Are unions obsolete? When the unions first organized in the 1880s, working conditions were not much better than slavery, with low wages, unsafe workplaces and unhealthy circumstances.
The unions did a lot to change workers’ lives for the better. The unions obtained livable wages and helped to get the Occupational Safety and Health Administration started in 1971.
Unions accumulated a large bankroll from member dues and then unions went bad, extorting money from their own members, companies and governments. They paid large sums to lobbyists to get sweetheart deals from well-placed politicians.
In the 1950s, the Teamsters were more of a criminal organization than a union. Some of the unions sought bribes and engaged in extortion, beatings, bombings and vandalism to obtain control of the construction and trucking industries. In the pretext of protecting their membership, they drove up the cost of goods for everyone.
The International Longshoreman’s Association, which represents stevedores, controls the East Coast ports. Nothing moves into the country unless it goes through union hands. Earlier this year, a top ILA official and several others were indicted for extorting money from dock workers by demanding tribute for better jobs and wages, according to www.new
Detroit once was the capital of the automotive industry. Today, Detroit — and other Michigan cities that were dependent on the automotive industry — lies in ruins. Union demands became so outrageous that the unions gave foreign carmakers the breaks they needed to enter the U.S. market.
The once-proud industry needed a government bailout to avoid bankruptcy — not because the companies weren’t doing well, but because of payments due to the unions, which were negotiated in previous talks when the unions threatened to shut down the manufacturers.
America’s education is in crisis because of the teachers’ unions, which put their members ahead of students. Our children are not taught the basic skills necessary for them to succeed in life. These unions are the “school bullies.” They fight the school principals, who want to replace bad teachers; and the unions reward questionable teachers just because of tenure rather than performance.
Now the teachers’ unions are supporting the Wall Street protests. They talk about unemployment and economic inequality while supporting teachers who can’t do their jobs well, causing our children to miss out on the skills they need to get jobs and climb the economic ladder.
“We’re the big dog,” claimed Larry Scanlon of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, the largest government employee union. This union uses its lobbying force to get its members benefits that contribute to the rise in taxes and the failure of states, counties and cities to meet their financial obligations.
Sodexo Inc., one of the largest food service and facility management companies, filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in March against the Service Employees International Union for orchestrating a massive extortion scheme, because the SEIU used strong-arm tactics to get the company’s 80,000 employees to unionize.
The unions have no concept of how business works. They think they can use any tactic to squeeze money from companies. That money supposedly is for the membership, but it’s actually to finance the extravagant lifestyles of union management and its power base, causing companies to lay off the same workers the unions are supposed to protect.
Unions have outlived their usefulness. They destroy jobs. They don’t create them.
Calderone is a conservative who lives in Midway. He is a professional salesperson and for 30 years has written articles for trade publications in various fields.