Unions: paragons of virtue

By Steve Martin
web posted January 24, 2000

Can you imagine how things would be if every job was a union job? Can you imagine how much everything would cost? How many businesses would go out of business? How high the unemployment rate would be? How few people would still have the right to support the political candidates they believe in, and not just the union's choices?

The rate of unionization in Europe is higher than it is here. They have higher inflation and double digit unemployment. People forget that the trade unions in England during the seventies nearly destroyed that country.

The unions don't merely want to be one of the choices available in a free market. Nope, that's not good enough for them. They want to be the only choice in a rigged game where they not only end up with control of the worker and his money, but also the means of production itself.

How do the unions manage to stack the deck? One way, is to support leftist politicians with their members dues money.

Every year the unions give tens of millions of dollars to Democrats and almost zero to Republicans.What do they get in return? Protection.

Democrats pass union friendly laws like California AB 60.

Many people like the freedom to work a four days, 10 hous a day, or three 12 hour shifts. It helps many people to spend more time with their families. It also takes a lot of cars off the road during rush hour.

Nurses, for example are able to spend more of their shifts with a certain patient and that patient doesn't have to put up with a lot of different personnel changes throughout the day. Under California AB 60, hospitals may not be able to incur the added cost of having to pay overtime after an eight hour shift, and may be forced to do away with the three day -12 hour shifts that are beneficial and desirable by both patient and nurse. Not only do many of these laws sponsored by Democrats to help pay back thier union benefactors fly in the face of a free market system, they make it difficult for employers and employees to be creative in an age that demands flexibility. These laws, in essence, help to make the unions more appealing to workers by lessening the ability of business to accomodate it's workers.

The unions have also played a pivotal role in the education of our youth.

Democrats and unions oppose changes in education that might actually help our children get a decent education.

During the debate over school vouchers several years ago, television and radio ads purchased by union money from all over the country, told us how "our kids might end up at a school where they teach devil worship". These are typical scare tactics regularly employed by the unions. School vouchers in California were defeated. California's children,especially the poorer ones, still languish in a public school system that is controlled by the unions and deprives children of the skills and knowledge they deserve for a productive ,fullfilling future.

A couple of years ago a union leader told me that" you guys don't know how to spend your money on politics . . .that's why we have to do it for you." I remember it as if it were yesterday, and I'll never forget it. Later in that same day a different union leader told me that "the union doesn't spend any of your dues money on politics."

During the Prop. 226 debate ( 'Paycheck Protection'), the unions used their tried and true scare tactics and lies to defeat a law that only offered union members a choice on whether or not they could keep their First Amendment right to free speech. Sounds ridiculous doesn't it? But that indeed was the case. Once again the union wanted control over the voices (and money) of it's members in a political debate.Once again their lies( helped by my money!) paid off for them.

During the Prop. 226 campaign I attented a pro 226 rally at a mall in Huntington Beach . It started out a nice gathering of like minded people all supporting the noble cause of free speech for union members.Then the union sent in their goon squad to shout down the speakers and threaten the people, including myself, that were there in attendence. A large police presence prevented any violence.

That is how the unions operate, if you're lucky. If you're not so lucky they picket you in your neighborhood, threaten your family, and maybe even make good on their threats. How do they get away with this?

The National Institute for Labor Relations Research has reported that since 1975 there have been 8,799 incidents of labor union violence that have gone to court - there were only 258 convictions. Laws, such as the Hobbs Act, were passed to prevent union violence.And the Supreme court held in the Beck decision that unions could not compell their members to support politics. But thanks to all those millions given on a regular basis to the Democratic Party those laws and decisions are rarely enforced.

The unions are for "working families"! You've heard that one I'm sure. Just who are ' working families'? Do you know any families that don't work? I've been a union member for about 15 years and before that I wasn't one for about 15 years. Was I not part of a working family when I wasn't a union member?

I know a heck of a lot of people in management, and also a lot of small business owners. They are good, hard working people. I'd love for someone to tell them they're not from working families. That' working family' stuff is a joke.

No union has ever created a job for anyone other than a union official or their assistants. Union officials recieve their pay and perks off the backs of their members. I pay about a thousand dollars a year in union dues. I make pretty good money when I'm working, and like many non-union workers I have access to a health care plan.

Not begrudging the union for those things, I also get in the bargain the priveledge of being lied to, of helping to elect people and support ideas in which I do not believe, of contributing (not by choice) to the deceptive and misleading ad campaigns that the unions use around the country .

"Why don't you get the hell out !?" Why don't you quit the union if it's so bad?" Nobody's holding you hostage!" I get this all the time.

I stay for a couple of reasons. This is not a right to work state. I have to be member of the union to be employed in my profession.

I believe in the union's right to organize. I believe in the union's right to collective bargain. I believe in the union's right to strike.

I don't believe in the union's 'right' to take my money and use it for politics against my will. I don't believe in the union's right to lie to me or my co-workers. I don't believe in the union's 'right' to harrass, intimidate, shout down, or injure those that don't agree with them.

I believe that one needs to speak out when an injustice occurs. It may be easier to walk away, but that does nothing to right the wrongs. This is not Germany in the thirties. People in this country should not have to walk away from their livelihood to escape injustice.

Indeed, the unions have done a lot of good in this country over the years.But it is time for people to realize that there is another side to labor unions. They are not the paragons of virtue that some make them out to be.

This is Steve Martin's first contribution to Enter Stage Right.

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