After reading Mr. Baker's letter, I decided to put in my two cents on what labor unions do for us now. First, let us begin with the car industry. Ever wonder why Japanese cars are made so well for the price you pay for them? Because there is no UAW (United Autoworkers Union) in Japan. Every American car made by a UAW-run company has somewhere between $2,000-$3,500 that goes directly to pay the exorbitant cost of the mostly unskilled union members. This means that you are paying $2,000-$3,500 more for the same quality, just so an unskilled worker can make in the range of $130,000 per year or $75 an hour to build American cars. That is almost triple the average American workers' wage.
And for all of that, we get cars that do not compare well in quality or longevity to cars made by the non-union Japanese workers. As a result of this, the increased costs have made it almost impossible for American car companies to compete with the Japanese, who can spend that $2,000-$3,500 extra per car on better quality and amenities and still easily compete with American-made cars. Hence, the bailouts of the big three companies.
It is pertinent to note that Japanese car workers still make almost twice what the average American worker makes (about $45-60 an hour.)
Enough about what the UAW does for us. Let us move on to the public sector unions, which is the problem currently showcased in Wisconsin. Firstly, when public-sector jobs are allowed to unionize, i.e. trash collection, teachers, police, etc., it allows the unions to have a monopoly, with the power to literally shut down critical services offered by state/local governments. Imagine if the police in Arizona went on strike, or the teachers, or the firefighters. That is an outrageous amount of power to give to a group that is taxpayer-funded, but independently run.
Secondly, it is absurd to allow public sector unions to fund or contribute to any politician. Think about it. The union funds political parties and candidates who directly control what the unions get paid. It's like some sort of a scam. We, the taxpayers, pay the unions (through tax dollars) to pay whichever politicians they desire, in contempt of the wishes of even the members of their own union, whose dues go directly to pay these political candidates (almost exclusively Democrat by the way).
If a private corporation or citizens tried this they would be thrown in jail. Even worse, in many cases, one cannot even opt out of joining the union and still work in that public sector job, which is discriminatory in and of itself. This means if a person in Wisconsin happens to be, say, an Independent politically, and has no desire to support any politician, is not only forced to join and pay union dues JUST to work and make a living, but is also forced to fund and support political movements and parties they may have absolutely no desire to even be affiliated with.
Now comes the kicker: The teachers union members in Wisconsin make somewhere in the area of $80,000-$100,000 a year, while the average Wisconsinite makes about half of that. Does that sound right to anyone except, obviously, the union members? The taxpayers of Wisconsin pay the members of the union at a rate twice what they make themselves, with apparently no way to influence this huge disparity besides doing what they did and electing a governor who will not allow the unions to fleece the citizens any longer.
For that, they get a sub-par educational system in which something like two-thirds of 8th-graders in the state cannot even read at the required level. It seems to me like they SHOULD at least get competence for all the money they spend on these teachers.
Ultimately it comes down to this: Wisconsin, along, with many other states (including our neighbor, California) are completely broke. In the Wisconsin Constitution (and many other states), it says that the budget MUST be balanced. That means it is a matter of law to have the money to run the state. The state of Wisconsin cannot print money like the federal government can, they have no other recourse but to either make the budget balance or shut down most, if not all, of the services that the state offers. In these times where everybody is making cuts and reductions JUST to make it, it is simply wrong for the union members to be allowed to bankrupt their states just for the sake of preserving the scam they have worked out with the politicians. If most everybody else has to tighten their belts and take a hit from the economic situation, what makes public sector union members so special that they can continue to have lavish lifestyles at the expense of the taxpayers, who are FORCED to support them?
Next on the list is the obvious collusion between politicians (again almost exclusively Democrat) and unions. Even our president is apparently in collusion with them. Note the many upon many visits with the president of the AFL-CIO (Richard Trumka), who himself boasts that he meets with the president at least three times a week. Then comes the overwhelming support of the debacle in Wisconsin by our president. He has made several statements about "not picking on union workers" and has even talked of picketing with them. The strange thing is that even with all of his condoning of union practices and strong-arm techniques, he is OK with the current federal worker union situation which, in fact, is that most federal employees are not or cannot be unionized. Blatant hypocrisy? You decide.
Now, as Mr. Miller pointed out, unions have influenced the current federally-mandated workers rights (such as the 40 hour work week and child labor laws). I will even concede that at the time, the labor unions probably were necessary to enact the changes needed. However, since the passing of the federal laws and mandates targeted at workers' rights, they are no longer relevant to the causes for which they were created. Most unions now just drive up prices and cripple industries, for which the government actually rewards them as in the case of Chrysler (which the UAW now owns, I believe, 51 percent of). Yeah, the federal government and our esteemed leader Mr. Obama actually GAVE the Chrysler Corporation to the very same people who ruined it in the first place. (Again, I smell collusion and also conspiracy to steal from the American people at large.)
After all of this, I not only retract any support for the union members in Wisconsin, but I strongly condemn their actions as nothing more than a criminal enterprise in collusion with corrupt politicians, and encourage all those with the common sense to see them for what they are, to speak up and be stalwart in the defense of our nation against those who would weaken and even destroy our way of life for the sake of preferential treatment and a lavish lifestyle.