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bitmasher's picture
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Public Unions

Its nice to see that public unions have been thrown into the spot light with actions in WI and OH.  What do you think of collective bargaining for public employees?

I'll start it of by saying I support the right to unionize, but only in the private sector.  I think public unions went too far and are unnecessary.  If you don't like the work conditions, pay, etc in the public sector, go to the private sector.  Peggy Noonan wrote a good piece on public unions over at the WSJ:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870355960457617529038769884...

I think the lawmakers in WI that are hiding out in IL should be fired on the spot or something.  Refusing to show up is an abdication of responsibility and a direct attack on democracy.  I hope this doesn't spawn other walk outs when votes get tough and the minority wants to high jack the majority position that was fairly elected.  This is the same left that wants to take away filibusters, but yet is most likely egging on the "brave" souls that walked out of WI.  Ridiculous!

expatriate's picture
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Public Unions

I think FDR said it best: "All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service."

In business, a union's extortive power is ultimately checked by the fact that if they push it too far, the business will suffer and go under, putting the workers out of business.  It doesn't work the same way in the public sector.  Government can't be allowed to fail, and the connection to revenue that pays the salary isn't as direct.  Government has the responsibility to use taxpayer dollars efficiently, and IMO unions that see the taxpayers as a feed trough are no different than a defense contractor that defrauds the government.

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An agreed upon contract is binding on both parties.

In the interest of full disclosure -  I am a unionized public sector employee.  In fact, when I was hired I was told that I MUST contribute to the union whether I wanted to be a member or not.  Even if I chose to not join the union I would be a “contributing non-member” – they were going to take my money anyway.  That is wrong.  In my opinion, no one should be forced to do anything – although I suppose I didn’t have to take the job.  But that is a whole other debate.    

 

On this question - I see no difference between collective bargaining for government or non-government employees.  A binding contract is a binding contract no matter who the parties involved are.  In Wisconson as I understand it, the governor wants to breach the contract made with the workers and that sounds completely illegal to me.   In fact I think he ought to be prosecuted for it.  If the governor can breach the contract and demand wage reduction why can’t the union just decide to breach the contract and demand raises at their whim.  That would make no sense at all.  An agreed upon contract is binding on both parties.  If they fail to meet the agreement, they are in default.  

 

Here in New York we do not have the right to strike, but if no contract agreement is reached, the old contract extends automatically.  That seems like a fair and reasonable approach to me.  We can’t shut government down and government can’t change the game plan without our agreement.  Whatever contract is agreed to ought to stand unless both parties agree to change the contract.    

 

That seems fair to me. 

Topgun 30-06's picture
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groovy mike---I retired in

groovy mike---I retired in 2002 after working for the  State of Michigan with over 30 years of service and I couldn't agree with you more.  I was forced to do the same thing  you mentioned to keep my job when it was unionized and it stunk!!!  However, no matter who we are talking about, a contract is a contract and it should be honored wiothout the crappola the WI workers are contending with.  No matter whether it's the public or private sector, it's always the lowly worker and not the management who are always expected to take the brunt of the cuts!

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Public employees in WI have

Public employees in WI have not had a contract since 2009.  The previous legislature voted to not approve the contract, leaving Walker and the current legislature to negotiate the contract with union leaders.  No contract equals no breach, although even if there was a contract I would find it hard to believe you guys think it should be iron clad.

Mortgages, credit cards, and most other forms of debt have a contract in the form of at least a personal guarantee.  While these contracts state you will pay, society (in the form of laws) has generally found it acceptable to allow bankruptcy as a form of absolving contracts and some debt if not all debt.  We can debate about bankruptcies pros/cons, but the general consensus seems to be that contracts can be broken in the event of insurmountable debt brought on by whatever unforeseen circumstances.  It is very clear that WI, like other states, has insurmountable debt. 

In the case of public unions, who precisely is getting shafted?  There is no "management" that parallels business owners (or bourgeoisie if you want a classic view) in a private company.  Indeed in public unions, the taxpayer is the management and especially in the case of WI, public unions are privy to benefits that far exceed the norm of the average taxpayer.  In WI, the taxpayer is getting the shaft, paying directly for public union employee health insurance and pensions, that they themselves do not have access to, nor can afford to purchase on average.  If the average taxpayer pension+benefits was roughly on par with that of the public union employee, there would be little room to gripe, but the upward drift of a public union employee compensation above the average seems to be an expected outcome that FDR would have predicted.

What is truly galling is that WI voters did it right, they voted in people that were going to address the soaring debt and by definition address public unions out of whack compensation.  They have the majority by voter approval, but the process has been hijacked by a few democrats that deny them a quorum.  That is not the way American democracy should work and is a dangerous precedence in a U.S. that badly needs bipartisan cooperation.

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Honestly, the only reason i

Honestly, the only reason i was a member of the union is in case I shot someone in the line of duty, and they tried to sue me.

Other than that, I never had much use for them. 

Yes, agree there are certain things that people have a right to, and unions were originally formed for that.  However, nowadays, unions are all about makign money for their higher ups, and about political clout.

My wife is a teacher, and they are forced to give to the union if they get hired.  Even if you opt out, they still take that amount of money out of your check and put it somewhere.

Plus, the retirement pensions were getting so out of control.

I hope they keep up with this legislation, and stick it to the unions.

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Public Unions

IMO no one should be required to join a union as part of their job.  Period.

As for the battle between "management" and the "working man," the problem is greed.  It exists on both sides, and unions are just as capable of putting a business under through greed as management is.  If in doubt, look at what's happened to Detroit -- down 150k in population over the past decade, and they're bulldozing entire neighborhoods.  Who's building auto plants?  Non-union operations like Toyota and Hyundai.  Some people would rather be unemployed than swallow their pride.

The problem with public sector unions is that the business they're putting under is us.  We foot the bill for it.  Furthermore, there's the efficiency and proficiency angle.  Firing a civil servant is almost impossible...but firing a UNION civil servant?  Good luck.  I've seen horrid examples of people abusing the system for their own advantage.

IMO unions had their place when we didn't have OSHA or other federal laws to protect workers from abuse.  But now it seems it's all about how much they can squeeze out of the company.  From local to federal levels, our government is in deep financial trouble...it's time to start thinking about efficiency and performance.

 

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bitmasher---I don't believe a

bitmasher---I don't believe a contract is ironclad if both parties agree to open it for discussion and amendments.  If neither side wants to do that, then that is why it's a binding contract IMO.  When I referred to management in the public sector, I was referring to what I know about it from here in MI.  Our management (called Directors) are appointed by the Governor to oversee each individual Department.  Those people serve at the whim of the Governor who is in power and many times are gone after an election, just as a lot have departed in the last couple months here with the election of our new Governor.  Their wages are set and are not under the control of union contracts like the people they are managing and they are not open to negotiations like the workers who are forced to join a union here in our state.  Those workers have been taking all kinds of cuts the last few years just like I did back when I was employed by the Dept. of Ag and times got rough more than once.  It was either take them or the lowest on the totem pole would be laid off and all that would do is cause even more stress to those left who would have increased work loads.  It is sort of disturbing to hear a lot of people knocking the public employee when they had just as much right to be hired for those jobs if they qualified for them and for some reason didn't apply.  Then all you hear from them is how great the public employees have it when they actually probably have no idea what pay and benefits those people are really getting for the work they do.  I, for one, wouldn't be a teacher in a public school anywhere in the US today the way things are for any amount of money the way parents consider them more of a babysitter than a teacher.  The kids can do just about anything they want to and the teacher's hands are pretty well handcuffed in regards to discipline, etc. 

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What the...?

I think that the major differences between Public and Private Sector unions are that the public Sector Unions "hire" through campaign contributions,  the very people that negotiate their contracts with them, whereas Private sector unions cannot nor do not "hire" the people that they will negotiate their contracts with. Furthermore the Public union negotiates with people whose money is not involved in the deal but rather it is the Taxpayer whose money is involved whereas private sector unions have to negotiate with the folks whose money will actually go into the payment of the results of their negotiations.

There is nothing "unfair" with what WI Gov and the duly elected senate are doing with regards to Collective Bargaining and anyone with a sound and unbiased mind can see and understand the reasoning they have for proceeding with this. It is what the people who elected them wanted them to do, these are the taxpayers, who said "no more!!", that have to pay their taxes, at gunpoint if need be, and then it is their tax money that is used to pay for these negotiated contracts. It is the protesters who want something for nothing and are leaching from the labors of others who are in the wrong IMHO. Taxation without Representation is what gave birth to this great nation and by golly I am glad to see that finally someone in Government is standing up and telling it like it is and should be. 

As stated in an earlier post, if they don't like it then quit and get a private sector union job. There are no "rights" for anyone as it relates to having collective bargaining. There are no "rights" afforded to a person by a Union or government for that matter. Your rights as well as mine, come from our creator and no one or nothing else.

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Public Unions

Well said, JTapia.  Collective bargaining isn't a right...it's a privilege.  People throw the word "right" around too much, and folks are getting confused.  If it was a right, all workers in all states (and the federal government) would be authorized collective bargaining.  That's not the case.  Collective bargaining was a privilege extended by the State of Wisconsin.

Here's the golden question: If public employees go on strike, who are they striking against?

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insanity

expatriate wrote:

Here's the golden question: If public employees go on strike, who are they striking against?

 

expatriate, that remark right there perfectly illustrates the insanity of Public Employee Unions.

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