It’s been a while since I’ve written on the topic of labor unions and their (generally) negative affect on the American worker. I find the following information enlightening:
In 2008, when a mere 7.6% of all private-sector workers belonged to labor unions, 26.9% of utility companies’ employees did so—utilities being, in most cases, regulated monopolies retaining considerable power to set their own rates. And, of course, the only “industry” where unions have flourished in the past 40 years has been government, the ultimate monopoly. The same Bureau of Labor Statistics report shows that 36.8% of public-sector employees were union members last year. (To put the point another way, while private-sector workers were more than five times as numerous as public-sector ones in 2008-108 million compared to 21 million—the number of private-sector unionized employees was only 6% larger than the number of public-sector ones, 8.3 million versus 7.8 million. Unless the trends that have held for decades are reversed, the majority of American union members will soon be government employees.)
Unions were created back in the day to prevent monopolies from abusing workers. Now, the unions are only welcomed by monopolies (or maybe the monopolies are only welcomed by unions). Broadly speaking, those industries which are heavily unionized are unable to find the cost savings to weather economic downturns (recessions) such as we now find ourselves in. Why? Well, they have a higher unmovable cost of doing business than comparable non-unionized industries. Therefore, they don’t find cost savings–they find more taxpayer funds to offset their otherwise decreased revenue streams. This is why, in part, the majority of union members will soon be government employees–government (at the federal level for certain–and at the state and local level with the “stimulus” funding approach) don’t have to be competitive or stay within budget.
The above article quoted a bit from Lori Roman (about as dyed-in-the-wool Detroit as one could get). I found the following, where she recounts some of her own experiences with the UAW:
For instance, I had an employee who punched in his time card and then disappeared. The rules were such that I had to spend hours documenting that this man was not in his three foot by three foot work area. I needed witnesses, timed reports, calls over the intercom and a plant wide search all documented in detail. After this absurdity I decided to go my own route; I called the corner bar and paged him and he came to the phone. I gave him a 30 day unpaid disciplinary lay off because he was a “repeat offender”. When he returned he thanked me for the PAID vacation. I scoffed, until he explained: (1) He had tried to get the lay off because it was fishing season; (2) The UAW negotiated with GM Labor Relations Department to give him the time WITH PAY.
I can only imagine the frustration.