Yesterday's American thinker had a great article on the Wisconsin situation, which included the following:
The problem isn't collective bargaining itself, but how we define "collective." A union is really nothing more than a corporation that provides labor. Governor Walker and other conservatives certainly have no problem with corporations, except when that corporation operates a monopoly. Therein lies the problem with unions -- not that they exist, or even that they are essentially liberal political organizations that do some employee representation on the side. What makes unions so dangerous and often harmful is that the law allows them to wield monopoly power.
The most hazardous monopoly of all is one that receives taxpayer support. When the United Auto Workers union successfully pushed member compensation up to and astronomical $73.20 per hour, consumers had the recourse of buying from less costly foreign automakers (Toyota: $48.00 per hour). When a government union, such as the National Education Association, makes state services more expensive than their market value, there are no competitors to expose how wasteful and impractical it actually is. Moreover, even if expensive UAW cars were the only cars available, as we could at least ride a bike instead of driving. Not so with government workers. Between property, sales, income, vehicle, and a seemingly endless array of other taxes, we can't stop paying state employee unions. We are forced consumers of state services.
Story after story in local and national news asserts that Governor Walker is trying to take away union rights. But do unions have the right to operate a monopoly whose product, by law, cannot be refused? It is the rights of non-union tax-payers that are under far greater threat under the current collective bargaining rules. Walker's proposal is a simple check on a monopolistic organization than is bankrupting his state.
But it's not as simple as checking a group with too much power. For decades unions have been a cause rather than a mere economic entity. Many believe that pro-union laws passed under Franklin Roosevelt created the American middle-class and brought the common man out from under the thumb of cruel robber barons. But that reading of history is more political spin than fact.
Roughly 150 years before Roosevelt signed the union-promoting Wagoner Act, Benjamin Franklin composed a pamphlet that encouraged Europeans to immigrate to the newly freed colonies. Franklin wrote that "nowhere else in the world are the laboring poor so well fed, well lodged, well clothed and well paid as the United States of America." In other words, the middle class was not created by unions in the 1930s but through laissez faire capitalism beginning as early as the 1700s.
Collective bargaining certainly increased the wages of union members, particularly in the 1940s and 50s, the union heyday. The success of unions during those decades was partially due to the fact that most of the industrialized world had just blown itself to smithereens in World War II. A lack of international competition allowed private American unions to continually bargain for higher salaries. Once Europe and Japan rebuilt their industrial base, American labor was exposed as overpriced, causing many industries to move to other countries.
Public sector unions, however, can't be outdone by foreign competition. To maintain heavy influence over their members' wages and benefits, today's government employee unions need only to preserve advantageous collective bargaining laws. Thus the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees became the biggest independent campaign spender in the 2010 elections (not the Koch brothers, Karl Rove's PAC or any other right-wing group). AFSCME dropped an eye-popping $87.5 million, all to help Democrats get re-elected. It's no wonder that Organizing for America and other Democrat groups are rallying to the aid of Wisconsin's public sector unions. When asked about the situation in Madison, President Obama responded, "I think it's also important to recognize that public employees make enormous contributions to the well-being of our states and our cities." He could easily have said that public employees make "enormous contributions" to him and his political allies.
I'd never seen a union referred to as a corporation that supplies labor, but once I read that, it was a revelation. After all, unions are corporations. They are run by boards and presidents, supply a commodity (labor) and charge a price. The dues paid by members are the corporate profits, but unlike Microsoft or Intel, the profits don't get put into R&D or making the product better, but only on making it more expensive. They use all of their profits to manipulate their markets in order to prevent competition, destroy independent providers of the same service, and control their clients (government agencies) through political means. If GM did that, they'd be broken up as a monopoly, but because public employee unions have disguised their nature, people don't realize that they are monopolistic corporate entities. In fact, the Sherman Act originally applied to unions, but the Clayton Act, a Wilson/Democratic "reform", specifically exempted them. Repeal of the Clayton Act should be the first order of any Republican administration.