I’m extremely proud of Governor Mitch Daniels of my home state of Indiana for leading the way on right-to-work legislation in the state. Now the birthplace of the American union movement, Michigan, has followed suit. It’s about time.
Unions once played an important role in improving the working conditions of the average American worker. Sadly, that’s not the case anymore. Instead, unions are the reason many industries and by extension many union friendly states in this country are suffering from low economic performance. While many unions successfully negotiate for higher wages and benefits for their members, the end result in many cases is fewer jobs or no jobs at all. Try buying a Twinkie these days, and you know exactly what I mean.
First, let’s be clear about what this legislation does. It allows workers the choice of whether or not they want to pay dues and be part of the union. It does not outlaw unions. If a union is performing effectively for the dues it’s collecting, presumably workers will want to continue membership in the union. If the union isn’t considered effective for the dues collected, then it won’t survive. It’s up to the union to show value to its members.
The way unions are set up today, I consider them as archaic and thus as useful as an appendix. It seems as if the primary purpose of a union is to collect dues which are then used to support political causes favored by the union bosses. In some industries, you have no choice but to allow this money to be stripped from your paycheck. If you don’t pay the dues, you don’t have a job. This doesn’t seem so much like a collective organization working together for some common good than the old back alley method of paying protection money to the thugs who’ll beat you if you don’t pay up. In this case, it’s Uncle Thug warning you—no dues—no job.
While unions negotiate pay and working conditions for their members, they also play a seemingly more important role recently and that’s keeping its members’ jobs protected—even members who are doing a horrible job—the Slacker Jacks.
Remember the Chrysler workers caught a few years ago drinking and smoking pot during working hours? They lost they’re jobs. It seems Chrysler thought it might be a little problematic if people building cars were possibly drunk or high while they were doing it. The union disagreed and after an appeal, many of these fellows are now back at work.
Here’s how it should work. If you do a good job, you should be paid and promoted accordingly. If you do a bad job, you should lose that job. You should rise and fall on your own merit. Instead, what we have now is a system where everyone rises and falls together. With more jobs moving out of the country or to right-to-work states, we’ve been seeing more of the latter recently. When all is said and done, no one has a job.
Unions are threatening to fight the right-to-work trend. I think they’ll find it an uphill battle. In the meantime, places like Indiana will continue to thrive and move forward. That is positive both for workers and for the overall economy.