My Turn by Bruce La Rue: A grievance against today’s unions

  • Posted: Monday, September 23, 2013 12:08 a.m.
Bruce La Rue
Bruce La Rue

I would like to officially file a grievance against labor unions on the grounds that they misrepresent themselves and are harmful to the country.

Please, spare me the history lessons. For the sake of preserving some hope of a rational discussion I will concede that at the beginning of the 20th century labor movement there were some wrongs which needed to be righted. Worker abuse was rampant and Big Industry needed to be called out on it. They were, and laws were enacted to protect workers. Fine. Let’s make a deal: Don’t preach to me about corporate greed, and I won’t spend a lot of time detailing how heavily involved the Communist Party was (and still is) in unionization efforts.


If thanking the early unions for all that they have done to bring about higher wages, benefits, and working conditions will smooth the way for honest and reasonable debate, fine again. Thank you to the early workers’ rights activists who, working without the net provided to today’s labor movement wannabes, literally risked their lives to make things right.

Please, also spare me the litany of talking points including, but not limited to, how the union gave us the 40-hour work week, minimum wage, overtime pay and the expansion of the middle class. Thank you for all that and, oh yeah, by the way, thanks for increasing the costs of goods and services. Thanks for chasing manufacturers out of the United States and expanding the middle class of developing countries. Blame corporate greed if you like, but if I am fishing on a pond and being pestered by gnats and mosquitoes while the folks on the other side of the pond are able to fish unbothered by such pests, why wouldn’t I go to the other side of the pond, in spite of demands by the gnats and mosquitoes that I stay?

Thanks for scorching the earth in Rowan County by placing it in the “get out” (PGT Windows, GE) or “skip over” category as opposed to “industry friendly” status it once enjoyed. Even if we can convince manufacturers that the union presence in the area is relatively weak, willing to sign contracts with no-strike clauses in order to be allowed to exist, all a company needs to do to avoid the nuisance of unionism is look to South Carolina or some other factory-friendly state like we used to be.

Today’s unions are bad for the country and our culture. Unionism discourages entrepreneurship, individualism and self-reliance. Unionism encourages dependency and a sense of entitlement. Unions sow the seeds of discontent, bitterness and resentment but rarely reap the harvest. Wheat, chaff, it doesn’t matter as long as dues get collected.

The fact that unions have never started their own manufacturing, restaurant, or retail companies made in their own image is quite telling. No one seems to be able to come up with a solid explanation for this mystery, at least no one on the pro-union side. The only flimsy excuse I have heard is that they don’t have the money. Bad answer. (1) They have plenty of money in untapped strike funds drawing interest; and, (2) how does one justify waiting for greedy capitalists to invest in a business venture, and then attach oneself like a parasite? They bring no food or drink, yet demand a seat at the table, and then complain about the food.

Public sector unions are even more of a detriment to the country. At least private sector Unionistas pay income taxes and contribute to Social Security and Medicare. The two principal functions of most public sector unions seem to be growth and conferences, both at considerable cost to the private sector taxpayer. Colleen Kelley, veteran IRS agent and president of the National Treasury Employees Union, has stated publicly that her goal is to increase the number of government employees. In light of recent revelations concerning the IRS, whose workers constitute about a third of the NTEU, do we really want more of them?

For an entertaining education on Unionism, I recommend George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” It was originally written as a warning of communism, but one is hard-pressed to tell the difference between the two belief systems.

Bruce La Rue lives in Mt. Ulla.

“My Turn” submissions should be between 500 and 700 words. Send to cverner@salisburypost.com with “My Turn” in the subject line. Include name, address, phone number and a digital photo of yourself if possible.


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