As America’s unions struggle to remain relevant, it’s an appropriate time to consider why they have experienced so much turmoil in recent years. Part of their troubles undoubtedly stem from the fact that workers across the country are finally realizing unionization robs them of critical rights and freedoms. But the inherent risks associated with unionization are also the likely cause of many of their problems.
Sudden and prolonged work stoppages as a result of strikes are a constant threat with unions. These disruptions can occur with little notice and have the ability to affect the morale and productivity of a company.
Strikes also can place a financial burden on workers and families that depend upon a consistent source of income, and put well-intentioned employees in the position of having to decide whether to cross a picket line.
Also troubling is the literal cost of joining a union. Dues are regularly collected from paychecks without any input from members on where the money actually goes. Member dues can fund political candidates or lawmakers with beliefs that may be at odds with the values of individual members. Likewise troubling is the fact that union dues subsidize excessive Teamster salaries — something with which Chicagoans are all too familiar.
Prior to being dismissed from his post, former Local 710 Secretary-Treasurer Patrick Flynn was the highest paid Teamster official in the country. His astronomical salary of $500,000 – higher than the salary of Teamster General President James P. Hoffa – apparently was not enough to meet his needs as he and his cohorts were removed from office after an embezzlement scheme and fraudulent activity amounting to more than $250,000.
Disturbingly, Flynn wasn’t the only one with a salary well into the six figures, however, as three of his colleagues at Local 710 – including current Trustee John T. Coli – were among the highest paid Teamster officials in the entire country from 2013-2014.
It is indeed interesting, perhaps fortuitous, that Local 710’s difficulties have coincided with the recent discussion in Illinois on right-to-work. Workers should be able to decide for themselves if unionization is right for them and right-to-work ensures they are given a choice in the matter.
Rght-to-work has been proven to promote economic growth and job creation. Right-to-work states create more private jobs, have lower poverty rates, provide for more personal income growth and stimulate technology development – all of which benefit both workers, local economies, and help attract businesses to Illinois.
I encourage Chicagoans to think about the many drawbacks of unionization, ask the tough questions, and to consider the numerous benefits right-to-work offers our city and its workers.