I was asked my opinions on unions as a candidate for WV House of Delegates. I was also asked about some union construction topics at the state level. My response is lengthy, therefore, I chose this format to share my views. I will mostly address this in terms of the construction industry.
Unions are supposed to mean the actual workers. I fully support people who pull up their boot straps and go to work regardless of whether or not they belong to a union. It is important to separate union leadership from the worker in this. I worked for years as a union glazier and earned a great living. I also worked nearly 6years as a business agent and organizer. The most cut-throat, backstabbing place
I ever worked was on a leadership staff with a labor organization. In terms of what a union is meant to stand for, this was the least union place I ever worked. The work environment was full of nepotism and if you were not connected your ceiling was low. I will be the first to say that not all labor organizations are this way. In my experience, the IBEW and IU are very well run which explains their market-share and membership numbers.
When it comes to construction in West Virginia, I believe every contractor should get an opportunity to bid projects. I am a non-union subcontractor and there are general contractors who will not take a bid from me(one of these are running for the same office currently). Many plants and school boards have criteria where basically only union contractors can be awarded this work. These are the larger projects. I believe the union workforce is only 10% of construction workers approximately. So, historically our state has actually catered to 10% of the workforce. Prevailing Wage has always been basically identical to the union pay scale allowing for no competitive bid in the market. Life certainly is never fair, but if you want to attempt to do what is fair you need to provide opportunities to all, union and nonunion.
I was also not a fan of how my former union spent a lot of their PAC fund. Many candidates the supported were pushing agendas that I morally disagreed with. Protecting life is much more important to me than a paycheck. I believe, as a Christian, these moral issues are far more important than the economy. I’m saddened by how many believers put their paycheck ahead of their moral compass. I believe right is always right. A lot of union members have no idea what they fund.
There are some things I love about the building trades. One is the skilled worker. The other is apprenticeships. These are great training programs. An apprenticeship helped me begin to build my skill set. I believe unions would be wise to focus on training the best possible worker.
In closing, what seems to help business the most is when government steps out of the way and gives an opportunity to competively bid. Unions shouldn’t demand to own the market. They should compete and try to perform better and faster. You can not legislate the best workforce.