Monday, February 8, 2010

Barone - Unions Bleed Taxpayers

Michael Barone pens another superb piece on the economic hurdles imposed by unions on taxpayers, consumers, and business. Some very alarming trends are emerging. The article points out that private-sector union ranks are collapsing (a good thing), yet more than a third of public-sector employees are now unionized ( a scary factoid). Unions are no longer stewards of decent wages, improved workplace conditions, and agents of disenfranchised stakeholders. They are the new entitled fat-cats that have been very effective at eroding America's competitive advantage in key industrial and manufacturing sectors. From a sustainability and corporate responsibility perspective their needs to be an honest assessment of the costs they incur on all of us. Here are some well articulated highlights on impact of unions on the auto industry from Barone's article.

"Private-sector unionism is adversarial. Economic studies show that such unions do extract premium wages and benefits from employers. But that puts employers at a competitive disadvantage. Back in the 1950s, the Big Three auto companies dominated the industry and were at the top of the Fortune 500. Last year, General Motors and Chrysler went bankrupt and are now owned by the government and the UAW. Ford only barely escaped.

Adversarial unionism tends to produce rigid work rules that retard adaptation and innovation. We have had a three-decade experiment pitting UAW work rules against the flexible management of Japanese- and European-owned non-union auto firms.

The results are in. Yes, clueless management at the Detroit firms for years ignored problems with product quality and made bonehead investment mistakes. But adversarial unionism made it much, much harder for Detroit to produce high-quality vehicles than it was for non-unionized companies." 

With that kind of well documented legacy, do we really want to straddle our already obese and incompetent governmental infrastructure with a new bracket of unsustainable obligations? 


  1. Unions not only hurt the general taxpayer... they sometimes shake down their own members...

    You've been quite prolific here, Werewolf! Thanks.

  2. Unions are a monopoly. The only good reason to think of them as being better than any other monopoly is that they're a counterweight to the market power held by large corporations in a given sector who are the exclusive buyers of labor.

    But the whole point of government is supposed to be that it's NOT a for-profit enterprise. The idea of government, as an entity distinct from its employees, ripping off the employees makes no sense. Government is either the people (ideally) or just the sum of its employees. So what's really happening is unionizing the public sector is just another way for government employees to rip off everyone else.