Tags: unions | economy | workers | business

When Unions Diminish Our Economy

By    |   Thursday, 26 February 2015 06:54 AM

As a small business exporter I recognize the enormous benefits the U.S. accrues from having successful port operations on both coasts. They give us a competitive advantage globally by providing U.S. businesses access to expanding markets.

The end result is a boost to our economy, to employment, and to the future of small businesses everywhere.

But our ports should never be used as a bartering chip, which has just occurred in the nation’s West Coast ports when unions essentially shut down all operations. Although it appears that shut down has been settled, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents port employers, characterized the union as making “reckless demands” during the process.

Shippers were forced to cancel sailings, cargo containers are stacked up at the ports, and ships are anchored offshore. As of this writing 31 ships are still waiting to anchor.

The Wall Street Journal reported that in 2002, a 10-day lockout involving the same groups “cost the U.S. economy an estimated $1 billion a day and it took two to three months to return to normal.”

This same scenario is likely to recur this time.

We are already seeing depleted inventories at some retailers. Even Honda Motor is experiencing parts shortages. Agricultural exporters and retail importers say they have been forced to ship products ahead of schedule and divert them through other ports and in some cases send them via air — all measures that affect the bottom line.

Small businesses are taking a big hit. If they can’t ship products or receive products, they could be driven out of business. With it come job losses and missed opportunities.

The Agricultural Transportation Coalition estimates that the port delays could reduce U.S. agricultural exports by $1.75 billion a month.

The Port of Oakland said that January imports fell 39% to 44,171 containers, compared with the same month last year. Exports fell 26% to 57,581 containers.

The American economy took a big hit, and the unions representing cargo workers just don’t seem to care.

Maybe I have a short memory, but unions were supposed to be helping boost U.S. productivity and creating a trained workforce.

Today, unions only represent about eight percent of American workers. Union membership in the U.S. was at its height during the late 50s when nearly sixty percent of the American workforce was unionized.

There is a reason for the decline of unions: their leadership has become stale, self-serving and out of touch.

The most potentially severe impact of the port closing is that some countries may turn to ports in other nations where there is less hassle and lower costs. Or some U.S.-based exporters may pull up stakes and go to countries where they can export more easily.

This would devastate our economy by killing small businesses and eroding America’s standing in the world marketplace.

If this occurs, guess what happens! Many of those union jobs go away. So the gains they seek to make will be for naught.

But union executives will continue to rake in their money from dues so they can contribute to politicians who rubber-stamp their demands.

There is too much at stake to allow unions to dictate how our ports operate. While the threat to our ports was usually associated with external enemies, we can’t allow them to be vulnerable to domestic threats.

It’s about time unions spend more time trying to help American businesses and our economy, and less time worrying about fattening their bosses and political sponsors’ wallets.

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It’s about time unions spend more time trying to help American businesses and our economy, and less time worrying about fattening their bosses and political sponsors’ wallets.
unions, economy, workers, business
Thursday, 26 February 2015 06:54 AM
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