All pay when business, govt. costs get too high

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, June 10, 2012

Wisconsin voters got it. Perhaps people in other parts of the country will, too.

     On Tuesday, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker became the first sitting governor to survive a recall election. What prompted the recall was, in large part, Walker’s successful efforts to strip public employee unions of their collective bargaining rights and other actions to get his state’s finances in order.

     Despite the public outage by some, voters recognized the financial burdens unions can place on businesses and on governments where public employee unions are allowed.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

     Unions have had noble purposes in the past, but present-day demands by some unions create challenges that are difficult to overcome. The U.S. auto industry, which saw several automakers go into bankruptcy and then receive their share of a major federal bailout, is one example often cited by critics of unions.

     So what does this have to do with Mississippi, a Right to Work state where union membership is not required for an employee to work?

     From a government standpoint, not as much as it does from a business standpoint and the realization of the threat that unions may pose to continued economic development.

     A move is afoot to unionize workers at the Nissan plant in Canton. Mississippi 2nd District U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson is supporting the effort.

     Unionization runs counter to a philosophy that has seen several foreign automakers establish plants in Mississippi and elsewhere in Southern states. By avoiding unions, those automakers avoid the labor contract costs and other factors associated with unions.

     A unionized plant easily could be seen as a mark in the negative column should Nissan – or any business for that matter – ever consider shuttering any of its facilities. Such a move affecting the Nissan plant would cost hundreds of jobs, a severe blow, considering the state sank hundreds of millions of dollars into the effort to lure the plant here.

     Brookhaven only has to look to its Delphi plant for an example of union negotiation dangers.

     Last year, Delphi leaders and IUE-CWA union representatives went to the brink of closing the long-standing local plant before a new labor contract was agreed upon. Closing the facility would have been a critical hit, not only for plant employees, both those who are part of the union and those who are not, but also for the community at large.

     When labor and other operational costs become too high, such are the dangers faced by states and communities with heavy union influences.

     Walker and Wisconsin voters took a stand to try to curb those costs, and private industries try to do so every day. When they cannot, everyone risks paying the price.