Michael Giles and Vincent Vernuccio explain: Why Unions Don’t Want Workers to Earn More:
The RAISE Act would allow employers to give individual workers pay increases without going through a union.
Despite the potential benefits to union members, unions have put up fierce resistance to the proposal. Teamsters President James Hoffa railed against the bill in a recent letter to senators, in which he advised them to “oppose the RAISE Act (S. 3221) which seeks to allow employers to grant wage increases unilaterally to workers of their choosing.” Hoffa’s position boils down to preventing employers from having the ability to give individual raises to union workers for outstanding performance.
The Service Employees International Union called the RAISE Act “another attempt to undermine the rights of workers to bargain collectively — and that’s not fair.”
What is really at stake is union power. On the most basic level, union bosses hope their workers perceive the union — not their individual talents — as the surest way to advancement. An individual raise above the union wage threatens to undermine this union narrative, which is already getting harder to sustain, as the inflexible and adversarial nature of the union wage scale no longer suits the American economy.
The debate over the RAISE Act demonstrates that union interests and worker interests are not the same. Union bosses like Hoffa fear that rewards for individual workers could loosen their control over the rank and file, undermining the antiquated system of strict work rules and pay scales upon which unions thrive. Unions rightly observe that their defense of this perverse wage ceiling protects their interests. What they don’t mention is that it hurts the workers who would excel if given the chance.
Washington Examiner Online, June 26, 2012