Since the industrial revolution, unions have played an increasingly powerful role in the workplace. Unions began as workers who organized groups in order to negotiate for better working conditions, higher wages, and greater benefits. As time has passed, unions have grown larger and have become extremely active in the political realm. As the unions’ powers have grown, especially in the public sector, they have been able to commandeer legislation requiring public workers to pay union dues in order to keep their jobs. This insures the unions remain powerful and guaranteeing their ability to continually request greater benefits. Unfortunately, this stands in the way of the workers fundamental right to choose. For example, workers who do not wish to be union members, because of philosophical or religious beliefs, have no choice in the matter. Thus, their freedom of choice is violated. While unions do provide workers with benefits, public employees should not be required to join as a condition of employment.
There is currently a great debate in the United States over the role and position of unions. Advocates of workers’ freedom support “right to work” states in which unions cannot force workers to sign union contracts as a condition of employment. Twenty-two states have passed right to work legislation and many more have proposed legislation to become right to work states. States that pass this legislation on average have a 1.2% lower unemployment rate than those that do not, as well as lower budget shortfalls (Andrews).
As the reality of the current economic situation in the United States sets in, many states are looking for ways to save money and decrease unemployment rates. Wisconsin, Indiana, and Ohio are just a few of the many that have proposed legislation dealing with right to work laws. Wisconsin Governor, Scott Walker, is a strong advocate and forerunner in the push to pass legislation barring unions from requiring workers to pay union dues. He has stated, “We can no longer live in a society where the public employees are the haves and the taxpayers are the have-nots” (Greenhouse, “Strained”).
Besides creating economic problems, requiring workers to join unions can result in low productivity and the power to impose ludicrous regulations. Low productivity comes as a result of the employer’s inability, due to union power, to reward outstanding workers and punish or lay off poor workers. In America, the largest public sector union is the NEA, or National Education Association. This union protects its workers to such an extent that even underperforming teachers are able to keep their jobs. In 2009, Arne Duncan, President Obama’s Education Secretary, addressed the NEA. He stated, “When inflexible seniority and rigid tenure rules that we designed put adults ahead of children, then we are not only putting kids at risk, we’re also putting the entire education system at risk”(Lessons Learned). Unfortunately, the greed...