SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

August 20, 2013

A look at what others are saying

(Continued)

There are other serious differences. But we hope that a spirit of compromise and common sense continues to prevail.

— The New Haven (Conn.) Register

Waning union power

In a USA Today article, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said his organization was in crisis. His was an acknowledgement that union membership is at historic lows. This matters because without dues-paying members there isn’t enough money to buy politicians or to pay his salary.

According to a Fox News report, just 7 percent of Americans now belong to a union and only 4 percent of young people. So Trumka has proposed strategic partnerships with other liberal organizations, like the NAACP and Sierra Club, to salvage his last vestiges of influence.

But Trumka’s plan makes no mention of organized labor’s role in its own demise. First it was by driving up private sector labor costs, thereby forcing private manufacturing jobs overseas. Then, to compensate for the loss of membership in manufacturing industries, unions moved their corrosive influence to the public sector. There, lo-and-behold, they drove up labor costs and brought lots of cities and states to the brink of insolvency. As the scant few remaining Detroit residents can attest, it’s hard to pay union dues when nobody has an income.

Technology and automation have further exacerbated union declines. But are Trumka and his crony pals smart enough to read the writing on the wall? Probably not, based on labor’s latest attempts to recruit fast-food workers to its rolls — promising them that unionization will double their current salaries. What labor doesn’t tell the minimum wage food-service workers is that the day after they organize, every single one of them will be replaced by touch-screen ordering systems.

You’d think that big labor would have learned this lesson by now. In the long run it’s better for everyone that they haven’t.

— The Caledonian Record of St. Johnsbury, Vt.

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