Businessman Jerry Shenk argues in today's Harrisburg Patriot-News that tough economic realities forced lawmakers to reexamine union privileges in their traditional strongholds of Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana—and that Pennsylvania faces those realities, too:
Legislation can artificially increase the costs of labor through forced unionization and prevailing wage laws, but cannot increase worker productivity. When labor costs exceed labor productivity, developers import non-union construction labor, unionized companies outsource, move, automate or go out of business. Union jobs are lost. Discriminatory laws favoring unions discourage employers from forming businesses in, relocating to, or expanding businesses in jurisdictions which unions control. Accordingly, non-union jobs are also lost.
The main reform the Midwestern states enacted removed requirements that workers give part of their paycheck to a union just to keep their jobs. These reforms not only protect individual freedom, but bring prosperity too.
In the absence of full reform, Shenk recommends two basic ones—prohibiting taxpayer-funded collection of union dues for government unions, and requiring unions to hold regular elections:
While many Pennsylvanians remain jobless, the commonwealth faces difficult budget choices and worthwhile programs serving deserving citizens are necessarily cut, taxpayers should not bear the cost of automatic payroll deduction of dues owed by public-sector union members and remitting them to their unions. Why should unions enjoy unique privileges at taxpayer expense? The legislature should pass legislation making all unions responsible for collecting their own dues...
...Politicians must periodically convince constituents of their value as officeholders. Similarly, the legislature should require unions to face their constituent members every two years, to prove their value to the workers whose dues Pennsylvania currently confiscates on the unions' behalf, and, using secret ballots, guarantee workers the freedom to re-certify their bargaining units—or to decertify them without lengthy, expensive court challenges.
Read the rest of Shenk's insightful article here.