To say it wasn’t about unions is to misunderstand unions

Craig Hall, Publisher
Craig Hall, Publisher

The recent election in Wisconsin got me thinking about the opportunities to change the direction in the country that should be plain as day, but are somehow missed due to busy lives, attentions being diverted elsewhere and for all too many, absolute ignorance. What occurred in Wisconsin was a simple exercise to re-affirm freedom and common sense.

I’m sure some folks would give me grief that I hate unions, and they would be wrong in their assessment.

I have no problem with labor unions. I just know that no one should be compelled to join a union because the unions have demanded it and the state provided the ability for them to require it. To be frank, if the union was so darned great, it should be able to garner increased membership on its own merits.

As was apparent in Wisconsin with nearly 40,000 union members quitting literally the minute they got the chance, the unions in question aren’t getting the job done for their members.

Now you might say I am against retirement and medical benefits for government workers. That would be wrong again. The fact is, my wife and I commit as much as we legally can (think about that, the government sets a limit on your savings) to her 401(k) at her job. But read that again, WE are the ones doing the contributing. When it came to state and municipal workers in Wisconsin —and, let’s face it, across the country —there was no personal money commitment to their retirement account or for medical insurance policies. All Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker asked was that employees contribute about 12 percent of their OWN money instead of taking more of the taxpayers’ money to help balance the budget. One would think that folks on the progressive side obsessed with “fairness” would consider that pretty darned fair.

I think 12 percent is unfair as my wife and I pay a much greater percentage. But at least we’re moving in the right direction.

Lastly, there’s the elimination of collective bargaining for state workers. Am I against collective bargaining? Not at all. If you choose to be part of a union that takes your money and spends it on things you disagree with, then you deserve whatever fruits and ill-gotten gains that group negotiates for you. You are also then responsible for corrupt leadership. We’ve seen how folks have reacted once they had the chance to freely leave the unions. But think about how small the membership would be if the remaining members actually had to write the dues check each month instead of it coming out automatically from their paychecks. (This is the same ruse the government uses with your taxes, but that’s for another column.) How miniscule would membership be if employees could get their raises based on merit and not union-based seniority — the same seniority that allows people to achieve more by simply turning oxygen into carbon dioxide than they ever could on their own abilities? The only thing you’d have left would be the union leadership, who, come to think of it, have gotten to their positions by simply churning out more CO2 than the rank and file.

Is it any wonder why even staunch union backers and socialists like FDR and George Meany were against collective bargaining for state and federal employees? Don’t get me wrong, they weren’t doing it out of fiscal discipline. They were against it because a union bargaining with basically itself over pay and benefits using our tax dollars would simply bankrupt the Ponzi scheme of big government — and with it, the control over people and money for which the government has a ravenous appetite. These kinds of people like their power, their jobs and our money a whole lot more than they like us. They would toss the unions aside the second they can no longer count on members’ votes.

Conservatives are for limiting unions because while we could see the benefits at their onset, we see the corruption and underhanded tactics of unions today. The founders, to a man, were against the government taking money from a free man via a forced taxation and using for something to which that man was opposed. To them, that was the very definition of tyranny. The same can be said of unions today. The membership and dues are forced against all too many people that would just as soon not have anything to do with such a corrupt organization. And the worst part is the forcing is done with the blessing of the government. Why else would folks caring for their elderly relatives while receiving state benefit dollars be forced to join the SEIU in some states?

Do we need government workers? Yes we do. Are there good government employees? Yes there are. There are services and needs to be met by government workers and the entities for which they work, particularly at the local level.

But is there any reason for any worker to be forced to be part of a union? The answer is, emphatically, NO. That,  and not “card check,” should be the law of the land. And Wisconsin got that right.