Nearly everyone I know is lamenting the demise of Hostess. A part of our childhood has fallen to the evils of union greed. From Pudding Pies, to Ho-Hos, to Snoballs, to Twinkies (my personal favorite), the memories of our past will no longer be passed along to our children with the same glee as before.
On November 16th, Hostess Brands announced their intention to sell off all assets, including the brands that we all know and so many of us love. Sure, I may be able to enjoy a Twinkie again some day, but will it be the same? Time will tell. What happened with Hostess could have happened here in Wisconsin, but was avoided when those involved ultimately embraced reason.
In recent years, there are a few large Wisconsin companies that have overcome their union disputes with some creative approaches, including implementation of a two tiered workforce which allows greater flexibility in a less predictable business climate. Not one of these conflicts came to resolution without a lot of drama, while facing the likelihood of permanent closures. Mercury Marine of Fond du Lac was ready to shut down their world headquarters and move their operations to Oklahoma. Similarly, Harley Davidson would have been forced to move their power plant operations to Kansas City, Missouri to remain profitable. Briggs and Stratton had a similar problem as Kohler and required union concessions to remain viable and competitive.
While the unions are struggling to remain relevant, those they claim to serve are struggling to keep their families fed. It is getting harder for unions to make the argument that they are for the so-called “working man” when they are taking home salaries well into six figures. Don’t misunderstand, earned wealth is a good and honorable pursuit, but extorting it by dubious means and skimming the paychecks of others is questionable at best.
These union problems are the result of enabling forced unionism, “union shops” to exist. There is an alternative. Its called “Right to Work“. Instead of forcing people to be members of unions as a condition of employment, the union must make the case to each person as to why joining the union is in their best interest. This is something more and more people want. Some Briggs workers have even taken the step to petition the union to remove the requirement to pay union dues. This wouldn’t even be necessary were Wisconsin a Right to Work state.
The United States is founded upon the principles of liberty and freedom of choice. Forcing people to pay for permission to work is counter to the very concept of a free market. The Right to Work allows the free market to work in favor of the employee. The employee is free to choose whether the service the union claims to provide is worthwhile, rather than having it imposed.
Right to Work states are more than just and exercise in freedom of choice. Indeed, they are truly drivers of the economy in the United States. Studies have shown that economic growth in Right to work states, though fewer in number, vastly outpaces the economic growth of states with forced unionization.
What will it take for Wisconsin to join the ranks of the 21 other Right to Work states and prove that it truly is “Open for Business”? Call your state representatives and find out.