News Story

Commentary: Labor Bosses' Vision of Collective Bargaining Hurts Workers, Society

Union plans will force Michigan to have to hang 'Closed for Business' signs


One of the most important ballot proposals in Michigan's history will be before us in November.

Union officials want voters to give them constitutional power over our elected officials to guarantee their privilege to collectively bargain. If passed, it would give union bosses more power than our elected legislators and governor, and give union bosses the ability to make economic decisions based on their agenda. It also would ban right-to-work legislation in Michigan. Right-to-work laws give workers the freedom to choose whether they want to be in a union and pay dues or special fees for union representation.

But what is so great about collective bargaining?

Collective bargaining is a term coined in 1891 by European socialist Beatrice Webb. Webb was a communist sympathizer, author of “Soviet Communism: A New Civilisation?” and member of the Fabian Society, a group of European socialists.

As a pro-union UAW member who happens to be a realist, I have a different view of collective bargaining than most union officials.

The idea that you can equally serve the needs of large numbers of employees by negotiating terms of employment en masse ignores basic rights and crushes a person's individualistic spirit. Union officials want to categorize workers as drone bees in a hive, but we each have differing abilities and strengths, hopes and dreams, and wants and needs that collective bargaining cannot hope to address.

Collective bargaining steals away distinctiveness and strips workers of basic human dignity because it essentially tells workers that they are no better or worse than anyone else.

In other words, it is Marxist in nature, which is anti-American.

It also eliminates a person’s ability to financially benefit from excelling at their job. Collective bargaining creates a wage-ceiling that no employee under the contract can exceed. The incentive to excel is thus bargained away.

The heart of the problem is that collective bargaining restrains the earning potential of the good employee while protecting and even rewarding the unproductive behavior of a bad employee.

It demands that everyone receive equal pay — no matter a person's effort, ability or merit. Ignoring these three crucial qualities and paying every worker the same is unethical and unfair. 

Collective bargaining is a disincentive to a productive workplace because it rewards those workers who only do enough to avoid getting fired, and discourages people who work hard and try to excel above their fellow workers. It destroys employee competition, which is essential in creating a winning atmosphere.

Workers deserve more than being pigeonholed into a salary just because they are part of a large group. Forcing employers to pay top wages for an unproductive employee is no less than blackmail, and it destroys an outstanding worker's incentive to improve.

For these reasons and more, collective bargaining rules must be changed immediately.

Salary must not be based on a single amount for all who fall within a classification, but should be based on effort, ability and merit. It is immoral to do anything less.

Unless collective bargaining is reformed to compensate exceptional employees and to financially punish unproductive workers, most Americans and businesses will continue to turn their back on union policies.

It is such a disincentive that if we give union bosses economic control of Michigan in November, we will have to replace the "Welcome to Pure Michigan" signs that greet drivers entereing our state to say instead: "Closed for Business."

Terry Bowman is a UAW member and the president of Union Conservatives Inc., a 501(c)4 non-profit organization.