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Outdated U.S. Labor Laws Need Modernization

According to the Heritage Foundation’s labor policy analyst, James Sherk, it’s time to revamp labor laws in this country to meet the needs of 21st century workers, rather than maintain laws that were designed in the 1930s for “a primarily industrial economy that no longer exists.”  One indication for this is the decline in both private sector union and government union membership.

One of the major ways unions are out of touch is that they base wages on union rates rather than on individual performance.  Sherk breaks down why, in today’s workplaces, this practice makes no sense:

Nationwide, union members are less than half as likely to receive performance pay as non-union employees.

This holds back union members. A one-size-fits-all approach was workable when all employees brought essentially the same skills to the bargaining table. But the nature of work is changing. Employers have automated many rote repetitive tasks. At the same time, employers are also flattening the job hierarchy. The line between management and workers is blurring. Employers increasingly expect workers to exercise independent judgment and take initiative on the job. Employers want to reward—and employees want to be rewarded for—individual contributions that no collective contract can reflect.

Not only this, but federal labor law prohibits non-union employees from having a voice on the job.

Union bosses may be attached to outdated union practices, and members may think they benefit from being in a union.  But as Sherk has explained elsewhere, union membership does not truly benefit workers, especially since unions have done precious little to innovate and compete to represent people.

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