Look for the union fable...
Let us start with the basics:
I have no problem with people voluntarily banding together to speak with one voice. And if that is all unions were, I would not object to them, at least in the private sector. The government sector is another matter entirely.
Wisconsin votes today on the fate of their governor, and while the recall election of Governor Walker is relevant on many fronts, the biggie is that he limited the power of government-sector unions. He said he was going to do it, and he did. I'm not sure how anyone can fault a politician for delivering on a campaign promise. But in the land of cheese, it appears to be Bizarro World with bratwursts and beer.
I don't understand government-sector unions. Can anyone explain to me why government-sector employees are allowed to form unions in the first place? I mean, it seems like a rather perverse set-up.
They work for the government. The government sets their compensation. The union uses dues, paid by government-sector employees, to get people elected who will pay the government-sector workers more money. When they make more money, they pay more union dues. And the union has even more money to put people into place who will pay the government-sector workers yet MORE money.
Sounds like a big fat scam if you ask me. Even FDR, Mr. Collectivist himself, opposed government-sector unions.
All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations.
Take THAT, Mitch.
This brings me to the bush. It sits at the corner of my street and a fairly well-traveled avenue. Sometimes, it gets tall, obstructing my view. Since getting T-boned by a low-rider is nowhere on my bucket list, I would call the city when the Foliage Of Doom got out of control. I asked if I could just trim it myself, in the interest of safety.
The answer was not just no, but HELL NO!!! They sent two trucks, and four men, and a bevy of orange cones, to tame the bush. I wish I was kidding, but I am not. Several hours, government union wages, and enough people to play a hand of bridge. Three of them stood around, while the fourth wielded the loppers. I felt like I was not getting good value for my tax dollars.
Since then, I have terminated the bush with extreme prejudice, so it is no longer an issue. But it still bugs the daylights out of me that the traffic on 43rd Avenue was blocked off, and these government-sector workers were vastly over-compensated for a simple task.
One other salient point is that government-sector jobs are 100% parasitic. We may appreciate our public servants, but they do not produce anything. A widget manufacturer makes widgets. The government widget inspector makes trouble. Government-sector employees resent the hell out of being called parasites. It's not a put-down, though. It is a simple fact.
Let us leave the slack-jawed nose-pickers in the government behind, and look to the private sector.
I am a serious fan of Deadliest Catch. If you have not had the pleasure of seeing the show, it is a documentary-style reality show about crab fishermen plying their trade on the Bering Sea. (Love you, Captain Sig!) It is the most lethal occupation going. I sobbed my way through the episode about the sinking of F.V. Katmai, and I am by no means a crier. I also wept when Captain Phil passed away, a victim of the lifestyle of the crab fisherman. These guys have a way of getting into your heart, and into your gut.
There are no unions in the crab fleet. There is no job security. You screw up, or cheese off the captain, or seem even remotely unmotivated, and you are gone. They go through greenhorns like they go through cigarettes and coffee. The upside of this nearly perfect - albeit dangerous - meritocracy is that a man can make $50,000 in a month-long king crab season. Then he makes another 50 grand during opi season. That's some seriously good coin.
What purpose would a union serve? A union certainly wouldn't reduce injuries and deaths. It's a dangerous job. Period. It's not going to get them better compensation. Every man makes a "share" based on how much crab is caught. The money is huge, and there is no more of it to be had beyond what is already offered. What value could a union provide? Better working conditions? Unless someone can figure out how to control the weather on the Bering Sea, that's a lost cause.
The thing I personally don't understand about unions is, why shouldn't a person be free to choose crappy working conditions and performance-based compensation? I moved to Phoenix in a fit of pissitivity in 1989. Ultimately, I landed a job at Big Aerospace Corporation, but more immediately, I needed cash. I got a job as a cocktail waitress at Bobby McGee's, wearing the Beefeater costume in the dining room, and the tuxedo jacket and very brief briefs in the lounge. The minimum heel height was 2 1/2 inches. The pay was two bucks an hour plus tips.
More than once, I left with $200 in tips for four hours working in high heels.
What would a union have done for poor little "exploited" me? Allowed me to wear flats, so my legs didn't look so hot? Made me take breaks I didn't want or need? Pooled the tips so the CWs who weren't as good could make as much money as the rest of us?
The point of personal stories, be they about the Bering Sea or Bobby McGee's, is that real live people are negatively affected by this union nonsense. If you are not in a "right to work" state, you have to join the union to get the job. That shoots your right to your beliefs, and your right to freely associate with like-minded people, right in the dupa. Furthermore, unions don't get all "truthy" with their members. They don't tell illegal aliens about the Hoffman Plastics decision. They don't tell the rank and file that if they strike, they could be permanently replaced.
I saw a video clip a few years ago that was aftermath from the strike at Maremont, in Loudon Tennessee. They are the folks who make the Cherry Bomb mufflers, and other after-market automotive exhaust products. The strike lasted a long time, the workers were replaced, and at the end of the day, the union was decertified. A woman on the news said that if she had known that she could lose her job forever, she might not have gone out on strike.
Do those jerks really not tell the members about the McKay decision? It's only like 75 years old, give or take. Have the poor benighted union members never heard of Morenci, AZ? That was a big deal, bigger than Reagan firing the air traffic controllers. PATCO was government-sector, and covered by the Railway Labor Act. The Phelps-Dodge strike was private sector, covered by the National Labor Relations Act. They had to bring in the National Guard to keep the strikers from beating the replacement workers to death.
Stay classy, striking workers.
But enough with the personal revelations. Let us talk numbers. I like numbers. Here is what the numbers tell us:
Workplace injuries and fatalities are as low as they are ever going to go in America.
The AFL-CIO has a whine-fest about all those evil corporations, and how they are killing people. You can slog through the data if you wish. The executive summary is this: Workplace fatalities started declining long before OSHA, and unions had nothing to do with it. About 1,500 people a year die on the job. That's about the same number that shuffle off this mortal coil from falling down or up the stairs. Here is a link to show what people are actually, like, dying of accidentally.
When I think of unions and workplace fatalities, I think of Rollo Heyn. I love the Royal Polaris, and I adored Rollo. He met his maker when he hung on too long to a coffee can with explosives in it. Done blowed his hands right off, as they say in places where people actually talk like that. Could a union have saved Rollo? Nope. The long ride home from winter fishing in Mexican waters is excruciatingly boring. Tossing exploding coffee cans into the ocean passes the time. Rollo made a mistake, and he died.
He was counted as a workplace fatality in 1999, but seriously, could the AFL-CIO have prevented it? I doubt it, unless they double as Coast Guard medics.
The union mythology doesn't end there. They take credit for everything from overtime pay to child labor laws. First, anyone and everyone should be free to reach whatever employment agreement they wish with the hiring party. (That would be your boss.) Secondly, no one in America is exploiting five year olds. If a company was caught doing so, they would have more PR problems than Tiger Woods had when his dalliances were exposed.
The polls are closed, and the referendum on government-sector unions in Wisconsin is over. Let us hope they chose wisely, and that all of us are permitted to choose wisely in the future. Union employees might like their gig, but for the hard-working over-achievers, that gig is toxic and destructive.