Saturday, March 5, 2011

On Wisconsin, Ohio, etc.

I've had another thought on the union situation in Wisconsin and many other states. I'd like to frame a situation, and pose a question to many of my more Left-minded friends, if you all will be kind enough to consider what I say.

Let's start with a situation where workers have decided to organize into a union. When the workers organize, they gain the ability to strike. Even if the strike is illegal or unofficial, it may happen in the form of workers suddenly all taking a "sick day" at the same time. (Teachers: What kind of example is that to set for your students, to fake a note from the doctor to get out of class?)

Now, let's stack the deck. We give the union the power to tell employer that they have no ability to deal with anyone not in the union. This means that anyone going to work joins the union automatically, whether they wanted to or not. This also means that the employer can't replace people who are employed but don't want to work, with people who are unemployed that do want to work. Sucks if you're unemployed but want to work, right? Also sucks if you're employed but you don't necessarily agree with the people running the union.

In these circumstances, the union has the power to destroy the employer. If the employer can't make people work, and can't replace them with people who want to work, the union can run them to the ground by forcing them into self-destructive contracts. It has happened before, with Eastern Airlines. It's happened with the factories in Detroit.

I'm not saying that the teachers in Wisconsin want to destroy the public education system there, I'm sure that they don't. I'm not saying that they want to destroy the state government which is their employer. But here is my question: Should any organization, union or otherwise, have the power to bring an elected State government to its knees? Is there any person that can be trusted with that kind of power? Even good people, wise people, educated people with the best of intentions can end up abusing power. Everyone is flawed. How do you keep that kind of power in check?

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