Thursday, February 24, 2011

Government and Private Unions Are Not the Same

While it may be agreed there are two sides to a story, including the recent attention to government Unions, the below article brings up some interesting points about private vs. public sector Unions.  As Wisconsin, New Jersey and other states begin movements to eliminate the power of government employee unions; there are many details and interesting facts being brought to light about public sector unions and the negative impact they may be having on the states and the country.  While it may also be agreed that union members are not the villains,  the article covers a few issues and other concerns about politicians receiving financial backing from unions, the government itself being operated by unions through its employees, and numerous other conflicts of interest.
Government and Private Unions Are Not the Same
Posted: 24 Feb 2011 01:55 PM PST

Private-sector unions have been losing both membership and power, while government, public-sector unions have been gaining political muscle and membership.  In 2009, for the first time in history, there were more members of public-sector unions than private-sector union members, and unionized government workers outnumbered their private-sector counterparts by more than half a million (see chart above).  

Jonah Goldberg makes some excellent points in his LA Times editorial today ("Public Unions Must Go") about some critical differences between public- and private-sector unions:

"Traditional, private sector unions were born out of an often bloody adversarial relationship between labor and management. Mine disasters were frequent; hazardous conditions were the norm. In 1907, the Monongah mine explosion claimed the lives of 362 West Virginia miners. Day-to-day life often resembled serfdom, with management controlling vast swaths of the miners' lives. And before unionization and many New Deal-era reforms, Washington had little power to reform conditions by legislation.

Meanwhile, government unions have no such narrative on their side. Do you recall the Great DMV cave-in of 1959? How about the travails of second-grade teachers recounted in Upton Sinclair's famous schoolhouse sequel to "The Jungle"? No? Don't feel bad, because no such horror stories exist.
Government workers were making good salaries in 1962 when President Kennedy lifted, by executive order, the federal ban on government unions. Civil service regulations and similar laws had guaranteed good working conditions for generations. The argument for public unionization wasn't moral, economic or intellectual. It was rankly political.

Private sector unions fight with management over an equitable distribution of profits. Government unions negotiate with politicians over taxpayer money, putting the public interest at odds with union interests and, as we've seen in states such as California and Wisconsin, exploding the cost of government. The labor-politician negotiations can't be fair when the unions can put so much money into campaign spending.

This is why FDR believed that "the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service," and why even George Meany, the first head of the AFL-CIO, held that it was "impossible to bargain collectively with the government."

“We the people are the rightful masters of both the Congress and the Courts 
- not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow men who pervert the Constitution... Abraham Lincoln

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