Although rarely looked at as such by the
typical person, labor is an economic transaction. It’s a simple trade —
one where the worker willingly gives to his employer, in exchange for
monetary and benefit compensation, the use of his physical and mental
services. As with any free market economic activity, either party can
prevent ongoing transactions, whether such termination is based on
dissatisfaction with what the exchange garners or on the influence of
supply and demand in the micro- and macro-markets.
Basically, the act of employment is really no different from making a
purchase at the local grocery store.
Unions, though, don’t see it that way. Whereas non-unionized employment
sees equal strength and value between worker and the company, unionized
plants are different. There, the workers are granted dominance in the
transaction and the standard rules of fair and equal trade are thrown
out the window. Through its perverse leftist outlook, organized labor
views any given job as a right rather than a privilege.
This union stranglehold, coupled with unwavering support from a
government that creates laws and regulations granting favor to
collective units, can have an adverse effect on employers, forcing them
to enter long-term contracts which can signal the death knell for even
the most vibrant of businesses.
Look no further than General Motors for a prime example. The company
went into bankruptcy for a variety of reasons, none greater than the
issue of legacy costs which were brought on by decades of union
bullying. The United Auto Workers forced GM into a cradle-to-grave
approach for their human resource activities, making the company pay
lavish pensions and provide lifetime health care. From the start, this
business model (which smacks of Social Security and Medicare) was
doomed. Matters worsened as GM lost a great deal of its market share
when foreign manufacturers came to the United States and, without the
union influences that saddled GM, were able to provide high-quality
vehicles at lower prices while maintaining American-based manufacturing
(despite the foreign label). As this occurred, GM saw its employment
drop from 811,000 to 324,000 over the 20-year period from 1985 to 2005.
That left the output of every worker to somehow provide for every 2.5
retirees. In 2006 retired workers accounted for two-thirds of GM’s
health care costs.
As we well know, that was impossible to maintain. GM went bankrupt and
was subsequently bailed out — or rather the UAW workforce was bailed out
— by the federal government to the tune of $50 billion. It should be
noted that union-led socialism killed a once powerful private enterprise
while federal-led socialism forced it back to life utilizing the
resources of a formerly strong economy. Such is the perpetual self
destruction associated with market intervention. Had the free markets
been left to flourish from the start — i.e., with no unionization — GM
as we knew it would have been a sustainable company which could have
survived without government assistance.
It’s patently obvious that unions are dangerous. This is true not only
at GM, but also in workplaces across America, including the public
sector where unions have financially doomed such states as New York and
California. Even so, this basic economic concept is not understood by —
nor is faith in the free market held by — the federal government.
Instead, the government assumes that the economy cannot flourish on its
own and that government and union control over the markets is best for
what ails us (ironically, the government cannot see that such a mindset
is exactly what ails our sickened economy).
The Obama administration has taken this union protection and promotion
to unprecedented heights. It’s common knowledge that President Obama and
the National Labor Relations Board have wreaked havoc upon many an
employer as we attempt to crawl out of the recession.
None of the NLRB’s haphazard efforts has been so widely scrutinized and
justifiably-derided as its attempt to squash Boeing’s ongoing
development by penalizing the company for choosing right-to-work South
Carolina for expansion rather than Washington State, where unions have
been a thorn in Boeing’s side for years.
While focusing intently on this NLRB misstep, many media outlets have
missed something as equally sinister that will affect every employer in
the United States. The NLRB, under its regulation introduced August 30
which will take effect November 14, will require that all employers who
engage in interstate commerce post at their worksites an 11” x 17”
poster which lists employees’ rights.
Of course, the rights enumerated on the poster are pro-union. The
signage must indicate that employees have the right to join a union,
engage in collective bargaining, and go on strike. Similarly, it must
also say that employers cannot take adverse action against union
supporters, prohibit union talk during non-work hours, or threaten
closure if a union is formed.
The NLRB has never before required employers to post notices at their
facilities; it’s debatable if it even has the power to do so. The
purpose of the organization is to oversee union elections and
investigate unfair labor practices.
It’s obvious that the NLRB’s intent — as illegal and unconstitutional as
it may be — is to promote unionization. This comes at a time when
private sector union enrollment has reached a low (6.9 percent) not seen
since the inception of 1929’s Wagner Act which says employers must allow
and negotiate with unions. The NLRB and the Obama administration want to
reverse that trend and make the private sector unionization rate match
that of the public sector (36%).
This poster will serve as free advertising for unions — mandated
advertising no less — by planting the seed for their consideration in
workplaces where they may never have been contemplated. With the
mainstream media painting corporations as “evil,” our President
identifying the high achievers as “too rich,” and layoffs always on the
horizon because of market uncertainty, there may be many young, scared,
or easily-brainwashed workers who, upon seeing the union ad, might
strive to bring such an organization to their workplace. Up to six
million employers could be impacted by this ruling and its consequences.
Frankly, these are dangerous times in our economy and the NLRB is making
them more so.
With less than two months to go, there still is time to stop the NLRB’s
insanity from becoming a reality. It’s imperative that entrepreneurs,
managers, and workers who understand the harsh reality of unionization
contact their Congressmen and ask them to support Representative Ben
Quayle’s bill, HR 2833. Introduced earlier this month, it would reverse
the NLRB’s decision. Considering that the House on September 15 (in
defense of Boeing and other companies facing similar obstacles) passed a
bill to prevent the NLRB from mandating where employers can and cannot
set up shop, there is traction to overturn the poster requirement.
If the requirement isn’t overturned, thousands of these posters will
soon be replaced by “closed for business” signs, furthering the decline
of our economy — one that is unable to achieve the wonders of free
market capitalism because we have Big Government and Big Labor working
together to do everything they can to ensure that it doesn’t.