Op-Ed: Don’t Be Fooled By Union Rhetoric On The Issue

0 March 11, 2010  State & Local Construction, Uncategorized

In the latest edition of the Dubuque, IA Telegraph Herald’s “Double Take” feature, supporters and opponents of project labor agreements (PLAs) and Gov. Chet Culver’s Executive Order 22, encouraging state agencies to consider PLAs on state projects, were each given an opportunity to present their views on this issue.

Jim Giese of Dubuque, owner of Jim Giese Commercial Roofing, stated his opposition to PLAs in an editorial titled, “Don’t Be Fooled By Union Rhetoric on the Issue.”

Here are a few excerpts:

When the Dubuque School Board in 2003 voted down a Project Labor Agreement for the construction of the Eleanor Roosevelt School, a loud cheer went up in the room. It was noteworthy the cheer came entirely from the non-union employees in attendance, not from their employers.

This illustrates a fact about labor of which few seem aware: Labor and management are complementary; one cannot exist without the other. It is only when unions establish monopoly power that management and labor may be at odds. For a union to succeed, it must shut other workers out of employment. It is not employers but other workers that unions intimidate, constrain and dehumanize with the label “scab.”

A PLA gives unions monopoly control of labor on a project they couldn’t get at any bargaining table. Unions claim PLAs ensure quality work, decent wages, no work stoppages and cost savings. Their arguments are pure spin.

Unions have no responsibility for project quality. Productivity and market forces determine fair wages, not unions. The “no strike” promise is an implied threat that unions will cause disruptions if they don’t get their way. Huge cost overruns at the taxpayer-funded “Big Dig” in Boston and the Iowa Events Center in Des Moines were mostly PLA-driven.

Mr. Giese goes onto say:

The reason union growth is occurring only in the public sector is because bargaining decisions are political and unrestrained by competition. State bargaining representatives are not spending their own money, they are spending yours.

That these practices of modern unions, particularly public sector unions, are objectively immoral is an easy argument that will have to wait until another time.

For now, know that PLAs and other union legislative “priorities” are not sought for the good of most workers or the public. So do not be fooled by the pretense that their motives are for “working families” or the greater good of the community.

They are the selfish efforts of a relatively small but politically powerful interest group and should be vigorously opposed by all who want fair value for their money, accountability, and just wages based on productivity and honest competition.

This op-ed’s note that PLAs are essentially political payback is especially on point in the context of Gov. Culver’s recent pro-PLA executive order.  Facing long odds for re-election, Gov. Culver’s order is his way of reaching out to Big Labor in an attempt to secure their support after several pro-union priorities languished in the General Assembly in recent years.

Hopefully, voters will see through this farce in November.

In the interest of fairness, the pro-PLA “Double Take” op-ed, written by Ralph Scharnau, a U.S. history teacher (Huh?) at Northeast Iowa Community College is available here.

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