Among the issues most commonly discussed are individuality, the rights of the individual, the limits of legitimate government, morality, history, economics, government policy, science, business, education, health care, energy, and man-made global warming evaluations. My posts are aimed at intelligent and rational individuals, whose comments are very welcome.

"No matter how vast your knowledge or how modest, it is your own mind that has to acquire it." Ayn Rand

"Observe that the 'haves' are those who have freedom, and that it is freedom that the 'have-nots' have not." Ayn Rand

"The virtue involved in helping those one loves is not 'selflessness' or 'sacrifice', but integrity." Ayn Rand

31 January 2017

Labor Union Membership, Right to Work, and Education

Labor unions have been having a tough time competing in the private sector for a long time and now are even shrinking as a percentage of government workers.  In 2015, union workers were 11.1% of the work force.  This fell to 10.7% in 2016 with a loss of 240,000 union members.  Only 6.4% of private sector workers are now union members.  The mainstay of the unions is in the government sector with 29.6% of state government employees being union members and 40.3% of local government employees being members.  The local government union membership is much inflated by the many teachers who pretend to manage 25 or 30 people in the classroom, but are really blue-collar workers unable to negotiate their own work compensation as individuals.  The high percentage of government workers in unions has more recently been falling so that the percentages above are 15-year lows.

Within the last year, West Virginia and Kentucky have become Right to Work states, increasing the number of Right to Work states to 27.  There is a good chance that Missouri will soon become a Right to Work state.  In the 2016 election, a Republican who championed Right to Work hard won the governorship in Missouri despite the unions supplying the Democrat who opposed Right to Work with more than $10 million of campaign funds and other support.  Missouri voters returned every one of the state legislators to office who supported Right to Work.  Missouri, like other states with forced union dues collection, has been losing jobs to states with Right to Work laws.  The bordering states of Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky all have Right to Work laws.  Only the basket case state of Illinois still maintains forced unionization on its borders.

You would not know it based on the recent campaign rhetoric, but manufacturing jobs increased by 236,000 in 2016.  Despite that overall growth in manufacturing jobs, union membership decreased by 74,000.  The growth in manufacturing jobs has been in Right to Work states.  In 2016, union membership in the 25 states that were Right to Work states for the full year decreased by 290,000, falling from 7.1% to 6.5%.  Membership in forced unionization states increased by 50,000, making it clear how dependent labor unions are on forced unionization.  Union membership increased in only one-quarter of the states with Right to Work laws, while increasing in 60% of those with forced unionization.  The percentage of Michigan workers in labor unions has fallen by 2.2% since Michigan became a Right to Work state in 2013.  Government worker unions lost their privileged powers in Wisconsin in 2011 and since then union membership has fallen by 136,000 workers or by 40%!

The loss of union power over the school systems in Wisconsin since 2011 and the freeing of school systems to pay teachers on their individual merit, is improving education in those school systems that have moved to the individual merit evaluation and compensation of teachers.  A Stanford University researcher, Barbara Biasi, has found that the school systems that have chosen to stick with union-favored seniority compensation programs rather than individual merit programs are falling behind the individual merit school systems.  Governor Scott Walker's Act 10 collective bargaining reform has allowed the thinking school systems to improve.  Who would think that evaluating and rewarding individual teaching ability would improve education?  Clearly the Democrats who claimed this would undermine the government-run school system would not allow this possibility.  How surprising it is that there is a correlation between being a capable teacher and classroom manager and being capable of negotiating your own working conditions and compensation!

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