If you have concluded, like I have, that 21st century labor unions in America nearly always create more harm than good, and if you have concluded, like I have, that the fight against union power is increasingly tilted in favor of the unions, it is easy to become overwhelmed. After all, the primary focus of CIV FI is to explore ways to restore financial sustainability to public institutions, and more generally, to our economic life in the wake of the debt bubble. Why is more and more of our content focused on the rise of unions?
It isn’t as though unions never had a place in our national dialogue, or a role in the fight to implement humane work rules, workplace safety, and better wages. But even as many of my liberal friends often proclaim, the role once relegated to unions now belongs under the government – and the role of government in this regard should be to create uniform basic minimums that employers must adhere to, not become unionized itself, and create laws and regulations that favor unionized employees to the detriment of everyone else.
There are so many facets to the abuse, corruption, wealth-destruction, economic decline, loss of freedoms, undermining of democracy, extortion and outright theft that comes with unions today, that volumes could be written about the problem. Public sector unions have hijacked our public employee workforces, taken away their incentives to excel, bribed them with over-market wages and ridiculously over-market benefits, introduced massive inefficiencies to government operations, ruined our system of public education, bankrupt our government entities in the process, bought our elections, control our politicians, and now they are using the power they’ve achieved in government to go back out and recapture the private sector.
If you don’t believe any of this, and especially if you do believe all of this, you may wish to refer to the following information sources to further understand just how far union power now extends, and also to learn how to join the fight to stop them before it’s too late. This list includes resources focused on California – because if we can stop them here we have a real chance to stop them in the rest of the nation:
Public Sector Union Reform – Online Resources
Citizens Power Campaign – a political action committee working to reform California’s public sector unions through the initiative process, and their sister site for community building, Unplug The Political Machine.
Pension Tsunami – daily links to news reports nationwide on public sector unions and the pension crisis (sign up for daily text email).
Cal Watchdog – good source of public employee union activity and government waste in general. Read “Plunder – How Public Employee Unions are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our Lives and Bankrupting the Nation” by Cal Watchdog Editor Steven Greenhut.
National Right to Work Committee – combats compulsory unionization nationwide.
Public Service Research Council – information and updates to fight union control of government.
Center for Union Facts – information about the political activities of unions and cases of union corruption.
Free Enterprise Nation – fights redistribution from taxpayers to government employees and their allies.
National Institute on Money in State Politics – tracks election spending by state and by interest group.
California Fair Political Practices Commission – database of political expenditures and donations.
What defenders of unions frequently assert is that unions are necessary in order to help guarantee a “living wage” to workers. While this sounds reasonable, it has been taken to extremes. For example, in California’s public sector, unionized state and local workers average $60K in wages and $40K in benefits per year, while private sector workers average $40K in wages and $10K in benefits per year. And even $100K per year isn’t enough to live a middle-class lifestyle – because in order to pay the over-market wages to unionized public sector employees, higher taxes and hidden taxes have inflated the prices for housing, utilities and consumer goods. The irony is deep. Public employees could afford to make less, if they made less! Instead they are barely breaking even, impoverishing the rest of us, and destroying the free-market economy that tax revenue depends on.
As goes California, so goes the nation.