There was a time when American laborers were underpaid, worked to the bone, in constant danger of injury, with no job security or rights, and in desperate need of protection. That was a long time ago.
Labor unions became prominent in a world where business owners had every right and laborers had none. Unions were born out of desperation when work environments became insufferable and workers banded together to overthrow oppression. Their necessity and power sprang out of a state of emergency.
That is not the world we live in today. Since that time, we have passed federal and state laws that guarantee worker rights, restrict child labor, require safety precautions, et cetera. Unions were needed to bring these things about.
Today, unions have accomplished their original purpose. The state of emergency is over, and the time has come for unions to give up their emergency powers.
There has been much hullabaloo about Wisconsin’s recent decision to limit government employees’ collective bargaining rights. This decision peels away public unions’ abilities to bargain benefits, but leaves them the right to negotiate wages.
Where is the problem here?
Collective bargaining pits employees against owners. Employees work for the owners’ benefit; the owner compensates employees. There is a balance of give and take.
Who is the owner that government employees bargain against? Us. Where is the give to justify this take? Taxpayers fund the government, but we are not the same as business owners. We do not gain directly from the labor of public employees.
Unions hold hostage the public good when they demand taxpayers shoulder the financial burden of state employee benefits.
Wisconsin’s decision could be the first block pulled from the tumbling tower of labor unions. If it topples, we will not be hurdled back into a world of sweatshops. Our rights as workers are protected by laws and by the nature of a competitive market.
If an employer today were to cut wages to $3 an hour, no one would work for him and his business would fail. The work environment that unions have helped to achieve is one where it is in the best interest of a business to treat its employees well.
Thank you, unions. We appreciate it. But you are like a parent whose job is to bring us to a place where we can stand without you. Great job – we no longer need you.