(Due to the fact that the bill is being debated in Congress today, I’m bringing this post out of the November 2008 archives)
Among the first items on President-elect Obama’s agenda will be to pay back labor unions for their generous campaign contributions in the name of the Employee Free Choice Act. As if government is not already involved in all kinds of things of a socialist nature that it should not be involved in, but is, Democrats in Washington, if not by executive order itself by our new President, will resume the effort to boost labor union membership by enacting new legislation. Since when does boosting labor unions membership become a responsibility of the government? The easy answer to that is to follow the money. If you do that then you’ll know why the bill was sponsored solely by Democrats including Barack Obama.
The bill was mis-named on purpose. Had it been named correctly, it would have been named the Employee Forced Choice Act. The meat of the bill will remove the private ballot in union organizing and replace it with a public one. It is more than a little ironic that Democrats would have such contempt for a private ballot when every other kind of vote Americans participate in is a private one.
And be prepared also for the Left to attach this bill to their favorite political tact, class warfare. Last year, Sen. Hillary Clinton was speaking for this bill and said that it is for ‘the middle class’ because, she asserts, labor union members are middle class. Although Democrats purport to support ‘the working people,’ what they really support are labor unions.
Didn’t we just learn that small businesses create something like 80 percent of jobs in this country, and that most of these small business owners and their employees are ‘middle class?’ And that’s why Obama wants a ‘middle class’ tax cut while raising taxes on ‘the rich.’
Let’s examine Barack Obama’s economic theory. He wants to increase minimum wage to over $9/hr. He wants to increase taxes on small businesses with incomes higher than $120,000. He wants to enable labor unions to unionize small businesses. Does this sound like a pro-growth economic policy to you? It sounds like disaster that will only worsen our economic woes.
In 1983, 20 percent of workers in the U.S. were union workers. In 2007 that percentage was 12.1 percent, up .1 percent from 2006.
Much of last year’s growth came in the West. California’s rate of union membership rose one percentage point, to 16.7 percent, an increase of more than 200,000 members. Nevada showed an increase of 15,000 union members, reflecting the organization of casino and construction workers.
As you might expect, union membership in the Midwest decreased.
In the Midwest, manufacturing job losses reduced union membership. Michigan lost 23,000 union members. The largest decrease came in Illinois, where union rolls dropped 89,000. Ben Zipperer, research associate at the Center for Economic Policy Research, said the manufacturing sector — long the stronghold of U.S. unions — is being supplanted by the construction and private health-care fields, where union membership is growing.
The reason union membership has declined over the years is that employers have negated the need for them by paying more and offering benefits that employees want, without them having to pay dues to a union. This so-called Card Check legislation is a mistake for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is that it is not the government’s job to increase labor union membership. The other reason is the negative impact on business that come with unions in vastly increased overhead and payroll expense.
Look what labor unions do the the auto industry. Did you know that . . .
At a time when the average American company requires workers to pay more than $2,000 a year toward family health insurance premiums, the auto industry is among the 4% of employers that offer free family health coverage.
And these figures are from 2005, it is only worse now . . .
The cost of providing health care adds from $1,100 to $1,500 to the cost of each of the 4.65 million vehicles GM sold last year, according to various calculations. GM expects to spend at least $5.6 billion on health care this year, more than it spent on advertising last year.
Granted that it was the management of these automakers that agreed to such extravagant benefits, at the threat of a strike, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how labor unions can put not only the auto industry, but any industry at a competitive disadvantage, including small businesses that need all the help they can get. If unions go away, no one suffers. If small businesses go away, everyone suffers.