Labor Unions

     The pro-union and anti-union outfits sent me questionnaires with meaningless questions. Let me explain.

     One of the principal objections to labor unions does not apply under the current conditions in 2022. When I entered the labor market many years ago, I would check the want ads. Let’s see now, there’s a job, but the buses don’t go there. There’s another job, but the buses don’t start that early. What about all the entry-level union jobs working for the public utilities, the postal service and mass transit? Those jobs were reserved for men who served their politicians, to reward them for having dropped Napalm on children. (Don’t get me started on that!) So they got the high-paying jobs with good benefits, and I got a temp agency assignment when I was lucky, and I got the utility bills that reflected the union wages paid by companies with government-protected monopolies. Passing along union wages that were well above what the average worker made, was a form of taxation, because the nobody could set up a competing electric company to save families money.

     Nowadays, those businesses are scrambling to hire enough workers. I work at UPS as a package handler. We are served by the Teamsters Local 633, but UPS has to pay considerably more than the union contract requires, in order to bring in enough workers.

     When some select workers enjoy higher wages, simply for being the son of a union member or for fighting an undeclared, unconstitutional war, it is unfair to the workers who are locked out of such jobs. Nowadays, however, anybody who wants a union job at UPS need only apply, same as I did.

     Asking whether a person should be forced to join a labor union is meaningless. Clearly, a government has no right to make you join a labor union as a condition for a government job. Neither should there be negotiations: The legislative body, be it Congress, the State legislature, the county convention or the local selectmen or board of aldermen, should pass laws setting the rates of pay.

     The same is true for an employer that enjoys government-imposed protection against competition, such as an electric company or an airline. (Airlines may propose a new route from their hub to MHT and may be told that no, there are already enough airlines serving that market.) Perhaps the best solution there is to repeal the laws that limit competititon.

     UPS is a company with no government-imposed protection against competition. They have a right to select their employees, same as you have a right to select who may mow your lawn, and you agree on a price. UPS has a right to say you cannot work there unless you join the Teamsters, and they also have a right to say they won’t negotiate with the Teamsters. Under the current conditions, it would be interesting to see how they would hire replacement workers, though. It is in the best interest of UPS to negotiate with the union. Let’s keep it that way.

     To keep the labor market tight, forcing employers to compete for workers instead of workers competing for jobs, let us review the chessboard.

     Abolishing the zoning restrictions would unleash an abundance of new jobs in demolition and construction. Projects that would never have been proposed because the developer would be laughed out of town hall, would proceed. Dilapidated single-family homes with lead paint, aluminum wiring and asbestos would be removed. (I can never resist: They would clean up the asbestos as best as they could.) Parking lots cost money, and the cost is passed along to tenants. Families don’t need a parking lot if they don’t have a car. Requiring a parking lot robs families without a car. The town could no longer force the builder to include a parking lot, and that land could be used for more housing. In practice, they would need an off-street loading dock, because the town has a right to forbid blocking a public street with a moving van.

     A glut of new, latest-code housing will force landlords to compete with each other for tenants, instead of tenants competing for an artificially limited supply of housing. Some investors will lose everything, same as when slaves were emancipated. That is life. Some suburban residents will be furious when working class, immigrant and Negro families move into “their” town. I can hardly wait.

     When rents plunge under free-market conditions, there will be no need for housing subsidies. Observe the strategy: Look for opportunities for the government to do less, in this case by not imposing zoning restrictions, instead of doing more, through subsidiezed housing, to help working families.

     When folks are free to live closer to where they can work, shop, or gather to drink together, they could walk home. Some folks shudder at the thought of a saloon in “their” neighborhood, where the patrons could walk home instead of driving. They feel entitled to impose a burdensome tax on drinking, in the form of ride fares.

     When folks can live closer to working, shopping and drinking, they won’t need cars, and they could save for college, down payment or retirement.

     When ride share companies arrived, city bureaucrats scrambled to figure out what to do. By the time they got around to voting on laws that would ban the ride-share companies, which operated without taxi medallions because the city capped the number of medallions issued, the public grew so fond of ride-share companies that elected officials didn’t dare ban them, lest they lose the next election. With the cap on the number of medallions being made meaningless by the ride-share companies competing against the taxicabs, the value of taxi medallions plunged, and some investors went bankrupt, after having lived for decades off the labor of taxicab drivers who rented the taxicabs and the passengers who had little choice but to use taxicabs.

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