Union Inefficiency 
Thursday, January 15, 2009, 11:31 PM
I recently attended a dinner party (with delicious grilled ribs) with an acquaintance of mine who works for PG&E. Apparently at PG&E there is an active drive to unionize the white collar workers -- the salaried employees earning $70k+ per year who generally aren't considered typical union targets. As my friend explained to me, the benefits of unionization include: no performance reviews, a mandatory 8.75% annual raise, and a pay scale solely based on seniority with a prohibition on using performance to adjust pay or as a consideration for non-management promotions. Pay and promotions are strictly tied to the seniority scale. "I barely put in six hours a day" he explained to me, before offering to set me up with a job once I got out of the Coast Guard.

WTF? Does anyone seriously think this is a good idea? How is these even defensible? The only reason PG&E is able to survive with such horrible work rules is because they have a monopoly -- customers can't simply jump ship and get their electricity from another company. Any costs incurred are simply passed on to consumers.

This is the ultimate manifestation of any union. From autos to teachers to white collar workers, virtually every union writes their contracts this way -- they all attempt to ensure salary is tied to seniority and not to performance. How is this ok? Why do people continue to support this?

Just like with the auto workers, I don't begrudge anyone their salary -- I oppose the horrible work rules. I'm not suggesting that unions don't have their place. Just study the working conditions at WalMart and you can see what happens when labor has no representation. But does unionization have to be so very extreme? It seems to me that if organized labor didn't work so hard to promote inefficiency and sloth -- and instead focused on raising standards of living -- the labor movement would be more popular and more powerful.

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