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In recent weeks, we have all witnessed the end of Hostess Baking and the National Hockey League 2012-13 season. According to the news reports, both losses were due to a break down in negotiations between owners and unions.
Let me first state my general opinion of unions and their recent activities;
I was a member of a union for seven years. When I was hired by Pan Am in 1988, one of the terms of my employment was to pay dues and join the Airline Pilots Association. My first impression was very good. The union seemed to work hard and fight for pilot’s rights and salaries.
Later, I watched the union defend a pilot who had been fired for refusing a drug test. This individual was notified of a test as he was ending his flight. He was told to visit the testing center at Berlin Germany Airport, before leaving the airport premises. He left the airport, failed to show for his next trip, and was un-contactable for 20 days.
He then showed up and said he was ready to take the drug test. I know that the Railway Labor Act forces unions to provide a defense for every accused union member. In this case, the right thing to do would have been to save the pilot and every passenger who might fly with him by telling him to find another occupation. The individual lost his appeal, with the federal government backing the company.
Unions have given us many good things. The five-day work week, 40 hours and then overtime, and protection against firing from personality conflicts, are all due to unions. The coal mines and railroads 100 years ago were brutal toward their employees. The Railway Labor Act was very necessary to keep workers alive and well. Productivity was improved by many things that unions did.
Nonetheless, unions today have overstepped their boundaries in many situations. When good companies are driven out of business by aggressive unions, they are going too far.
When teachers declare that they are not going to improve their teaching methods because the union allows them to do so, they are going too far.
When union members have the lives of many citizens in their hands, like pilots, and the union defends their criminal and dangerous actions, they have gone way too far.
As it is, the loss of Twinkies, Ding-Dongsand Wonder bread, are no great loss. The 18,000 workers should get employment at other bakeries, that make healthier food products. The National Hockey League Players are almost all from Canada, and former Soviet republics. Let them all go home and play in their own leagues.
Our hockey fans will take their money to minor league games, basketball games and movie theaters. Some of them will hang out at the local pub and watch big screen TVs. The workers at the hockey stadiums, will hopefully get employment serving the same people who are getting their entertainment elsewhere.
I have stated before that entertainment should not be counted in the GDP. Government economists think otherwise. They actually count the entertainment by Hollywood stars and pro athletes as productivity.
I disagree strongly with the government on this one. Entertainment might make us feel good and maybe we relieve some stress at ball games, but it is a farce to say that our standard of living is better because we watch these folks entertain us so well.
In two weeks, I plan to cover the Fiscal Cliff and what going over the cliff will do to our economy. Maybe we will see some progress in Washington by then.
David Snyder is the flight training program manager for two Israeli business jets. He is a former pilot for PanAm and is the former chairman of the Bucks County Airport Authority.