The question arises because of a Governor’s stand in Wisconsin, whether it’s OK to bust the unions? Let’s face it, the rise of unions in this country, and around the world was due to the rise of Socialism. I hesitate to go any further than that, let’s just say I’ve recently finished a wonderful book on history by Ms. Barbara Tuchman (The Proud Tower) where she tracks the events leading up to the start of the Great War (WW-I). I find Ms. Tuchman’s analyses to be thorough and challenging reading, while at the same time she writes much of her prose with a sense of dynamism that draws you right in and makes you feel as if you know the people she’s describing. Anyhow, she charts the rise of world socialism and links it directly to the rise of Unions. One might argue slightly differently in this country, as there were certain people such as Samuel Gompers who were steadfastly against Socialism while at the same time being staunch supporters of unions and the rights of collective bargaining.
However, Mr. Gompers did attend world socialist conferences and did take part in them, and so we can loosely bundle him with what has led to the rise of Communism and other “world views” that are not consistent with most of the rest of Western Civilization. While Socialism itself may not be a good thing (depends on your point of view), I would argue that unions have done some good in this country and other countries in, e.g., Europe. The achievements of unions is not under debate in this article, what is currently under debate is whether Civil Governments have the right to set aside certain union practices for the good of the governed. Why would somebody want to do that? Well, quite obviously, in addition to the good that unions have done in this country, they’ve done some harm. Having their roots in Socialism should give you a clue as to the types of harm unions can do.
I don’t claim expertise in this area, I’ve not studied enough material on the subject to really know. I will say however, that legislatures have the right, and the duty to enact laws that benefit the people – all the people – and not just a few. Most of us have had it a bit rough these past couple years, due to runaway capitalism. Where there is opportunity unfortunately, there will always be greed is my motto. You can legislate and make laws that determine right and wrong, but you still need a justice system to carry out those laws when there are lawbreakers. So, the question again is, have unions done anything legally wrong? Yes, and no. I don’t believe they’ve done anything that is wrong according to the laws of the state, there are too many checks and balances in place. But, do unions have the moral duty to allow their constituents to take pay cuts, and lose privileges when economic times are hard? My answer to that question is ABSOLUTELY YES!
Unions have a duty (in my mind) to roll up their sleeves and determine where the “fat” is in the system during hard times. We all have that duty. They also have the duty to be proactive about these things and to suggest changes to the system in order to benefit the most people. Most companies that layoff workers could probably poll their workers and find that a majority would take a pay cut rather than see their co-workers get laid off. I really don’t think that there are that many in the work force who would be dead set against taking a 10% pay cut to avoid having to layoff 10% of the work-force when economic times are hard. That’s just my thinking. The only ones who are against it are unions, and management when it all comes down to it. But that’s just an aside.
What the Governor of Wisconsin is saying is: “Enough is enough!” He’s taking a stand to not have any more debt created to balance his state’s budget. It’s time to plant a stake in the sand in other words. The policies of all our state (and Federal) governments that we can “Spend our way out of this deficit” are over! I agree with the Governor of Wisconsin 100%. We must balance our budgets. The problem is that nobody seems to really understand where all our money went. It’s all been used to pay for oil that we’ve imported over the past 50 years and burned up in our cars. T. Boone Pickens predicted this a few years back, and it seems to be here – NOW. We are mostly broke people and the time is now for us all to tighten our belts and figure a way out of this mess!