Life, unions, and the pursuit of happiness

From the Editor

I have always had mixed feelings about unions. On the one hand, my working-class immigrant grandparents benefited somewhat under the protection of labor unions. And during the abuses of the Industrial Age, unions seemed like the only way labor could fend off the predations of greedy owners and bosses.

On the other hand, my opinion of unions is evolving as I watch the outrageous public behavior of unionized teachers in the Wisconsin capitol building or public union officials refusing to budge on overly sweetened benefit packages that the taxpayers—you and me—have to finance.

Now, I see union greed as at least as much a part of our national economic problem as good old-fashioned business greed.

Business and sales consultant and bestselling author Nathan Jamail recently said that if you see a Made in China imprint on a product you buy, “don’t blame the manufacturer, store, or even your government. You need to blame the unions.” He notes the union flap over Boeing’s attempt to build a new jet aircraft in mostly non-unionzed South Carolina, a “right to work” state. As a result of union attempts to stop the project, China may end up getting the jobs.

I have read Jamail’s writings in recent months and I must admit I agree with a portion of the argument he makes regarding unions and their impact on both the private and public sectors.

Jamail believes that unions are the main reason companies set up shop overseas in order to manufacture products and provide services. I am not sure I see this problem in the same black-and-white way as he does, but it’s a persuasive working theory.

Jamail contends that good employees don’t need a union to help them keep their jobs or get promoted.

When an employee becomes a member of the union, he contends, they are lumped in with all the other employees including those that could care less about their jobs. Jamail’s conclusion is that unions promote substandard performance and foster a feeling of entitlement—such as the expectation of automatic pay increases, promotions, and more benefits, etc.

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