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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/15938/more-for-me-does-not-mean-better-for-us/

More for Me Does Not Mean Better for Us

March 8, 2011 by

Union defenders have justified their position based on little more than the assertion that some union benefited them or some member of their family. FULL ARTICLE by Gary Galles


Carl March 8, 2011 at 9:38 am

Good article. This is one of the most succinct articles I have read on the current public union fiasco. Hit all the points and did it well, thanks.

Of course, too many people still regurgitate what they heard in public school about Unions being the defenders of human rights against the capitalist scourge. It’s an uphill battle, but even if I can reach just one person, and than that person can reach one person, etc (pay it forward), than maybe a small difference will be made.

Drigan March 8, 2011 at 11:14 am

I don’t understand the argument about how unions harm all other workers. Union workers are effectively eliminated from the pool of workers that businesses can draw from, so they wouldn’t be *lowering* the wages of other workers by their non-presence, but raising other workers’ pay by their lack of competition. What did I miss here?

They would certainly raise costs on their own products, harming workers who buy their goods, but that’s a very indirect and non-aggressive route of harm, and can be avoided by not buying union made goods. (My own personal preference.)


J. Murray March 8, 2011 at 11:37 am

That would only apply in an actual free market. With the cocktail of laws at the Federal level, and in many States, unions can effectively force themselves on businesses. This is particularly evident in the Rust Belt.

Davis-Bacon, for instance, forces non-unionized construction firms to pay union wages for any government construction project. This in turn drives up local wages as other firms now have to compete for the quality labor with an entity that’s now getting a full taxpayer reimbursement to pay significantly higher wages.

Norris-LaGuardia blocks employers from refusing to hire non-union workers or establish that terms of employment include not joining unions.

The National Labor Relations Act banned employers from refusing to deal with labor unions. In a free market, an employee group can form a union, but the employer can ignore the union. With the passage of the NLRA, employers are required to engage in negotiations with labor unions. Combined with political control in 28 of the US states, they were able to force employers into union shop agreements, which made joining the union a condition of employment.

Many states have standing laws that striking employees cannot be fired or replaced. Private property is commandeered and considered public property, so striking employees can actively hinder or stop business activities by physically blocking the entry and exit of a facility by other individuals who chose not to strike.

For the most parts, unions get what they want because of all the tools available to them. They can actively fold all local business under union purview without debate, raise wages on their employees, and block non-union members from working at all.

Unions would, for the most part, not exist in a free market. Unions in all history are reliant on government support to keep them solvent and relevant, either through direct support as today or, before the 1930s, via destructive monopoly laws and other interferences (see the novel The Jungle for the impacts of a government controlled industry on workers, even though the author was a clueless Communist supporter that thought it was a problem with free markets). Why would anyone join an organization that can, at any time, be ignored by the group they’re attempting to petition? Why pay that organization dues? This is a major reason why the right to work states have far fewer unions, labor unions are unable to force workers to pay dues, thus become insolvent.

RTB March 8, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Short answer: The extra money used to pay inflated union wages comes from somewhere. It is essentially removed from the vast pool of resources that would pay for other existing and potential workers.

D Newberry March 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm

mr murray, you obviously have not a clue about union, well spoken, but clueless when it comes to unions and what they stand for. As a member of a union (along with my dad and my grandfather) I enjoyed a fair wage for a fair days work. I also became an employer and worked up to 10 people and also paid them a fair wage (living wage) I worked for nearly 30 years and retired and am now
drawing my union pension. And now with the economy in the tank and the middle class a distant memory, I find it hard to believe (unless you are in the top 1% income bracket) there are people like yourself that has issues with unions, Unions are what this country was built on. Unions are the guiding light for the middle class and yes we do negotiate for ALL labor, although I am no longer in
the union, i served on our executive board and finance committee and do know what I speak.
Unions would not exist if and only if labor in our country were not exploited time and again.
I pay my dues proudly and benefit greatly from $19.00 per month.

Wandering Cynic March 8, 2011 at 6:25 pm

I lost one of my best jobs to a union.

Back in the day when I was contract labor I made a pretty good living. What I did was hard work, but I was paid fairly for my labor.

Then the company I worked for merged with a national corporation and the word came down that the entire company was to be union only. Two weeks later I was out on my rear end along with every other contractor. The company was nice enough to offer to “re-hire” me for my old job as a union man…doing three times the work at less than a 3rd of what I used to make. I declined.

At least I had the option to move on. After the merger the other employees (who were union at the time) were divided into two equal groups. Group A and Group B.

Group A found their positions eliminated due to budget cuts.

Group B took a pay cut and was made to take over the duties that Group A used to do.

The union leadership’s response? Increase union dues to make up for Group A being “right sized” and let everyone else know that if anyone even thought about striking or voicing out against the merger they would find their position on the chopping block within 24 hours.

The one bit of Joy was that the new CEO who did all the cutting was himself let go a few weeks after the merger was finalized and all the job/wage cutting done. Still, he had the gall to go to another of the companies he helped boot out and ask them if they had opening in management!

Group A did have its revenge in the end. Several went on to start their own (union free) businesses to compete with their former employer. I worked with a few of them for a while and made much better wages than if I had taken my old job back. To this day they continue on while the former employer is but a shadow of its former self and its service quality a laughing stock of half the state.

RTB March 8, 2011 at 9:49 pm

Exhibit A

Drigan, I can think of no other post or comment that could have demonstrated the authors point better.

Thank you. Well done.

RTB March 8, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Sorry Drigan, that was in response to D Newberry.

D Newberry March 8, 2011 at 11:22 pm

kinda vague rtb. just say what you are thinking??

Joe March 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm

@D. Newberry,
If I were you I would not push the issue with J. Murray. He is being nice to you probably because he understands your ingrained bias towards unions will never be shaken. Even if the truth were staring you in the face.

D Newberry March 9, 2011 at 1:21 pm

well, well a little threat? Joe, if you got something to say don’t be skeered, just say it. As far as my “ingrained bias”, I am not here to say that unionism is the only way, it is simply an alternative way to get paid a living wage and get benefits which I am enjoying now. I feel non-union is the checks and balances that unions need to keep from becoming too powerful. I must say, and I repeat, “unless you are in the top 1% income bracket we all benefit from a collective bargaining agreement” whether you are in a union or not, that (the truth) has staired me in the face and I am certain of that, because I lived it for 30+ years. Not biased just a freaking fact. It worked for me and I don’t make any money for saying this or benefit in any way from promoting the union lifestyle.

Vanmind March 26, 2011 at 2:40 pm

“…paid a living wage and get benefits which I am enjoying now.”

…at the expense of others, just like any mugger.

Oh, but if it works for you…

Newberry March 26, 2011 at 6:40 pm

If I could get your address I’ll make sure I give it to all the underpaid, disgruntled employees of Walmart that I’ve personally talked to over the years.

Brian March 8, 2011 at 10:57 pm

Can someone steer me to details on the 1973 Emmons ruling that the author refers to? When I google it, the only relevant links seem to be to this article. Thanks…..

D Newberry March 8, 2011 at 11:41 pm

I know you have crossed a bridge or got in a elevator or driven a car went to a movie etc. etc. then you do support union labor, because union labor built this country.

Anthony March 9, 2011 at 1:00 am


Unions do not do what you think they do… at least in the private sector. It is impossible to increase wages above their market rate without making the unionized company less competitive than its non-unionized counterparts. That is why so many unionized companies are bankrupt, and a good chunk of the reason why so many manufacturing jobs left the US. The lucky few who retained their jobs gain more money at the expense of those who either became unemployed or are forced to leave their chosen field due to their company downsizing or going bankrupt. I have personally been affected because I worked for a unionized company that went bankrupt when their contracts started going to a non-unionized competitor.

In the government it is a different story, of course. Since governments don’t go bankrupt there is no limit on how high unions can raise their wages, this time at the expense of tax payers (who are mostly not receiving the inflated wages given to many government workers)

One last thing… it is impossible to achieve a real (controlled for inflation) increase in wages or working conditions for a whole society through union methods. Goods must be produced before they can be consumed, so the only way to raise real wages is to produce more things. Taking extra money (above the level determined on the market) away from producing companies and giving it to employees to be consumed would decrease real wages, not increase them, since there would be less stuff to go around.

Try looking around on this site; the Mises Daily articles cover thousands of topics and maybe a few will catch your fancy. You might find that some of the things you take for granted won’t stand up to a closer examination…

p.s. Welcome to the forums.

Vanmind March 26, 2011 at 2:42 pm

HAHAHAHAHA! As if without unions none of those things would exist. More of those things would exist, and more jobs would exist, and real wages would be higher.

Stop being a monster.

Newberry March 26, 2011 at 6:39 pm

stop being a faggot!!

Tom March 9, 2011 at 3:14 am

Interesting article and comments. I too am a retired union worker with pension and benefits. So maybe I should be biased. But not so much.
I saw work rules destroy competitiveness. Yet I saw the union contract protect our health and safety.
Mention was made of the violent past of unions. Yes, without question. But have we forgotten the many heads busted by company hired thugs, or the children who lost limbs in unsafe working environments?
However the uglyness of elected officials leaving the state rather than facing up to the realities of their job is frightening. Public unions live off of the taxpayer. As a taxpayer I have a right to expect those employees to work for reasonable wages in line with the private sector. They have displayed thuggery and malice in depicting other government workers as totalitarian dictators.
So reasonable people can agree. Unreasonable ones tear down the fabric of society.

D Newberry March 9, 2011 at 9:34 am

I also witnessed work rules that were ridiculous and potentially harm the unions reputation. Especially, when I first started working through the union (in the late 70′s), there were union rules that were almost embarrassing. As time went on though and the elected officials either retired or were voted out of office those “embarrassing” rules were voted out. And so as time went on there were more and more changes for the better. We were a group of highly skilled labor that kept their jobs through hard work and knowledge, not through intimidation. During the reagan administration, work got very slow and we were allowed to work for non union companies that were doing various jobs in the area. This got us through and eventually went back to work through the union.
So Unions do “exactly” what I “know” they do, especially in the private sector. Anthony, you are way out of line with that statement. Maybe you should have been more selective with who you work for, I’ve NEVER worked for a company that has gone bankrupt and they are all still in business to this day. But I guess that is what free market capitalism is all about, only the strong will survive. (unless of course you own a bank in the u.s.)
I’ve seen it from both sides and worked much safer with better pay
and benefits, which comes through “NEGOTIATIONS”. Negotiations are what guarantees that the unions are not out of line with what the markets can bear. Maybe unions aren’t for everybody but make no mistake unions dictate the working conditions and pay for every working person. Do not rely on our government to do that for us, because unless we stand as one against the greedy and oppressive we will be slaves once again.

Anthony March 9, 2011 at 5:16 pm

Nobody here is arguing that unions should be outlawed or even that they are detrimental to the extent that they are voluntary organizations. What we are arguing against are first, public sector unions (maybe you can agree with Tom above?) and, second, unions that force people to go on strike/pay union dues as a condition for employment.

Workers should absolutely be free to form a group and negotiate with their employer to increase their wages. On the other hand, workers who are willing to continue to work for their current wage should not be prohibited from working just because 50% of their peers want to strike. I oppose the initiation of force against people who only want to keep doing their jobs… do you?

(Note that taking money from a paycheck without allowing people to opt out is a use of force just as much as if someone came to your house to collect union dues).

Andy March 14, 2011 at 3:37 am

“(Note that taking money from a paycheck without allowing people to opt out is a use of force just as much as if someone came to your house to collect union dues).”

Do you mean like being told you will lose your job if you refuse to work without proper safety equipment? Nice try on their part, but my fathers union decided OSHA should settle that matter.

Why are you all so strong when it comes to standing up against governement, but such pussies when it comes to your employers? If the market demands a price that doesn’t allow my employer to provide a safe work environment, I’m just supposed to suck it up? I don’t know where you all live, but just leaving your job to find another isn’t as simple as it sounds.

The market isn’t just consumers and entrepreneurs. Labor seems to be largely irrelevent to the Libertarians.

D Newberry March 14, 2011 at 11:26 am

One more thing on this whole union vs. non-union debate. walmart is a perfect example what every employer would look like (to various degrees) if employers were allowed to pay the wages that THEY think is fair. ninety-five percent of walmarts employees are also on welfare because the minimum wage doesn’t support a family. How is that fair? we (taxpayers) subsidize walmart payroll. watch the documentary “The High Cost of Low Prices” or read the book by Bill Quinn, How walmart is Destroying America!

J. Murray March 14, 2011 at 11:46 am

That documentary outright lies, actually. Wal-Mart employees make well above minimum wage and aren’t heavy welfare recipients.

D Newberry March 14, 2011 at 1:56 pm

So, Mr. Murray if you read, listen or watch something that contradicts your beliefs, then it must be LIES? You are probably NEVER wrong either, huh? Try reading the book then. What do these film makers or writers get out of bashing poor little walmart? walmart is the biggest exploiter of labor in this country. They drive ma and pa stores out of business, or wait, you probably think those are all lies too.
Believe what you want. walmart is hiring if you need a job.

Vanmind March 26, 2011 at 2:48 pm

Wrong, ignorant person. Under free markets, any employers who decided to pay workers only what THEY think is fair would quickly go bankrupt as competitors scooped up all the best workers by paying them more.

Walmart exploits no one, because despite the damage that dirty unions have done to job opportunities, no one is forced yet to work at Walmart.

Newberry March 26, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Mr. Nomind, I actually take that as a compliment since its coming from a fucking moron. Walmart does not compete fairly and this country no longer is a free market society. Walmart is the most socialist company that you will ever see. When the vast majority of their employees qualify for govt. aide and Walmart promotes and encourages their employees to apply for WIC, section 8 housing and food stamps, this is part of their “benefits” package. So really the tax payers subsidize Walmarts payroll. When our govt. bails out companies that would have otherwise gone bankrupt, and subsidize companies payrolls, you can not talk free market society.
So please do yourself and your family a huge favor and take a long walk off a short pier. I will not respond to your stupidity any more.

D Newberry March 11, 2011 at 1:03 am

The thing is, Anthony, nobody is forced to join the union. A person joining the union knows before or shortly after joining, that what benefits the union as a whole is what takes precedence, not the individual. If, at any time someone is opposed to strike, pay dues, not cross a picket line etc. they are more than free to leave the union. Just as freedom is not free. Wages and benefits that everyone (in my union at least) enjoys by being a union member are also, not without sacrifice.

Vanmind March 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm

Of course people are forced to join unions if they want a job in an industry where unions have conducted job-destroying fraud in the name of “helping workers.” It’s fraud, pure & simple.

Joe March 11, 2011 at 4:25 pm

@D. Newberry,
First of all I believe that unions are detrimental to the economy. I say this even though at one point in my life I worked for a union. (Very briefly) My father also worked for the carpenter union for over 40 years and retired. (if he wants to keep his pension he cannot work as a carpenter anymore.)
I find it amusing how you use the tired old slogans that unions spout. It is almost a brainwashing.
“Fair wages for a fair days work.” The problem with this is what is fair to you might not be fair to someone else. To subjective to hang your hat on.
“Unions are what this country was built on.” Well of course union workers had contributed but I would think just based on numbers alone, non-union workers built more.
“…we do negotiate for ALL labor.” This one is really hard to swallow. Read the last sentence of the following and see if that sounds like unions negotiating for all labor.
Union ideology was abstracted largely from nineteenth century socialist theory. It borrowed from socialist theory not only the notion that laborers could not get their just reward in the market but also the class struggle thesis. This thesis is essential to the classic position of labor unions. That is, unions claim to be acting for “labor,” or, in other words, the working class. On this thesis, labor is engaged in a struggle with capital.[2] Virtually, all the general public sympathy for unions as well as their intellectual justifi cation depends on the acceptance of this thesis. Remove it, and labor unions are exposed for what they are: organizations of some workers to exclude other workers, organizations seeking to benefit at the expense of others, and organized to use coercion to achieve their ends.

D Newberry March 12, 2011 at 12:26 am

@Crazy Joe, as I’ve already said If someone doesn’t want to work union they are more than welcome to leave. I see you even worked for a union, but unless you show some aptitude toward the trade (whatever it was you were doing), you probably would have been removed to make room for someone with more skills. So with that said I’m sorry your experience with unions were so bad that you feel you need to bash union labor. I’m sorry to hear about you dad not being able to do small carpentry jobs without losing his retirement. That is why I went to my union meetings and in a democratic way would change rules and policies that had become out dated/unfair. Our union also had a rule in place that didn’t allow retirees to work at all in retirement, but because that put an undo hardship on our retired brothers it was voted out in the mid 80′s. My union allows me to do whatever I want as long as I am not competing for that job with a union shop (even in retirement), we can hold a contractors license (which I did for almost 20 years), if my union can not find me employment I am free to look for my own jobs (after 2 months of unemployment, even with a non-union shop) which is what I had to do during ronald reagans first term as prez. Sure non-union probably built more am/pm mini markets or kentucky fried chickens or wal marts but they did not build the hospitals, bridges, public housing, refineries, universities etc. etc. etc. To try to compare the skill level between a union and non-union employee is like trying to compare the National Football League to Junion High School Football (no comparison), please don’t get me wrong, I think non-union has its place, it is a very good checks and balances for unions. Left unchecked I’m
sure it would get out of hand, kinda like leaving the bankers unchecked. lol. Last but not least we are not a thesis, we are HARD WORKING, MIDDLE CLASS, SKILLED AMERICANS, something this is country is short of, and to need to defend the last bastion of the middle class in this country by some pissed off union basher is similar to coming home from war only to yelled at and spit on. And no that is not union rhetoric, those are my words.
I hope that pretty much clears it up for you. I’m sure you totally understand the union position and now have sympathy for our struggles. lol. just a happy, retired union member (don’t be too jealous)
Now nepotism did exist at one time (before I got in, in the late 70′s) but unions now cannot discriminate against anyone for anything (unless they are not skilled and smart). Even though unions, back in the day, did resort to violence/intimidation, but what the union did pales in comparison to what hired company goons did to union members

Joe March 12, 2011 at 10:32 am

@D Newberry,
So you still want to hide behind your socialist slogans and BS. The bottom line is as I stated before.
“labor unions are exposed for what they are: organizations of some workers to exclude other workers, organizations seeking to benefit at the expense of others, and organized to use coercion to achieve their ends.”
Just for the record. The union job I had was just for summer fun. I went on to college and started a career which paid me quite well based on my education and skills. I am happily retired and doing quite well. As for being jealous you have to get serious. The only people that would be jealous of you are people like you.

D Newberry March 12, 2011 at 11:15 am

@Crazy a@# Joe
Dude you WILL NOT see me hide behind anything. I say what I mean and mean what I say.
How the hell can you have any opinion about what union means if you were only allowed to work for them for one freaking summer before they assessed your skill levels and let you go. That would be like me talking to you about you doing whatever it was you were doing (Janitor?) and telling you what you were doing wrong and how screwed up janitors were. As for your dad he should have changed the bylaws by going to meetings, if he’s like 99% of the carpenters I knew he didn’t even bother going at all. We changed our bylaws by secret ballot, similar to the way American Citizens vote. Try it some time.
You are so ignorant when it comes to unions you really should try bashing the banking system in the U.S. it is much more corrupt, greedy, lazy, and criminal than union labor ever dreamt of. And totally not what free market capitalism stands for.
Like I said don’t hate the playa hate the game.

Joe March 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm

@D Newberry,
I can see why you made it in the union because you were a person that doesn’t think and you followed the party line. Actually, you aren’t like the original members of unions that were given collective bargaining. You were three generations removed and just came in as a parasite sucking on the host. If it wasn’t for your family getting you into the union you probably would have had a hard time getting a job at a fast food restaurant. Oh, well I guess we really have a different point of view. I presented mine 2 times now and you just didn’t comment. I don’t know if you don’t understand my comment or if you recognized it you would have to question your union membership. For the third time here it is:

“labor unions are exposed for what they are: organizations of some workers to exclude other workers, organizations seeking to benefit at the expense of others, and organized to use coercion to achieve their ends.”
Speak to this if you can.

D Newberry March 13, 2011 at 5:02 pm

First of all you are an idiot, not just ignorant when it comes to unions but an idiot when it comes to life. You couldn’t keep your union job because they found you in the out house sucking on the foreman, thinking you could keep your “summer fun” job before you went off to college at BKU (burger king university) ha! ( I’m having way tooo much fun here, even though you probably don’t have the balls to read it to the end). Your dumb ass is just lucky you have spell check on your computer or you would be exposed for what you really are a dumb ass, college drop out, faggot.
For the third time, now listen carefully give your wife and my kids a hug from daddy.
Piece of shit.

Vanmind March 26, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Translation: “If you want to contract with a potential employer on your own terms and not on the terms dictated to you by pretense of union authority, you’re welcome to find employment at a different company.”

Stop committing fraud.

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