Liberal Defense of Unions Fails

David Macaray might just be the perfect example of a leftist who doesn’t understand economics. In a blog on the Huffington Post, he says,

The on-going attack on America’s labor unions comes in three basic forms: accusing unions of doing economic damage, accusing unions of being corrupt, and blaming public sector unions for gouging American taxpayers by forcing us to underwrite exorbitant pensions. While the first two are almost exclusively the product of Karl Rove-like smear campaigns, the third, though wildly exaggerated, has some basis in fact.

He goes on to say:

As for those…charges of economic damage and accusations of corruption — they are so absurd as to barely merit a response. We need to be clear: The claim that companies leave the U.S. to avoid paying union wages is false. It’s an outright lie disseminated by free market fundamentalists, and anyone who believes it is a dupe.

Strong words… Reading on, I was looking forward to seeing what sound economic evidence Mr. Macaray uses to justify his aggressive assertions.

Unfortunately, Mr. Macaray provides no citations or any evidence whatsoever for his claims. But don’t take my word for it — read the article for yourself. Apparently leftists don’t need to support their assertions with anything other than left-wing rhetoric. After all, they speak for the people, right?

If Macaray is so convinced that unions don’t do any economic damage, I wonder how he explains the destruction of Hostess at the hands of unions, or the fact that one city in Michigan saved $7.9 million annually after trimming excessive union privileges from collective bargaining contracts.

I also wonder how he would respond to a study by Sarah F. Anzia and Terry M. Moe that confirms the obvious: when unions don’t know when to stop asking for higher wages and benefits for public employees, a state’s budget gets stretched. But the state can always increase a stretched budget and thus the cost to taxpayers of supporting that bigger budget.

As irritating as Macaray’s article is, I have to give him credit because it takes guts to publicly deny the obvious: unions in the private sector which demand higher and higher wages and benefits suck up resources that would otherwise be used to make the company more profitable.

I also have to give him credit for his use of unsupported rhetoric because it justifies a response with some of my own rhetoric (fight fire with fire, right?).

I’ll add a fourth prong to the “three-pronged attack” that unions are currently facing: unions depress wages for nonunion workers. The more companies get unionized, the more companies end up cutting back on hiring since the costs of wages go up. People that could have been hired by those union companies flock to nonunion companies and the supply of their labor exceeds the demand, driving their wages down.

But I should be careful of using my own rhetoric to disagree with leftist rhetoric. Consider the strength of that rhetoric in Macaray’s thorough and scholarly rebuttal of the age-old charge that unions are corrupt:

As for “corruption,” that tired stereotype belongs right up there with “Scotsmen are frugal,” and “Southerners are backward.” I once wrote an article identifying myself as a “former union president.” Without permission, the editor changed it to “union boss,” which was wrong of him because the term was pejorative.

Who knew leftist rhetoric was so strong that it could explain away the accounts of “belligerent, coercive, and inappropriate tactics” leveled against Saucon Valley School District’s teachers union, an Arkansas circuit court’s finding of the UFCW’s use of illegal protest tactics in 2013, the 78,000 unfair labor practices that have been filed against unions in the last 10 years, the more than 9,000 recorded acts of union violence and intimidation since 1979, and the more than 2,000 union racketeering indictments since 2001?

In the face of such superior rhetoric, I have no other option to throw in the towel and admit that, in the words of the great philosopher, David Macaray, I am just a “free market fundamentalist.”