNLV), where I am currently a student, has $647 million in total operating funds for this year. Under budget cuts proposed by newly-elected Republican Governor Brian Sandoval, UNLV will see a cut of $47.5 million (or 7%). Unions and education officials, as well as Democrats in the state legislature, are twisting the numbers and telling Nevadans that the cut is 29%.

Americans won’t put up with this nonsense much longer.

They see what is happening in Wisconsin, and realizing that this is a battle between greedy unions and over-taxed taxpayers. They see teachers shutting down schools so they can protest, instead of educating their children by DOING THEIR JOB! Fire these teachers for abandoning their positions, and replace them with unemployed Wisconsinites who put education above greed.

Americans are starting to see the damage unions can do when they put greed ahead of their original purpose – protecting the basic rights of employees.

This is not an issue unions can win, unless they are willing to work with businesses and governments to achieve mutually-agreeable solutions. Bankrupting businesses and governments through unreasonable demands during this economic crisis won’t earn them any support from hard-working American taxpayers.

We will learn as these battles unfold exactly how much power unions will be allowed to have in America, and how the outcomes will affect their power in the future. We will also see how this will affect the Democratic Party, with which labor organizations are closely aligned.

With unemployment at 10% nationwide, there are plenty of Americans ready and willing to take the jobs of ANYONE who strikes. Perhaps it is time to call their bluff.

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12 thoughts on “Unions vs. America: The Final Battle?

  1. Oh Gosh, so much to say on this yet Mark articulated everything as wonderfully as he always does.

    I just want to add that “collective bargaining” never made sense to me. One man should be able to fight his own battles through his individual efforts and hard work. The whole “mob” attitude behind it, like the one we are seeing laid out before us now, makes it apparent that the minority can still scream loud. But this time, the majority has got to scream back. We are splitting open the piggy banks of kids and grandkids and completely mortgaging our futures because of leftists who think this country is in Europe.

  2. In NH, the union representing state workers had a choice between people losing jobs or everyone taking a few days off each month (unpaid but unworked too). People ended up losing their jobs but I am sure the union leadership hasn’t lost any!
    In Wisconsin I am totally disgusted at what the Democrats are doing! They won’t get their way so they flee and sabotage the process? I’m not sure I totally agree with what the bill will do but this is a childish way of acting and should be punished. Everytime I see large groups of protesters I think “Do these people have jobs and if they do how do they get time off to protest?” I might not get fired for protesting but I certainly wouldn’t get paid and would have to work extra to make up for that time away.
    Unions had their time and if they focused on actually doing good for the worker and looked out for their long term interests (short term concessions so that the industry didn’t disappear leaving even more unemployed) they might be good again. I won’t be holding my breath.
    AndyB, NH.
    PS Saw something about workers at a strip club unionizing (SEIU I think) and I have to say it made sense to give them protections from pretty crappy conditions.

  3. I’m in a public union and I am not in favor of it…at all.

    Before Chris Christie was the Gov of NJ…Jon Corzine was.

    Our “union” leader” was sleeping with Corzine and working on her college degree while making more money that the people in the union could possibly make. Corzine paid for her home, her kid’s education and a lot of other personal benefits while we were still paying for her salary….to represent the union.

    Dems are despicable. The best news out of Wisconsin is that Obama has totally outed himself and the unions.

    Lines are drawn and I’m happy that I have been on the Conservative side all the way.

    After 40+ years of working, 4 years of union membership has only reinforced everything I ever thought about union.

    Good news for the Tea Party and Republicans…now all union members agree with or vote in lockstep with their unions.

    The tide has turned. No longer will unions or Obama be able to compel, or fool people any longer.

  4. “One man should be able to fight his own battles through his individual efforts and hard work.”

    I totally agree. I have a friend who is an award winning teacher. Is he better at his job than his peers? Sure. Can he neogtiate his own compensation deal with the school district? No. Can he quit the union and negotiate his own deal. No. If he quits the union then he has to pay the union a fee to negotiate for him on his behalf.

    All of that smells of racketeering.

    Can my friend go to a different school district and try to cut a better deal? No.

    His only choice is to teach at a private school and hope the private school can give him a better deal. He hasn’t found a private school who can do that.

    Did I say this smells of racketeering? I was wrong. It stinks of racketeering.

  5. Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate have fled the state to avoid voting on legislation that would hurt their union buddies who fatten their coffers.

    Indiana Democrats have bugged out too.

    Texas Democrats fled the state to avoid voting on reapportionment.

    So, this is how Democrats battle? They run away? They take their ball and bat and go home because everyone won’t play by their rules?

    In the real world if you abandon your job then you lose your job.

  6. “ARTHUR: Three. Three. And we’d better not risk another frontal
    assault, that rabbit’s dynamite.
    ROBIN: Would it help to confuse it if we run away more?
    ARTHUR: Oh, shut up and go and change your armor.
    GALAHAD: Let us taunt it! It may become so cross that it will make
    a mistake.
    ARTHUR: Like what?
    GALAHAD: Well,….”
    So they are actually acting out scenes from Monty Python & the Holy Grail.” Performance art. Next they will be hiding in a giant wooden rabbitt.
    AndyB, NH.

  7. That’s what happens when you’re exposed to Monty Python at an early age. Well, I’ve had head injuries too but I don’t think anything necessary leaked out;-)
    The sad thing is these people don’t realize how ridiculous they are. It’s like watching a movie but it’s real:-(
    Thanks, AndyB, NH.
    PS What is the air speed velocity of a swallow? A: African or European? AAAAAAHHHHH. Sadly I have not watched it in years but they are fresh in my twisted little mind:-)

  8. Just a point of information… only GM and Chrysler took government money, and then went bankrupt anyway. Ford neither took any government loans nor went through bankruptcy… which is why my next car will be a Ford.

  9. At John S.

    Ford did not take the money because it did not like the strings. But Ford essentially did what GM and Chrysler did without going BK. Ford cleaned itself up and got its union to go along with it.

  10. I am pleased that you have ctnemmoed on this issue. I am not saying that the Credit Union is doing anything wrong, but, simply stating that the Credit Unions do this. As long as you are aware of what the Credit Union is doing, you should make the choice that is right for you.

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