August 10 2011
Unions Out of Touch with Reality
Nicole Kurokawa Neily
Early this morning, the last results for the Wisconsin recall election trickled in… and it looks like the unions spent over $14 million to defeat only 2 state senators (check out this excellent infographic by our friends at the MacIver Institute that tracks the money!) For those of you keeping track at home, that’s $7 million per seat – in the ballpark of what Rod Blagojevich, my former home state’s governor, dreamt about getting for Obama’s US Senate seat!
It’s funny… but it’s also sad, because it reflects the skewed priorities of union leadership. After all, that $14 million came from dues paid by hardworking union members – many of who could have probably used that money in their pockets. Instead, those dues were spent on a political wild goose chase that wasted the time and money not only of union employees, but also of taxpayers across Wisconsin (hey, those ballots don’t count themselves, folks.)
Unfortunately, it seems like union leadership remains more concerned with maintaining power than on the welfare of their members. It’s no small wonder that union membership has been declining for the past several years – why on earth would you want to pay into an organization that flagrantly wastes your money?
Carrie wrote yesterday about the Verizon strike in Pennsylvania, which is another example of how tone-deaf unions are to changing workplace dynamics. I love this part:
Unions and workers are understandably reluctant to give up perks they've enjoyed for years. Yet the long-term health of the company - and indeed the American economy - rests on remaining competitive. Striking workers should consider how long companies will continue to operate less productive, more costly endeavors. If they succeed in defending their salaries and full benefits, how long will those jobs last?
In forcing companies to adhere to one-size-fits all compensation packages (which may be outsized), companies have less incentive to hire additional workers, or to work with employees to craft personalized work plans. Ossified business practices harms workers by decreasing flexibility - which, of course, will harm women, who often benefit from such arrangements.
If companies – and state governments – must make changes to compensation packages in order to remain solvent and competitive, union officials need to recognize that if the ship sinks, their members also go down with the boat.