Sunday, Oct. 2, 2011 | 2 a.m.
Increasingly, unions are coming under fire in the press and public eye. Rhetoric ranges from contempt to fear as unions are accused of exercising undue influence over the wage-negotiation process, causing massive financial strains on state and local governments and threatening the survival of U.S.-based industries and other private enterprises.
Champions of worker rights, unions have often gone to bat for employees who could hardly afford the costs of litigation in settling the most basic infringements to their job security and working conditions. In the very few incidents where I had to turn to a union for help, it was always about problems on the job, and not about wages, and I never participated in a strike.
Calls to ban unions reflect these concerns, but they propose to obliterate a century of progress in helping millions of workers to achieve some level of middle class compensation and job. Other less ominous proposals have included limiting wage increases or even pressing for wage reductions to protect the needs of employers and taxpayers.
Limiting wage increases is akin to setting price controls, a practice occasionally imposed by our government in difficult economic times. Some conservatives would cry foul if they saw this attempt to restrict free enterprise, and yet would support similar measures to rein in unions.
I support measures to keep government costs in check and to protect basic industries, but I think we need to seek a balance that does not require the outright destruction of unions and the rights of workers to organize.
The author is a retired union member.