I am the only liberal in the U.S. who doesn't believe in collective bargaining. I believe it exists; I just don't believe it is a good thing.
Any economist knows that the only way to increase income in general is to increase production, and union-negotiated wage increases do not increase production. Increased production comes from factors such as increased worker skills, new tools and new techniques.
A union-negotiated wage increase without an increase in production has to come out of someone else's pocket. A higher wage increases the employer's costs, so he has to increase prices. That takes money from his customers. If they choose not to buy, sales decrease, resulting in layoffs.
If collectively-bargained wage increases come only at the expense of others, where is the value? Why would anyone support an institution that pits one segment of the population against another, with no overall gain?
No overall gain makes the whole exercise pointless - were it only that benign. The trouble is, there are tremendous costs that come with collective bargaining:
Overall, collective bargaining decreases income. It decreases gross domestic product (GDP). It is, therefore, destructive.
How can it be, then, that collective bargaining has been - for most Americans - a cherished human right?
One reason is our 2-party system. Democratic president Franklin Roosevelt signed the National Labor Relations Act in 1935 and unions have had a symbiotic relationship with the Democratic Party ever since. Union political action committees (PACs) provide funding to Democratic candidates and elected officials return the favor by supporting laws that favor unions. Here are the top 25 contributors to the Mark Schauer campaign in 2014, with union PACs highlighted (source: Secretary of State's website):
The largest contribution - $160,000 - came from the Michigan Democratic Party, but 35.4% of contributions to the MDP also came from union PACs:
As you can see, the Democratic Party is highly dependent on union PACs for funding, which provides a huge incentive for Democrats not to give much thought to whether collective bargaining is beneficial or not.
And it is easy to believe collective bargaining is good for the country when it is among a host of other issues on which the Democrats' position is correct and the Republicans' is wrong: reproductive rights, the environment/climate change, gay rights, immigration and gun control, to name a few.
So you do have an excuse for believing collective bargaining is good. Until now, that is. Now you know that although some benefit from it, many are hurt, and the damage far outweighs the benefit. Anyone who claims to be a moral human being has no business supporting collective bargaining.
Which leaves the problem of financial support for the Democratic Party.
The Republicans get a lot of support from business PACs, but there is no reason to believe the business community is overwhelmingly conservative. Check out the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition, a business group that advocates amending the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity. It includes AT&T, Chrysler, Consumers Energy, Delta Airlines, Dow Corning, Pfizer, Quicken Loans and Steelcase. Many businesses leaders side with the Democrats on most issues, but they hate collective bargaining. By rejecting union money and opposing collective bargaining, the Democrats could take business support away from the Republicans.
The first step is for the business-friendly, anti-collective bargaining Democrats to wrench control of the party from the unions. We will start with a website where anyone can register, pledge financial support and discuss strategy. Within a few years, with a little luck, Michigan government will be back in the control of the Democrats.
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