Anyone who understands the reality of what it takes to run a successful small business knows that unions and small business are like oil and water. But the politicians in Washington, D.C., don’t get it.
According to recently released data from the Census Bureau, there are 14.8 million union workers in the U.S. as compared to 28 million small businesses and self-employed individuals. Despite their small numbers, labor unions have a much greater impact on the direction of policy in our country.
President Obama is a friend of labor unions. You can see that relationship playing out in his policies and the myriad regulatory initiatives the Administration is pushing. These policies and regulations are focused on giving unions the upper hand in labor organizing and they make it harder for entrepreneurs to be self-employed or franchise their business concept.
How could this happen in a country where the majority should rule? Because most of our elected officials in Washington have never run a small business or had to make payroll. Allow me to share a brief story and I’ll explain.
My mother’s family owned a small furniture manufacturing company in a rural southern-Missouri town. When union organizers appeared on the scene, the employees were told if they chose to vote for the union, the business would close down, and they’d all be out of jobs. Unfortunately, no one believed the owners would really lock the doors so they voted in favor of the Union. The next day when the employees arrived to work, the doors were locked …never to re-open again.
When I was a child, my mother took me to visit that old plant. As I stood on my tiptoes peering in the windows of the dilapidated building, I saw furniture pieces in various stages of completion, sitting just where the workers had left them – eerily waiting for their return.
I was far too young to understand the reasons why my family decided to lock the doors of their business instead of working with the union. But now as a small business owner myself, I bristle at the thought of what unionization would do to my small firm. In fact, I would be tempted to do the same thing my family did in the 1940s: Lock the doors and move on.
A small business faced with Unionization would be seriously impacted by higher wages, higher business operations and legal costs, and the loss of flexibility over employee selection based on business needs. All of this at a time when small businesses are struggling to keep their doors open and their staff employed.
If the government truly believes that small business is the engine that drives the economy, then why in the world would they continue to place cumbersome, costly, deterrents in its way?
My recommendation is to ask the President and members of Congress to walk a mile in our shoes – the shoes of small business owners who are just trying to survive. Give these politicos the opportunity to experience what it feels like to risk your life-savings on a business venture; to do without so your employees will be paid; to work 24/7 with no guarantee there be anything to show for your efforts; and to pioneer innovations that give the U.S. a global competitive advantage. All without a government safety net to catch us if we fail.
Small business is the American dream. But if the government continues to ignore the realities small business owners face, it will successfully extinguish the dream.
is a business expert, an entrepreneur and New York Times best-selling author. To read more of her work, CLICK HERE NOW.
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