A couple of weeks ago the California Senate, by a vote of 24-14 along party lines, approved the state’s version of Card Check-shorthand for the grotesquely named Employee Free Choice Act.
Rare is the piece of legislation that portends so badly for worker freedom or the economy. Instead of a secret ballot to determine if a company’s workforce wants to be represented by union and adopt a collective bargaining, getting 50 percent plus one of the work force to sign a card asking for an election would be sufficient to force the company to recognize the union. The scheme requires Federal arbitration if the company and union cannot reach an agreement on a contract.
Card check obviously gives union organizers a very powerful advantage over companies. The intimidation to get employees to sign a card would undoubtedly be rampant. Getting workers to sign a card is child’s play for union stalwarts. And having the mandatory arbitration hanging over the company if they don’t meet union demands guarantees the union will get almost everything it wants.
So, the work force is intimidated into approving union representation it does not want and the company will be forced to live with compensation and work rules that are inimical to its profitability.
Is there any doubt what will happen to business formation of new businesses and attracting companies to California if the Senate bill eventually becomes law? One can only gape in slack jawed amazement at the economic death wish of the Democrat members of the Senate. This is made even more stunning when one considers the deplorable condition of California’s finances and the flood of people and jobs fleeing the state.
Last week, the New Hampshire House of Representatives sent a shock wave through New England and North Atlantic states by passing Right-to-Work legislation by an overwhelming majority.
In a version of the inmates running the asylum, we are witnessing what happens when public sector employees get enough power to dictate policies and performance.
Three news reports today illustrate this distressing development. Moon teachers are threatening to walk off the job if they do not get a satisfactory contract. And that undoubtedly means wage increases and cushy working conditions to go along with their already ultra generous pensions. Port Authority drivers are suing the Port Authority because it wants to change the days major holidays are recognized, presumably for purposes of reduced service. Drivers are incensed because it will interfere with the ability of senior drivers to choose to work on the paid holidays and they might therefore miss out on double time and half or greater pay.
And the most preposterous example of what the world where unions dictate how things are run has to be France. Airports are so undermanned and fuel supplies so tenuous that the government is asking carriers to reduce the number of flights into France. Tourist destinations are closed, travel within the country iffy and unpredictable. All traceable to the insanity engendered during the revolution and the philosophy of its intellectual progenitors and defenders.
Can we be far behind? Pennsylvania certainly is not. The Commonwealth ranks high among the states that have travelled farthest down the path of ceding ever increasing power and control to public sector unions. And this is exactly what Madison warned us against, i.e., the state becoming partners with special interests and, in the case of public sector unions, developing an incestuous and freedom destroying relationship.
Newspaper reports on the Labor Day parade Downtown noted that something was missing from the march: spectators. In fact, people walking in the parade outnumbered people watching. What gives?
Was it the economy? One union official flippantly noted the bad economy and remarked that people who would normally be there were probably out looking for jobs. Was it the weather? We can rule that one out as Monday stood in stark contrast to the 2009 affair when it was noted "the cool, drizzly weather appeared to thin the parade crowd considerably".
Or could it be a sign of taxpayer disenchantment with unions and theirnever ending quest to make government bigger, more inefficient andcostlier?
Except for union members and their immediate families andthe hardest of the hard left, labor’s all out support of Obamacare,stimulus spending to save government jobs, card check, and higher taxes on the national level and the presence of their influence in state and local policy including the lack of Right to Work or prevailing wage reform, continuing threats of teacher and transit strikes, and opposition to outsourcing and privatization is finally getting through the public’s consciousness as being a majorcause of the ongoing funk in the economy.
How deliciously ironic. The Laborers Union International announces it will run ads warning motorists about Pennsylvania’s structurally deficient bridges. And why are the bridges deficient?-according to the union not enough money is being spent on the bridges.
Perhaps if the bridges did not cost 30 percent more to repair than bridges in a right to work state with no prevailing wage requirement, they would be in much better shape. The union should be asked this question: In order to have safe bridges in an environment with very limited funds available to do the work, would you be willing to abandon the prevailing wage requirement and allow less expensive non-union labor do the work?
The answer would be no. So, here is what the union is really is saying. We prefer unsafe bridges to giving up any of our stranglehold over the policies of Pennsylvania. Indeed, they are really about soaking taxpayers regardless of the consequences. Looks like France from here.
Forbes magazine has a new ranking on the "Best States for Business" ranking things like business costs, labor, regulatory environment, etc. Pennsylvania came in 33rd on the list (it was 41st in 2006’s ranking). The only indicators on which PA broke the upper third were on regulatory environment (15th, which is surprising given the state’s tort system, but the ranking also measures "incentives, transportation, and bond ratings") and 7th on quality of life (schools, health, crime, etc.).
The five year change in PA’s gross state product was 1.5%, a rate of change that bested only 7 states (IN, MI, MO, NJ, OH, RI, and SC) and was well below that of many states. It is interesting to note the impact of the very important indicator of whether the state was Right-to-Work or not (the list did not contain this data, but we noted RTW states and where they ranked). Of the 25 best performing states on the Forbes listing, 16-almost 3 out of every 4-were Right to Work states. Two gulf coast RTW states (LA and MS) ranked in the bottom ten. Seven of the top ten states were RTW with three western states (CO, OR and WA) rounding out the group.
Only one state-Michigan-had a negative five year change in GSP. Now, which state or group of states is Pennsylvania closer to in its policy prescriptions and outlook?
Over time any organization, be it a state, a corporation or club can become a victim of policies and procedures that cannot get changed because entrenched interests block any movement away from the status quo. Pennsylvania and its municipalities are prime examples of such a situation.
The list of perpetual, perennial unsolved problems is long including archaic alcoholic beverage control, antiquated and confusing property assessment laws, costly prevailing wage laws, the absence of Right to Work, excessive deference to public sector unions including Act 111 and the right to strike for teachers and public transit workers, ruinously expensive pension plans, high corporate taxes and extraordinary reliance on government led and subsidized economic development to name a few big ones.
Year after year, these hindrances to freedom and economic vitality go unaddressed. Indeed, they are essentially accepted as part of the landscape that cannot and will not be altered by the state’s government. As a result, the Commonwealth treads water, constantly trying to find second and third best solutions that are not really solutions. More money for development, more money for education, gaming, lotteries, etc., to no avail. None of these efforts can offset the negative effects of the real problems the state is unable to confront head on.
While hope may spring eternal, realistically there appears to be little hope for significant improvements in the fundamentals for a very long time.
Pittsburgh’s mayor is constantly citing reports from various magazines and newspapers about how wonderfully well Pittsburgh shows up in highly dubious livability ratings but somehow manages to miss the reports that are not so flattering. Take the latest example. Forbes is out with its list of the ten large metro areas (over a million people) gaining the most population between 2007 and 2008 along with a companion list of the biggest losers.
No surprise. Sun Belt cities continue to dominate the winners with Raleigh, Austin, Charlotte, Phoenix and Dallas making up the top five. On the losing side, the rust belt continues to generate the greatest outflow of people. Pittsburgh ranked eighth among the biggest losers of population. It fared much better than several Ohio cities and Detroit but still posted a decline, continuing a decades long pattern.
These remarkable results show that despite the recession folks still believe the Right to Work states will lead the way in terms of job opportunities in the future. Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan with no Right to Work law and union dominated politics are not viewed nearly as positively by companies or individuals. People and capital prefer freedom, something the unions and liberal politicians refuse to grasp.
The downside? As more and more folks leave the rust belt for the Sun Belt, they could eventually change the political climate that fostered Right to Work and self-reliance.