Labor’s bigger problem is that the vote is a symptom of its declining power. Globalization and technology have weakened its hand, but the unions have also lost public support through their own actions. Inflexible private-sector unions have helped make companies less competitive (and therefore less able to hire workers), while public-sector unions have taken state and local governments for a ride, leaving taxpayers with trillions of dollars in pension and retiree health care liabilities.
On the private-sector side, one need look no further than the auto industry. Trying to preserve pay and benefit structures not sustainable since the 1960s, labor has wreaked havoc on Detroit, contributing to the need for the bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler.
Something similar happened in the recent demise of Twinkies’ maker Hostess. Its bakers union refused to recognize that the company was hemorrhaging money in an industry plagued by an excess in antiquated plants. The result is that 15,000 jobs have disappeared when some could have been saved.
Public-sector unions, meanwhile, have all but declared war on the general public. In many cases, they have induced lawmakers to put their states and localities on a path to insolvency by approving massive, unfunded pension and retiree health care obligations. They are certain to pay a steeper price as taxpayers are forced to endure higher taxes or reduced services in the name of benefits that few get themselves.