published Friday, February 21st, 2014

Hart: Labor pains: UAW's Southern exposure

By Ron Hart

Southerners are the last of the truly independent Americans. That is why the United Auto Workers (UAW) didn't stand a chance trying to sell their promises to the Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga. Workers at the plant saw through the corrupt and antiquated union mindset and voted against the formation of a union at their plant.

Tennessee is called the Volunteer State because they know they cannot make you live there. Instead, the state does the things that make people want to live there, including not imposing a state income tax.

As a result, manufacturing has grown, including a Nissan plant and a new Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga. Tennessee wants to remain Tennessee, not become Detroit. It's why manufacturing moves to the South.

Sen, Bob Corker, a rising star, has done a great job of explaining why a strong right-to-work state is important for long-term economic growth. If we study recent history, we know unions leave carnage in their wake.

The mindset of crony capitalists and the unions is to price their products (in the case of unions, it is labor) well above the market rate using coercive force. Businesses cannot pay these rates forever and survive in a global economy.

With the money they take from workers by force of law, unions become a political arm of the Democrat Party. Democrats then pursue a social agenda at odds with most union members' values.

Unlike the tea party groups targeted by Obama, unions are protected, exempt from Obamacare and the like. The Democrats' relationship with unions troubles me as much as Republican relationships with defense contractors.

Jobs, capital and talent can cross borders more quickly now than at any time in history. Globalization -- and the reality that unions do not add to productivity -- make unions dinosaurs. OSHA, the EPA and labor laws protect workers. More importantly, company owners' enlightened self-interest in having a well-compensated and productive work force will make their businesses successful.

There was a time when working conditions in our fledgling country were bad and labor needed a voice. Since then, OSHA, EPA, labor laws and a vigilant press have diminished the need for unions. But like a government agency, unions continued, morphing into surly, heavy-handed and often corrupt political operations, making demands on industries they often drive into bankruptcy.

The good news is that today only 12 percent of workers are union members, down from 20 percent in 1983. Membership in private sector unions has dropped even more: currently 7 percent, down from 17 percent. Gov. Scott Walker is to be commended for facing down public sector unions in Wisconsin, where 80 percent of Obama's "stimulus" money went to public sector unions for the fight.

If you wonder why unemployment is systemic under Obama, the answer is simple. He protects the high paying jobs and "Cadillac health care plans" of his union supporters to the detriment of other workers. These supporters then show up at his political rallies. Democrats would rather have fewer and diminishing union jobs than more jobs. Obama prefers a force of 500,000 union employees making $100,000 a year over 1,000,000 workers employed at the market rate of $50,000 per year.

Obama does not want a robust economy of empowered, confident workers. He wants union members beholden to him and likes higher unemployment so they will be dependent on government aid. Despite high unemployment, Obama's sham Jobs Council, which only met four times, was disbanded after the 2012 election. The Jobs Council's intent was only to save one person's job, and it did that in November 2012.

Ron Hart, a libertarian syndicated op-ed humorist. He can be reached at Ron@RonaldHart.com.

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