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Chapter 10: How to fix what’s wrong with Big Labor

“Government touches everything in America and harms almost everything it touches. Federal, state, and local governments together spend 42 out of every 100 dollars we earn. Those who do the taxing and spending have long since ceased to work for the people as a whole. Rather, they work for themselves and for their clients —the education industry, the welfare culture, public-employee unions, etc.” —Malcolm Wallop, former U.S. Senator

What’s wrong with Big Labor

  • Just another special interest. The American labor movement served a useful purpose during the nation’s manufacturing era, but it has evolved into an incredibly powerful special interest political force representing causes that often aren’t in the public interest. The unions provide financial support to union-friendly politicians and expect the same kinds of political favors that Big Business expects from the politicians it supports.


  • Government unions. Today’s most powerful unions are those that represent government employees. Union-supported politicians reward the union government employees with compensation, benefits, and work rules far more generous than needed in a free market economy. This results in taxpayers paying more than is necessary and getting less than is deserved from government.
  • Election influence. Politicians have learned that caving in to government union demands helps keep them in office. Government employees already make up 16 percent of voters, and they can influence family and friends to vote with them. Not surprisingly, this 32+ percent (government employees plus their families and friends) is often enough to swing the outcome of an election.
  • Taxpayers are the victims. One great example of the unholy partnership between Big Labor and Big Government is the requirement that nonunion companies seeking government contracts must (in effect) pay union wages and often follow union rules. This essentially shuts out the more flexible and more efficient smaller businesses—and taxpayers therefore pay more than is necessary for almost everything government does.
  • Some union leaders rip off the members. Just as corporate executives often rip off their companies at the expense of employees and stockholders, many union bosses get caught up in power, ego, and their own salaries at the expense of their union members. Too many unions seem to exist primarily to enrich the leaders—often at the expense of their own members as well as the rest of society.
  • Unions are anticompetitive. Unions don’t create jobs. In fact, they limit job growth to protect the interests of their dues-paying members by insisting on wages, benefits, and work rules that exceed what would otherwise be competitive in a free market economy.

How to fix what’s wrong

with Big Labor

  • Taxpayer pressure. Taxpayers must wise up to the unholy alliance between government unions and politicians. They should demand that compensation of government employees be competitive with the private sector.
  • Election reform. Campaign contributions by labor unions should not be permitted, and it should be a felony for a union to pressure its members into making political contributions. See the “Election Reform” chapter for more details about this proposal.
  • Right to work. Workers must have the right to join unions, but individuals must never be forced to join a union in order to get employment.  (Also see the “Freedom” chapter.)
  • Government contract reform. Government bids should be subject to free market competition, without union-supported politicians saddling taxpayers with the higher cost of government-mandated union wages for nonunion bidders.

“Labor unions would have us believe that they transfer income from rich capitalists to poor workers. In fact, they mostly transfer income from the large number of non-union workers to a small number of relatively well-off union workers.” —Author Robert E. Anderson, Just Get Out of the Way

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