Visions of Unions Dance in My Head
For instance, governments compel employers
to bargain with a
union once it has been “certified”, instead of simply ignoring it. Employers are forbidden to bargain directly
with those employees who voted against the union, or with some other
the employer finds more palatable. In
many jurisdictions, governments impose closed shop laws, preventing
from hiring non-union employees. In some
jurisdictions, governments prevent the hiring of replacement workers
strikes. Governments prevent employers
from rewarding deserving employees with wage raises during the
contract negotiation processes. Governments
This is what happened to Wal-Mart in 1997
when the United
Steelworkers was attempting to unionize its
What would happen if there were no such laws handing unions these massive powers? Under today’s warfare paradigm, where unions approach employers as enemies to be perpetually fought, the unions would be severely, perhaps fatally, weakened. Without government-enforced coercion behind them, the only thing unions have to offer to employers is something negative—the threat that their members will withdraw their services en masse (i.e. strike or quit).
In the absence of labour legislation, employers would be inconvenienced by a mass walkout, but few would be mortally wounded. They’d simply hire new non-union work crews and carry on. In jobs requiring a lot of training, or some other extraordinary characteristic (for instance, spatial skills and decisiveness for air traffic controllers or good balance for high steel workers), the cost of finding and training suitable replacement workers might exceed the cost of giving the union the concessions it was seeking. In those few cases, unions might survive. However, it takes no special talent and very little training to be a Wal-Mart cashier or a burger flipper. Such employees could be easily replaced, making their unions toothless tigers.
Unions might then have to start thinking
about ways to offer
employers something positive, instead of something negative—something
dealing with the union a win-win, rather than a win-lose, experience. Unions might actually have to compete with
each other to offer the best work crews. They’d
tell employers: Deal
with us and we’ll supply you with a pre-screened work force that’s
educated, more reliable, more honest, more punctual and more productive
our competitors’ crew. In effect, unions
would become sort of wholesale employment agencies, offering groups of
employees for hire rather than individuals.
What a delightful vision—workers and employers working together to make bigger pies instead of perpetually warring over how to slice the present pie, with large portions being gobbled up by the unions. It should be enough to make lawmakers reconsider their existing, lop-sided, counter-productive labour laws.
- end -