Sunday, February 12, 2012

Freedom for Labor ... Updating Right-To-Work Legislation

Right-to-work legislation is on the minds and agendas of lots of state legislators and legislatures these days. It's an idea whose time has come.

Actually, it's an idea whose time came a long time ago. But today right-to-work legislation may actually be actionable in several states. Let's hope so. But why now?

Samuel Johnson once said, "Depend upon it, sir, when a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully." And now we've perhaps finally reached the crisis "near-hanging" stage in the U.S. jobs market and economy.

If so, we may be getting close to eliminating the absurd claims that unions protect the jobs of workers and provide job security as well. In a global marketplace, nothing could be further from the truth.

Here's a question to ponder. How can most unions help companies and their employees become more competitive in the marketplace, and thereby provide good well paying jobs? And here's my answer. By getting out of the way.

Unions not only don't add value to a company's competitiveness, they represent waste. As a company and its employees work diligently to achieve world class status, unions all too often make an already difficult competitive situation that much harder.

Stated another way, unless a union enhances a company's competitiveness, which invariably it doesn't, that union's presence is harmful to both job security and the compensation of the members represented.

Too many unions don't protect workers today. They exploit them instead.

Hoosiers Post-Game suggests that some union leaders may be recognizing, while not admitting, that basic employee freedoms are necessary in order for a company to achieve competitiveness in the global marketplace. Individual states and nations depend on the private sector's global viability as well.

Here's what the relatively short article says:

"After Indiana, will other states enact right-to-work laws?

Now that Indiana has passed the first right-to-work measure in a decade, the state's Democrats are trying to find their new footing with organized labor. After GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels signed the law on Wednesday, the Democrat most likely to challenge him in 2012 was backpedaling from his party's obstruction.

In a statement, former state house Speaker John Gregg said that it was "time to move beyond" right-to-work. Alluding to Democrats' rolling obstruction of the measure, he added that "Indiana needs a governor and a legislature that show up for work every day and work together with one focus -- creating jobs, whether it's for a union or non-union workplace."

While the remarks raised eyebrows with state Democrats, labor leaders scrambled to paper over the treatment of their issue as a bit of bad writing. "I know he's opposed to it," Indiana AFL-CIO President Nancy Guyott explained. "I think his statement was a bit inartfully drafted." Hmm.

The scary question for labor leaders is whether other state dominos may follow. The import of Indiana's legislation wasn't lost on neighboring Michigan, where state Republican lawmakers saw the victory as a source of momentum for the cause. Clark Lake Republican Mike Shirkey told Michigan's MLive that the Indiana legislation heralded "winds of change" on the labor landscape and that it could catch on in Arizona and Minnesota, too. So what if GOP Gov. Rick Snyder has declared his opposition, Mr. Shirkey said, "I'll carry it in and put it on my back so it doesn't have to touch his desk."

Outside the Midwest, other states have been on the brink of their own right-to-work legislation. New Hampshire passed the law last year but wasn't able to override the veto of Democratic Gov. John Lynch. Mr. Lynch is on his way out now, having given his last state of the state address earlier this week. The Granite State has been trending more conservative lately with Republicans taking over the state House in 2010 and increasing their control of the state Senate. With an upcoming gubernatorial election, the next two years may give the state a second crack at getting rid of compulsory union dues. The same goes for Montana, which has flirted with right-to-work over the objections of a Democratic governor."

Once upon a time, perhaps unions were necessary. That was long ago.

Today unions in the U.S. are an anachronism. Their relevance, raison d'etre, time and place have come and gone.

And they never were appropriate for the public sector, but that's another story for another time.

In the private sector today, U.S. unions are counterproductive to a firm's global competitiveness, and that's a bad thing. Simply put, companies have to compete for business with all comers.

But here's the good news for people who are free to choose what to do in a competitive environment for labor. Those employees with the skills and education will be in demand, and the world labor market will serve them well.

Accordingly, "in-demand" employees will have a bigger and global market in which to sell their services wherever they choose. And they'll be well compensated for their efforts. The free global marketplace for labor will work to their advantage.

For those employees whose jobs the unions now claim to be "protecting," I ask only this common sense question. Just how are they doing that?

Other than in a monopolistic situation, such as the public sector, they aren't if only because they can't. And my bet is that the take-it-from-the-taxpayers-public-sector monopoly won't last all that much longer either.

Union leaders are losing much of their stranglehold over our nation's economy, including both the private and public sectors. And that's a really good thing for the future of all Americans.

The times they are a changing. And for the better, too.

Thanks. Bob.

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