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Why People Dislike Union Work Rules

June 26, 2009

Mickey Kaus gives another great example of absurd and outrage inducing union work rules:

Antiquated work rules hurt BART finances by ramping up overtime, BART officials said.

They point to rules requiring that two workers remove seat covers and backing for cleaning. A utility worker unsnaps the cushion. A journeyman mechanic is called in to remove two screws for the seat backing.

Among cleaning crews, a worker in one job classification cleans inside stations and another worker in another classification cleans outside the roof line of stations.

Keep the work rules examples coming! They are much more devastating to Wagner Act unionism than examples of high wages for a few reasons:

  • People aren’t likely to begrudge someone who has worked a lifetime at a job and now makes a nice living. (Those at the top of the payscale.) And people also don’t know exactly what they do– maybe its something really complicated.
  • In contrast, complicated work rules smack of laziness because they conjure up a vision of some workers standing around idle while they wait for the appropriately classified worked to come and complete a job.
  • This standing around personifies the concept of economic deadweight loss. This loss is also present when salaries are artificially inflated because fewer people are working in the industry than otherwise would be and end up in jobs they are less suited for at the margin– but this is a more complicated explanation. People standing around pretty clearly and intuitively means economic inefficiency!

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