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article imageOp-Ed: Unions a shrinking albatross to taxpayers and free enterprise

By Larry Clifton     Jan 23, 2013 in Politics
Unions have become an albatross to American companies and to state, local and federal governments. They cripple companies with strikes and union workers aren’t more productive than other workers despite being paid more.
Beyond that, unions are busting government pension plans and leaving nonunion taxpayers to clean up their deficit-funding messes.
The sharp decline of big unions in America is clearly evident in a recent decline in union membership. According to a report published Wednesday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union membership fell from 11.8 percent to 11.3 percent of all workers – a drop of about 400,000 members. At 14.4 million, union membership in the U.S. is at the lowest level since the 1930s.
As more U.S. companies struggle to stay afloat in a global economy, the future looks ominous for unions. They just don’t work well in a global economy, and that’s the future.
Unionized government workers account for more than half of the union losses, or about 234,000 union jobs. After accumulating about $6 trillion in public debt over the past four years, the federal government is no longer handing out stimulus grants to state and local governments like Halloween candy. This means that all of those extra government workers that were hired with grant money have to be cut loose in a bad economy.
During the recent anemic so-called economic recovery, the private sector has added jobs, which at one time would have produced a slight increase in union jobs. Not anymore. Union membership fell from 6.9 percent to 6.6 percent in the private sector during the lack-luster economic recovery” as companies tightened their payrolls and cut corporate fat. Job growth, while moderate, has generally taken place at nonunion firms.
"To employers, it's going to look like the labor movement is ready for a knockout punch," said Gary Chaison, professor of industrial relations at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. "You can't be a movement and get smaller."
While “knockout punch” may be somewhat strong verbiage, taxpayers are certainly showing less compassion and tolerance for union strikes and most believe union pension plans are scandalous and collectively unsustainable.
Public animosity over last year’s Chicago teachers strike and failed recall of Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker, who restricted union bargaining, are testimony to a shift in public opinion against unions. Wisconsin shed about 46,000 union members last year, mostly in the public sector. Government workers make up about 51 percent of all union workers.
In Indiana, a new right-to-work law that took effect last March shrank union membership in that state by 56,000 members.
Unions have long been allowed to force workers to pay union dues even if they didn’t want to join their organization. Wisconsin, Michigan and Indiana killed that golden goose legislation and more states are considering introducing similar right-to-work laws - a clear sign of union fatigue in an increasingly global marketplace.
Meanwhile, older union workers are not being replaced by young union members at traditional rates as more U.S. governments and companies shift to automation, outsourcing and nonunion labor in order to compete with companies in Europe, Asia, South America.
It is the future, it is the way forward - like it or not.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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