Unions are a relic of the past and hinder the ability of the American manufacturing sector in its race to keep pace with the rest of the world. At one point in time Unions might have been necessary to guarantee workers some basic benefits, but today, the benefits that they secured are bankrupting businesses and governments and yet they still feel they have a right to them.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that if you made a contract with an employer that they should not honor their part of the bargain. On the contrary, I believe that the terms that you and your employer come to should be firm and both parties should keep up their end of the deal.
What I am saying is that I’m not sure why any more of these deals are being made.
A Great Deal, if You Can Get It
Part of what is sinking the automotive industry right now is the fact that for every car sale they make, a big percentage of that sale goes towards paying pensions and health care to people that have long since worked for the company.
Life expectancy is longer than it was, and that means that what might have been a short-term obligation in the past is now a long term obligation, made longer by buyouts and early retirement. It’s the same problem that is plaguing Social Security—the longer people live, the more that they’ll need.
So when a business in the U.S. tries to compete with a foreign company, they have no ability to compete because of the price they have to charge—unless they manufacture the goods outside of the country.
Consumerism vs. Manufacturing
Part of the reason that we’re in the recession that we’re in is that we’ve traded being a country that produces to being a country that consumes. Easy credit meant that we purchased things that we couldn’t afford, and the more we needed the more we found in other countries for cheaper rates.
If we want to get back out of this hole, we’re going to have to become producers again—get people to buy things from us. We can produce better product than most of the world, but we have our hands tied by the fact that we made deals that are proving to not be wise.
How Do We Solve It?
Obviously, people that made contracts should have those contracts honored. However, I would like to see some kind of plan where people could get some kind of portion of those contract’s value (which they could opt into) in some kind of retirement fund. If someone were to see that they could get a huge chunk of change to sock away, in their younger years, I bet they’d be satisfied—especially if the potential returns were higher than what they’d need to retire.
I’d also like to see something where union employees were disbanded in favor of good benefits and a good retirement savings plan. I don’t think we should force unions out of existence, just provide them with something better than helps our balance sheets now and in the future.
Many people that are in unions don’t realize the money that they are not making, and they see the union as having their best interest at heart, whereas any organization that has power will want more. If you’re in a union, just ask yourself
- Who pays your union head that’s not working in the same place as you are?
- Where does the money come from for the advertisements on buses, radio and television?
- If that money were not going to them, how could that affect you? Would you see more in your paycheck?
Good work will usually be rewarded. Bad work should be corrected. No one should work under slave labor conditions and without benefits, but we could do this without a union.