Senate Bill 178 threatens North Carolina’s position as a bastion of virtually union-free public sector labor, as it attempts to do away with the General Statute that prohibits collective bargaining between labor unions and government. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Larry Shaw (D – Cumberland) and Sen. Doug Berger (D – Franklin), would open the gates to a flood of union activists that would hold our government hostage with a series of mandates through collective bargaining. These mandates would stymie bureaucratic efficiency, balloon government budgets, and build a complex activist apparatus that engages heavily in political campaigns.
North Carolina is one of a remnant of around 12 states that do not allow collective bargaining with government entities, standing against more than half of the states in our nation that submit to collective bargaining at state and local government levels. North Carolina proudly features the lowest public sector union membership in the nation, at an impressive eight percent of public employees.
Throughout the 20th century, private sector unions dwindled while unions in the public sector grew ever stronger. Today, public sector jobs in many states require union membership. For example, teaching jobs in various states will require employees to pay union dues as a condition of employment. These unions frequently use money they coercively acquire from their members to promote political causes and campaigns, including many causes that their own members disagree with.
In addition to the forced participation and political activism, unions can cause many problems for governments trying to keep their bureaucratic organs efficient and not wasteful. Unions have a strong propensity to promote overstaffing, discourage volunteer work, and protect underperforming industries and workers. This can wreak a fiscal and administrative havoc on any government that cedes control to organized labor.
Another problem that unions pose for government is the demands for very comfortable, and subsequently expensive, benefit packages for their members. For instance, teachers unions often push pricey pension plans, which would only exacerbate North Carolina’s current pension imbroglio. The current teacher and state employees retirement system fund is already not fully funded. Furthermore, budgetary expenditures will need to exceed $1.1 billion by 2013 to fully fund these pensions, a three- fold increase from outlays for this fiscal year. With the advent of collectively bargaining, empowered unions on the scene, it is likely this situation would only get worse.
North Carolina must remain vigilant and prevent unions from gaining a foothold in our state. Bills such as SB 178 are the first step in a slippery slope of union invasion that starts with allowing collective bargaining and often ends with compulsory union membership and powerful political lobbying. North Carolinians need to protect their sovereignty over their government, over their political leaders, and over their jobs. SB 178, which seeks to repeal the General Statutes that prohibit collective bargaining with unions, would allow this Trojan horse into our state.
For its intrusion on jobs and increased government involvement, SB 178 is this week’s Bad Bill of the Week.