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September 22 2011

The Heritage Foundation: How Unions Hurt Women

The Heritage Foundation: The Foundry

Think big government unions affect everyone equally? Think again. Union contracts often hurt workers who need more flexible schedules or less traditional work arrangements. The Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) recently published a policy paper regarding this unfair arrangement.

IWF’s Carrie Lukas points out that, like many big government ventures, unions assume that one-size-fits-all work and compensation packages will satisfy everyone. Unfortunately, they don’t take into consideration working mothers, part-time workers, and the low-skilled or entry level.

Union contracts are negotiated through collective bargaining, where one master contract covers all the workers at a company. These collective contracts often do not fit the needs of individual employees. As Lukas writes:

Those who would gladly trade higher pay for reduced hours may find that’s impossible due to union rules. Women who aren’t currently employed, but who are seeking part-time opportunities are likely to find that difficult in many union shops.

Unemployment has hovered around 9 percent or more for the past two years. Unions aren’t helping that number decrease. They negotiate contracts that benefit some of their members at the expense of other workers, says Lukas:

In highly unionized industries, like teaching, this means keeping many qualified women (or men) out of the job market. Across the country, union-negotiated rules tend to make it difficult (if not impossible) for school districts to hire the PhD math whiz that has been a stay-at-home mom but who now wants to teach part-time. Rules about certification and seniority benefit union members at the expense of other potential workers and students who would benefit from a more diverse, higher quality teaching force.

These union contracts restrict opportunity. Worse, the Obama Administration is doing everything it can to foist them on employees and employers. As Heritage’s James Sherk and Rea Herdman argue:

Despite the weak economy, the Administration has put the task of satisfying interest groups above job growth. The latest example comes from the federal government’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which issued several rulings recently undermining employer and employee rights.

Unions make businesses less competitive and discourage investment. This reduces job growth.

The last thing America needs is something that hurts the job market even more. It’s time to expose the truth.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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