Oct 272008
Authors: Ian Bezek

While it can be discouraging sorting through all the lousy amendments on our ballot this year, I urge you to look into voting yes on Amendment 47 this election. Amendment 47 is a simple change to the constitution granting a right so fundamental that it’s shocking that we fail to have it now: the right to work.

At this time, when a new hire joins a company with a union, the so-called union shop, he is forced to join the union and pay dues regardless of whether or not he approves of the union’s activities.

While unions used to be crucial to protecting worker’s rights in America, unions have outlived their usefulness.

In many cases, you would have a so-called company town where one employer would have near complete control over the town’s workers, as if there were no other competing businesses. However, our economy has grown greatly and diversified to the point where no company has an unfair grip on their employees; there are a vast number of places for us to seek jobs.

Each employer has to compete to get our labor; if I don’t like Wal-Mart’s benefits, I can go work at Target or Best Buy for instance. What role do unions now play in society? The clearest example is in the great companies they have destroyed.

Take a look at the collapse of the American airline industry or our automotive giants such as Ford and General Motors.

Almost all the airlines have had to repeatedly file bankruptcy as the ridiculous cost of labor has made airline’s costs too great, so much so that they couldn’t even merely break-even.

Airline pilots are among the most highly compensated people in America — they don’t need unions getting them even better pay or benefits.

Meanwhile, General Motors and Ford are both only months away from bankruptcy; their overpaid workers make cars that can’t compete with imports from lean aggressive competitors.

Unions could be useful if they truly represented the wishes of their workers. However, the union bosses who collect mandatory dues from their helpless members and spend them on whatever they wish have hijacked unions.

Union dues can be used on a wide variety of activities that the union boss may choose. While some of these include legitimate uses that further employees’ cause, often the money is squandered by fraud, theft, or diversion to friends and family.

Even more disturbingly, money is often used for donations to political campaigns. Union bosses can use union dues to promote whichever political candidates or causes they support without a check from the union’s general membership.

Imagine that you have just been hired at a grocery store to stock shelves for a summer job.

You don’t need a union — you’re only going to working there a couple of months, so increased benefits don’t help you.

It’s bad enough that part of your pay is diverted to the union, but imagine your horror when the union starts using your dues, your paycheck, to support the McCain campaign when you are voting for Obama. It’s simply an outrage.

Alarmists claim that Amendment 47 would eliminate unions. In fact, the amendment would make unions more valuable.

Unions that served workers interests would get their union dues, but bosses who squandered the dues would be cut off from the money trough.

A study from CNBC found that the top four states that promote business development were all right-to-work states.

In these hard times, we should give worker’s more control over their own paychecks while promoting more new business and new jobs in our state. It’s a win-win proposition, that’s why I recommend a yes vote on 47.

Ian Bezek is a junior economics major. His column appears Tuesdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

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