And so it is with unions. Back when workers were really little more than "free" slaves, unions helped to improve their working conditions, wages and benefits to something reasonable. Yet, as the decades passed, union officials became so greedy, they ultimately killed the improved workplace they had achieved.
One of the best illustrations of this sad path is in Detroit. The last ones out should turn off the lights - assuming, of course, that the union rules allow for it.
We keep hearing that the car industry in Detroit is “on the rebound” or that “Detroit is back.” In fact, the city itself is on its back, and it’s bounding toward bankruptcy or a state takeover. How did one of America’s most storied cities land in this predicament? While the city population has shrunk (from a peak population of 1.8 million in 1950 to 714,000 in the last census), it has hardly reduced the government that serves it. All you really need to know about Detroit, which is facing a $327 million budget gap, is that last year it was discovered to still be paying for a “horseshoer” (or farrier) on the Detroit Water & Sewer Department (DWSD) payroll. This individual costs some $56,000 in pay and benefits, despite the city not having any horses to shoe in his department.
Union bosses insisted the DWSD (average compensation: $86,000) needs more, not fewer, such unionized employees, a view associated with a broad spectrum of thinkers from Jimmy Hoffa to the Keynesians running the United States. The DWSD has more than twice as many employees per gallon of water pumped as that other paragon of Midwestern governance, Chicago. An independent report said four out of five employees in the bloated department were redundant and discovered a thicket of union regulations driving up costs. Plumbers complained that, due to union work rules, they had to wait to fix pipes until duly authorized “operators” came along first to shut them off.