Union members are nothing but chattel to union leaders

One of the downsides of an organization that engages the political spectrum is that is membership has unwittingly signed a contract with that organization’s leadership to become an asset. By gathering these human assets together, the organization’s leadership can leverage the members for the things most important to the leadership like prestige and power. The last thing the organization’s leadership will want to do is sell its members on the notion that a lot of what the membership wants they can get on their own.

I’m not talking about political revolution like we are seeing in North Africa and the Middle East. That type of wholesale change in political infrastructure requires a mass movement. I’m talking about groups like unions, whose leadership sells its members on the notion that the only way the membership can obtain the best wages and other benefits is through a union.

I think that notion runs counter to the value that we place in individualism. How can a group assume it knows my individual value in the marketplace? Am I not the best person to negotiate the compensation that best reflects my value? This used to be part of the American economic swagger. Unfortunately, we have let the progressives suck that vitality out of us and we have replaced it with the notion of collective helplessness.

Collective bargaining needs to be replaced with individual bargaining. Let individuals, who have the most accurate information regarding their investment in and expectations from their academic achievements and work background, negotiate their own contracts.

The producer of educational services, in this case the local or state school board, publicizes a maximum wage ceiling for each position along with its scope of work. Let individual teachers negotiate as to why they should be paid this maximum or even deserve more. In this economy, however, I would expect these teachers to send in the lowest bids possible because of the need to work. It’s this downward pressure on wages combined with the elimination of onerous benefits packages that will help relieve the fiscal burden that taxpayers are facing.

About Alton Drew

Alton Drew brings a straight forward and insightful brand of political market intelligence. Alton Drew graduated from the Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in economics and political science (1984); a Master of Public Administration (1993); and a Juris Doctor (1999). You can also follow Alton Drew on Twitter @altondrew.
This entry was posted in Economy, labor unions, state budget, taxes, unions, Wisconsin and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Union members are nothing but chattel to union leaders

  1. Kenneth J. Ciszewski says:

    “Collective bargaining needs to be replaced with individual bargaining. Let individuals, who have the most accurate information regarding their investment in and expectations from their academic achievements and work background, negotiate their own contracts.”

    Of course, those who run companies, school districts, and any other organization that employs people would love this, because individuals really don’t have much bargaining power. Try negotiating a bigger salary or more benefits at a job interview, even if the employer really wants to hire you. It works only in very rare cases–if you are a hot shot attorney who has clients who desperately needs the services of a hot shot attorney, then you are in the driver’s seat. The every day average employee is not so fortunate. Without collective bargaining, employers just say “next!” and try to exploit the next applicant.

    If individual negotiation was so much more effective for individual employees than collective bargaining, many businesses, and right now, the Governor of Wisconsin, would not be so hell bent on getting rid of collective bargaining–they would be encouraging employees to join unions!! The fact is, collective bargaining, in many cases, works better employees than the alternative. It takes power to deal with power. Employers tend to have more power than individuals. Unions represent groups of people and sometimes as a result are able to build up enough power to at least somewhat equalize the negotiation.

    Of course, Mr. Drew, you are blaming the teachers’ union for the fact that benefits are so “costly”. The union didn’t hold a gun to anyone’s head and demand benefits under the threat of death. The benefits were negotiated between the union and the employer. If the employer didn’t like the terms, it could have walked way, locked out the union, and called the union’s bluff. Of course, then the employer would obviously be the “bad guy”. It’s easier to blame the union than admit as an employer, you made what looked like an OK deal back when, but now you are having second thoughts.

    And again, I happen to believe that teachers are a lot more valuable to society, than say, Albert Pujols, and even he is having trouble selling a 10 year $30 million contract to the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s a superstar. If he can’t leverage that, the average employee doesn’t have a prayer without some kind of bargaining assistance.

    Does the State of Wisconsin need to renegotiate its contracts with its teachers? Probably. But before it does that, it needs to go to those who screwed up the economy, causing the tax revenue shortfall, and turn them upside down and shake out some of the ill-gotten gains than came from lying, cheating and stealing (read Wall Street caused financial crisis in 2009). Let’s quit scapegoating those who didn’t actually cause the real problem. We don’t complain when some CEO, who probably adds very little day-to-day value to a business’s results, gets a ton of money in bonuses because those who did the work made him successful.

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