It’s not exactly news that labor unions are struggling badly in today’s modern economy. Widespread gains in workplace protections and the precarious situation of many union pension plans have rendered unions far less attractive to American workers. So have the unreasonable demands that destroy host organisms — for example, look what happened to the American automotive and steel industries.
The lack of interest in unions among many commerce workers has reduced membership to longtime lows. For 93 percent of employees in the nation’s productive private sector, unions are largely irrelevant. Despite the Obama administration’s best efforts to change the rules in favor of unions, they continue to lose ground.
The strongest remaining argument that labor unions are still needed is that they provide business with a better-trained and more knowledgeable workforce. But that just isn’t so, according to a new CNBC ranking of “America’s top states for business.” The survey, which considered the workforces of all 50 states, found that the downsides of unionism outweigh any advantages when it comes to workforce quality.
Incredibly, 17 of the top 18 states ranked by CNBC in terms of “workforce” are “right-to-work” states, where unions are significantly less powerful. In states with right-to-work laws, workers cannot be compelled to pay union dues, and workers are far less likely to let unions represent them if they are actually given the choice.
In CNBC’s survey, all 22 of the nation’s right-to-work states (mostly states in the South and West) made the top 25 in terms of quality of workforce. In the separate category of business friendliness, which gauged states’ regulatory and legal environments, 10 of the top 15 states were right-to-work states as well. Needless to say, the combination of good workers and congenial business climates make these states highly attractive to business.
President Barack Obama has pushed hard for survival of the unions, beginning with the bailout of the automakers and continuing most recently with his National Labor Relations Board’s prosecution of Boeing for expanding its manufacturing operations in the right-to-work state of South Carolina. It is sad that the president would subordinate the interests of 93 percent of American workers to those of one politically favored group, but this is precisely what he is doing.