Who asked the union?
March 21, 2013
If there’s any need to explain the declining popularity of labor unions, the United Steelworkers served up a nice demonstration this past week.
Steelworkers Local 1343 asked Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) to eliminate training for welders who might end up being hired as replacement workers by Caterpillar Corporation if the union goes on strike, rather than agreeing to a new contract in negotiations next month.
There’s plenty wrong here, most obviously the idea of any union presuming to tell an educational institution funded by public tax dollars who and what it should teach, based on the union’s private financial interests.
A secondary concern is the MATC faculty union siding with the Steelworkers. Let some entity other than a union suggest the college reconsider any of its educational offerings, and listen for the howls of outrage over “academic freedom” from that very same faculty union. It’s even more disturbing that the faculty union’s position is conveyed by an instructor in economics. We’re guessing free market principles don’t get much respect in his classroom.
A third and admittedly lesser concern is that MATC feels the need to explain and justify its actions. The institution exists to prepare all sdudents for successful employment in whatever areas it offers training. It most emphatically does not exist for the purpose of rationing supplies of qualified workers so as to strengthen the bargaining position of a labor organization.
With the prospect that mining will be revitalized in Wisconsin, the Steelworkers no doubt sense the opportunity to extract a juicy contract from Caterpillar, and it’s their perfect right to drive as hard a bargain as the company will stand for. It’s not their right to commandeer publicly-funded institutions for leverage.