Featured Article

The Gods of Liberalism Revisited


The lie hasn't changed, and we still fall for it as easily as ever.  But how can we escape the snare?



Monday, August 04, 2008

Unions are Bad News for Wal-Mart and Everyone Else

In theory, unions sound like a good thing for workers and something completely compatible with the concepts of freedom which have made America the best country on earth.

In practice, however, they're something of a pox on the economy and downright injurious to freedom.

While union membership in the United States has been on a decades-long slide to insignificance, union thugs and their beholden recipients of union money in government remain dedicated to keeping this monument to Marxism alive and well. And if Democrat Barack Obama is elected president in November we will almost certainly see a fresh push for unionism.

As has been widely reported, Wal-Mart sees the potential writing on the wall and is educating their workers that unionism may not be the "workers paradise" the Left makes it out to be.

Wal-Mart's worries center on a piece of legislation known as the Employee Free Choice Act, which companies say would enable unions to quickly add millions of new members. "We believe EFCA is a bad bill and we have been on record as opposing it for some time," Mr. Tovar said. "We feel educating our associates about the bill is the right thing to do."

Because with over 1 million employees, Wal-Mart would certainly make a juicy target for pro-union forces. A takeover of this retail giant could infuse new life into the diminishing number of unionized workers.

If Obama is elected president, unions and Democrats are expected to push for passage of this Orwellian-titled "Employee Free Choice Act."

From the Wall Street Journal:

First introduced in 2003, the bill came to a vote last year and sailed through the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives, but was blocked by a filibuster in the Senate and faced a veto threat by the White House. The bill was taken off the floor, and its backers pledged to reintroduce it when they could get more support.

The November election could bring that extra support in Congress, as well as the White House if Sen. Obama is elected and Democrats extend their control in the Senate. Sen. Obama co-sponsored the legislation, which also is known as "card check," and has said several times he would sign it into law if elected president. Sen. John McCain, the likely Republican presidential nominee, opposes the Employee Free Choice Act and voted against it last year.

So what are the pros and cons of unions?

On one hand, workers ought to have the right to form a union to negotiate en masse with an employer for better wages, benefits, working conditions, etc. That would be compatible with the American way of freedom.

On the other hand, a business ought to be just as free to say to a union, "Sorry, we're not going to deal with you." And if the union workers refuse to do their jobs unless the company negotiates with them, the company should have the right to replace them with workers who will work for what is being offered. Because the business owner, too, is entitled to freedom under the American way.

In practice, the United States has adopted many Marxist practices which have become laws to force businesses to not only allow but negotiate with unions. In doing so, we have undermined not only our free market economy, but our dedication to freedom itself.

We don't force a worker to stay with a job he doesn't like; we rightly recognize he should have the freedom to leave one job and go apply for another one elsewhere.

Why, then, do we force a business owner to stay with an employee (or group of employees) he doesn't like? Why do we deny the business owner the freedom to let go a worker or group of workers and go find other workers? What's American about that?

Ironically, unions usually diminish worker freedom as well. In jobs that are unionized, employees usually must join the union (and fork over part of their paycheck to the union) in order to get a job there.

Often, the union spends part of the worker's contribution to advocate politicians and policy positions opposed by the workers. So the worker is not only being forced to join the union if he wants work, but he's being forced to pay for the support of things he opposes. What's American about that?

Unfortunately, your legal rights to withhold participation in and contribution to unions may not always coincide with what union thugs will actually allow.

But beyond the philosophical downside to unions, there are some very practical and compelling reasons why unions are detrimental.

Something liberals routinely fail to understand or refuse to acknowledge is that you can't simply wave a wand and create wealth out of thin air.

If it costs more to run a business (and paying employee more means it costs more to run a business), then the goods and services provided by that business will cost the consumer more.

As a result, in an effort to make a trade-off to keep prices low so as not to lose customers, the business may (gasp) lay off employees.

What's worse: a low paying job, or no job? Me, I'd rather have a low paying job than no job.

Another important fact liberals manage to ignore is that the more specialized the task, the more the labor is worth.

Now, I love the folks at Wal-Mart. I shop there at least once a week and know that they're the nicest, friendliest folks you'll run across. But having worked stock and cash register-type jobs, and having worked specialized and technical jobs, and having hired for various jobs, I know first hand that it's easier to obtain and replace workers for some jobs than it is for others. You can train someone to proficiency much quicker on a cash register than you can on computer programming, networks solutions, legal work, nursing, or many other types of work.

It's nothing against the average job position at Wal-Mart; it's just a fact of the market and a fact of life. You don't pay as much for labor that's easier to replace, nor for labor that doesn't make a greater contribution to the company's bottom line.

If you violate market wisdom, you'll almost always end up hurting more than you help. And that translates into lost jobs and higher customer prices.

Unions have a lot to do with why a new car costs so insanely much money. They also have a lot to do with why American cars have such a hard time competing with foreign cars. The union's "kill the goose that lays the golden egg" approach is killing the American auto industry.

In a free society, workers ought to have the freedom to organize and try to negotiate as a group with their employer, if they believe they aren't receiving fair value for their labor. But an employer should have the freedom to decide not to negotiate with the union...and find workers elsewhere.

Government has no justification in a free market and a free society to artificially set the value of labor, or force associations on people and groups.

Wal-Mart is justified in fearing an Obama presidency. They realize Obama may make it easier to force a union on them and other companies.

That's something that wouldn't be good for Wal-Mart's profits, Wal-Mart's employees, Wal-Mart's customers, or for freedom and the American way.


Clicky Web Analytics