Do public sector unions serve a purpose?

posted at 11:21 am on June 11, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

Governor Mitch Daniels went out on the Sunday talk show circuit and floated an idea which, predictably, has some of the usual suspects up in arms. He posed the question of whether or not public sector unions really have a place at the table in the American free market system.

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) criticized public-sector unions on Sunday, saying they should be eliminated entirely.

“There’s, I think, a fundamental problem with government becoming its own special interest group,” he told Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “Ultimately, there is not really bargaining in those situations because government sits on both sides of the table.”

Wallace then asked whether Daniels would like to see public-sector unions disappear entirely.

“I think government works better without them, I really do,” Daniels replied.

The easy way out of this is to simply say that Governor Daniels was simply tossing some red meat out to the base during an election year. But there’s really a lot more to this question than politics and it got me to thinking.

The entire purpose of unions is, ostensibly, to protect the workers from abuse, unfair treatment and outright danger from capitalist bosses. When profit is your motive, every dime spent on wages comes out of your bottom line. Ensuring worker safety, providing essential benefits and stimulating offers of other enticements are costly items on the balance sheet which need to be minimized wherever possible.

So who do the workers go to when they face such inequities? The government, of course. Government at all levels is responsible for making sure that the Big Boss doesn’t abuse the workers to the point of endangering them, discriminating against them or otherwise taking advantage. But what if you work for the government? If your employer is the entity which is supposedly responsible for looking out for your welfare, what is the rationale for having a union?

If we say that even public sector workers need protection from their employer we would seem to be making a rather uncomfortable admission that the government isn’t terribly good at their job of protecting workers in the first place. And if they are good at that job, then the unions might find themselves with large amounts of free time and cash to get up to all sorts of mischief. Like… say… influencing elections. Or something.


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NO!

KOOLAID2 on June 11, 2012 at 11:23 AM

If public sector unions go away, government grows smaller. Jobs will move from the public to the private sector.

AubieJon on June 11, 2012 at 11:24 AM

What do Karl Rove and Jeb Bush think?

/

mankai on June 11, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Of course they do – pumping our money to Dem coffers. Why do you bother asking?

Archivarix on June 11, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Someone wants to be VP.

leftnomore on June 11, 2012 at 11:25 AM

as a means to extort and be a benefactor to the democratic party.

theblacksheepwasright on June 11, 2012 at 11:25 AM

The easy way out of this is to simply say that Governor Daniels was simply tossing some red meat out to the base during an election year

For what purpose? He’s not running for reelection and Mitt Romney probably doesn’t want this hung around his neck.

aryeung on June 11, 2012 at 11:25 AM

The entire purpose of unions is, ostensibly, to protect the workers from abuse, unfair treatment and outright danger from capitalist bosses.

But that is not how public sector unions have been sold. They were sold as a means for the employee to have a voice with management in providing superior service to the citizens.

That’s how JFK sold it to start with (on the federal level) and then Nixon expanded it, then Ford, then Carter, then Clinton (though Bush did remove Clinton’s expansion, but it was then added right back by Obama)

ButterflyDragon on June 11, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Yes, they serve a purpose. To enrich incompetent people and elect other incompetent people (i.e., Democrats).

besser tot als rot on June 11, 2012 at 11:26 AM

What do Karl Rove and Jeb Bush think?

/

mankai on June 11, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Probably that as a compromise solution that the federal government should force everyone to be in a union.

besser tot als rot on June 11, 2012 at 11:27 AM

They serve the same role as tapeworms do: the infest the gut of the body politic, eat up lots of sustenance and deprive the body of same.

Luckily PEUs are easier to get rid of than tapeworms. But they both writhe just the same.

ajacksonian on June 11, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Remember that Mitch killed state employee collective bargaining as he was elected – 7 or 8 years ago. He then in the last couple years eliminated the teacher’s unions ability to negotiate on all subjects – essentially gutting their ability to talk about much more than wages I think.

He is just saying what he already has done.

Zomcon JEM on June 11, 2012 at 11:28 AM

Do public sector unions serve a purpose?

Sure, to keep Democrats in power. Next question.

Kataklysmic on June 11, 2012 at 11:29 AM

What do Karl Rove and Jeb Bush think?

/

mankai on June 11, 2012 at 11:25 AM

Probably that as a compromise solution that the federal government should force everyone to be in a union.

besser tot als rot on June 11, 2012 at 11:27 AM

Have everyone work at a wind farm, while you’re at it.

aryeung on June 11, 2012 at 11:29 AM

They serve no good purpose, period. Public employee unions are harmful parasites. Outlaw them & break them up.

OhioCoastie on June 11, 2012 at 11:30 AM

Mitch Daniels for Secretary of Labor!

dczombie on June 11, 2012 at 11:32 AM

As usual, Jazz Shaw misses the crux of the matter.

The primary issue is the conflict of interest “Jazz”. The justification for the existence of PEUs has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not they “serve” workers.

Listen up “Jazz”.

Public sector employees are paid entirely (interest income excepted) with taxpayer dollars. Public sector unions come to the negotiating table on behalf of those employees, and across that table are the politicians elected to represent the taxpayers. Extracting taxpayer dollars from those politicians is the union’s primary function. So those unions come to the one party that seeks to expand public sector employment and dependence (Democrats), and they promise to use their substantial union muscle and money to support the Democrat party in exchange for the wages and benefits the union seeks.

Its an incestuous, corrupt cycle. Public sector unions main goal is to elect union-friendly politicians who will extract taxpayer dollars to give back to the union in order to fund the election of those same politicians.

It is a system that needs to be dismantled, in every state, as well as at the federal level.

Let’s focus “Jazz”. If you’re going to be a primary contributor to one of the premier conservative websites, at least have a grasp of the issues upon which you comment, or the wisdom to refrain.

IronDioPriest on June 11, 2012 at 11:34 AM

The easy way out of this

Out of what?

pedestrian on June 11, 2012 at 11:34 AM

We all own the government; public unions simply create a privileged class of people who also get to draw a paycheck from it to the detriment of the rest of us. We should encourage the best and brightest to serve in government, but there are better ways than heaping empty promises on them that can never be kept.

As an independent contractor who works in commercial real estate, believe me I went looking for a public-sector job in 2008 and found that it was a fairly exclusive club. In the meantime, my own retirement savings were slashed in half while greedy public employee unions whined about modest contributions to a defined-benefits plan. The Wisconsin election simply means that the “shared sacrifice” can begin.

http://www.fiscalwars.wordpress.com

stout77 on June 11, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Frankly, no federal government employee should be in a union. Federal laws already on the books pretty much cover what might ail them…and compensation is not something a “union” can vote on to increase, nor benefits, either, under the civil service system.

To me, going back to the days of the PATCO strike, the notion of unionized federal employees seems pretty stupid.

BTW…I am a retired federal employee myself

coldwarrior on June 11, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Public sector unions fit in nicely with the
Al Capone school of government.

Extortion & Bribery Inc.

esblowfeld on June 11, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Do public sector unions serve a purpose?

In the abstract? Yes, they do. The problem with unions is not their concept but their application. Even in the private sector.

Rocks on June 11, 2012 at 11:38 AM

. But what if you work for the government? If your employer is the entity which is supposedly responsible for looking out for your welfare, what is the rationale for having a union?
====================================================

The Hopey/Changey National Civilian Security Forces!!!!!!!

canopfor on June 11, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Did anyone catch that interview and notice Chris Wallace made ALL of his arguments from the left. Finally when he told Mitch Daniels his state was 47th in public employee compensation Mitch said “I don’t believe your numbers and will not debate the point”

“….but we have all these statistics here Gov. Daniels” to which he replied, “Our turnover rate is one of the lowest, use that”.

Chris Wallace is pretty much the same as George Steph and David Gregory in these interviews. And why do they interview the people on opposing sides separately for a discussion on the same issue?

DanMan on June 11, 2012 at 11:40 AM

Frankly, no federal government employee should be in a union. Federal laws already on the books pretty much cover what might ail them…and compensation is not something a “union” can vote on to increase, nor benefits, either, under the civil service system.

coldwarrior

Not to be too pedantic but the problem isn’t joining a union. That in and of itself cannot be outlawed without constitutional issues.

The problem is laws like Davis-Bacon and other formal agreements in which governments must negotiate with union executives. The problem isn’t membership, it’s forcing taxpayers to dance to their tune.

chimney sweep on June 11, 2012 at 11:43 AM

They serve no good purpose……

t on June 11, 2012 at 11:45 AM

“Do public sector unions serve a purpose?”

Of course they do. It’s the purpose they serve — unaccountable satisfaction of self-interest with resources which are not theirs — that is the problem.

Dusty on June 11, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Jazz, I know you believe that you are citing the thoughts of others in the paragraph beginning with “Ostensibly”. However, it isn’t wise to let the concept slide, however innocuously, that capitalism = uncaring greed. It simply isn’t true, it’s the meme of the left, and giving it any ground is unhelpful at best.

For capitalist business owners, profit is the motivation. Maximizing profit is the best thing they can do. Cutting costs does not always equate to maximizing profit, and smart business owners know this. Therefore, comprimising workplace safety in the name of lowered costs does NOT result in higher profit margins, because increased work stoppages for injuries increases cost, reduces production, and reduces revenue.

A completely heartless, purely profit-driven capitalist who analyses the bottom line from all angles will have the safest, most effective operation there is, in order to maintain production rates. Strangely enough, this turns out to benefit the employees at least as much as it does the owner.

Don’t ever make an argument which presumes that “capitalist bosses” are a danger to their employees, and don’t allow such an argument to be subsumed within the context of a larger point being made. It’s an insult, and invalid.

Freelancer on June 11, 2012 at 11:48 AM

Obama: At The Tipping Point?

http://predicthistunpredictpast.blogspot.com/2012/06/obama-at-tipping-point.html

M2RB: Judas Priest

‘Toon of the Day: Even Jimmy Carter, Champ

http://predicthistunpredictpast.blogspot.com/2012/06/toon-of-day-even-jimmy-carter-champ.html

M2RB: Rolling Stones

Resist We Much on June 11, 2012 at 11:48 AM

For capitalist business owners, profit is the motivation. Maximizing profit is the best thing they can do. Cutting costs does not always equate to maximizing profit, and smart business owners know this. Therefore, compromising workplace safety in the name of lowered costs does NOT result in higher profit margins, because increased work stoppages for injuries increases cost, reduces production, and reduces revenue.

Freelancer on June 11, 2012 at 11:48 AM

This depends on the work being done, the locale, the laws, etc. Assuming easy to train position and no workers’ comp laws, simply firing an injured worker and replacing with another is not costly.

Further, your arguments apply to a business owner who will be thinking long-term for his business. When it is a large corporation and the person making these decisions is middle management who is only really interested in maximizing profit for the next 4 quarters, hoping for a promotion or to move to another assignment, then those arguments about consideration of long-term impacts don’t work.

I understand your point, and agree with it to a large extent, but it is dishonest to pretend that business doesn’t cut corners and jeopardize worker safety, etc. in order to cut costs.

There is some place for gov’t in regulating business. Just not nearly the extent the libs believe.

Monkeytoe on June 11, 2012 at 11:54 AM

Who’s watching out for the taxpayer, when the Government sector is sitting across the bargaining table from the Government sector?

franksalterego on June 11, 2012 at 11:57 AM

No to public sector unions! It’s a viscious circle when the unions and their bosses (elected pols) scratch each others backs and screw the non-public sector taxpayers. FDR understood this, as well as George Meany boss of the AFL-CIO, a private sector union. But the Dems love this set-up, as does the AFSCME and NEA.

Bob in VA on June 11, 2012 at 11:57 AM

Do public sector unions serve a purpose?

Yes. To fleece the public.

Rixon on June 11, 2012 at 11:59 AM

Yes,
Because unions have driven themselves out of work by driving businesses out of the country, they migrated to the public sector to continue their primary function, which is to move money into Democrat election coffers.

Gunlock Bill on June 11, 2012 at 12:01 PM

The best way to curb public sector unions would be to have a federal right-to-work law that would apply to all 50 states. That alone would solve much of the problem, and it’s hard for Unions to argue against voluntary Union membership.

If the GOP just tries to just outright ban public unions, I could see that backfiring, especially when Police and Fire become involved.

If Union membership and dues are voluntary in all 50 states, they’ll become not much more than the occasional nuisance that can easily be dealt with.

BradTank on June 11, 2012 at 12:02 PM

Entrenched bureaucracies cripple the state.

Where was the worker oppression that led to PEUs being needed in the first place?

Greek Fire on June 11, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Do public sector unions serve a purpose?

In the abstract? Yes, they do. The problem with unions is not their concept but their application. Even in the private sector.

Rocks on June 11, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Indeed.

They might serve a decent purpose if they did what they purport to do.

But for now all of them are controlled by political forces who have as their aim the destruction of Capitalism and it’s replacement with Communism.

Now in Communist countries Unions broke their rule. So indeed Unions can be good.

Steveangell on June 11, 2012 at 12:06 PM

But was he really angry when he said it? otherwise hes clearly still a rino

therightwinger on June 11, 2012 at 12:07 PM

Mitch Daniels for Secretary of Labor!

dczombie on June 11, 2012 at 11:32 AM

+1… and then which Department should he be moved to after he closes it down???

Just like Palin should be made Secretary of Interior, with both the EPA and DOE being eliminated…

phreshone on June 11, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Who’s watching out for the taxpayer, when the Government sector is sitting across the bargaining table from the Government sector?

And at the same time one side rewarding the other side with generous campaign contributions which in turn is rewarded with contracts fully loaded with generous taxpayer paid salaries, benefits and pensions.

Times are a changing though as some voters are finally getting wise to this cozy arrangement.

hawkeye54 on June 11, 2012 at 12:10 PM

Frankly, no federal government employee should be in a union. Federal laws already on the books pretty much cover what might ail them…and compensation is not something a “union” can vote on to increase, nor benefits, either, under the civil service system.
To me, going back to the days of the PATCO strike, the notion of unionized federal employees seems pretty stupid.
BTW…I am a retired federal employee myself

coldwarrior on June 11, 2012 at 11:35 AM

Was he referring to federal employee unions? Since Mitch Daniels is a governor I assumed he was referring to state and local public sector unions.

Where I am it seems the state level ones, such as prison workers, is a big corrupt mess, but the local ones such as teachers seem to work ok to me. I don’t know if it’s ideal, but in the relatively small community I live when we are short on funds, the teacher unions bring one face to the table to negotiate with, if they were all individual contracts, I’m not sure the result would be ultimate. In many ways, keeping teachers happy is to the benefit of the school, and the parents are usually on the same side as he union, smaller class size, etc. And despite popular thought, most of us want to keep the tenured, good, experienced teachers in the classroom versus having the option to hire all new cheaper employees with no ability to control the classroom. Collectively bargaining gives can strengthen those things in the face of always looking at it financially. At the same time, our teachers union has been willing to compromise when the money is just not there. (When I say ours I’m not affiliated, just as a parent in the school.) It would be interesting to see it in action without union organization to compare. Also, I wonder if ther is still sense of competition between cities that helps whereas the larger the union gets, state/federal they have more power and becomes more corrupt.

rose-of-sharon on June 11, 2012 at 12:11 PM

Mitch Daniels for Secretary of Labor!

dczombie on June 11, 2012 at 11:32 AM

+1… and then which Department should he be moved to after he closes it down???

I’d go for Dept of Education.

hawkeye54 on June 11, 2012 at 12:11 PM

I have often used the first argument regarding negotiations between one party that uses its money to elect the person on the other side of the table, but the second argument may be stronger.

In the private sector, the government in the guarantor of adherence to the terms of the contract. Similar to insurance, the government enforces the terms. How can the government, then, also be a player in the contract? Who is supposed to make sure both parties are playing by the rules, when one party is the rule enforcer?

As the argument goes, where do you go when government insurance denies your claim? Who do you complain to?

BroncoGuy on June 11, 2012 at 12:14 PM

Eliminate dues collection from paychecks. Why should the taxpayers pay for what is clearly a union expense of collecting union fees? Eliminate mandatory dues and mandatory membership.
The problem will solve itself.

talkingpoints on June 11, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Please stop using the term “public sector unions”. Replace that term with “government employee unions”. I bet if there was a man-on-the-street type of interview and you asked people “do you support public sector unions?” the answers would be significantly different than if you asked them “do you support government employee unions?”

Fogpig on June 11, 2012 at 12:18 PM

PWUs in many cases, particularly in Blue states, actually elect their bosses. Here in NY you do not attack the teachers unions, the afscme groups and the public portion of the SEIU and Teamsters. A solution which would take no bargaining rights away from any union would be to deny any campaign contribution,in dollars or in kind, to any seeker or holder of any public office or committees representing them by a PWU or any ad hoc grouping of public workers.Treat all PWs like the military and limit their participation to voting. To equalize things, deny any business or corp. that has contracts or does business in excess of 15% of its total gross receipts per annum with a govt entity the right to make any monetary donations either directly, personally, or through bundling to any holder or seeker of public office or any committee representing them.

xkaydet65 on June 11, 2012 at 12:20 PM

Eliminate dues collection from paychecks. Why should the taxpayers pay for what is clearly a union expense of collecting union fees? Eliminate mandatory dues and mandatory membership.
The problem will solve itself.

I agree with that. I work for the City of Los Angeles, where employees can opt not to join a union. Of course dues, in the form of “agency fees” are still deducted automatically from one’s paycheck. Even from temporary interns.

hawkeye54 on June 11, 2012 at 12:20 PM

Mitch Daniels for Secretary of Labor!

dczombie on June 11, 2012 at 11:32 AM

The question should be why is there a Dept of Labor, other than collecting and reporting of labor statistics?

Next question is why is their a National Labor Relations Board? It should be dissolved immediately.

Dasher on June 11, 2012 at 12:26 PM

PEU’s serve one purpose, that’s so important that it’s why the democRat party will fight to the death to save them:

PEU’s exist to ensure that a certain percentage of all government spending gets kicked back to the democRat party.

wildcat72 on June 11, 2012 at 12:27 PM

Saying aloud what he wouldn’t have said before Scott Walker won against Big Labor in his recall election in Wisconsin.

Yeah Daniels is all kinds of brave and stuff/

Dr Evil on June 11, 2012 at 12:36 PM

rose-of-sharon on June 11, 2012 at 12:11 PM

Sounds good in theory, but lousy in practice.

When cuts need to be made, unions will always cut the younger teachers. It has absolutely nothing to do with who is the better teacher, it is all about who has been teaching the longest.

I watched as my daughter sat through a “nothing but movies” year because the teacher was retiring at the end of the year. Administrators knew about it, but also knew that by the time anything happened, the teacher would be retired. So my daughter lost a year of education because “unions protect their own”.

In the private sector, who goes or stays during RIFs has everything to do with competence… not “years of butt-sitting in a chair”. That’s why its actually HARDER to hire good people in a bad economy… because companies will get rid of their slackers first… even if that means paying their stars more. In the end, companies know they still have to compete in a recession. PEUs protect their members from rewarding the excellent teachers and getting rid of the poor ones. All of them are paid as if they were excellent.

Also as a side effect, PEUs are the culprits behind why many young teachers leave the profession. After all, with any job they take, they are ALWAYS first on the chopping block no matter how well they perform!

I know all of this first hand as probably 90% of my relatives have been teachers (elementary, high school, college) and even admins (principle, dean of small college).

And btw, my parents (both in the teaching profession) retired in their mid-50s. Why should I pay for someone to retire in their 50s when I won’t see retirement until my 60s (if then)?

dominigan on June 11, 2012 at 12:41 PM

xkaydet65 on June 11, 2012 at 12:20 PM

I actually like this idea. Thanks for sharing it.

dominigan on June 11, 2012 at 12:44 PM

Do public sector unions serve a purpose?

The very concept of “public sector union” is anti-Constitutional.

The very concept of “Government of the people” is in conflict with the concept of a unionized government, and cannot logically coexist with it.

Therefore public sector unions MUST BE ELIMINATED in order to make government function properly.

landlines on June 11, 2012 at 12:45 PM

Do public sector unions serve a purpose?

What a silly question. Of COURSE

Spurius Ligustinus on June 11, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Fire Fighters and Police are the only Public Unions that should exist. Having said that, ALL there benefits should be paid for out of their pay checks.
Let them choose from many medical and retirement plans. Get rid of mandated Union plans.

Teachers should NOT be unionized and classroom assignments should be made according to the degree they hold and not by seniority. My youngest son had a Biology teacher that had no practical knowledge of the subject she was charged with teaching. She could not have answered a single question the students asked her so how were they to learn??
This is true of ALL subjects.
Unions are not a benefit, they are on the contrary, a drag on education.

Delsa on June 11, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Let’s try that again:

Do public sector unions serve a purpose?

Of COURSE they do — as money-laundering front organizations of the donkey party. And they serve that purpose very well. Which is why the donkey party will always have their backs.

It’s not that we won’t eventually get rid of these parasitic organizations, it’s just that we’ll have a battle royal on our hands because one of our two major political parties has a deeply entrenched, vested interest in seeing them go on sucking the life blood from the taxpayers as long as is humanly possible.

Spurius Ligustinus on June 11, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Government unions are in place to protect government workers from having to work too hard and to gain benefits and pay well beyond what the private sector gets or can justify. Unions always distort the free market labor rates and what a particular job is worth.

Look at Federal workers. Their pay and benefits are since at least the dot com bubble burst well beyond the private sector. When they tried to implement the contribution-based compensation system (CCS) beyond engineers/scientists in DOD labs look what happened. Staff in the labs resisted it and prevailed. So did all the other non-lab organizations. The FBI had it and through it out because among other things senior people could not use their seniority to goof-off without facing a serious threat to their pay especially in the last years where pension rates are set.

Look what happened in Wisconsin when the legalized force of the State was removed from collecting union dues. Government union people got out of the union and kept that part of the money originally forcibly extracted by the state.

Government unions are illegal, exploit private citizens, lead to fiscal burdens not justified by the work most government workers carry out. And only government lets college degrees in gender studies or south Asian history count for anything. Even marxist-favoring FDR was against government unions.

This should be said to all government workers. No unions. Don’t like your government job then shut up, get out, get a job in the private sector and stop wasting taxpayer money!!!!

Falcon46 on June 11, 2012 at 12:56 PM

Government sector unions work for the one entity that can not go bankrupt if the honeypot of money dries up. The taxpayers are in turn called upon, if the politicians promises can’t be met, to refill that honeypot. In other words my taxes go up to buy government worker votes.

SC.Charlie on June 11, 2012 at 1:04 PM

Sounds good in theory, but lousy in practice.

When cuts need to be made, unions will always cut the younger teachers. It has absolutely nothing to do with who is the better teacher, it is all about who has been teaching the longest.

I watched as my daughter sat through a “nothing but movies” year because the teacher was retiring at the end of the year. Administrators knew about it, but also knew that by the time anything happened, the teacher would be retired. So my daughter lost a year of education because “unions protect their own”.

In the private sector, who goes or stays during RIFs has everything to do with competence… not “years of butt-sitting in a chair”. That’s why its actually HARDER to hire good people in a bad economy… because companies will get rid of their slackers first… even if that means paying their stars more. In the end, companies know they still have to compete in a recession. PEUs protect their members from rewarding the excellent teachers and getting rid of the poor ones. All of them are paid as if they were excellent.

Also as a side effect, PEUs are the culprits behind why many young teachers leave the profession. After all, with any job they take, they are ALWAYS first on the chopping block no matter how well they perform!

I know all of this first hand as probably 90% of my relatives have been teachers (elementary, high school, college) and even admins (principle, dean of small college).

And btw, my parents (both in the teaching profession) retired in their mid-50s. Why should I pay for someone to retire in their 50s when I won’t see retirement until my 60s (if then)?

dominigan on June 11, 2012 at 12:41 PM

I’m not talking in theory, but in practice as a parent with several kids in public school. I don’t have all the answers, but only mentioning the benefits I’ve seen come from the teacher’s union in our district.

Even as I was typing I was thinking, maybe it’s different for elementary versus middle school and high school. I know when I was a kid in middle school and high school I had some pretty lazy older teachers. BUT I find the reverse for my kids in elementary, the new teachers I’ve witnessed have very little control over the classroom, my kids have gotten so much more out of the years with the older, more experienced teachers who know how to run a classroom efficiently. That is something that definitely comes from years of experiences in most cases. I would just worry if there was no collectively bargaining, that which teachers would get laid off would be made based soley on numbers not ability, and the older better-paid teachers would go and we’d be left with the cheaper, less experienced ones. The people making these decisions, the administrators, principals, etc, are government workers too. They don’t always care about the long term health of the school, but sometimes are short-sighted with the numbers.

And I’m not arguing when who should get to retire when at all. That is between the teachers and the tax-payers at a local level. There are problems in the system, and probably always will be inherently. But who is to say that it would be better if it was banned entirely? Wisconsin didn’t even do that, it just put limitations on what could be bargained and what couldn’t. I think it would be great to see different localities experiment with different systems. Maybe some wouldn’t have teacher unions altogether, and I’d love to see how that works out, because right now I’m not sure if I’d be for that or not. Or maybe what would be nice to see is allowing the teachers themselves to decide if they’d like to unionize, by vote or however is commonly done in the private sector. Maybe even make it approved by a vote by the tax-payers, or the parents in the school. There are lots of ways that the teachers unions could be refined without throwing them out altogether.

I was just bringing up the point that not all public sector unions are created equal. When you get competition town to town, I think that is an extra check that puts some limits on the power they accumulate.

rose-of-sharon on June 11, 2012 at 1:04 PM

Oh, and I’ll add this. Unions for firefighters, police, and teachers should also not exists or be tolerated!

Falcon46 on June 11, 2012 at 1:05 PM

With the exception of justice and law and order public employees, every function of federal, state and local governments can be privatized. Government can contract with private companies to run Medicare and social security, schools and libraries, run the DMV and collect garbage etc. Once there is competition for these services, the price taxpayers pay for government will come down and services will improve.

monalisa on June 11, 2012 at 1:06 PM

Actually, I don’t think Police and Fire need unions either.
I must have had a lapse in grey matter for a moment.

Delsa on June 11, 2012 at 1:08 PM

Public sector unions never should have been created in the first place.

Private sector unions have long outlived their usefulness.

Abolish them both.

MisterElephant on June 11, 2012 at 1:09 PM

what is an example of a “Private” sector union be?

Delsa on June 11, 2012 at 1:15 PM

Yeah, it’s a good question. I’ve never been solidly on one side or another of it. I hate to see the opportunity to unionize curtailed on principle, but neither do I think the government should take the side of unions, or be in bed with them. Having public-worker unions certainly holds the door wide open to such dangerous conditions.

Here’s an interesting question for the panel. We allow the police to unionize, but not the military. I never wanted to be in a union in my 20 years in the Navy, and I don’t think the military should unionize. But I don’t have a problem with the police being unionized. (I do have a problem anywhere and everywere that someone is forced to be in a union as a condition of employment.)

What think?

J.E. Dyer on June 11, 2012 at 1:17 PM

I am a military vet and I have a big problem with the police being unionized, period. No government worker should be allowed to be unionized. I see as much graft and other misdeeds going on with police as any good they serve. Universal “right to carry” laws would stop a lot of crime as well as the decriminalization of drugs like pot. Retiring after 20 years of service with a nice pension is just not affordable for the service rendered.

99% of the time police are never around when a crime is committed. In fact, the SCUS has ruled that police are their to investigate crime not prevent it. Most police don’t even mingle with their community anymore or know what’s really going on – they just ride around in cars or set speed traps to pray on the public or work to get traffic light cameras installed when the real problem is the length of yellow lights.

If it weren’t for misguided drug laws and the Federal “War on drugs” (just like Prohibition I might add) crime rates would be much lower. The drug war has stacked our prisons with people who should not be there. Then add the manipulation of drug trafficking by orgs like the CIA and the mess we have is mostly compounded by government.

And, yes, the military should not be allowed to unionize either, period!

Falcon46 on June 11, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Military is a different animal all together. Very different.
Pensions and other benefits should come out of salary.
The rank and file are not the problem. The folks who run the unions are.
Unions have out lived their usefulness.
Our police and fire don’t need unions. Counties and cities will offer packages and if someone wants to work in those positions for the wages they will. If not they won’t and others will.

Unions are in it for the $$$$
NOT for the rank and file.

Unions by by!

Delsa on June 11, 2012 at 1:31 PM

Rush just discussed an article about the ton of money coming into the towns in Montana as a result of the shale gas and oil boom.

He mentioned one town that had so much money available that they put an initiative on the ballot to enable citizens vote to abolish their property taxes. No surprise, but the people who are dead set against it are the public employee unions and they are actively campaigning against it. Presumably, they are doing a great job brainwashing voters into keeping the property taxes in place.

PatriotGal2257 on June 11, 2012 at 1:42 PM

Do public sector unions serve a purpose?

Answer….

From the dictionary of REAL Americans:

union = 1. A collection of people headed by goons and thugs organized to extort the maximum possible wages, benefits and pensions for doing the minimum possible amount of actual work. 2. A subsidiary of the lunatic-left d-cRAT socialist party that provides hundreds of millions of dollars in mandatory union dues as campaign contributions in payback for the billions of dollars of taxpayer money the d-cRAT socialists funnel to the unions. 3. An entity designed to make any company non-competitive and any state, city or local municipality bankrupt. 4. A collection of people controlled by goons and thugs that are focused on voter intimidation, unless the voter votes for the d-cRAT socialist party. 5. A tool of the d-cRAT socialist party to implement its anti-democracy ideology by preventing workers from having a secret ballot as to whether they want to join a union, and instead subjecting them to what is called “card check” that allows union leader goons and thugs to harass, intimidate and threaten workers to join their union. 6. The d-cRAT socialist party’s version of the Third Reich’s SchutzStaffel (SS) used to violently attack anybody who opposes the will of the unions or the party, as seen in their actions in Wisconsin and elsewhere where there are efforts at fiscal reform, rational governing and support for taxpayers. 7. The current Dixi-cRAT socialist form of SLAVERY in which each person MUST pay dues to their union maters, they MUST be subject to the rules of their union masters and they MUST obey all orders and decrees from their union masters even if they don’t want anything to do with the union. 8. The embodiment of the grand lie / myth of communism that workers are in “paradise” when in collectives (REALITY clearly proves that the only “Workers’ Paradise” is a “Right-to-Work” state).

TeaPartyNation on June 11, 2012 at 1:43 PM

My Man Mitch! He’s been awesome for the state of Indiana. I, for one, will be sad to see him go but Mike Pence should do well for the state too if so elected this November. Someone, like Mitch Daniels, has got to keep pounding into the minds of taxpayers, and voting taxpayers especially, the nonsense of public employee unions and how they are driving our local and state budgets off a cliff. Governors Walker, Daniels and Christie all serve a useful purpose in this regard and set excellent examples of how the beast can be tamed in one way or another.

HoosierStateofMind on June 11, 2012 at 1:53 PM

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) criticized public-sector unions on Sunday, saying they should be eliminated entirely.

Daniels talking like a conservative Republican, what happened to force him into such an unfamiliar position?

RJL on June 11, 2012 at 2:27 PM

what is an example of a “Private” sector union be?

Delsa on June 11, 2012 at 1:15 PM

A good example is newspaper reporters.

3 years ago the NY Times-owned Boston Glob had a bitter struggle with their unionized employees.

It was brutal.

Del Dolemonte on June 11, 2012 at 2:27 PM

PatriotGal2257 on June 11, 2012 at 1:42 PM

My mistake — it’s in North Dakota, not Montana.

PatriotGal2257 on June 11, 2012 at 2:36 PM

Very well-written post, Jazz.

I have teachers amongst my family & friends who continue to tell me how necessary unions are, and how if they weren’t there, older teachers would be fired because they are too expensive and replaced with inexperienced teachers who are not as good as what they do, teachers would get fired if they don’t get along with principals, teachers would make minimum wage and be unable to support their families, etc etc….

But, instead of creating unions to safegaurd against these injustices, I ask why we don’t put our efforts into asking why that would happen in the first place — and it goes down to the fact that schools have lost sight of why they exist: to educate students as well as possible. The fact that school administrators would fire great teachers to hire poor (but cheaper) ones… the fact that a teacher could be fired because someone doesn’t like them, etc — nobody wants to address that! Because if schools had to EARN their funding and PRODUCE good results, that good teacher would be there making a fair living WITHOUT a union.

Violina23 on June 11, 2012 at 2:44 PM

Del Dolemonte on June 11, 2012 at 2:27 PM

This was the reason that the (evening) Pittsburgh Press went under in 1992. They had a joint operating agreement with the Post-Gazette, which was the morning paper then. The employees who ended up being out of a job eventually went to the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review, which has no union presence that I’m aware of.

But the P-G is still hemorrhaging because of all the unions dragging them down. They have had several rounds of buyouts of long-time employees and I do believe the unions have had to make numerous concessions to stay afloat. A friend of mine from college works there and I’m frankly surprised he survived all that.

PatriotGal2257 on June 11, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Regarding this:

If we say that even public sector workers need protection from their employer we would seem to be making a rather uncomfortable admission that the government isn’t terribly good at their job of protecting workers in the first place.

I came across this last week:

Predictions that government will horribly mistreat its own employees unless they are organized into formal unions powerful enough to counter it suggests that government’s natural impulse is to abuse all of those with whom it deals.

So the same government that will cruelly oppress its unorganized employees will, with equal cruelty, oppress its unorganized citizens. For example, because those of us who pay taxes aren’t organized into a legally recognized taxpayers’ union with which government must collectively bargain, we taxpayers can expect to be unjustly exploited by government.

–F.A. Hayek

Kinda wraps it up with a nice big bow.

LooseCannon on June 11, 2012 at 2:51 PM

The entire purpose of unions is, ostensibly, to protect the workers from abuse, unfair treatment and outright danger from capitalist bosses. When profit is your motive, every dime spent on wages comes out of your bottom line. Ensuring worker safety, providing essential benefits and stimulating offers of other enticements are costly items on the balance sheet which need to be minimized wherever possible.

This is entirely Marxist. You don’t argue against public sector unions by using this line of thought.

AshleyTKing on June 11, 2012 at 3:38 PM

AshleyTKing on June 11, 2012 at 3:38 PM This is entirely Marxist.

Of course it is marxist. Unions are a socialist construct. This should not be a surprise to anyone.

woodNfish on June 11, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Eliminate dues collection from paychecks. Why should the taxpayers pay for what is clearly a union expense of collecting union fees? Eliminate mandatory dues and mandatory membership.
The problem will solve itself.

talkingpoints on June 11, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Dues collection from a paycheck does not mean that taxpayers are paying for the dues. They are paying the worker, and part of that pay is being deducted for the union dues, as are taxes and other items. Now making deductions is a cost to the payroll department. So one thing that can be done is to charge the union a service fee for automatically taking out the dues.

e.g. Our local county allows one to pay property taxes on-line, but charges $4.00 to process the transaction.

Dasher on June 11, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Government at all levels is responsible for making sure that the Big Boss doesn’t abuse the workers to the point of endangering them, discriminating against them or otherwise taking advantage. But what if you work for the government? If your employer is the entity which is supposedly responsible for looking out for your welfare, what is the rationale for having a union?

Hey Jazz, I defy you to find any of those supposed “government responsibilities” anywhere in the Constitution. They aren’t, and government has no business interfering in private business.

woodNfish on June 11, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Of course it is marxist. Unions are a socialist construct. This should not be a surprise to anyone.

woodNfish on June 11, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Yes, except Jazz and others on the right have pulled that old fish out like it was some kind of great argument or something. I am somewhat surprised but more disappointed.

In any case, kudos to Scott for standing up for public union workers: he made Wisconsin a “right to work state” for state workers. And a lot of them are happy with that.

AshleyTKing on June 11, 2012 at 5:40 PM

No, it’s called vote-buying in any other paradigm.

Also unions are a business and should be treated as such.

government is inherently ineffecient and never recedes, and employees in unions are ineffecient as well. Compound the interest!!

John Kettlewell on June 11, 2012 at 6:09 PM

Ah The Unions!

In 1943, a New York Supreme Court judge held:

To tolerate or recognize any combination of civil service employees of the government as a labor organization or union is not only incompatible with the spirit of democracy, but inconsistent with every principle upon which our government is founded. Nothing is more dangerous to public welfare than to admit that hired servants of the State can dictate to the government the hours, the wages and conditions under which they will carry on essential services vital to the welfare, safety, and security of the citizen. To admit as true that government employees have power to halt or check the functions of government unless their demands are satisfied, is to transfer to them all legislative, executive and judicial power. Nothing would be more ridiculous

.

National Affairs: The Trouble With Public Sector Unions

LifeTrek on June 11, 2012 at 6:22 PM

This was so good Jazz Shaw. I give it a rating of Awesome.

boogaleesnots on June 11, 2012 at 7:19 PM

Send Mitch Daniels to California – HE is urgently needed

Obamatrix on June 11, 2012 at 8:25 PM