At the core of the American system of democracy is the idea of checks and balances. This is why we have three different branches of government and it also manifests itself in the form of a two-party system which forces both parties to compete for votes.
This same idea is also at the core of labor unions. They act as a counterbalance to corporations and government entities.
Regardless of the many benefits of labor unions, there are still those who would like to see them disappear. They claim that unions aren’t needed anymore to protect workers since there are government regulations in place now to ensure worker safety.
Unfortunately Republicans have proven that their number one priority is helping big business get bigger in spite of the effects on the working class, and this servitude has led to their current obsession with “job killing regulations.” As soon as they can eradicate labor unions they will eradicate government worker protections under their oft-used mantra that companies will self regulate.
This happens to be the same line of thinking that nearly sent the global economy into an all-out depression. After 70 years on the books, big banks asked for and Congress obliged in repealing the Glass-Steagall Act because unlike the lead-up to the great depression, this time, banks would act responsibly when given free reign. It turns out however, when left to their own devices, big business took less than 8 years to completely forget to the lessons of the past and nearly destroyed the world economy.
Regardless of the Republican selective memory when it comes to the dangers of trusting businesses to police themselves, the worst part of this fight from Republicans is how it undercuts their own ideals.
Here is a group who claims to hold up capitalism as the answer to all problems, yet when it comes to labor unions they embrace the same bureaucracy they claim to despise. Labor unions are not a government entity. They are subject to the same demands of other capitalist organizations. If they fail to provide value, they will disappear. The reason the U.S. has seen its union workforce steadily decline over the past five decades has nothing to do with “right to work” legislation.
The reality is that labor unions have priced themselves out of the market in certain areas. If they want to survive they must adapt. The UAW, for example, in recent negotiations with Ford, offered up significant cuts in exchange for 12,000 U.S. jobs. This happens because companies like Ford have options on the world market, not because of government intervention.
What should be concerning for fiscal conservatives is how quick Republicans were to abandon the core values of capitalism. A true believer would never resort to using government to pick the winners and losers. If there are problems with union leaders, those problems should be addressed by those unions’ members. If there are issues with union contracts, those issues should be fixed at the negotiating table. And if there are union members who should be removed, that should be handled by the organizations involved.
In the end Republicans should demand a government that removes itself from capitalist interactions instead of a government that fights for lower wages, fewer protections, fewer benefits and less competition. Labor unions are the free market check and balance of the working class and legislation like “right to work” is the tyrannical bureaucratic regulatory overreach that undermines American capitalism.