Sunday, March 13, 2011

In Favor of "Right To Work"

In the workforce, there are good workers and there are bad workers. Good workers perform their job duties well. They get expected results, they get work done on time, and they do competent work. Bad workers, on the other hand, miss expectations, miss deadlines, and provide incompetent work. In teaching, good workers are those who educate the children in their classroom well and bad workers are those who fail to provide a good education to the children in their classroom. As a public company's CEO, increasing shareholder value in the long-run is good work and destroying shareholder value is bad work.

In order to encourage and reward good work, incentives are often used by organizations. Good workers get raises, bonuses, or promotions. Bad workers miss out on raises or bonuses, might be demoted, or might be shown the door. One system that has been successful in many areas is to constantly cut the bottom 10% of the workforce. The bottom 10% is replaced with new hires, and the process is repeated yearly. Eventually, the quality of the workforce increases. In a public school, this would mean students get better teachers.

Unfortunately, large unions oppose such a merit-based system. Rather than reward good employees and get rid of bad ones, they would rather have every employee get the same compensation regardless of their performance. Imagine three employees (A, B, and C) who start a job the same day. Two years later, employee A, in the top top 5% of the organization has received a 25% pay increase and a promotion. Employee B, in the top 25% of the organization has received an 6.5% pay increase but is still in the same job. Employee C, in the bottom 5% of the organization, has been shown the door and replaced with someone more competent. In this system, good performance is rewarded and employees strive for it. However, in a system based on union ideals, after two year employees A, B, and C would all just have a pay hike of 5%. The best and the worst employee would be equally compensated, leaving no incentive for good performance.

The good workers, who would receive compensation based on merit, are getting hurt by the unions. The bad workers get helped, but the organization overall is hurt. In the case of public schools, good teachers are hurt by the unions and the most competent will look to other jobs where their skills can be better used. The bad teachers, on the other hand, will stay put and continue to provide a poor education to students in the classrooms. Many union workers actually oppose the unions that they are members of due to the unions opposing merit-based compensation. In some states, where "right to work" does not exist, people are only union members because they were forced to join unions that actually negatively affect them. For the good of the country, "right to work" should be a right afforded to every American.

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