Congratulations to Kurt Barger on being chosen by the James R. Hoffa Memorial Scholarship Fund's Selection Committee to receive the Essay Contest award.
Kurt is the son of Steve & Angie Barger. Steve is a Teamsters Local 991 member employed as a UPS Package Car Driver at the Chipley, FL Center.
Kurt graduated from Mosley High School in Panama City, FL with a weighted GPA of 4.47 where he achieved numerous academic awards, as well as being a stand-out athlete on the basketball team.
He continued both academic and athletic success at Gulf Coast State College where he is pursuing a Pre-Med degree while playing on the basketball team.
Kurt will be continuing his education as a student at the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. We wish him the best of luck and again say, "Congratulations". We are including the text of Kurt's winning essay:
What Role Can Labor Unions Play in Creating Jobs and Jump Starting the Economy?
by: Kurt Barger
Labor unions have been in the United States for nearly 200 years playing important roles in job creation and stimulating the economy. Unions have paved the way for millions of middle class Americans by pioneering benefits such as pensions and healthcare. The driving force of the United States' economy is the middle class. Unions protect jobs and the interest of the employees. They even benefit non-union employees by spin-offs where non-union employees actually receive higher levels of wages and benefits as a result of the competitive levels received by union employees. Additionally unionization does not reduce competitiveness internationally as many countries which we compete with have a higher unionization rate than the U.S.
Unions increase job security by protecting members and their interest providing representation for the working class. For many Americans joining a union has become a risk rather than a right. In previous times, there was a phrase coined "Yellow Dog Contract" where employers forced their workers to sign a contract in order to get a job with the worker promising not to join a union. Do unwritten contracts of this nature still exist today? Americans need to have a comfort level in knowing they will have a job tomorrow. Labor unions provide consumer confidence which stimulates spending thus propelling the economy forward.
Unions have substantial impact on the compensation and work lives of both unionized and non-unionized workers. Non-union employees benefit with increased pay for workers in occupations and industries with substantial union presence as non-union employers move closer to union standards. This is seen when comparing employees of UPS to Federal Express. Many non-union employees struggle living from paycheck to paycheck. Unions reduce income inequality, and reduce employee turnover which increases the retention of skilled employees. This movement increases buying power of the country's middle class sector.
Unions keep American jobs at home. Over the last several decades Americans have lost their jobs to competitive international sources. Industries such as consumer electronics, apparel, and manufacturing have outsourced their workforce and factories outside of the United States due to reduced costs. Contrary to popular belief, there is little reason to fear U.S. economic competitiveness would be hurt by an increase in unions. For example, Sweden has one of the highest standards of living and one of the lowest unemployment rates over the last 20 years with one of the highest unionization rates.
Unions continue to play vital roles in creating jobs and jump starting the economy providing the necessary link for middle class Americans to propel our nation forward. Without unions only a thin slice at the top will enjoy higher living standards even during strong economic times with record profits and increased productivity. How can we hope to reach this country's goals without making unions the companion of our country's advancement?