Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bloody Thursday Expands its Mythology

Public sector unions are in trouble, and for good reason.

The rising costs of lavishly providing for public workers long after they retire is no longer sustainable. The voters in this country are waking up to the cold and calculating reality that generous perks promised in more flush times come at a great cost to everyone, and everyone is hurting in the Obama Recession of stagnating stimulus packages and officious medical insurance mandates.

Last month, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker survived a bitter and expensive recall, mounted by public sector employees and other Democratic-liberal interests who wanted to roll back the fiscal and collective bargaining reforms which closed budget deficits and preserved public sector  jobs while weakening public sector unions. Walker's victory signaled to taxpayers around the country that the union hall dominance of the statehouse is nearing a slow yet long-overdue demise.

Following voter approval to curb public sector pensions in San Diego and San Jose, now California, long a bastion for public employee union power, is joining the fray of states who are telling state employees to contribute more and take less from the depleted and despoiled public purse.

Understandably, the International Longhshore and Warehouse Union has gone to extra lengths to celebrate Bloody Thursday and the founding of their labor monopoly. Public Unions are losing the PR war, as they should be.

How many really understand the events and the implications of July 5, 1934: "Bloody Thursday"? Six people died during that massive strike, including two members who were attacking a "scab" labor enclave near the Port of Los Angeles. I do not see the merit of celebrating the death of two individuals harassed those willing to work when a collective of menacing employees intended to frustrate trade all along the West Coast. The right to work belongs to everyone, and no one should be discriminated against simply because he is not a member of union which coercively takes away a potion of his paycheck without his permission.

I will never forget a comment by a member of the ILWU leadership in the 2008 documentary "The Gathering Storm", who bluntly declared that if President George W. Bush had sent the National Guard to Stop the POLA Work Stoppage of 2002, that there would have been an all-out war in the streets. Is that the image that port employees want to foster to the community and international investors?

Union power hurts the employee, the employer, the free market, and the free enteprise of engaged individuals who want to make a buck and make a living. Union power may assist a select group of workers, but by forcing up the wages in one sector, attending businesses also have to raise costs and lay off workers. And what about teachers' unions, in which incompetent and even immoral teachers are able to keep their jobs because they have union backing?

As Ayn Rand once commented, the most important minority is the individual. Free market economist Friedrich Hayek commented that "Collectivism is slavery." Today, unions compromise the individual and the free market; they are an anachronism of a long-gone era.

The Port of Los Angeles, the state of California, and the United States of America is better served with the diminished politics and militancy of public sector unions, including the ILWU, and no amount of heightened festivities will change that.

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