Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A View on Labor Unions

Milton and Rose Friedman, in their book, Free to Choose (highly recommended) devote a chapter to labor unions. It's chapter 8 and it's called, Who Protects the Worker? The main idea of the chapter is that labor unions, rather than protect all workers, actually shut out some workers in order to keep wages high for those workers who are fortunate enough to be let into the union. They give some compelling examples. One involves the American Medical Association.

In his book, Life on the Mississippi, Mark Twain gives an example of how labor unions work to reduce the supply of workers. It's in chapter fifteen, The Pilot's Monopoly. As Twain tells it, with the increase in the number of steam boats on the Mississippi, the need for pilots increased. However, so many pilots were being trained that there was a glut on the market, and pilots' wages actually dropped. The solution, thought of by some of the top river boat pilots, was to create The Pilot's Benevolent Association. What starts out as a way to keep new pilots off the river, ends up forcing older, experienced pilots to submit to the rules of the association. As my simple explanation is inferior to Twain's you should read the entire escapade here. Then if you have the desire, read what the Friedmans have to say about unions. Twain's experience could have been used by the Friedmans.

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3 Comments:

At 11:22 PM, Blogger jennifer said...

It was great to reread Harry! I love Mark Twain and boy is this head on!

I am sick and tired of this cash cow system that has no purpose other than lining the pockets of mostly all.

My brother tried for six months to get in the carpenters union in Las Vegas NV. Then on a secondary meeting with someone who * thought* my husband Bill and he were chums(Bill was a cop) my brother was miraculously invited to join.

I must make this very clear, my brother was 42 and had NO carpentry skills. But in Vegas either you are in a Union or you are without Medical. My brother laughs all the time about how my kids are benefited by something all because they have a journeyman carpenter in the family!

 
At 8:59 AM, Blogger Harry said...

As a public school teacher, I belong to the NEA. Believe it when they say that the NEA places the needs of teachers above the needs of the students and taxpayers.

 
At 12:21 PM, Blogger Jungle Mom said...

Thanks for the link.

 

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