Friday, November 13, 2009

Unions and Government: A Troublesome Combination

I received a newsletter this morning from The Heritage Foundation. It was entitled Morning Bell: Big Labor Is Bankrupting Our Country.  It was an eye opener in some areas. (In the spirit of openess, The Heritage Foundation is a conservative think tank. So if you want to discount this information it is up to you. But I would pay attention to the facts.) Here are some of the facts they listed in the newsletter (and some comments by me):
  1. Last month when the White House released its visitor log for the first six months of the Obama presidency, one name appeared far more often than any other: Service Employee International Union (SEIU) President Andrew Stern. (Wow, the MOST frequent visitor? Expecting something or trying to organize the White House housekeeping staff?)
  2. The SEIU spent $60.7 million to elect Barack Obama president. (Stern has made it clear that he expects reciprocity. I don't think he is getting to use the Lincoln bedroom in exchange for this $60 million.)
  3. Quoting a Hertiage scholar “The overall unionization rate between January and September 2009 stood at 12.4%, unchanged from last year. However, this difference masks a large difference between unions in the private and public sectors. Union membership has fallen to 7.3% of private sector workers ..... But it is a completely different story in the public sector: 37.6% of government employees belong to unions, up almost a percentage point since last year. Those 7.9 million unionized government employees are 51% of all union members nationwide.” (So the governments are such poor employers that almost 38% of workers feel they need a union to protect them. Yet they tell us in the private sector how to run our businesses. Yet only 7.3% of private sector workers have sought union protection. Hey lawmakers, "wake up and smell the coffee!"
The newsletter goes on to explain why unions target governments. Easier campaigns, more dues making it easier to influence or pressure politicians who need to get elected or re-elected. I will let you read this. The conclusion they reach is that all of this makes government more expensive and may push us to the brink of bankruptcy as a government. Is this a valid conclusion? Well took a look at how unions have helped the car industry, the steel industry, and the airline industry (anyone remember Eastern). You can draw your own conclusions.

With the changes in the NLRB, proposed legislation (EFCA and RESPECT) and executive changes removing union financing transparency unions stand a chance of regaining their "power" through political pressure and intimidation. The question is "At what cost?" to us as taxpayers, employers, employees and consumers. A truly troublesome combination.

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