In honor of Labor Day, I have decided on a discussion of Labor Unions, and their effect in society. By society, I mean a group of individuals who have come together and agreed on a certain set of rules to live by. In the United States we find these rules in our founding documents. They set up the society with an understanding that the rule of primary importance would be a protection of the individuals natural rights. In order to understand the effect that labor unions have in a free society you need to understand the basics principles that underlie a free society. We must understand what rights individuals have in a free society.
In the discussion of natural rights, it is important to know what a natural right is, and what it is not. We as human beings and citizens of the United States have the right to life, liberty and the PURSUIT of happiness. We have the right to be free from force and coercion, and pursue those activities that we believe would be most beneficial to us, and then keep the fruits of that labor. For a more in depth discussion of what a natural right is see my post entitled Self-Evident Truths and Unalienable Rights.
We must distinguish natural rights from the bastardized term used by politicians today to describe any need a human being may have. It must also be distinguished from rights legitimately granted by our founding documents to citizens, that fall outside the concept of natural rights, like voting and running for elected office.
We do NOT have a right to a job, a fair wage, a livable wage, a 40 hour work week, paid vacation, sick days, health care, a pension, food, a house, an education, a TV or a computer with internet service. To state that these are rights, implies that they must be provided by somebody which in turn enslaves the provider of that “right” to the need of any random person, and I think that everybody would agree slavery is morally and legally wrong.
All men have a natural right of free association, and the right to organize and coordinate their efforts to better their own circumstances. If you want to get together with a group of people at your work, and use the combined effort of this group to seek better conditions, pay, or benefits, you absolutely have the right to do this, and the owner of that business has every right to negotiate, or not negotiate with this group freely. This group does not have the right to call the people with the guns in, to demand that the owner of the business meet with, listen to, or negotiate with them. The workers do have the right to go on strike if they don’t like the response of the owner, and the owner has the right to fire any employee for whatever reason they deem necessary.
We live in a free society where we have a natural right to trade freely with other members of the society. When we are hired for a job, it is because we met with an employer and came to an agreement on the terms of that employment, and like any free trade both parties have to gain value in order for the transaction to take place. You value the money that you receive more than the time you are trading for it, and the employer values your time more than the money he is paying you. Any time you bring the government (the man with the gun) into a free trade it violates the natural rights of somebody in that transaction, because one of the party is forced into the trade without having his benefit considered.
The problem that exists with unions in the 20th century begins with the philosophy that underlies their existence and purpose. The language, the imagery, even the social connections and interaction hearken back to the Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. I provided the link for everybody that is interested, I would encourage you to spend some time to see the morality advocated in this philosophy, and what their vision was for labor unions, and how well union leadership has adhered to these principles.
In their philosophy they throw the concept of natural rights out the window, and advocate for a top down controlled society. The governing body would set morals, define relationships, control economic interaction and pretty much every other aspect of our lives. A clear violation of an individuals natural rights, and the antithesis of what our country and society was founded on.
In addition to the clear incompatibility with our Constitution and the concept of natural rights, labor unions destroy initiative, jobs, and even entire industries. We have all heard stories of, or even had experience of the new guy who gets hired, and being exited about the new job goes to work with all their effort, only to be told by the other members of the union to slow down in order to maintain the lower standard that had already been set. We have seen teachers in some states in “rubber-rooms”, who cannot teach because of some ethics, or moral violation, but cannot be fired because of the union contract. We all watched in New Jersey, where the teachers union was unwilling to forgo a pay-raise for one year to protect the jobs of other teachers with less “seniority”, leading to their dismissal.
Every single industry that has been heavily unionized has been destroyed one by one. Textile, steel, railroad, auto, manufacturing, public education and I would argue the public sector. As each industry has been cannibalized and eventually ruined by the very people who depend on its success, it has fallen to the tax payer, sold out by corrupt politicians, to cover the pensions and benefits of the guilty parties.
Unions have been and continue to be a greater detriment to our free society than they have ever been a benefit. They buy political influence, and then seek for those politician who they pay to write favorable legislation that falls outside the proper role of government, as outlined in the Constitution, thus violating the natural rights of those they deal with. With the support of government they threaten employers who would try to stand up for their natural rights, and end up promising more than they can meet, ending up like Chrysler and GM, and then expect that their government pals will meet the obligation using tax dollars.
There is a reckoning coming, as the economy has continued downward, and cities, states and feds have seen their budgets dry up, all of the outrageous, unfunded pensions and health benefits to public employee union members, along with all those we are picking up out of broken industries are reaching the point of breaking. There are cities, and states now talking about bankruptcy, and we the people are waking up. Unions are breaking the country, and we will put a stop to it.