Lane: Let’s put an end to PEUs
posted at 11:38 am on February 1, 2014 by Ed Morrissey
I’ve had this column from Washington Post editorial writer Charles Lane in a browser tab most of the week, waiting for a good opportunity to use it. Instead, I’m going to feature it here, because it is just too good to miss. Lane has the same beefs with public-employee unions as do most conservatives, primarily the unhealthy alliance of unions and the politicians who negotiate their contracts at the expense of taxpayers. But Lane adds this twist — he thinks PEUs run counter to progressivism as well:
The labor peace justification tries to make a virtue out of something Americans normally, and properly, despise: government by interest group. A variant of that argument, advanced by my colleague Harold Meyerson, is that public-employee unions, with their large campaign donations and political staffs, have become “the all-around linchpin of the modern Democratic Party” and the progressive causes for which it stands.
Some of us, though, don’t think dependence on unions has been healthy for the Democratic Party or for the robust public sector it espouses. Again, the case in point is the public schools, which employ almost half of all local government employees but which Democrats dare reform only at the risk of war with teachers unions.
Also, California’s powerful prison guard union has provided key support for that state’s “three strikes and you’re out” mandatory life sentence law. Not progressive.
This, however, is really a secondary argument for Lane. He wants to break up the labor-politician complex by putting an end to public-sector collective bargaining, and he makes a great case for it. Be sure to read it all.