An employer has tremendous power over an individual worker. The purpose of a union is to offset some of that power. Employers, Unions and Power form a triptych that has a positive and negative direction. How about Government, Voters and Individuals? There is no corresponding offset to the power of government against the individual. Voting doesn’t work against the practically unlimited power of government. Even the United Nations cannot rein in a rogue government. In fact the UN has helped install them. Kosovo is a case in point. Kosovo is a new country created by the UN that took part of Serbia away from Serbia by force.
In the day to day world of Employer/Employee relations a union is a partial counterweight to the balance of power. An employer has most of the power but a union can offset the power with it’s power over the workforce. The trump card for an employer who is confronted by a rogue union that makes irrational demands and that will strike the company is to close.
A union that confronts an employer should be mindful of the strike offset of closure. In Philadelphia a huge employer, Yale with over 3,000 union and non-union workers was closed partly in response to numerous strikes in addition to the economic power of off-shore manufacturing. Which came first? The strikes.
The offset calculus is far different when the employer is government. Even democracy cannot offset the power of a government union because the union gets two seats, the vote of the employees and the vote of a citizen. Government doesn’t vote. The power is not offset. Politics provides some balance but the power of a government union is strengthened by the power of it’s members to also vote for the government institution from which it’s benefits flow.
Industry has learned to treat employees properly in large part because of unions. But the private market can close so the union cannot pull too much power away from the employer. Government has no such power which explains why unions have declined in the private sector and grown within government. Will unions try to organize the religious market?
A political party organization seeks to control government by getting candidates and getting them into elected positions. The power of American government is in large part controlled by the two parties. There is no union within the political process but unions are very much in control of some of the candidates and the political parties are concerned about the encroachment into their power.
The power of unions extends to religions where for example religious groups similar to unions but not organized or controlled periodically appear. Examples are the Knights Templar and the Muslim Brotherhood. History eventually dissolved the Knights and created the Brotherhood and history is created every moment.
History is created by cultural fault lines which can be beneficial or harmful. Issues are discovered and solved but it takes time. So there are religious wars, cultural wars, civil rights battles over race, gender and privacy. Unions can help solve some problems while unions also cause problems that harm a culture. How can the problems be solved? No one knows how to do that. All an individual can do is stay interested, stay involved and keep pushing for solutions. We should make the world better for the next generation.
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