Public-sector unions: Killed by their own hands

One of the favorite whipping boys for conservatives is labor unions.  The usual charges are that unions drive up production costs, and worse, they support the Democrats.

It is difficult to understand why private-sector unions still support Democrats.  For example, Obama and Hillary promised to bankrupt the coal industry, which has resulted in the loss of over 75,000 coal miners, and Obama disallowed the Keystone Pipeline, which cost thousands of jobs to unions members such as Teamsters, plumbers, laborers, machinists, and operating engineers.  In both cases, Obama did the bidding of the environmental groups over the interests of workers in labor unions and non-union employees.

The power of private-sector unions is now weak – and their decline has led to growth in the power of the federal government in matters dealing with employment issues.  It is circular, because the growth of the federal government has decreased the need for unions.

Employers and unions negotiate over terms of employment such as wages, overtime, vacations, leaves of absence, safety, pensions, health care, and job protections.  But the federal government has passed laws such as OSHA to deal with safety and family leave to deal with leaves of absence.  The EEOC deals with job protection, and Obamacare deals with health insurance. 

The result of this is that the employment relationship is largely governed by federal bureaucrats instead of a company and a union negotiating terms for their specific company.  It has weakened unions.

When a union tries to organize employees to form a union, the question is always "what can you do for me?"  The answer is very little, because the government does much, so why pay union dues?  About the only job protection a union can offer is for a white male under age forty.

The principle of subsidiary is that decisions are best made at the local level, closest to the people involved, where they can participate.  This applied to a local union negotiating with an employer, where both knew the local issues and crafted a contract to deal with such issues.  But for the most part, this is gone, replaced by the power of the federal government.

Of course, unions are largely to blame for this result.  They supported the Democrats to pass all the laws that have made many labor unions unnecessary and irrelevant.  Moreover, many unions established their International headquarters in Washington, D.C., far removed from their members, and the international presidents joined the D.C. insiders, spending more time at Burning Tree golfing, similar to other lobbyists.  They contributed lots of money and manpower to the Democrats, who passed laws to put unions out of business.

The sad result is taking power away from the workers and employers at the local level and transferring it to the federal government as part of the nanny state, with unions becoming just another lobbying group.