Common Sense: Making Union Officials Help Union Members

Recently, there have been numerous protests about Republican legislation that it is supposedly anti-union and limiting the rights of workers. I don’t buy it. Let us take a look at what conservatives are pushing for.

In Idaho, the state and local governments are looking to eliminate project labor agreements, as well as eliminate union representatives being paid for negotiating union contracts on the taxpayers’ dime. In Idaho’s case this means allowing competitive bidding on government construction projects, not limiting bidding to union shops. Letting the free market determine the bids will save the state money. The proposal to do away with federal employees performing union work on taxpayer time is a no-brainer in this fiscal climate. This is a national bill proposal under the Federal Employee Accountability Act. These proposals seem to be motivated by fiscal responsibility, not resentment of unions or labor. The state cannot afford to pay more for a construction project than it has to and states cannot afford to pay public employees to negotiate contracts.

Another Republican proposal being introduced is performance-based pay for public school teachers. Again, this should not upset union officials and should delight their members. It enables union members to be paid by merit, which is how every private sector employee is judged. This allows for the best teachers to be paid more and incentivizes teachers to improve their performance. It is a win-win for the state and public employees. The state will have more competition for teaching positions, therefore states are able to hire better teachers. The public employees benefit by being paid based on merit and can achieve a higher status at an earlier point in their careers. Also, new effective and productive teachers would not be the first teachers laid off if cuts needed to be made, reducing the benefits of seniority and basing job security on performance.

Jim DeMint is proposing the National Right to Work Act, a bill strongly opposed by Big Labor. No matter how greatly union officials believe that the Right to Work law is a direct assault against Big Labor, that is simply not true. Well, maybe it is a direct attack against union officials, but not union members. The National Right to Work Act allows union members in right-to-work states to decide if they want to pay union dues or not. It does not get rid of unions. I compare the National Right to Work Law with merit-based pay for public school teachers. These proposals are beneficial for effective and valuable unions, teachers, and workers in general. The intention of the proposed laws is to keep teachers and unions accountable to their union members or to parents and students. If the unions or teachers are not producing, there needs to be a way to remove unproductive teachers and union meddling.

The upcoming proposed bills should be welcomed by the American labor force. Dues-paying union members need to have some recourse to defend themselves against union officials, who do not have union members’ best interest at heart. Similar to the outcry among progressives to increase regulation of Wall Street to protect consumers, these laws would create an atmosphere of accountability for government employees and union officials. No longer could these groups waste taxpayer money or spend union dues in ways that have negative impacts on the dues-paying members and American taxpayers.