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Friday, September 10, 2010

Forced unionization hurts the economy

The individual worker should be allowed to decide if they want to be part of a union or not. Forced unionization is ultimately bad for the economy, as a recent study by the Fraser Institute demonstrates:

In a recently published Fraser Institute article, Richard Vedder, a professor of economics at Ohio University, summarized his research on the effects of worker-choice laws in the United States. He found an enormous migration into states with worker-choice laws from states without such laws. Specifically, from 2000 to 2009, approximately five million Americans moved from the 28 states without worker-choice laws to the 22 states with worker-choice laws. Prof. Vedder concludes that workers “flatly prefer a legal environment where the sale of their labour services is not constrained by laws requiring union dues payment.”
More importantly, Prof. Vedder finds that worker-choice states have higher rates of labour participation, lower unemployment rates, higher rates of economic growth and greater investment, even after controlling for a number of other factors such as tax burden, the level of education, the amount of land area, and population growth.
His research also estimates the impact of worker-choice laws on living standards, and finds that implementing a worker-choice law would increase a jurisdiction’s per person income by $2,800.
Several other studies buttress Prof. Vedder’s recent research. For example, Paul Kersey, in a study entitled “The Economic Effects of Right-to-Work Laws: 2007,” found that between 2001 and 2006, the economies of states that enacted worker-choice laws grew by 3.4% on average, compared to 2.6% in non-worker-choice states. Moreover, jobs grew by 1.2% annually in worker-choice states, while jobs in non-worker choice states grew by only 0.6% over the same period.

Read More at the Financial Post

Posted by Hugh MacIntyre on September 10, 2010 | Permalink

Comments

The individual worker should be allowed to decide if they want to be part of a union or not.

Just so long as that choice entails whether or not they get the benefits of the negotiated contract vs. applicable labour standard minimums. Fair's fair. No free riders.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2010-09-10 1:03:03 PM


Just so long as that choice entails whether or not they get the benefits of the negotiated contract vs. applicable labour standard minimums. Fair's fair. No free riders.

I don't follow.

If the employee is outside the union, the company should specifically preclude them from having any benefits that the unionized workers negotiated? Why?

The company should be able to make the decision to do that or not, on their own accord. Up to and including giving the non-unionized employees superior benefits out of pure spite if they wanted.

Posted by: Mike Brock | 2010-09-10 1:11:43 PM


Oh ... I think I follow. Given a false choice between minimum labour standards and more generous union contracts, workers would choose being part of the union. The thing is, the worker can just as easily negotiate for himself.

Posted by: Charles | 2010-09-10 1:31:04 PM


BWAHAHA! A union apologist complaining about free riders-priceless!

Posted by: Cytotoxic | 2010-09-10 2:51:30 PM


How about eliminating all labour related legislation leaving the workplace free to engage in contracts of their own making and of their own free will. If a company doesn't want a union involved in its enterprise it shouldn't have to have one regardless of how many workers agreed to form one. If the labour market is such that the company can't find employees outside of a bargaining unit then it has two choices, close shop or negotiate a contract. Right to work legislation is just as intrusive as labour legislation outlining formation of bargaining units and terms of contracts and wouldn't be necessary in a free market. Contract law, period.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2010-09-10 11:55:14 PM


"...so long as that choice entails whether or not they get the benefits of the negotiated contract vs. applicable labour standard minimums. Fair's fair. No free riders."

Even that would be a tempting offer if it meant access to advancement opportunities outside of the seniority rather than merit based structure unions like to negotiate for themselves.

Posted by: K Stricker | 2010-09-11 12:06:46 AM


Whether bad for the economy or not, forced union membership is against all principles and fundamental rights that normally is part of a liberal democracy.

For Pete's sake, even in Sweden, the mecca of unions, union membership is voluntary. But not in Canada, which is a total disgrace. And of course CPC does nothing about it. What a joke.

Posted by: Johan i Kanada | 2010-09-12 12:16:39 AM


To control population and eliminate the middle class, the first thing government must do is eliminate unions. Ongoing.
Next, expand the nanny state. Ongoing.
Next, brainwash the youth. Ongoing.
Next, continue to erode freedom. Ongoing.
Next, dumb down the masses. Ongoing.
Next, disarm the populace or severely restrict the ability to obtain weapons. Ongoing.
Individuals can not stand up to government misadventure and corruption but there is strength in numbers. Without Unions you get Cuba, Soviet Union, North Korea, Zimbabwe and many other countries where you just disappear if you disagree with the ruling elite.
I am not really pro union or even belong to a union at this time, but I am saying "be carefull what you wish for".
Unions built the middle class by setting a standard for wages and benefits that non-union companies had to meet to retain premium workers. Unions may cut into corporate profit and have certainly become too political. They are also responsible for sheltering drones and deadweight, often useless employees, but their elimination would also be the end of the middle class.
Research what life was like before unions. Ten hour workdays,six days a week and bring your own coal if you want heat.Get sick and miss work...you are replaced. Vacation. Unheard of. Get old, fired with no pension or medical.
Even a benevolant dictatorship can turn on a dime and suddenly you have a Hitler because there is no opposition and the population has been disarmed. Anyone who thinks this can not happen again or happen here has not studied their history. Unions are still the buffer between the rich and poor. All police even belong to unions. The army does not.Balance and buffer.
Be carefull what you wish for.
Union participation should be voluntary and not mandatory,but I would hate to see their elimination

Posted by: peterj | 2010-09-12 1:35:55 AM


Peter, this "unions are the foot soldiers of democracy" shtick is getting old. (Especially since street protesters also claim that mantle for themselves.) The sole reason that unions have been allowed to proliferate is because, in the early 20th century, governments got tired of shooting them. (And had they been able to see what we have today, they may have reconsidered their squeamishness.)

Unions routinely get away with vandalism, intimidation, and other thuggish behaviours that would send anyone else to jail. They have long been associated with violence and organized crime. Police, being unionized themselves, often have a see-no-evil attitude towards these actions, and even when charges are filed, judges are typically sympathetic, seeming to consider them the natural byproducts of "freedom of association."

Moreover, don't snow us. Unions did NOT build the middle class. Middle-class professionals do not even belong to unions. Unions are, and always have been, for the working class, and nowhere else will you find people more interested in perpetuating class-war stereotypes. These relics from the dirty thirties are long past their best-before date, and you know it well.

American settlers rose up against the British without unions. The institutions of democracy were inaugurated without unions. The slaves were freed without unions. Universal education was achieved without unions. Unions are not the guardians of freedom. They are merely quasi-political organizations in whom misguided governments have made the mistake of reposing real political power. It's time these master extortionists were reduced to their proper place.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-09-12 11:23:40 AM


peterj
I can argue that all of the improvements to the work place you mentioned were the result of labour demand and supply and increased industrial prosperity funding higher expectations. We'll never know, but having worked many years in a union environment, I do know that the current (private sector) adversarial union model only leads to the eventual destruction of their own jobs. Generally, most workers "needing" protection by unions are workers that deserve to be disciplined or fired, while good and skilled workers are revered. Artificially maintained ill-fitting interpersonal workplace environments are bad for all. Shit disturbers in one organization who have been successfully fired tend to admit later that after leaving and finding a better fit elsewhere that it was the best thing that could have happened to them. Unionized workplaces tend to become toxic and develop bad practices in management and labour. Most workplaces can have assholes at any level but it's the dynamic ones where changes can be made. Stratified unionized environments tend to become institutionalized.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2010-09-12 11:49:08 AM


Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-09-12 11:23:40 Unions routinely get away with vandalism, intimidation, and other thuggish behaviours that would send anyone else to jail.

And management does not ?. Works both ways. Unions owned the goons and management owned the police. If unions disappeared management would own the goons, courts and the police with the army as backup. Like it used to be a hundred years ago.

The sole reason that unions have been allowed to proliferate is because, in the early 20th century, governments got tired of shooting them. (And had they been able to see what we have today, they may have reconsidered their squeamishness.)

My point exactly. And what were working conditions like at the time? Is that what you want Shane ?.
I do not trust either side to use their power wisely.

"Moreover, don't snow us. Unions did NOT build the middle class. Middle-class professionals do not even belong to unions. Unions are, and always have been, for the working class".

Are we not shooting a bit too high here??. I am talking about the working class who vastly outnumber the professioanals.

"unions are the foot soldiers of democracy" shtick is getting old".

I agree with you completely and that was not my arguement.

Posted by: John Chittick | 2010-09-12 11:49:08 AM

I do know that the current (private sector) adversarial union model only leads to the eventual destruction of their own jobs.

All unions by nature are adversarial.It's the only bargaining chip they have.

I agree with the rest of your statement.

Anyway, all I was trying to say is that there has to be a balance and that there is strength in numbers. I still believe that power corrups and absolute power corrupts , absolutely. Without some balance I would not trust any of the players involved.

Posted by: peterj | 2010-09-12 6:38:44 PM


Unions have always stood for restricted choice. This has always hurt the consumer, and the worker himself, in the long run.

Banning unions would probably be equally bad, so I would support optional union membership.

Posted by: TM | 2010-09-12 8:13:50 PM


Peterj,

I certainly wouldn't condone banning unions, but a return to laws which respect freedom of contract would be my ideal. Increased unionization in the 1930's directly resulted in massive unemployment (prices were falling but wages were held up). Furthermore, working conditions steadily improved before unions ever had a significant foodhold in North America. There is no reason to believe that this would not have continued.

Unions did not create the middle class, productivity did.

Posted by: Charles | 2010-09-13 7:09:54 AM


    And management does not ?. Works both ways. Unions owned the goons and management owned the police. If unions disappeared management would own the goons, courts and the police with the army as backup. Like it used to be a hundred years ago.

You’re forgetting one very basic difference, Peter--the management owns the property, and has the right to protect it from those who would vandalize it, block access to it, harass replacement workers, and so on. Management violence was the result of worker violence, epitomized by the factory-wrecking, machine-breaking Luddites of the Industrial Revolution.

    My point exactly. And what were working conditions like at the time? Is that what you want Shane ?

They were generally shitty, because you had men doing work now mostly done by machines. Those machines aren’t going away, so those working conditions aren’t coming back. Ever.

    I do not trust either side to use their power wisely.

Not true; by supporting unions, you support their use of power.

    Are we not shooting a bit too high here??. I am talking about the working class who vastly outnumber the professioanals.

How do you figure that? Even in Canada the unionization rate is about 35%. In the U.S. it’s more like 15%. The middle class is now the largest of the traditional social “classes,” comprising nearly two-thirds of the total. Nor are all middle-class professionals of some sort. This is not 1900, Peter.

    I agree with you completely and that was not my arguement.

Well, yes, it was, because you have indicated that without unions, people are powerless to stand up to “government misadventure and corruption.” Moreover, the situation is currently unbalanced in favour of the unions, which is the point. Unions have demonstrated that they are incompetent to manage even their own affairs, much less an industry’s. They are like a clique of villagers who, in the face of a bad harvest, will use intimidation, force, or even violence to ensure that every man, woman, and child in the community starves to death rather than accept the indignity of two meals a day rather than three.

So put away all your pamphlets and manifestos, and instead read this: If your employer asks you to do something, you either do it, or you look for employment elsewhere. Don’t wait until after coffee break. Don’t wait until you get authorization from the local. Don’t attempt to offload it onto someone with less seniority. You do not control or own the means of production in any way, shape, form, wise, or semblance. You get paid for the work you do, not for the fire in your eyes or the bitterness in your guts. No law says you have to work for someone you don’t like.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-09-13 9:41:28 AM


Shane
"So put away all your pamphlets and manifestos, and instead read this: If your employer asks you to do something, you either do it, or you look for employment elsewhere".

You certainly jump to conclusions. I am the employer for all intents and purposes with 43 people under my care. Good people and non union.
I pride myself in treating them the same way I would like to be treated if the employee situation was reversed. Very low turnover and simply prudent from a business standpoint. But in the past I have learned that some of the people that employed me did not give a simple damn about the welfare of me or their employees. Profit was everything.( They have since outsourced to China).

I was trying to make a statement from a neutral point of view and as a avid student of history.

You stated:

"Well, yes, it was, because you have indicated that without unions, people are powerless to stand up to “government misadventure and corruption.” Moreover, the situation is currently unbalanced in favour of the unions, which is the point. Unions have demonstrated that they are incompetent to manage even their own affairs, much less an industry’s".

You seem to be missing a point here. Almost ALL government IS union, as are all crown corporations. One of the primary reasons incompetence seems so rampant when dealing with any department or level of government. They are still a buffer between what the government does and what it would like to do. Strength in numbers. The union movement in government has remained fairly stable and still sets the standard for wages and benefits which private enterprise must compete with if they want to retain their premium employees.
I did not say I liked this but that's simply the way it is, because government is always growing.
Need a lot of employees to run a nanny state.

I have seen both sides of the fence and still believe that absolute power on either side would be detrimental to the wellbeing of this country. Unions can be a absolute pain in the ass , but so can the power elite.
Like I said, I do not trust either side. I can live with the status quo.

Posted by: peterj | 2010-09-13 11:11:06 PM


I'm not missing anything, Peter; you simply haven't articulated your position very well. Upon being confronted with explaining your points, you've beat a hasty retreat from most of them, insisting that I have misunderstood. But it is your position that has altered. Your first post was extremely laudatory of unions in general; now, after most of your points have been rebutted, you say simply that you can "live" with the status quo. I have not misunderstood; you have mis-expressed. And, if the opinions you expressed in the first post were honestly held, YOU have misunderstood the situation from the first.

It's in the nature of some employers to not give a crap. These tend to be the hard-driving, cut-throat types for whom making money is as psychologically essential as breathing, and who have long forgotten the time when it was merely an obsession. Or perhaps they're decent folk who are merely at risk of losing everything. That's a stake few workers have, or can understand. In any case, there are always other companies to work for. No one is compelled to stay with a company that does not give them their due.

Yes, I'm aware that government is almost all union, and for that matter, almost all female. It explains the especially rancorous contract negotiations. Women aren't as violent as men, but they find ways to make things just as ugly. The BCTF, for instance, has yet to negotiate a single contract successfully since they unionized in 1987. (Even the NDP had no luck with them.) They send pamphlets home to parents, using their own students as mules in their union PR blitzes. They regularly commit insubordination by pleading with parents to withdraw their children from standardized tests they must by law take. Firing an incompetent teacher is almost impossible, and their salaries are totally out of line with the work they do. They START at 41K a year, which is well above what the market would bear. Who pays? We pay.

Perhaps you can live with the status quo, but fewer and fewer other Canadians appear willing to do that. More and more Canadians are opting for careers which keep a healthy distance between themselves and unions. And compelling a prospective employee to join a union as a condition of employment is a breach of his Charter right to NOT peacefully assemble, should he NOT wish to do so, which was the initial point made by this thread.

As I said, in their current form, unions are a relic of the Dirty Thirties, a time so remote that few still living have any memory of it. A great deal has changed since then, most conspicuously the shift from an industrial to a service economy. It's time they were either updated to fit the modern era or eliminated entirely.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-09-14 7:15:50 AM


Shane

"Your first post was extremely laudatory of unions in general; now, after most of your points have been rebutted, you say simply that you can "live" with the status quo. I have not misunderstood; you have mis-expressed. And, if the opinions you expressed in the first post were honestly held, YOU have misunderstood the situation from the first"

I have gone over my first post and have difficulty finding the part that you see as laudatory. I thought it was rather neutral, historically factual and worthy of discussion.
My final statement was:
"Be carefull what you wish for.
Union participation should be voluntary and not mandatory,but I would hate to see their elimination".

"now, after most of your points have been rebutted, you say simply that ..........".

Nothing has been rebutted.You stated your opinion as I did mine.

"And compelling a prospective employee to join a union as a condition of employment is a breach of his Charter right to NOT peacefully assemble, should he NOT wish to do so, which was the initial point made by this thread".

So very true and if you actually read my post instead of just skimming it, you would find that I agree.

The rest is just where I see a potential danger and a lack of trust for either side to do what's right if all checks and balance is removed.

Because I can live with the status quo does not mean I like it.Just the mention of the BCGEU is enough to send me to the liquor cabinet.

Toast.

Posted by: peterj | 2010-09-14 12:57:55 PM


    I have gone over my first post and have difficulty finding the part that you see as laudatory. I thought it was rather neutral, historically factual and worthy of discussion.

Only on the last count were you correct, Peter. The unions did not build the middle class; they built the working class. Unions are not necessary for people to take back power from overbearing governments; the most famous examples accomplished it without them. Working conditions have improved even in countries with no unions whatever, like Japan.

    Nothing has been rebutted.You stated your opinion as I did mine.

I suggest you look up "working class," "middle class," "American Revolution," and "French Revolution," Peter. Your history could do with a refresher. Without these critical points, your argument simply is not supportable. Beware the man who builds his house on sand.

    So very true and if you actually read my post instead of just skimming it, you would find that I agree.

That's one point we agree on. It was the others that I took issue with, which is fair.

    The rest is just where I see a potential danger and a lack of trust for either side to do what's right if all checks and balance is removed.

Labour standards, safety legislation, and workman's compensation will not disappear if the pickets come down forever, Peter. In fact, if the ONLY things unions did was picket while on strike, I'd have much less trouble with them. I do not think government unions should be allowed to strike, however, because the government, unlike GM, is an essential service. Police and firefighters are already barred from striking, yet they seem to have little trouble commanding decent salaries for their work.

    Because I can live with the status quo does not mean I like it.Just the mention of the BCGEU is enough to send me to the liquor cabinet.

Just the mention of the BCTF is enough to send me to the weapons lockup. Salud.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-09-14 7:22:44 PM


As much as one should praise the cause of destroying unionism, that cannot happen until that other socialism by another name, corporatism, is also disposed of. In the end, the corporation is an extension of the state. And it is protected by the state, thanks to a myriad of regulations and legislation that assures that it promotes an anti-liberty agenda.

Posted by: AB Patriot | 2010-09-20 9:22:51 PM


I don't like the Left-wing political activism that unions poke their noses into. Unions forever lobbying government on a myriad of Left-wing hobby horses. I have seen unions lobby on issues totally unrelated to the workplace such for gay and abortion rights, the so-called plight of Palestinians, push for early childhood indoctrination..I mean education, the battle climate change as the Left sees it, etc.

Posted by: StanleyR | 2010-09-20 10:54:57 PM



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