Public-Sector Unions: the Definition of Corruption
This is another one of those concepts that modern Democrats just can’t seem to grasp, whereas their liberal heroes from decades ago understood it quite clearly:
Quoting James Sherk:
"It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government."
That wasn’t Newt Gingrich, or Ron Paul, or Ronald Reagan talking. That was George Meany -- the former president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O -- in 1955. Government unions are unremarkable today, but the labor movement once thought the idea absurd.
The founders of the labor movement viewed unions as a vehicle to get workers more of the profits they help create. Government workers, however, don’t generate profits. They merely negotiate for more tax money. When government unions strike, they strike against taxpayers. F.D.R. considered this "unthinkable and intolerable." ... Public sector unions insist on laws that serve their interests -- at the expense of the common good.
Public-sector unions are a clear-cut and blindingly obvious case of conflict of interest. The government is supposed to provide services to the people in a cost-effective way, providing what’s necessary while extracting the least possible amount of money out of taxpayers. The goal of a union is precisely the opposite: to extract as much money as possible out of the organization that it feeds on.
In the private sector, unions actually do work to some extent, because there is a built-in check on the union’s power: namely that the business or industry in question will go bankrupt when the union gets too greedy. But in the public sector, the organization that the union is feeding on is the government itself -- funded by the taxpayers, the very people whose money they’re supposed to be spending frugally. The union goal of enriching its members is in direct opposition to the government’s goal of not bankrupting the taxpayers and the nation.
Of course, bankrupting the nation is precisely what these public-sector unions are currently doing. Cities and states nationwide are drowning in hundreds of billions of dollars of debt and unfunded liabilities, consisting largely of absurdly generous and entirely unrealistic public pensions.
The other reason that private-sector unions can (in theory) work is that the two parties in the negotiations are actually two separate parties with opposing goals: the union wants to consume as much of the company’s profits as possible, whereas the company wants to give the union as little as possible. In contrast, public-sector unions consist of government employees negotiating with... other government employees, all of whom want to increase their pay as much as possible at the expense of the taxpayers, who have no voice in the negotiations.