Unions and Politicians Priority Should Be Putting ALL Workers First
It’s difficult to deny that many of the gains made by unions in the past several decades have been important protections of the individual’s workplace rights. Everything from worker pay, workplace safety, benefits and hours worked have improved dramatically from the days before collective bargaining agreements. The rise of the middle class was accomplished through the collective hard work of our parents and grandparents, many of whom were represented by a union.
In fact, my own grandparents and parents were union members, some still are today, and my family has benefited from some of these gains. However, they would tell you the changing economy has been a harsh reality for big labor; unions are struggling today to maintain the ranks in their memberships they once enjoyed. At the same time, it seems the mission of the unions has become convoluted, with more focus on maintaining political power for union elite at the cost of truly representing the values of the constituency that keeps them fed that rank and file union member. I have heard from lifelong, dues paying members of the unions who said that while they support their union’s work ensuring a safer, more equitable workplace, they don’t support many of the liberty-killing issues the union bosses use their money to support.
So why have unions become a mouthpiece for growing government, increasing taxes, and in doing so strangling the private sector? Because with the changing economy and streamlining of the manufacturing labor force, the unions need more reliable ways to grow their constituency – and therefore their coffers for lobbying and campaigning – elsewhere. The bottom line is that big government means bigger public sector unions which means more membership dues to lobby for bigger government…you see the cycle.
In Michigan unions are part of the coalition A Better Michigan Future. A Better Michigan Future, is an organization that is advocating for $2.85 billion in tax increases including a graduated income tax and a sales tax on services.
The private sector workers of Michigan have been taking it on the proverbial chin for the past decade, with nearly a million jobs lost over the past 10 years. In addition, Michigan was ninth in per capita income in 1965, falling to 17th in 2000 and as of the 2nd quarter of last year 39th. The trajectory is all wrong – Michigan has plunged headlong into the economic abyss while other states have not only passed us economically; they’ve lapped us time and again.
Like it or not, Michigan residents can no longer afford to fund the government we have. The system we have is not sustainable without huge tax increases on Michigan’s already beleaguered taxpayers, a fact the union backed coalition has openly recognized. Most union workers are hard working individuals – our friends, family and neighbors – trying to make it in these hard economic times. However, the answers the union bosses have for raising taxes will not solve the problem; they will make it worse by taking much needed dollars out of the private economy and placing in the hands of politicians.
By giving workers the freedom to choose whether to belong to a union and limiting public union collective bargaining to wages and primary benefits we can save the taxpayer from huge tax increases and at the same time put our economy back on the right track.