Union lords and their vassals

The purpose of unions used to be the protection of workers. But nowadays many employees working in forced unionism states look for ways to escape the iron grip of their alleged protectors.

In Non-Right-To-Work or forced unionism states unions have built a formidable barrier between a worker and a job. There is only one gate and it’s guarded by the union: to pass through it the worker has to submit to the union by becoming a member and paying its dues. Without this act of submission to the union with which the worker buys his right to work from the union there is no job. If the worker should ever violate the pact with the union by not paying the union’s dues, the company is bound by contract to fire the worker.

The worker does not enter into the contract with the union voluntarily. He has no choice. He is forced to accept the union’s terms if he wants the job.

Twenty-eight states in the US are forced unionism states; 22 are not. Those states are called Right-to-Work states where the worker has the right to work without being forced to join a union. If he so wishes he can work without joining a union. However, if he wants to join a union he is free to do so. It’s up to him to decide.

But in forced-unionism states the worker has to buy the right to work from the union. Union membership is the price of the job. Joining the union is reminiscent of a forced rite of passage that bonds the worker to the union. The pact between the union and the worker is akin to a modern variant of serfdom – all the while being packaged under the false label of protecting the worker against the company that offers the job.

Why do unions see it in their interest to force workers to join them? Why not bargain only for those that want to be bargained for? Let the others do their own bargaining – it’s a free country after all.

It is devastating for the reputation of unions to have to admit that they can no longer attract many workers voluntarily.  And judging by their actions they seem to be well aware of it. Otherwise it’s hard to explain the aggressiveness with which unions treat anyone who dares to challenge them. Offense is the best defense.

According to the Department of Labor, 20.1% of all workers in 1983 were unionized compared to 11.9% in 2010. Since 1983 union membership in the private sector has continuously declined. In 2010, only 6.9% of private sector workers belonged to a union. In contrast, 36.2% of public service workers were union members in 2010.

Unions depend on forced unionism simply because for them it’s the only way to get rich. For unions Non-Right-To-Work states are like geese laying golden eggs. Union leaders must have the workers’ dues money to pay for the fulfillment of their political ambitions.  Where else would the vast amounts of money they crave come from? As has been shown repeatedly over the last years, workers who are no longer forced to pay union dues will in all likelihood stop paying them.

Union leaders have come to regard unions as their personal power tools to gain political influence. By amassing fortunes from forced dues and using the money to support union friendly candidates and politicians, union leaders have become key players in politics. They are now powerful enough to make and unmake Presidents. Barack Obama reveals the depth of his debt to the unions when he writes in his book The Audacity of Hope, “So I owe these unions. When their leaders call, I do my best to call them back right away. I don’t consider this corrupting in any way.”

As a presidential candidate President Obama was in a similar situation to a worker in a forced unionism state who has to sign his IOU and hand it to the union guard at the gate to gain access to a job.  A bound president is now conscientiously paying back his debt in installments. The WSJ reports today in a front page article on the latest one:

The National Labor Relations Board Tuesday proposed the most sweeping changes to the federal rules governing union organizing elections since 1947, giving a boost to unions that have long called for the agency to give employers less time to fight representation votes.

The NLRB’s proposals would likely compress the time between a formal call for a vote by workers on whether to join a union, and the election itself. It is the latest in a series of actions by the board and other agencies controlled by Obama administration appointees that respond to labor leaders’ calls for more union friendly federal labor policies.