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  • Morning Bell: How Unions Just Shot Workers in the Foot

    Union bosses are excited that they have prevented their members from getting raises.

    It’s a bit mind-boggling, but that’s what happened. Last week, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) celebrated defeating a bill in the Senate that would have allowed raises, declaring that the legislation would have stripped workers’ “fundamental rights.” The union’s blog encouraged tweeting and sharing the “good news” on Facebook.

    The RAISE (Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees) Act, introduced this year by Senator Marco Rubio (R–FL), would lift the ceiling on unionized workers’ wages by allowing employers to pay individual workers more—but not less—than the union contract specifies. It was defeated in a 45-54 vote along party lines.

    When you’re in a union, raises are usually all or nothing. They are not necessarily forbidden; the unions just have to sign off on them. Only about 20 percent of union contracts permit performance-based raises, less than half the rate in nonunion firms. This means 80 percent of workers can’t get an individual raise for doing good work—a raise must be negotiated for everyone. That certainly takes away the incentive to go above and beyond, because there are no performance-based bonuses or even merit increases.

    Instead, unions typically base pay on seniority and job classifications—not individual effort or productivity. Workers cannot bargain individually for more. By law, hard-working union members get the same pay as those who slack off.

    The RAISE Act, which has yet to garner a vote in the House but has been introduced there by Representative Todd Rokita (R–IN), would enable 2.8 million women and 4.8 million men to earn higher wages through their individual effort. Heritage research indicates that if Congress passed the RAISE Act, the average union member’s salary could rise between $2,700 and $4,500 a year.

    But union bosses don’t want that. They want to preserve the collective bargaining agreements that keep union members’ wages down.

    “Collective bargaining agreements are intended to prevent employers from making arbitrary decisions about wages,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. The word “arbitrary” can have negative connotations, often meaning that someone made a decision that wasn’t rooted in fact. But really, what worker would mind if his boss “arbitrarily” decided to give him a raise? He probably wouldn’t argue too much.

    Some employers have tried, but the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) strikes down attempts to raise wages without union permission. The Brooklyn Hospital Center rewarded its best nurses with $100 gift cards; the NLRB told the hospital to cease and desist. The Register Guard Publishing Company gave a bonus commission to employees who sold advertising contracts that the company wanted to promote. The NLRB also ordered it to stop.

    Why? Because employees earning performance-based pay know they do not need a union. Why would a worker making more than the union rate pay union dues?

    They prefer, in Teamsters President Jimmy Hoffa’s words, that “[c]ollective bargaining agreements create uniform standards for all employees.”

    This makes even less sense because performance pay would help employers, too. It increases workers’ job satisfaction—one of the reasons more and more businesses offer it—and increases the firm’s productivity. In fact, firms can pay their workers more when the business is more productive and profitable, so rewarding productivity creates a positive cycle.

    The fastest-growing jobs are those that require individual skills: professional specialties (engineering, computer science, and nursing), executive and managerial jobs (such as in marketing and human resource management), and technical and sales jobs. America’s outdated labor laws, which ignore individual effort, do not appeal to workers in the modern economy. Is it any wonder that thousands of union members fled when Governor Scott Walker (R) opened the door for them in Wisconsin?

    In effect, federal law caps the wages of 7.6 million middle-class workers. This doesn’t make sense. Even President Obama has said:

    We believe in the free market, we believe in capitalism, we believe in people getting rich, but we believe in people getting rich based on performance and what they add in terms of value and the products and services that they create.

    In a tough economy, workers are seeking opportunity, and many are fighting to be rewarded for their hard work. It’s time union bosses stopped blocking their efforts.

    Quick Hits

    • In Colorado, 32,000 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes as firefighters struggle to contain the wildfires.
    • Intelligence officials are watching “a convert to Islam who is trained in terrorist methods and can blend in easily in Europe and the United States, traveling without visa restrictions” and planning an attack, reports the AP.
    • Russian nuclear bombers engaged in war games in the Arctic near Alaskan air space in the past week.
    • Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) said the Obama Administration’s response to the Supreme Court ruling on her state’s immigration law was akin to saying “Drop dead, Arizona.”
    • A district court upheld the EPA’s regulation of carbon dioxide yesterday, meaning that if Congress doesn’t intervene, “Americans will suffer from dramatically higher energy costs and a slower economy—all for no noticeable change in the Earth’s temperature,” says Heritage’s Nicolas Loris.
    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    44 Responses to Morning Bell: How Unions Just Shot Workers in the Foot

    1. Just one more reason why unions are bad for workers.

      • muskegonlibertarian says:

        I would like to know why unions oppose this idea? I would also like to know unions can require people who are not members of the union to be forced to pay union dues? I would like to know why unions are required to do collective bargaining for people who are not members of the union? It would seem to me that the union's only obligation to do collective bargaining should be for its own members. Not for those who don't wish to belong to the union or pay dues to the union.

    2. Mike, Wichita Falls says:

      "We believe in the free market, we believe in capitalism, we believe in people getting rich, but we believe in people getting rich based on performance and what they add in terms of value and the products and services that they create."

      Oh really, Mr. President? Why don't you put your money where you mouth is? In making such a statement, he makes it clear he knows this is still a center-right country, and maybe people will still vote for him. Hopefully enough people see the chasm between his words and his actions to return him to the private sector this fall.

      Regardless of this election, it sounds like the NLRA needs to be repealed or at least heavily amended if it gives the NLRB the authority to tell a business how to compensate its employees. Obama more often likes to tell us that the free market has failed; well, it's been nearly a century since we had a free market in particular with regulations like this one.

    3. stephen says:

      So congress voted it down and you blame union leadership, what about congressional leadership? Rubio slipping?

      • mytorpor says:

        Rubio is SENATOR…meaning his a member of the US SENATE, which is controlled by DEMOCRATS! The DEMOCRATS defeated this bill, but it is going to the House, where Republicans will almost certainly pass it. Since Democrat leaders are completely controlled by the Unions, one can definitely place the blame for it's defeat directly on Union leadership and their strong lobby efforts against this bill.

      • tim says:

        Party Lines – Gee no compromising by the left?

    4. toledofan says:

      So, why are all these people paying their union dues? Isn't it ironic that a group dedicated to the rights of workers is most of the time anti-worker. Another glaring example of dumb and dumber.

    5. amy says:

      You have it all wrong in Wisconsin. The reason that many workers are leaving the union is because so much money was taken away from them in insurance costs and retirement benefits(which were already earned) that they need the membership money to survive. Many employees are now forced to get second jobs. Do nto tell me that this would not be so if there was performance based pay. I know better.

      • Clearhead says:

        Nice try, troll.

      • Clearhead says:

        It would be very interesting to know the FACTS of that of which you speak, that is, if there truly are any. I dare say that my union/management experience (from both sides) far exceeds yours, and therefore I sreiously doubt the substance in what you are implying. A worker who does a specific task within a specified time frame is nothing more than a human machine. On the other hand, if that 'worker' contributes something advantageous to the process, he/she is a valuable employee. No union will ever dictate to me what I can or cannot incentively pay my employee(s). I will agree to a set minimum wage for a set job, but beyond that, it is MY company, not some "union boss's'. If the 'union' tries to run my company for me, I will simply shut down the whole business and move it elsewhere.

      • mytorpor says:

        Amy, if this is true, so what!? Private sector workers have long been taking second jobs to make up for the excessive taxes we pay in order to provide all the plush benefit, healthcare and retirement benefits of public sector union workers! I have no qualms at all with making those who receive taxpayer dollars joining in the sacrifices we are all making!

      • 2D Okie says:

        Sweetheart, what you DON'T KNOW would fill a large library.When there was a real necessity for unions they served a purpose. But when the average american can't afford a new car or truck, can't eat at some restaurants or stay in some cities because the organized labor there has priced themselves out of the market. People need to learn that profit greed leads to inflation & continual financial instability….none of which benefit working middle-class americans. You might as well know: the so-called Liberals AREN'T!! They create problems so they can make a PRETENSE at solving the phoney CRISIS. The Housing /Banking disaster, and Global Warming/ Climate Change are typical examples that will only hurt YOU!!!!….not the limo- liberals

      • 5thDegreeInSight says:

        Keep thinking that, Sport!

      • Middleman Indepedant says:

        Amy My brother works in wisconsen for a union.I called him , just got off the phone he was one of the 40% of union workers that voted for walker.He just told me that the people in the unions are still sitten pretty good.You dem's are making up your own info and flat out lying.

        My brother knows a lot of his un ion brothers who voted for Walker. They relize that they are killing there own econemy.Sooner or later they will break the corporations and the state union workers.

        Get your facts straight and quitt being a robot for the lib's

    6. phrowt says:

      It was 1966, my foreman and his supervisor submitted a request to management to give me a meritorious raise in pay. The answer that came back from the Vice President of personnels NO, it violates the Union Contract. It was less than two years later I was promoted to Management and said BYE to a Union that limited my advancement and ability to earn what I was capable of.

    7. And to many places that have unions, one cannot work at if one does not join. So, if I join, get hired, then basically I can sit on my a__ and let everyone else do my work. There is NO incentive to actually perform!

      • mytorpor says:

        I sympathize! My middle sons first job was on a second shift cleaning crew in meat packing facility. He was forced to quit after six months because of the harassment from his fellow workers who complained that he made them look bad by actually doing his job in a timely and efficient manner! Last year he became an E7 in the Army at the age of 26….the average age is for making E7 is 38! But the Army allowed and rewarded him for doing his job in a timely and efficient manner!

      • lizzie says:

        My husband works in a union shop and that is EXACTLY what happens. He is a dedicated, hard-worker. Also, the company he works for insisted on hiring minorities who so far have proved incapable of learning the necessary skills to perform as required. So they get union wages for basically being the guy who hands my husband the next tool he needs.

    8. Jeff says:

      The poison for the union was in the very title: RAISE (Rewarding Achievement and Incentivizing Successful Employees) Act. The concepts of achievement and incentives to induce achievement strike at the heart of union and liberal precepts: " you owe us because of who we are" and " we deserve equal outcomes"

      That was never going to fly with such premises. But then, with no real experience under his belt but law school and government service, the well-meaning political careerist Rubio wouldn't know that.

      • Mary A says:


        Rubio began his political career on the city commission for West Miami in 1998, at the age of 27. Two years later, he won a special election for the Florida House of Representatives and he was subsequently re-elected to the Florida House three times. In 2007, Rubio became the first Hispanic to become the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives. He served a two-year term before launching a long-shot bid for the US Senate.
        No real experience ??

    9. Lauren says:

      The idea that Big Labor knows best is nothing new. Lenin said that the worst thing for workers is that they decide their own career path and participate in choices for themselves when it comes to employment. He called that "worker spontaneity" and regarded it as detrimental to their livelihood and that of the greater good. Collectivism requires that some do not outdo others so that no one stands out, which of course is counter to human nature where there is always someone better than yourself and also someone not quite as good. It is natural to point out what works best and reward those who achieve and create to a higher degree. To some degree, benchmarking is in fact looking for those great achievers (individual or entity) and then possibly paying them a consulting fee to show the rest a better way. We must always seek out and incentivize those who do well in their profession so that humanity continues to innovate.

    10. MJF says:

      I've worked in a "closed shop" for 33 years and it's disgusting how close unions are to Socialism. All or nothing, equality equates to conformity and individualism is non existent. Unions have driven up the prices all over the Country with the claims of trying to catch up the workers with the economy. Any idiot knows that when you raise the wages, the cost of the item goes up because union workers make, transport, assemble, stock and sell the items. Someone had to bear the cost and that is the consumer (translation US – WE are the consumer). So when the trucker gets a boost in pay, who pays for that.? We ALL do! Think of a dog chasing his tail without ever stopping – that is exactly what unionism is all about!

    11. Publius says:

      Referencing Obama's alleged support for "pay for performance" as an indication he would support such a thing is hardly a ringing endorsement. Haven't we learned the man lies for a living and what he says generally is not what he believes?

    12. Conservative Dave says:

      So my boss has to pay us under the table. Thus far he hasn't been caught and we appreciate his rewarding good work. Unions were once needed now they are engorge parasites that are so hard to get rid of.

    13. Sam Adams says:

      The President believes in the free market like Stalin beleived in free elections!

    14. James Downey says:

      Overtime pay after 8 hours and 40 hours at 1and 1/2 the regular rate is a benifet won by unions. Pensions paid to employees no longer able to work due to age is also a benifet won by unions. Health care and safty issues also won by unions also benifet all workers union or not. As far as pay the union contract covers pay for job classifacation and whoever performs that job gets that pay, everyone who does that job is or should be qualified to do it and if not then they should not be doing it. The responsability of seeing to that fassl to a supervisor and they are not union members. Please try to report a story without bias eather way.

      • Jeanne Stotler says:

        First all jobs fall under the labor Dept. now and overtime , breaks etc are covered by Federal law./ As for pensions, just try and make sure your widow gets yours, because the Union won;'t help her. My husband took a reduced payment so I would be taken care of, I have gotten not a red cent,they even claim he never worked there after 36 years of employment and money taken out of his pay each week, + Union dues deducted, and we paid 1/2 of our"Hospitalztion" and all routine care for kids and us out of pocket. Unions are passe, we do not have sweat shops except those tha employ illegal labor smuggled here for that purpose.

      • Roger says:

        LOSER-one who is incompettent or unable to succeed.

    15. jturning says:

      My center went union a few years ago, and I went from great raises and bonuses to low raises and no bonuses under the union contract which is all about rewarding seniority. There is absolutely no incentive to go above and beyond other than personal work ethic. But I've come to see that unions are all about protecting the bad employees and stifling the good ones, with the end result being to harm the business while they steal money from employees they then redirect to politicians. Throw in the Marxist rhetoric they spew at meetings and leading into contract negotiations it starts to form a bigger picture of evil that is being unleashed upon our country. A malignant cancer that if not quenched will destroy our very way of life.

    16. James Downey says:

      The reason Unions were formed in the first place was due to the way companys treated the employees. Unsafe working conditions, employee pay based on relationship to the forman, 16 hour days and no days off. No work no pay (no sick pay). When you report on a story about Unions why is it that is never mentioned. Compare products and services performed by Union employees and non Union employees and you will see the reason Employers hire Union employees. For you to paint all Union members with one brush shows your bias and perpetuates this bias.

      • Joseph McKennan says:

        When Einstein came up woth the theory of relativity it was lauded as a milestone for scientific understanding. I will agree with you that when unions first started they protected workers from unfair, greedy employers and it was a good thing.
        Now– human nature being what it is what was the first use of Einstein's breakthrough? The atomic bomb.
        What did unions produce in the long run? Jimmy Hoffa and socialized employment where — if you aren't union– you face intimidation by union bosses and worse.

    17. Bobbie says:

      Wage controls is appropriately the business owners. Wage increase is sincere when worked for according to the value of the employees work ethic. Maybe to start out employees have uniform standards but driven to higher standards when there's a challenge or pay incentive without union obstacles.

      People have an equal opportunity to apply and the business hiring staff has a right to discriminate based on what the business is looking for in an employee and the persons ability to comply with business rules and regulations. Applicant is aware of the starting pay and if offered upon agreeable terms, freely takes the job or not. If the employee doesn't fulfill his job requirements agreed upon for any personal reason, the business has a right to terminate. The government doesn't need involvement. Unions have outlived their worth. Let people conduct their business according to their business intelligence. Constitutional government is less expense of government.

      Unions prevent workers from getting raises? …cause unions are better than that…

    18. 2D Okie says:

      The Greed spiral will have to stop if we are ever to have a stable ecnomy and workers can ever expect to prosper.FACE IT! CEOs who haven't created their own company and hundreds of jobs aren't worth even a million a year and a line worker producing a product I can't afford is ALSO overpaid. We desperately need to reinstill morality and civility in our society.

    19. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      All unions have to go.

    20. Joseph McKennan says:

      Unions? We don't need no stinking unions. I STRONGLY believe that exemplary workers should be recognized and rewarded. A few years ago I heard on the radio that German auto makers were forced to let their top employees go with the rationale that they could ALWAYS find employment. Meanwhile, the consumers who buy german cars are getting a prroduct assembled by mediocre, protected, unmotivated workers. UAW assembles FORD, GM, and Chrysler corp. autos. My last auto purchase was Japanese… need I say more?

    21. bettyb says:

      This is bad alone. However, what has is happening in California!
      Union is pushing for gov. to pass law to make it necessary to pay overtime to farm workers.
      Neither employers nor the farm workers like this. Farmers by economic necessity will hire extra workers
      to do the overtime. Workers will be hurt the most.. They need the extra work w/min. pay. Many are talking
      of looking for some other pt work.

    22. Tom Sullivan says:

      This sort of union activity, prohibiting incentive pay, is un-American. The oughta' be a law…

    23. O2BMe says:

      Too long the Unions have used workers dues to pay off politicians. When a person knows because of union rules he cannot be fired, his salary is guaranteed at a certain rate, why should he work that hard for his employer. The employer's hands are tied. What point is there working hard when no one around you is and even if you do you won't earn any more than the guy goofing off. They used to joke "never buy a car put together on Monday or FrIday."

    24. Some times its a discomfort inside the ass to read what people wrote but this web site is real user genial ! .

    25. edward reese says:

      have another swig of union kool-aide, SIEU members, and continue to support your socialist leaders, the liberal senate, and the obama administration upon which they exert tremendous control. You reapwhat you sow.

    26. Laura Lea says:

      I do know that if I worked hard and opened a business…I would not want some union boss to take it away from me..that just me tho.. I would just step back and give it to them..like Hostess did…as I would no longer Really own it anymore

    27. Laura Lea says:

      Unions are breaking this country! I approve of private based unions like UPS…but public sector unions like the teachers union etc….are real drains on the private sector. Not only do we pay their salary with our tax dollars, but we pay unbelievable benefits while they retire at age 50 or less, while we work until we die! Something has to give!

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