The Perils of Slavish Devotion to Organized Labor

0 July 22, 2009  State & Local Construction, Uncategorized

In a 7/19 commentary, part of a Pittsburgh Tribune series on how to fix Pennsylvania’s economy, Jake Haulk from the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy and Matthew J. Brouillette from the Commonwealth Foundation for Public Policy Alternatives don’t hold back in outlining the negative impact of big labor’s “political stranglehold on legislation in Pennsylvania despite representing less than two out of 10 workers.”

Sharp commentary on Pennsylvania’s decision not to be a right-to-work state:

Undoubtedly, the single most important union-related decision in Pennsylvania was choosing not to become a right-to-work state under provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act.

In non-right-to-work states, employees of firms with a collective bargaining agreement can be forced to pay dues or fees to the union as a condition of employment. In right-to-work states, there is no such requirement.

Not having the right to choose whether to join a union severely curtails economic freedom for both the employee and the employer. Indeed, a state’s status regarding right to work correlates closely with the state’s overall position on the role of government in the economy.

The authors also comment on the state prevailing wage requirement:

Also very costly is Pennsylvania’s wage law that requires workers on any construction project receiving $25,000 or more in government money to be paid the “prevailing wage,” which, in effect, means the union wage. Conservatively estimated, this law costs Pennsylvania taxpayers upward of $1 billion a year more than paying competitive market wages.

When Pennsylvania’s labor unions aren’t denying workers the right to opt out of paying union dues or inflating labor costs of public construction and infrastructure projects, they are pushing wasteful and discriminatory union-only project labor agreements.  Although the authors of this piece don’t mention PLAs specifically, we’re sure they would agree (as the Allegheny Institute has here) that PLAs are a perilous example of devotion to organized labor that is not helping Pennsylvania’s economy.

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