Who’s Really Dying
It’s somewhat amusing how the media is continually attempting to write the obituary for the Tea Party. Apparently, based on their news stories, we all collectively decided to surrender and go home after the overwhelming victories of the 2010 mid-term elections. So I thought it would be prudent for me to write my own version of a death notice. The only difference between mine and the main stream media’s is who turns out to be the deceased.
The way I see it the grim reaper is actually coming for the unions. Yes, I know they’ve certainly made a lot of press with their valiant and often violent last stands. If you ask anyone from either side of the aisle they will tell you that the recall effort against Governor Walker in Wisconsinis one of the most important election issues of our life time. Contrary to this line of thought I believe it is one of the most irrelevant items to be concerned with.
Union membership has been in a fairly steady decline since its peak of 35% back in the mid 50’s. It set an all-time record low last year with a rate of just 11.7%. This came in spite of all the noise unions made in Wisconsin and Ohio. As more and more states continue to opt in as Right to Work states where union membership can no longer be a mandatory condition of employment, union membership will continue its decline.
It’s not Republicans, or the Tea Party, or any type of legislation, or even corporate conspiracies that are killing the unions. It’s the reality that the unions themselves are committing suicide that is doing them in. When union demands create an noncompetitive environment, companies are forced to act. When union big wigs get rich off union dues, it’s the rank and file that must act. When members see their dues going to political coffers instead of retirement funds, it’s these same members that become disillusioned with the whole arrangement. And when simple math says that the paying of union dues typically offset any gains from even being part of the union, union members begin asking serious questions about what value they are getting for their dollars.
Reality is killing the unions and try as he might even Obama can’t cure this terminal patient. When companies need to compete globally they must create a competitive environment in order to survive. This might mean moving operations to a more cooperative labor state. It might mean opting for contract labor over direct labor. It might mean sending labor off shore. Or, it might even mean applying more automation to do away with the human labor element all together. None of these solutions involves revitalizing union membership. The left may think they are reviving the unions, but in reality they are simply acting as the pall bearers.