In my home state of New Jersey I have found all too often that politics and labor unions are inseparable entities. In fact, they have become so intertwined that party affiliation has become a negligible factor for candidates; party support has become second to union endorsement in this power struggle for municipal contracts and economic influence.
I chose to address this particular issue because I am fearful of the power these unions seek, I am appalled by the methods used to spread their influence, and I am concerned about the future of the free market, both here in New Jersey and on a national level.
From a historical perspective, workers have exercised their rights to assemble and organize since after the Civil War, and I welcome this First Amendment expression with open arms. The trouble arises when unions cease to be voluntary organizations of workers negotiating with their employers and instead acquire special legal protections which put the force of law behind their demands. Unions are great; government-backed unions — especially with legally mandatory membership — are not.
When this shift occurs, unscrupulous politicians and union bosses use the situation to pit employees against their employers and pose the government as workers' ally, ignoring the fact that employment is a contractual agreement between employer and employee, and no third party is necessary.
The situation gets even more concerning when government employees unionize and take the decision-making ability about the size and price of government away from elected representatives. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union membership accounts for 35.9% of public sector jobs. Factoring in the 10% to 30% higher average wage of unionized labor, it is no wonder why public sector services are so costly: tax payers are given little choice but to pay top-dollar to employ a large percentage of public workers.