People who complain that government unions colluding with government officials for extravagant pay are “bargaining with themselves” are missing the whole point about collective bargaining:
When the government says something you need is so important that it claims a monopoly over providing it, then that government has an obligation to deliver that thing as promised, as long as you keep up your end, like paying your taxes. It can’t let its bureaucrats withhold what you need, for their own gain.
Bribery is Corruption
If the drone at the driver’s license bureau refuses to help you unless you slip him a fiver, or the mailman “can’t guarantee everything will arrive safely”, unless you “tip” him, we all recognize that as bribery, intolerable in a government official. They are entrusted with what we consider “public good”, and must deliver on it, because it’s considered essential, and has been made into a government monopoly. Withholding that trusted thing in demand for personal gain is intolerable corruption.
It’s OK to have to tip your waitress for better service, but not your fireman.
And we, for most of history, recognized in America how important this distinction is, unlike the rest of the world. We weren’t, say, India:
In India, if you want your driver’s license, you automatically bribe the bureaucrat who is supposed to give it to you. Same if you want electricity, or health care. In fact, you have to bribe hundreds of government officials per year, in order to simply function normally. You need to already have enough money to pay off public thugs, in order to be allowed to prosper. This is part of why hundreds of millions of poor have remained trapped in a caste system, while most of the world has outgrown theirs.
It’s not that regular people shouldn’t be able to trade money for service, it’s that government officials must never withhold service in order to get money.
Democrats against Collective Bargaining
This is why, for so many years when the rabidly pro-union Democrats dominated the Federal and state governments, government employees and civil servants were banned, by those Democrats, from collective bargaining and strikes. Even Franklin D. Roosevelt agreed that a union is a monopoly, over both the workers and employer, that strikes withhold services from legitimately customers, arbitrarily, in order to extort more money out of them — and when the customers are taxpayers, and the services essential, everyone recognized that this is wrong:
The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service…A strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government.
— Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Federation of Federal Employees against Strikes in Federal Service
It wasn’t until 1959 that, for the first time ever, a state government in the US — Wisconsin — allowed its bureaucrats to form monopoly unions that could cut off taxpayers from their paid-up, legitimate services. Unfortunately, other states began to follow suit. Soon, as we might fear, government employees began to threaten to withhold services from us, even though we’d paid our taxes, unless they got special money and favors.
In order to not be bankrupted immediately, the government officials who had caused this mess by allowing the unions were forced to impose taxes on the taxpayers’ grandchildren, by promising to pay extravagant retirement benefits to the monopolists later, when the extortionists retired. This is, of course, taxation without representation; the main people who’d be super-taxed to pay for the bribes in twenty to forty years were often not yet born, much less of voting age.
Those public sector bureaucrats held the people of Wisconsin hostage, for their own gain, and the payoff was insanely cushy, gold-lined pensions.
Well, now the ransom is coming due.
Protecting Americans from Extortion
Appropriately, the first to reach this crisis was the state that started the problem, Wisconsin. And, for once, they did the right thing:
Scott Walker reversed the previous trend and restored the taxpayer’s right to not be extorted by government bureaucrats.
Anyone who doubts that this is a good thing needs to look to Britain, where civil “servants” recently tried to extort money from the taxpayers, by cutting off essential services. They bragged about their goal of holding up travelers and bankrupting parents by forcing them to stay home with kids while the schools shut down. They admit that they’re already being paid far more than the private sector, and are striking simply because they’re being asked to pay a few percentage points of their fat pensions.
Tens of thousands of emergency calls were ignored, except for those deemed “life threatening”, and thousands of surgeries were postponed, leaving people to suffer longer. Millions were trapped in their homes by lack of bus and rail service. Over ten thousand schools were shut down, putting millions of parents in a bind, however happy it made their kids.
All because the government employees entrusted with providing these services, violated the public trust.
We don’t need that kind of ganster-like corruption, here in the US.
Of course we could also have a discussion about how this proves the government can’t be trusted to meddle in health care, mass transit, and education…but at the very least, when it usurps those vital needs, it must then provide them, no matter what.
This is why “collective bargaining” can’t be tolerated, when public good is at stake.
The job you really want, right now, is being held by some lazy, incompetent fool, whose boss wants to fire him…but cannot, thanks to people like Representative Steve Cohen, Democrat of Tennessee. In fact, Cohen probably identifies with the guy stealing your job.
This is because of the way government meddles with the hiring and firing of employees, now.
Obviously, part of the problem is that it’s so hard to fire bad employees.
- First, ridiculous laws allow privileged groups to claim discrimination or mean treatment based on race, sex, lifestyle, or many other things, claims as vague and unrefutable as fake neck injuries…and just as indicative of the evils of lawyers and our corrupt legal system.
- What’s more, an employer is nearly as likely to be assumed guilty, by the public or the courts, as if accused of child molesting.
- The maze of what is a privileged group is so insane that the employer can’t guess WHO might turn out able to sue. Are you of a privileged lifestyle? A favored fringe religion? They’re not even allowed to ask…so EVERYONE is seen as a potential trap.
So the safe thing to do is just leave the bad employee in his job, and suffer the economic burden to the company (and therefore economy), spending even more money to work around the problem.
If only employers were free to fire bad workers, it would be easier for ALL workers to get jobs, and then prove themselves to keep them. Even if you lacked experience, an employer could feel free to take a chance on you, and see how you work out.
Since you are banned from proving yourself on the job, you need to prove yourself before you’re hired, but when you first apply for a job, the employer knows nothing about you but some claims on a piece of paper. When he interviews you, he can ask questions that show how much you have memorized, and he can get an idea of how likable you are…but he still can’t know how you behave as an employee.
It’s to your benefit to be able to show a prospective employer what a great worker you really are, and the only really effective way to do this is through references.
But laws and our harmful legal system have made that almost impossible.
The references of bad former employees have to fear repercussions if they say anything bad about an employee…in fact, it’s considered increasingly dangerous to say anything NEUTRAL about an employee, as this has become a way of clearly not saying something good about him, to bypass the prohibition.
This means that anyone trying to call your references can’t really trust all your good reviews, so you’ve lost this tool for proving your value.
Know Your Associate
It is also illegal, effectively, to hire mainly people you know or have some social affiliation with, especially if most of whom you know are healthy, straight white males. You are required to have some artificial ratio of sex, race, sexual preference, even political viewpoint and other things, depending on how crazily PC your state is…and statistics say you won’t accidentally know exactly the right proportions of each, when thinking of what friends could fill that job opening.
This is unfortunate, because you have a better idea of the abilities of people you know, despite any biases you may have from friendship or other factors, than you could possibly know about strangers applying, especially under the current anti-reference conditions.
Another tool for finding a good employee, down the drain.
So employers are unable to screen workers well before they hire them, yet are trapped with the bad ones once they do.
Let’s Ban MORE Hiring Tools!
As employers grow more desperate to find ways to pre-prove employees they are scared to hold to any standards once hired, some are resorting to running credit checks. Obviously, while it doesn’t directly show how they work, it increases the odds of knowing something about the character of the person. Not perfectly, but it gives them some chance to reasonably guess.
So you can’t prove your worth on the job, because the employer fears firing being stuck with bad workers.
You can’t prove how great you are with references, because it’s effectively illegal for them to be honest.
One of the few ways left is to allow a potential employer to run a credit check. Sure, it doesn’t show how you do a job, but there is some loose correlation between character and good credit. If your credit’s at least OK, the odds are at least somewhat better of you taking commitments seriously. And, anyway, it shows you have less incentive to steal from the company.
Having them run a credit check on you may be the thing that seals the deal.
But now, Representative Cohen and others like him want to ban even this entirely plausible hiring tool.
They literally want to make it illegal for you to give your job prospect permission to run a credit check.
Obviously, aside from how almost any intrusion in the free market causes harm, this is wrong. They want to deprive both you and the employer of one of the few remaining ways to prove you should be hired.
Why, we wonder, aren’t they instead trying to restore the other, better ways that were already banned?
If checking credit does not work well, it will die out with competition. If it works well, they have a RIGHT to use it.
Interestingly, the only employers I’ve ever had do a credit check on me were government agencies and their contractors….and this bill exempts those, as corrupt Congresscritters typically protect themselves from the bad laws they impose on us.
This bill needs to be stopped, and the current laws preventing good job matching need to be fixed.
e’re told by teachers, politicians, and the media that unions are the best thing ever to happen to people who work. Without them, we’d all be working 80 hour weeks, for pennies per hour, and dying by 30 from how dangerous the conditions are.
And yet, for some reason, most people not only don’t belong to unions, are not even thinking about forming unions, but wouldn’t even want their industry unionized, if they had the chance. In fact, unions are dying out. The odds are that if you don’t more or less inherit a union career because you’re locked into a Company Town situation, you will never join one.
In the 1940s, 35% of American workers belonged to trade unions. Today in the private sector, membership is less than 7%. It is even lower in states that protect your right to have a specific job without joining a union.
Because, in reality, a union takes more freedom away from a worker, than from anyone else.
Pay is Important
It’s not fun, negotiating with an employer for your compensation. Well, not unless you’re really in demand. Then it can be joyful agony, trying to decide which offer is best, and what to require you be paid…but, the rest of the time, it’s unpleasant.
But the joy and pain are both because of how completely important your pay for your work really is. Your entire lifestyle depends on that set of decisions.
Not just how much you’ll be paid, but in what form. Do you want more cash, or would you prefer more days off? Are you better off putting up with a company insurance plan, that is cheaper but less responsive and lacking in choices, or more money and save up for your own checkups? Do you want paid lunch and breaks, or more money and come home sooner?
The problem with a union is that it strips away any control you have over that life-changing question.
You don’t even get to choose when, or how, to negotiate. Union management takes all power away from you, and you have to cross your fingers, praying whatever they think is best happens to be something you can tolerate.
Even under the best circumstances, they’ll be negotiating for the lowest common denominator. What the average worker is worth, and the union will gain from getting. The problem is that in the real world, almost nobody’s average. A good compromise, famously, is one where everyone goes away equally unhappy. With a union, you don’t just have to compromise with an employer, but also with all of the other workers.
You Become a Cog
With a union, you must settle for:
What the average worker is worth…
Diluted by what benefits the union management and corporate management negotiate.
You also lose the power to be paid for your effort, quality, ideas, and unique traits.
For example, you may be willing to work extra-hard to make more money, or have more job security. You may not even need to work hard; there may be some special part of your occupation you’re particularly good at.
But most unions avoid the idea of being paid for how well you do the job, replacing it with being paid for how many years you’ve worked. What could be a worse system of payment than this?
Of course it’s bad for the customers, because quality falls by the way-side…and therefore is bad for the company, as its profit depends on that quality. But it’s also bad for you, the worker, whose efforts become meaningless…just hang on to the job for as long as you can, that’s the only way you can make more money.
Likewise, no amount of effort can protect you from being laid off during the slow or hard times, with a typical union contract. You could be the very best at your job, but if you’ve only been there a few years, you’re out the door.
The Worst Kind of Middleman
It’s bad enough that unions harm companies, consumers, and society by causing unemployment, playing insider favoritism, price increases, inefficiency, low quality, reducing non-union worker pay, and other means, plus all the above disadvantages to union members, but what do you gain, in return for this?
- The right to be forced to pay union dues, whether you find them worthwhile or not.
- The privilege to have part of that hefty fee spent to bribe government officials with policies you probably don’t actually like, and be punished if you object.
- The fortune of having some of the rest divvied up among the secretive, corrupt union management and their cronies and masters, for no apparent reason whatsoever.
- Oh, and the joy of having yet another Tyranny of the Majority government ruling over you, in the form of that union’s quasi-elected crony management.
It’s no surprise that unions actually reduce real household income.
Not a Number, but a Free Man
The reason most of us eschew labor unions like they’re a porcupine who recently attacked a skunk’s posterior, is that we really are better off as free people, than as vassals of a collective, whose real function seems to be the profit of its “leaders”.
In other words, I’d rather protect my right to earn pay based on what I’m worth, not my seniority, and not be given useless token “compensation” that sucks part of it away, like hourly coffee breaks and a dubious promise of unreasonably high, distant retirement pay, I probably won’t see, once the union bankrupts my employer.
Unionism seldom, if ever, uses such power as it has to insure better work; almost always it devotes a large part of that power to safeguarding bad work.
- H. L. Mencken
- Henry George