John Stossel

All without a union. It wasn't until 30 years later that the UAW appeared and unionized the workers. Union membership gave them good benefits for a while, but then growth slowed and stopped. That sure didn't help workers. Consider what happened at GM. Over the past 20 years, much-less-unionized Toyota created 15,000 jobs -- in America, not in Japan. Over that same period, GM lost 400,000 American jobs. One reason GM shrank was union rules. How's that good for workers?

Of course workers have a right to unionize -- it's part of freedom of association. But to be effective, that right needs a free-market environment. That means no compulsory membership -- free association, not forced association. Second, enterprise must be truly free and competitive, which means no privilege or favoritism from government -- no bailouts and crony capitalism.

When enterprise is competitive, workers acquire more bargaining power because multiple employers bid for their services. Also, self-employment is a real option because no government barriers to entry prevent it (like licensing, zoning orcomplicated taxes and rules). As the great economics writer Henry Hazlitt pointed out, free unions can play a constructive role when they have to attract members by offering valuable services, such as information on the latest market conditions. But the market must be free in all respects.

Today, workers should know the downside of unionizing. It's not just the cost of their union dues. It's the opportunities lost in union shops because the rules limit entrepreneurs' ability to change, adapt and grow. It's that freedom -- free enterprise -- that gives America and workers the power to prosper.


John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at >johnstossel.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. ©Creators Syndicate