I remember it like it was yesterday. It was 2011 and I was sitting on the steps of the capital building in Madison, Wisconsin, watching history unfold. Governor Scott Walker exhibited world-class mental toughness as he took on the teacher's unions, and thousands of angry protestors. And today, Walker does it again, this time signing a bill that makes Wisconsin the 25th state to ban contracts that force all workers to pay union dues.
Governor Walker said, "This freedom-to-work legislation will give workers the freedom to choose whether or not they want to join a union, and employers another compelling reason to consider expanding or moving their business to Wisconsin."
I'll never forget as I witnessed the protests and spoke with some of the teachers. I asked the teachers why they felt the need to demonstrate at the state capital. All of them told me the same thing: they said they had the right to collective bargaining and to their job. But when I asked them where job performance fit into the equation, I barely got a reply. They looked at me as though they didn't understand the question.
That's one of the biggest problems unions create: the idea that people have a right to a job, like it's an entitlement awarded at birth. These teachers are smart people; professional educators; many with advanced degrees. These are the people spending eight hours a day with our kids, and they honestly believe the government owes them a job.
Back in the day, unions served a purpose and brought balance to the playing field. There was a time when employers abused their power, and the unions gave the little guy a voice. But these days, in the era of Twitter, Facebook, cell phones with cameras and 24 hour news, the power is in the hands of the people. Joe lunch bucket, who 20 years ago needed a union to be heard, now has the power to cause a national uproar if he is mistreated in any way.
Furthermore, we have a new problem: The Union leaders and members who refuse to give up their stranglehold on industry and government. Union workers have become spoiled with inflated wages, tenure, and guaranteed work based on every factor outside of job performance and results. The abuse of power is now coming from the unions instead of employers.
Critical thinking says if you want to earn more money, bullying your employer with a mob isn't the answer. Production is. If you want to earn more money, provide more service. The delusional thinking on unions is that they are necessary in modern-day America. Critical thinking say's they served their purpose in the past and it's time for them to go.
The future belongs to the states who become Right to Work states, like Wisconsin, where unions have no power and cannot bully businesses into hiring workers simply because they live in the neighborhood and pay dues. As a private employer, I've hired hundreds of people over the years, and the only state I'd open a new business or move my existing business to is a right to work state.
Governor Scott Walker should be commended. With 25 states now "Right to Work" states, we're halfway there. Right to Work battles are getting ready to emerge in Missouri, New Mexico and possibly Kentucky, too. It's only a matter of time before the power hungry unions become a thing of the past.