Any Democrat with integrity must oppose collective bargaining. All the evidence shows collective bargaining to be destructive to the economy, causing unemployment and reducing average incomes. The Democrat/liberal/progressive is on the right side of so many issues, like abortion rights, gay marriage, universal health care and global warming, and yet so wrong when it comes to collective bargaining. Obstinacy on this issue limits the effectiveness of liberal advocacy on other issues.
Democratic politicians must oppose collective bargaining and refuse financial support from unions. Other Democrats must reward them by providing financial support to make up for the lost union money.
How can it be that collective bargaining is destructive? Collectively bargained wage increases result in price increases. Higher prices cause sales to go down, resulting in layoffs. The sales that do occur take more money from customers, who then have less to spend on other stuff, hurting both the customer and other businesses.
An arbitrary wage increase - any wage increase not the result of market forces – must be paid for elsewhere. If that were not true, we could simply set the minimum wage at $50 and move everyone into the upper class. Real wages increase only when production increases, and that happens when new businesses are started or more people go to work or when productivity increases as a result of advances in technology or increased worker skills. This is the way it is and always has been.
The belief that unions are beneficial comes from what economist Henry Hazlitt calls “the fallacy of overlooking secondary consequences." Hazlitt said there is a tendency for people to see only the immediate effects of a given policy, or its effects only on a special group, and to neglect to inquire what the long-run effects of that policy will be not only on that special group but on all groups.
It also comes from union-produced propaganda financed by union dues deducted from workers’ paychecks. And the myth is perpetuated by Democratic politicians on whom are bestowed over 90% of campaign contributions from union PACs. The following chart is from opensecrets.org:
Since 1989, twelve of the top 20 political donors were unions.
Democratic politicians must reject union financial support for another reason: most of the money comes from dues workers are forced to pay. Many of those workers do not support Democratic values and would not contribute voluntarily. This is from unionfacts.com:
While it is true that union dues cannot be used to contribute directly to candidates, they can be used to pay the administrative costs of union PACs and to fund get out the vote (GOTV) campaigns, which, according to this report from the National Institute for Labor Relations Research, include “door-to-door efforts, phone banks, mailings, work-site leafleting and repeated contact with swing voters”. The amount spent on these campaign activities vary from union to union, but can be a high percentage of total expenditures:
The above figures are for 2009 and came from this video from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Note that the dues-funded political and administrative expenditures for these unions are many times the expenditure totals for their PACs.
Contributions to PACs, while voluntary, are relentlessly encouraged. Many union contracts require the employer to deduct the contributions from the member’s paycheck, along with the union dues. The UAW, for example, has its members sign “checkoff cards” indicating the amount they wish to contribute. But the union doesn’t just pass out the cards and allow members to decide whether and how much to contribute. The union provides its staff elaborate guidelines which include asking members already contributing to increase the amount and keeping track of those who decline to contribute so they can be contacted again later.
Union money is dirty money, not only because collective bargaining is bad for the economy, but because much of it is taken from workers who would not approve of how it is being spent. To accept support from unions is unethical, even immoral.