The Decline of Unions

It’s time to say goodbye to unions. Their time has come and gone. The real original value of unions have long since been replaced by state and federal laws that drive a significant amount of basic workers rights, and the labor market itself now drives a majority of the salary and benefits needs for most organizations.  Of course, you would have to believe in discipline as a means to long term success for this to make sense, and that’s just not the case in the world of the Left.

It’s quite possible that unions will survive for quite some time, but not because they are necessary. Since they have limited value to union members, they are becoming more and more desperate to find ways to stay alive.

This week, the Iowa General Assembly has been dealing with a piece of legislation designed to provide more money to public employee unions (which will presumably include state, city, county, and school districts) by allowing the unions to lift the money out of the pockets of non-union members. The law is referred to as the “Fair Share Fee”, and essentially is intended to provide a fair payment by non-union members for the work done to represent their needs in the collective bargaining process.

This is bad law.

It will only provide CPR for a limited time. The fact is, this is going to cost taxpayers money, and is just going to set the unions up to fail in the long run.

Because many union members are members for only one reason: collective bargaining.

The bill allows the unions to take enough money from non-members to cover the collective bargaining costs, but not other union services (lobbying costs, contributions to charitable orgs, political campaigning).  Once union members figure out they can get what they really need for less money, they’ll drop the union and go with the “Fair Share” fee.  The current text of the bill (source: Iowa General Assembly Bill Book) reads, in part:

For purposes of determining the fair share fee, the amount of the fair share fee shall not exceed the regular membership dues paid by members of the employee organization and shall not include any share of the costs incurred by the employee organization for fraternal, ideological, political, or other activities not germane to collective bargaining, contract administration, the adjustment of grievances, or the pursuit of other matters affecting wages, hours, and other conditions of employment. Costs that shall be excluded from the fair share fee include but are not limited to costs for social events; lobbying on issues or for purposes other than the negotiation, ratification, or implementation of a collective bargaining agreement; voter registration training; efforts to increase voting; political campaign techniques; supporting or contributing to charitable organizations; and supporting or contributing to religious or other ideological causes.

I’d say let this legislation go if I thought it would, by itself, cause the full demise of unions in Iowa.  Since it only impacts public employees, by itself it can’t have that much impact.  More likely, we’ll see a few years of this, then a few years of hand-wringing because we figure out that non-members are really not treated fairly by this law, but undoing the law will become problematic because too many contracts will have been negotiated with the new law and the cost of undoing it will make it unpalatable (no one will want the deal we handed businesses with the touch-play fiasco).  Then we’ll start to think the only way to make it work is to allow contracts to start requiring all employees to be union members.  And then we’ll be forced to put that onto Iowa businesses as well.  It’s a slippery slope.  Just like Gambling.  And Local-Option Sales Tax.

Elected local officials throughout the state are opposed to this bill.  Non-union workers are opposed to this bill.  Fair-minded Iowans are opposed to this bill.  The Minority Republicans in the State Senate are so opposed that they locked themselves in a room for a day (an action I don’t support, however, but it tells you how convinced they are that this is wrong).  Only the unions really want it.  It makes me wonder why the Majority Democrats are so hot to make this happen.  This is the party that typically sticks up for the individual, but now wants to stick up for fat cats in the unions.

Unions have not needed this kind of special treatment in the past, they have been able to run their operations just fine so far (oh, is union membership dropping?).   Nothing about the economy should change that.  This is a blatant money grab and, on the part of the politicians, it appears to be a power grab, or at least a means to maintain power.

It should not be considered a coincidence that the primary tool being used to soften the non-members is the same tool the government devised over 70 years ago to fleece tax-payers without them felling it … withholding.  Yes, this fee is going to simply be withheld from people’s checks like the federal and state withholding for taxes are.  And that is the biggest scam the government has pulled on us ever.

And last, but not least, the bill introduces a provision for non-union members to challenge the fee.  So, instead of just setting an amount, or a process that makes it iron-clad, the bill will essentially create more work (read “money”) for lawyers and more bureaucracy.   You should not be surprised.

This is not the end.  The politicians (I can’t really say it’s just on the Left either) will always be looking for ways to separate you from your money.  We need to be on guard, and we need to make sure our representatives know what we think AND that we’re watching… even if you didn’t vote for your representative, they still represent you.  Call them (complete list of all members of the General Assembly… click your rep and you’ll find their phone number), email them (Senate email list, House email list), you know the drill.  Debate will occur on Monday, so hop to it!

About the Author

Mr. Smith is the Publisher of The Conservative Reader. He is Partner/Owner of Ambrosia Web Technology as well as a Systems Architect for Wells Fargo. Art hold a degree in Computer Science from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and is a political blogger at the Des Moines Register. Art's views are purely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wells Fargo.

 

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