What do our public schools, Hostess Brand Inc, Walmart, LAX, and the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have in common?
They have all been hindered and crippled in their services because of the immoral power of unions. I do not relate this point of view in order that workers may no longer have the right to organize. Their right to peaceable assembly is protected in the First Amendment of the Constitution, but with the growing frequency of strikes and worker actions in this country, it's time that the voters acknowledge that unions are now way past their usage date.
I have read about the terrible working conditions which teachers and stevedores (nowadays "longshoremen") had to tolerate in previous generations. However, the rising standard of living, civil rights laws, and the growing negative consequences resulting from union action have hobbled public and private institutions at the expense of the company, the consumers, and the community.
Yet if one cabal of workers uses their right to organize and impedes on the public interest for free commerce, or forbids an employer to provide goods and services to consumers willing to purchase, or when a employee association demands stringent conditions which protect poor performance or perverted employees at the expense of the clients whom they are expected to serve, then an association has gone too far and their powers need to be curbed.
Our public schools poorly serve our students because of sclerotic resistance to reforms, like permitting youth in urban communities to enroll in any school that they choose. Teachers unions play a large role in stifling these reforms, compelling legislators to kill any legislation which would free up attendance.
Not only do they prevent school choice, teachers unions protect their worst members, putting their union dues ahead of the community and the primary consumers, the students. One glaring case highlighted this incongruous conflict of interest instigated by teachers unions. Miramonte Elementary teacher Mark Berndt allegedly got away with twenty years of sex abuse in the class, only to resign under duress because the district could not finance a lengthy case to remove him, a line of appeals propped up by the teacher union. The same special interests that protected Mark Berndt also influenced state legislators to kill SB 1530, which would have hastened the removal of pervert teachers.
Hostess Brand Inc., the manufacturer of Twinkies, Ding-Dongs, and Zingers, declared bankruptcy for the second time following the nation-wide collective action of the bakers' union. Lavish pension packages and worker rules made running the nationwide bakery unmanageable, and rather than face the costs of lengthy strike actions, the company closed its doors for good, taking down in its forced demise 18,000 jobs and a cheaper choice for consumers to purchase their daily bread.
SEIU (Service Employees International Union) lost the Safeguards Aviation Association from their ranks, a community of workers which then earned higher wages after separating. The SEIU picketed outside of LAX during the 2012 Thanksgiving weekend, throwing a number of travelers off schedule and hampering airline traffic. Some protests blocked traffic along Sepulveda Blvd. This kind of conduct is unacceptable, no matter what conditions anyone may be facing.
Black Friday at Walmart put the company in the black, but disgruntled employees throughout the country picketed the low wages and the cut hours. However, the majority of "workers" on strike were not even Walmart employees, and Walmart incidentally posted one of the most successful Black Fridays in the company's history. A handful of protesters were arrested for blocking traffic. The public square belongs to everyone, not just to employees on strike. Share your grievances, but not to the grief of consumers and the community.
Public sector union demands have brought a number of states to their knees. States like Wisconsin fought back, pushing past the loud crowds which infiltrated the capital. The budget reforms instituted by Governor Walker gave municipal governments and school districts more flexibility to negotiate medical and pension contracts without raising taxes or laying off workers.
In stark contrast, California has enacted weak and beggarly budget reform at best, with the Democratic supermajority and the Governor still refusing to stand up to the public sector unions which intimidate legislators and influence legislation. Instead of spending cuts and budget reforms, the state legislature offers tax increases.
Now the ILWU is on strike at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The Holiday shipping season is in full-swing. Why should one group of employees block the legal and moral commerce of anyone? I will never forget the near-indoctrination of one youth whose parents worked for the ILWU (International Longshore and Warehouse Union). One disgruntled interest is not entitled to block the interests of shipping firms or the commerce of one of the largest ports in the country.
Unions are causing more problems than the pretend to solve. Workers have every right to organize. The First Amendment protects this freedom of association. The key word "peaceably" though, seems to have dropped out of the consciousness of collective bargaining units. Unions have disrupted operations, even destroying the equipment of the firms which they are protesting. Strikes harm workers, consumers, and the communities who depend on their service. Perhaps the recent spate of strikes and work actions will spur voters and local leaders to demand limitations on collective bargaining rights, the same reforms enacted to great effect in Wisconsin.