Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Card Check equals a blank check for unions

As mentioned in a previous post, last night I had the privilege of attending a panel discussion and dinner hosted by the Atlanta Committee for Heritage and sponsored by the Heritage Foundation.  The featured speaker was Stephen Moore, Senior Economics Writer for the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and a member of the Journal's editorial board.

Dinner was preceded by a panel discussion, Rescuing Enterprise and Free Markets in America, featuring Heritage fellows, James Gattuso and James Sherk, and Heritage Center for Data Analysis Director, Bill Beach.  I will post a video link of the event as soon as I find it.

Each speaker was informative and entertaining, but I was particularly struck by James Sherk's discussion of labor unions and the Employee Free Choice Act.  Let me take the liberty of condensing and paraphrasing his message:

Labor unions are cartels.  Just like OPEC, they endeavor to control prices (wages) by restricting the supply of their product (union labor).  Every job reserved for an inflated-wage-earning union member removes more than one non-union job from the marketplace.

Unions are experiencing a long term decline in membership.  Fifty years ago one in three Americans working in the private sector was a labor union member.  Today union membership among non-government workers is about 8%. According to the Cato Institute:
Labor leaders blame the decline on union-busting corporations, years of hostile Republican rule in Washington, and a flood of imports from low-wage countries such as China, but the main reason behind the decline of private sector labor unions in recent decades is the anti-competitive nature of unions themselves. Like a virus, labor unions have been slowly sapping the lifeblood of the very industries and companies that employ their members.
Sherk estimates that unions spent $1 billion dollars to elect liberal Democrats in the last election cycle.  A BILLION DOLLARS.  That money comes from member dues...members who often have no choice about paying the dues, and little say about how the money is spent.  This obscene total will only increase if the Employee Free Choice Act (Card Check) is passed, because it abolishes the secret ballot, making it easier for Unions to intimidate workers into joining, whether they want to or not.

If Card Check becomes law, Unions will be able to effectively "buy" elections into the forseeable future, presenting a potentially insurmountable obstacle to conservative candidates.

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