From the early days of ILWU, founded by a card-carrying communist Harry Bridges, to the public sector unions of today, which are bankrupting city halls and statehouses throughout the country, the Modern Labor Movement has succeeded itself into abject failure.

The ILWU was born out of force, as local unions banded together to attack “scabs” in Los Angeles, then hold an entire city hostage (San Francisco). Later, public sector unions fought for collective bargaining entitlements in the late 1950s, beginning in the Progressive state of Wisconsin, then working throughout the United States, where right-to-work laws had not precluded these associations.

A free society is based on voluntary trade and transactions. Unions are founded on force and violence. Individuals are forced to join, forced to pay dues, and forced to watch as their leaders spend the coerced funds on candidates and causes, regardless of the thoughts, feelings, or opinions of the individual member.

Workers may form voluntary associations, per the First Amendment, yet the power to compel membership from members, and then wages, benefits, salary increases at the expense of the consumer or the taxpayer is not a right, nor should be protected. The matter of force in relation to labor unions simply cannot be ignored, and in a free society, based on a social compact of freedom and respect, labor disruptions cannot be tolerated. The taxpayers never have a direct say in the negotiations between politician and employee, either. While private sector unions strike against private companies, their efforts oftentimes support the same political figures who promote big government at the expense of individual liberty and economic prudence.

Following the extensive, professional, yet too-long neglected economic studies of London-born William Harold Hutt, a student or professional of labor will find Hutt’s work The Theory of Collective Bargaining (1930) compelling and startling. Contrary to the assumption of labor leaders, employees are not at a disadvantage in the worker-client relationship. Further research from Hutt confirmed that strike-threats actually distort the labor market, driving up consumer costs arbitrarily, while inadvertently forcing people out work, as well as potentially crippling businesses and forcing them to close.

A Democratic President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, championed the labor movement, but refused to recognize the right of public sector employees to organize and bargain collectively. The President of the AFL-CIO, Samuel Gompers, ultimately agreed with the progressive statist chief executive, although he had challenged Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge’s decision to call out the national guard during the 1919 Boston Police strike.

Coolidge’s sharp rebuttal to Gompers deserves repeating:

There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.

Another Democratic President, Jimmy Carter, shared this sentiment, that by executive order he barred federal employees from creating collective bargaining units. The next President, Ronald Reagan, warned the striking federal traffic control workers in 1981 to return to their jobs or be terminated. The assembly line of government cannot stop, Reagan reminded the controllers, shortly after his inauguration. They refused, and Reagan fired them unilaterally.

Since 9-11, however, local and statewide leaders were willing to grant lavish salaries, pensions, and benefits to public workers, especially police and fire, in recognition of their efforts. Private unions were already struggling, however, as large corporations discovered the ease of a global economy providing better venues for more profits, minus sclerotic worker rules and prolix collective bargaining agreements (consider the fate of Hostess Foods, for example).

From the 2002 ILWU work shut-out to the present day, the costs of unions doing (and doing in) business could no longer be ignored. Ultimately, unions lobbied so successfully across the United Sates, that individual stake-holders pulled up stakes and left to more open states, as local businesses closed and moved away in turn.

The political dominance of the still-stagnant public sector unions is stalling. Wisconsin Governor Scot Walker’s Act Ten reforms required public sector unions to recertify every year, removed automatic deduction of dues, and enforced larger contributions. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s right-to-work legislation, and two successful pension reform initiatives in San Jose and San Diego, CA, have demonstrated the public’s outrage with union power. This past February, a Republican councilmember was elected mayor of San Diego, in spite of heavy financing from public sector unions, too.

Last year, Puget Sound laborers acquiesced to Boeing’s modest demands, or the company would relocate to one of twenty-four right-to-work states. Migrant workers in California rejected moves to organize, as did automobile workers in Chattanooga, Tennessee, since they wanted to avoid ending up like Detroit, the largest municipal bankruptcy (so far) in US History, largely because of recalcitrant unions, both public and private (UAW).

Disgruntled laborers, discontented teachers, and even public sector workers are witnessing the unforeseen bankruptcies of municipalities, all of which testify to the corruption and callous indifference of the Modern Labor Movement today. The combined distortions of strike-threats, collective bargaining, and coerced negotiations have created more harm than good, against the public good to the private advantage of labor leaders. The union hall-statehouse corruption-collusion is coming to a bitter end in the United States, the final death-throws of the Modern Labor Movement.