ARE UNIONS CIVIC MINDED?

From the desk of Stephen Cabot:Among the many parks in the state of Washington, there are two handsome parks, Dawson and Gonyea that local residents want to keep clean and useful. Through a 16-year-old program called “Adopt-a-Park,” volunteers have stepped forward to keep the grass cut and raked, to pick up garbage and even to clean toilets. Who would complain against such civic minded virtues? The Teamsters! Apparently Teamsters Local Union 117 filed a complaint with the state demanding that the county not permit volunteers to maintain the two parks. Of course, volunteers do not pay union dues, so their very presence deprives the union of funds. And as everyone knows, unions are profitable, thriving businesses. Curtail their funding and they howl about unfair practices. But if financially strapped communities save money and maintain local parks by utilizing the services of civic-minded volunteers, well, that’s unfair to the unions. After all, volunteers don’t pay dues, do not require collective bargaining, and will not go out on strike demanding raises that the community cannot afford. In other words, volunteers at the two parks have made the Teamsters superfluous, and no union wants to be thought of as powerless. This is just another example of unions imposing roadblocks that hurt communities. And when such roadblocks are imposed against local, regional, and national businesses, the unions wind up hurting the economy, hurting workers, and hurting Corporate America.

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DEMS DO UNION BIDDING

From the desk of Stephen Cabot: United Parcel Service is waging a full-strength campaign to get the U S Congress to make sure that FedEx will be subject to the same onerous union rules as itself. According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, “House Transportation Chairman James Oberstar (D. Big Labor) last year slipped 230 words into a spending bill that would make it easier for the Teamsters to unionize FedEx. This ambush was included at the urging of UPS, which has been saddled with the Teamsters for decades and wants FedEx to feel its pain.” While UPS operates under the rules of the National Labor Relations Act, which makes the company vulnerable to strikes (e.g. a 15 day strike in1997), FedEx operates under the rules of the Railway Labor Act, which discourages strikes so that there will not be any “interruptions to commerce”

FedEx delivers most of its time-sensitive packages via air, and its customers choose its services because they expected rapid uninterrupted deliveries. UPS, by other means, delivers most of its packages by truck and customers understand that delivery may take a few days.

Having failed to have itself re-classified under the Railway Labor Act, UPS would now like to have FedEx made subject to the National Labor Relations Act, which would open the doors to Teamster organizers. And that’s a potentially large dues paying number of workers for the Union: there are 125,000 FedEx workers.

Imagine, for a moment, if FedEx were to be unionized and then experience slow downs or walk outs by Teamster-organized workers. Its business model would be utterly destroyed. And so UPS is intent on lobbying Congress to make FedEx subject to National Railway Act, thus opening the door to union organizers.

Congress should ignore the lobbying of UPS and adhere to the principles of a free market economy, and UPS should work to decertify its union rather than impose restrictions on its competition. The American economy works best when companies are free to engage in unhindered competition. The answer is not to shackle one’s competition; rather, the answer is to throw off one’s own shackles and engage in a free, open, and vibrant economy.

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Would the Prisoner's Guard Themselves?

Prisoner Guard TowerWhen referring to illogical situations, it has often been said that the prisoners are running the prisons, the inmates are running the asylums, the foxes are guarding the hen houses.

Such a situation was successfully avoided at a prison in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

The Teamsters Union, ever on the look out for possible new members, had attempted to organize the Chester County Prison correction officers. The officers, ever vigilant of their responsibilities, voted 155 to 35 against forming the Chester County Corrections Officers Independent Union, which – had it succeeded – would have been allied with the Teamsters.

One can only imagine what would have occurred in the prison, if –at some future time – unionized corrections officers would have be unable to reach an agreement with the warden and the county. Would the officers have felt obliged to go out on strike? Would certain prisoners be given the responsibility of guarding their fellow prisoners?

The fact that the corrections officers believe that they can negotiate on their own, without the normal threats that unions often bring to the bargaining table, says much about their apprehension of realism and their sense of responsibility. They are to be commended for putting professional responsibilities ahead of personal interests.

The adversarial relationships that so often characterize the bargaining between management and workers have proven to be counterproductive and should be tossed onto the ash heap of labor relations history. It has proven utterly injurious to the economic health of the country.

This article was originally published here.

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