Why Unions Are No Longer Good for America

Recently, I read some comments posted on an article of the Walker/Barrett debate. They were authored by someone who considered himself one of the 99%. He listed reasons why we should all thank unions. I have commented after each one why these “benefits” have hurt working Americans. I’m sure there are many more comments that can be added to my limited research and opinions.

36 Reasons Why You Should Thank a Union

Weekends: Having weekends off means we don’t get paid on the weekends. Most salaried workers in America take work home. I know I did. Looking to unions to define our work week, in my opinion, is not a benefit. Much of the private sector do not have weekends off…if they did, their profits would go out the window. It breeds non-productivity.

All Breaks at Work, including your Lunch Breaks: Having specified work breaks and lunch breaks disrupts the work flow. Taking a break or lunch “when needed” is a more natural way to work and increases productivity. It also encourages employees to focus on the work rather than the clock. We had one worker in my workplace who sat there counting the minutes to each break and nagged her co-workers incessantly for them to hurry up and cover her while she got her 15 union minutes. She did little work right before and after these breaks and disrupted others’ work to boot.

Paid Vacation: While I enjoyed a paid vacation, I did not need a union to give it to me. It was a perk that encouraged me to take the position. Good employers provide amenities to attract quality employees.

FMLA: This means Family Medical Leave and is for long-term medical leaves which includes having a child or getting a hysterectomy, psychological issues, etc. It allows a worker to use their sick days for a longer time. It actually forces a worker to use their sick days. I was mandated to take FMLA for an operation I had some years back. It ate up the sick days I had accumulated (I was not union) and it was frustrating. I would have rather negotiated a work at home agreement for a few weeks until I healed. In addition, some unions have negotiated situations where the employer is forced to hold open positions for as many years as a new mother would like to take off…even 4 years and then giving her the same position regardless of the hard work or talent of her replacement.

Sick Leave: Sick Leave is a double edged sword. Part of some private sector salaries is a set of sick days. Because I was involved heavily in my work and cared about it, I only took a sick day when I absolutely had to–when I was really sick. Quality salaried employees in the private sector handle sickness similarly–you take a day off when you are really sick. Today, union supplied sick days have morphed into Christmas shopping days and extra vacation time.

Social Security: I don’t think I need to say much about this government monstrosity that took worker money, exploited and wasted it so that future generations would pay into something they’d never see.

Minimum Wage:This is the biggest impediment to economic job growth that could have been prescribed for a country. Raises are based on government decisions, not merit or quality of work which further encourages mediocre performance.

Civil Rights Act/Title VII: (Prohibits Employer Discrimination): Again, while starting out in the 1960’s as something necessary to prohibit discrimination against workers, it ballooned into hiring practices that can be described as reverse discrimination or at the very least force employers to hire unqualified workers based on their gender or ethnicity.

8-Hour Work Day: Better to have the project be completed than stop at 5 PM and pick it up again at 9 AM regardless of the urgency of the task. This government created workday is counter productive to the actual art of work and success. Successful businesses and inventions would never happen on a 9-5 time table. A quote from a small new local business’s website sums it up pretty well, We are excited and determined to be successful. We are not afraid of working many hours, to make our customers happy. This could never happen in a union-controlled business.

Overtime Pay: So if a business does not have the money to pay someone overtime, tasks and projects cannot be completed regardless of the outcome. So if students need extra help, teachers won’t stay to help them unless the district finds the money to pay for extra help–outcomes be damned. Work based hours rather than tasks hurts everyone.

Child Labor Laws: This was when unions/Child Labor laws worked for the common good and not some union leader’s pocketbook. Just wondering, is this why children can no longer sell lemonade or girl scout cookies? (It’s not but this is just another example of controlling liberalism.)

Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA): Here’s an example of unions on steroids. While OSHA may have begun as something which helped workers stay safe, it has transformed into micromanagement of unmanageable details in the workplace–for example–see this article about OSHA penalizing employers for employees who text message while driving to work.

40 Hour Work Week: Limits productivity of most workplaces and forces workers to concentrate on time rather than task. It strips employees of any feeling of accomplishment but rather focuses them toward time served. It encourages clock watching and mass exodus rather than accomplishment.

Worker’s Compensation (Worker’s Comp): The examples of abuse are rampant in this area. I know of one example of someone who has been off of work for over 10 years and on worker’s compensation due to “unknown stress.” How much have companies lost and how much productivity been lost due to dollars flying out the window for unethical workmen’s comp? Again, this was an idea that started out legitimately but one that unions have exploded into unscrupulous practices.

Unemployment Insurance: Here’s a little story to describe the union monster this “benefit” has turned into: At my last job, people who worked for a very short time could collect unemployment at the taxpayer’s expense. There were loopholes and tricks that could be used to continue this for several years. All they had to do was be a substitute one day to cover for another employee and they could continue to leech off the system for another year or two or three. All on the taxpayer’s dime and because of unions, the employer could do nothing. Part of this problem is to be blamed on the employers who buckle under union pressure often due to threat of strikes and lawsuits. I have to give companies who fight back a lot of credit for placing themselves in peril of losing everything when the union wins. And as we’ve seen in Wisconsin recently, the unions stick together across this country and they have a LOT of OUR money with which to fight.

Pensions: Workers (and I am one) were sold a bill of unrealistic goods, union bosses, leaders and politicians cashed in and now the workers are left holding the bag. I paid into a pension which was set up to fail. I paid into insurance for retirement with every paycheck. Union bosses and state politicians squandered my dollars on liberal campaigns and pay-offs filling their own pockets and paying for their pet projects. All of those dollars came from the taxpayers, were earned by my hard work and flew out the windows of lobbyists and cronyism. Now retired, I face a reduced pension and no insurance. Had this same system been set up with a realistic actuarial and not been hacked into by dishonest unions and liberal politicians, I’d have a realistic pension and insurance into my old age. Now I am facing a dire prospect of old age without resources. Thanks, unions!

Workplace Safety Standards and Regulations: See OSHA

Employer Health Care Insurance: When this is set up with no employee skin in the game, it can get out of control which it has in this country. Union control of insurance has bankrupted more than one school district. Take the example just explained by Paul Ryan, Senator in Wisconsin where a school district in his jurisdiction saved over a million dollars by not having to use the union supplied insurance company but rather was able to work with several insurance companies. Dollars saved, jobs saved due to escaping union control. Governor Scott Walker’s plan was for making public school teachers pay 5.8 percent of their pension costs and 12.6 percent of their health care costs. This is far below the national average for government workers and it would still be two-thirds or less of what workers in the private sector pay on average.

Collective Bargaining Rights for Employees: This is a double-edged sword. When I was a young teacher, I was dismayed to be forced to contribute to a union which used my dollars to support liberal candidates. This is a part of collective bargaining. I’ve also watched union leaders fight for and obtain policies which hurt children, parents and teachers like elimination of mentoring programs for young teachers because one or two on the labor committee didn’t like them. Wisconsin, again, is a perfect example of how eliminating collective bargaining can save jobs and millions of dollars in taxpayer money. Some facts about Governor Walker’s plan for collective bargaining in Wisconsin: From Freedom Works:

Collective bargaining is regularly used to excessively jack up the salaries and benefits of government workers. This is why only 26 states have public sector collective bargaining laws similar to Wisconsin. State employees in 12 states have no legal right to collective bargaining.

Collective bargaining is inconsistent with the right to freedom of association.

All Wisconsin public sector workers are forced to join a union and pay dues whether they wish to or not. Unions certainly do have a right to free speech. However, collective bargaining is inconsistent with the right to freedom of association since some members may disagree with the views of the monopoly union.

A clear conflict of interest exists between politicians and public sector unions.

Collective bargaining in the public sector means that public employee unions negotiate their salaries and benefits with self-interested politicians. It has given politicians the opportunity to reward their campaign contributors. The Center for Responsive Politics reports that five of the top ten contributors to congressional and presidential campaigns in the past twenty years are labor unions. Half of the top twenty political action committees by total expenditures are unions.

While a step in the right direction, Governor Walker’s proposal does not even go far enough.

Governor Walker’s bill does not restrict the collective bargaining of police officers and fire fighters. States should instead model their labor laws after the federal government. Washington, D.C. is a right to work zone. Federal government employees cannot collectively bargain and they are not required to join a union or pay union dues. If the federal government cannot afford collective bargaining, neither can the states.

Wrongful Termination Laws: Again, another union created rule that started out as a fair and good idea but has grown into a gargantuan debacle that keeps incompetent tenured employees in positions detrimental to others–and in the teaching profession–innocent children.

Compensation increases and Evaluations (Raises): Oh yes, let’s give EVERYONE a raise regardless of the abominable job they do. Let’s build an entitlement expectation where many who do next to nothing or worse a job that actually harms fellow workers or children and reward them for it. As an educator, I was all for merit pay. I knew I would receive it because I was great at what I did but I was in the same monetary boat as those whose ineptness made me embarrassed for the profession.

Whistleblower Protection Laws, Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Sexual Harassment Laws, Employee Polygraph Protect Act Veteran’s Employment and Training Services (VETS) : Additional ideas that started out well but have morphed into rules and regulations strangling productivity. And I just have to ask…are all of these groups on the whole better off or could we have accomplished the good intentions without unions or government?

Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA): This started out as a great idea and was needed but again it is another liberal idea that has a cost far beyond its benefit. Examples of big governments’ actions and their unintended consequences which end up hurting those it meant to protect:
From Cato“…Thus in recent months a New Jersey jury ordered a rheumatologist to pay $400,000 for not providing a deaf patient with a sign language interpreter at his own expense; the Ninth Circuit ruled that the law may require movie theaters to provide captions and descriptions for blind or deaf viewers; a federal appeals court ruled that the nation’s paper currency unfairly discriminates against the disabled and must be redesigned (thus taking a different view from the National Federation of the Blind, which doesn’t think there’s a problem); a police dispatcher won a settlement in her lawsuit saying she was unfairly discriminated against because of her narcolepsy (tendency to fall asleep at inappropriate times); a large online tutoring service agreed to provide interpreters; miniature golf courses learned they will have to make 50 percent of their holes accessible to wheelchair users; and so forth. On Friday the Department of Justice announced that it would revisit the high-stakes question of whether and to what extent website operators must make their designs and services “accessible” to disabled computer users, perhaps in onerous and expensive ways.”

Holiday Pay: I remember as an educator bemoaning the fact that we had so many holidays, the children would very rarely receive a full week of school. And we worry about our educational standards in this country. Our union once explained to the board and administration that the teachers NEEDED two full weeks off at Christmas to be productive. We have a holiday for every conceivable notion. Another union morph.

Employer Dental, Life, and Vision Insurance: See Employee Insurance above

Privacy Rights: Began as a good idea, now ties the hands of everyone through HIPPA.

Pregnancy and Parental: See FMLA above

In summation, anything that unions or liberals attempt to control transforms in an amazingly short amount of time into a behemoth of a problem for everyone but especially those it intended to help. Unions were once good for America. Now they join liberalism in being the faction that, if not stopped, will be the final nail in America’s coffin. Wisconsin’s recall election is a good place to begin…or end as the case may be.