In honor of the teacher’s strikes happening around the State of Washington, I thought I’d post this chapter from my book:
Out of any destruction comes some good. One of the few benefits of the great correction through which the United States is currently undergoing is the highlighting of unions as a problem that must be addressed immediately.
The unions represent much of what is currently bringing down the country. Thanks to unions, workers do not get paid based on their productivity or worth. Most unions pay their members in tiers based more on seniority than productivity or value.
I worked within a union during one summer of college. Having been brought up with that good Midwest German work ethic, when I got on the job, I got to work. It only took about 4 hours before I was instructed that I was doing too much. If I continued to raise the bar, then everyone else would have to follow. In this way, unions destroy the incentive to work hard because there’s no reward. It goes even further to incentivize pacing yourself and not doing too much.
Because employers with unions only have to negotiate one contract instead of an individual arrangement with every worker, the unions create artificial structures for the workforce that benefits the workers, not the employer and not their customers. It also allows bad workers to hide out behind a big contract.
Thanks to unions, it is nearly impossible to fire poor quality teachers. It is equally impossible to increase the pay of the best teachers. If it were left to each individual principal or school district to manage their teaching staff, great teachers would be making far more money, younger teachers would start at less money with the ability to earn more, and poor teachers would be fired and replaced with better teachers. These are all traits of businesses that don’t have the burden of a union workforce.
Productivity and ambition are not rewarded in the union system, so there’s little incentive for a worker to put in extra hours or go out of their way to solve a problem or innovate a new way of doing something. Because it is so difficult to get rid of bad union employees, there is far less turnover in union jobs than there is in private sector jobs.
In the private sector, a new employee with a great idea can come into a company and revolutionize a process or one of the company’s products. And in doing so, that employee would be rewarded with a raise or a promotion or possibly even profit sharing.
But with a union, a young, newly employed union worker can’t move up because older and possibly outdated employees will be in the way until the day they retire. There’s no rewarding a new or young union member because they don’t often create new positions, and those with seniority would have to move up or out to promote the new, valuable employee.
When you factor in benefits and retirement accounts, union members get paid an unrealistically high, and completely permanent, amount of money. Unlike private employees who’re putting their money into 401K and IRA accounts and riding out whatever economic circumstances may do to them, many union employees are guaranteed whatever retirement package the union has negotiated – no matter how unsustainable to the company, organization or society it may be. And union employees retire at a far younger age than does the average private sector employee.
Possibly the worst part about unions is that somehow government workers were allowed to unionize. Unions first came about because some companies were taking advantage of their workforces, and there wasn’t really anywhere for employees to turn. They were relatively powerless to do anything about it. Enter the unions.
But since that time, all sorts of laws have been put on the books to protect employees, making unions an outdated notion. Given that the unions existed to protect employees from employers, it makes me wonder how employees decided that they needed protection from the government. And how did the government acquiesce to this development?
Government unions have insured that all of the worst aspects of unionization mentioned above are now running rampant in the federal government. Lack of vision, inability to get rid of poor performing employees, stunted productivity, no rewards for great service are all now built in to our current government workforce.
Left to their own devices, the skilled workers and craftspeople in labor unions can be smart, innovative problem solvers. They can spot an efficiency that could change the entire business, save money and raise revenue. Unions have removed the individual skills, and in turn, have led to an environment in which the union workers want clear instruction on exactly what to do. As a result, innovation is dead in the union workplace.
Along with all of that, don’t forget that the average salary of a government employee is now higher than that of a private sector worker. And their retirement and health benefits are guaranteed – no matter what happens to the rest of the country.
Most galling about that is that private sector employees work hard and live in fear of possibly losing their jobs in this economy so that government workers can take part of their wages and with it, make more money (which comes from the pockets of the private worker), have guaranteed pension, get annual raises and enjoy greater job security.
So, in essence, we’re all working our private sector jobs – being judged for our performance with no benefits guarantees – just so the government can take as much money as they want out of our checks and give it to these unionized workers, many of whom can mail it in all the way to their retirement.
But adding insult to injury, the union leadership for nearly all unions in America – the United Auto Workers, the government workforce, the teacher’s union and nearly every other union you can think of – are taking a large portion of their union dues and taxpayer money (in the case of government unions) and giving it all to liberal politicians to perpetuate the unions and elect liberal candidates who back liberal issues.
Going back specifically to the problem with public sector unions, even FDR knew that there was a massive conflict of interest for their to be public unions. For those that think “big business” has too much influence over our politicians, that’s nothing compared to unions.
Consider that elected officials are going to turn around and be in a position to influence public union negotiations. Why do you think Republican and Democrat politicians alike try and curry union favor?
Most of my liberal friends and I have found agreement on this issue more than any other. Unions are the parasite that is eating away at this country, and let us not forget that unions were just one more idea from the ideology of liberalism.
Conservatives in this country know that they’re our only hope to stop it, and the unions have dug their trenches and are ready for a fight. The best part? They’re going to be using our money and the wages of a workforce, in the form of forced union dues, to do it.
Unions reward mediocrity and discourage people from being their best. Everything else you see caused by unions are simply a byproduct of the corruption that has occurred by giving power to a small group of union leaders who have control over the entire workforce. Unions are liberal ideas in action.