What conservatives say about labor unions versus what they know about labor unions

Economic absurdities that
Democrats must expose:

...because it's wrong to penalize success and hard work.

...therefore, we should eliminate the capital gains tax.

...After all, they came from, and understand, business.

...even though it is based on pitting the worlds' workers against each other.

...union bosses are only out for themselves.

...and the more the rich have, the more will trickle down to everyone else.

...Democrats are communists, or at least, socialists at heart.

...so when we tax wealthy investors, we lose jobs.

...so investors, not workers, create wealth.

...so we should give them all the tax breaks possible.

...Democrats just want to tax and spend today.

General Issues:

...check out this 2-minute video.

...It's a mountain, and a terrible defense of globalization.

...for those of Indonesia, Mexico, China and India.

...and how not to do it again.

...and the "crisis" is just a ploy by those who want to destroy it.

...Republicans' most important propaganda technique.

...and get the media on your side

This Site

    The Wall Street Journal editorial below is typical of the outwardly expressed purposes of conservatives who oppose labor unions—to benefit workers, of course:

Time to End Compulsory Unionism

The political power brandished by the union hierarchy grows directly from the federally sanctioned privilege of compelling millions of Americans to accept union "representation" they do not want, and then to pay billions of dollars into union treasuries, or be fired…

Congress should stand on principle and give workers their full freedoms by passing the National Right to Work Act.

WALL STREET JOURNAL, February 26, 1997, A1.

    In their news stories, however, conservatives are forced to admit that unions not only bring higher wages and better working conditions for union workers, but for non-union workers as well:

Why Inflation Isn’t Sprouting in Mr. Greenspan’s Neighborhood

Puny pay gains among union members make it hard to see how any upward push on wages will gel among workers generally.

BUSINESS WEEK, May 8, 1995, 30.

Shaking The Blue-Collar Blues

Even many who stayed in manufacturing lost ground when they were squeezed out of lucrative union jobs, such as those in autos and steel. Columbia’s Bloom says that in 1980 only 47% of high school graduates over 25 and 40% of dropouts held union jobs. By 1988 only 31% of graduates and 25% of dropouts were paying dues.

As membership dwindles, union settlements no longer piled up wages at non-union shops. "The ethos that drove employers to treat workers more or less equally has weakened," says Brookings Institution labor economist Gary Burtless. With competitive pressures growing, companies drove wages down.

FORTUNE, April 22, 1991, 214.

Trucking Firms Find It Is a Struggle to Hire And Retain Drivers

What caused truck drivers’ work lives to deteriorate, trucking executives say, is cost-cutting forced by intense competition. After deregulation opened truck routes to new entrants in 1980, carriers turned to cheaper, nonunion drivers and employed no-frills trucks.

WALL STREET JOURNAL, December 28, 1993, A1.

Sweeney’s Blitz

Today, though, workers may be receptive to labor’s renewed message, coming as it does after two decades of wage stagnation and heightened inequality.

In the 1980s, for example, the 10-year average earnings of the bottom fifth of male wage-earners plunged by 34%. Now more than half of families say two members must work to make ends meet. And constant downsizing has chewed away at pay and job stability, even among professionals…

If unions do regain power, Corporate America is certain to feel the squeeze. With just a tenth of private-sector employees in unions today, most employers have had a free hand to hold down labor costs. Reunionization would force up pay and benefits, which typically are 20% higher among union members…

Globalization and the growth of services, too, will continue. Employers still have the upper hand in most unionization battles.

BUSINESS WEEK, February 17, 1997, 56.


For Richer, for Poorer

It is a combination of lightly regulated labour markets and global economic forces that has done much more than particular fiscal policies to favour the rich over the poor.

In America and Britain, except at the very bottom of the income distribution, wider wage differentials have been the most important force behind increasing income inequality in recent years…

All countries have been buffeted by the forces of changing technology and stronger global competition. So why should wage differentials in most of continental Europe have changed by much less?

The answer is that deregulation in America and Britain has allowed market forces to do their work, whereas in continental Europe powerful trade unions, centralized wage bargaining and high minimum wages have propped up the wages of the low-paid.

Indeed, pay differentials narrowed through the 1980s in western Germany, where trade-union membership has held steady at around 40% of workers over the past 20 years; in America, membership has fallen from 30% to 12% since 1970. A study by Richard Freeman of Harvard University confirms that, in general, wage inequalities are smallest in highly unionised countries.

THE ECONOMIST, November 5, 1994, 19.

    Every conservative who reads the world's premier CONSERVATIVE financial publications—the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, Business Week, or The Economist—has to know that unions improve working conditions and incomes for all workers, union and nonunion alike. They also know that wealth is a zero-sum game—that is, the more money workers make, the less profit a corporation makes. And that is the ONLY reason conservatives hate unions and do everything they can to destroy them. The welfare of workers is absolutely, totally irrelevant to them.

    Obviously, that isn’t the message they give to the public.