- Reason Awakes -

Labor Unions

Private Sector Unions

Unions played a valuable role in the U.S. throughout much of its history. Over time, much of what unions fought for has been taken over as a responsibility of the federal government in the form of programs like OSHA. But, as is evident from the continued decline in private sector union membership as a percentage of the work force, it is an institution that has largely outlived its usefulness.  

At the state level, we support “right to work” laws that ban coercing workers to join a union. However, we would oppose passing a right to work law at the national level. 

We oppose any legislation that seeks to weaken the essential role of a secret ballot in determining whether a particular workforce will become unionized. We also oppose legislation for so called snap elections that would deprive employers of adequate time to explain the downside of unionization to their employees.. 

We also oppose allowing the NLRB to dictate where firms may locate plants, based on the history of the firm’s labor relations. In general, we believe that the NLRB should take a neutral stance in labor relations disputes.

Public Sector Unions

We believe that public sector unions create a bias in favor of larger and less efficient government. Private sector unions are self-limiting, since if they overreach, they destroy the firms and industries that they are dependent upon, as the UAW and USW have learned.  Public sector unions, through their influence on public officials, have the indirect power to raise taxes to support union wages and benefits and therefore can sustain their growth at the expense of the general public and the overall economy almost indefinitely. We support efforts to weaken the power of public sector unions.

One method that public sector labor unions often use to enrich themselves, at the cost of society, is overly generous defined benefit pension plans and medical care coverage. Because the cost of these concessions is often borne in the future, politicians are more willing to cave on these issues, than they would be on wage concessions.  For this reason we would ween government workers from defined benefit pension plans and replace them with defined contribution plans, like the 401K's that most private sector employees now have. In addition, we would move government workers off of government medical plans and onto private plans like those that are described in the section of the Platform on Health Care.

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