Unions Thrive When Accountability Does Not

The Missouri legislative leaders want to debate a “right-to-work” bill. It would outlaw employment contracts that make union dues or fees a condition of employment. Supporters say the right-to-work bill would help Missouri compete for new industries; opponents say it would result in lower wages and a weaker middle class. This debate has been raging for decades.

The truth is that unions flourish when the need exists. Unions serve people who are taken advantage of by businesses. When businesses realize that they are successful only when their people are successful, that how people are treated matters and those loyal accountable workers only exist in an environment where the business is loyal and accountable to the workers first, the businesses will flourish. It is only then that unions cease to offer real benefits to the workers.

There are costs associated with unions. Members pay dues, there are negotiations that take place and companies must work to satisfy both the members represented by the unions and the unions themselves. These costs could be avoided in an environment where the leaders of businesses understand the true value of the people that make up the company and take care of their people.

We see this exemplary type of accountable leadership when the CEO of a company takes a huge pay cut so that all of his employees can earn a minimum of $70,000 a year. We see it when a University President takes a $90,000 pay cut so that all workers earning the minimum $7.25/hr. can be raised to $10.25/hr. We see it when, at a restaurant in San Francisco, the owner makes sure that all employees have a 401K plan and health insurance.

Only when leaders and organizations are accountable to their people will they create a place where their people want to be accountable. Only when leaders and organizations are accountable will the need for a third party to negotiate for the interests of the workers disappear. You can’t legislate away the need for unions. You lead them away by doing what is right and by thinking of your people first.

When accountability thrives within our society, and therefor within our businesses, then not only will all states be a “right-to-work” state but also the people will want to work. Companies will strengthen and our economy will flourish.


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