By Fred Wszolek
Samuel Gompers, the founder of the American labor movement, said that the worst unfair labor practice was an unprofitable employer. Too many in the American labor movement have lost sight of Gomper’s wisdom. Instead, they are simply driven by a desire for “more.”
Instead of being “inequitable” as the assistant professor suggests, the two tier salary system appears to be the employer’s good faith attempt to preserve a salary and benefit level for current workers, but which the company can no longer afford, while paying a lower more competitive salary and benefit level for new employees.
The professor’s claim of the Indiana right-to-work bringing a return to pre-Wagner Act days demonstrates that he is mired in the collectivist mindset of the 1930s. But times have changed and workers today want a less combative more cooperative relationship with their employer. They are confident enough to be able to work without the artificial protection of a seniority system that too often protects the poor performer, while it punishes the good-performer. Employers for their part want much of the same and they want to pay good salaries and benefits, but at a level that they can afford. There are exceptions, but being guided by exceptions does not make for good policy choices.
As for the impact of the right-to-work law, Indiana workers are now in the driver’s seat. If they don’t like what the union is doing they can vote with their pocketbook. Union-inspired strikes that the bulk of employees often do not want cannot easily be declared without the union suffering a decline in union dues. But isn’t that a good thing?
It is time the American labor movement moved into the 21st Century.