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.

Posted by Anthony on 2 replies


01. Mar 4, 2011 at 05:44am by Anthony:

An article in yesterday’s Sacramento Bee:

Quoting Nick Schulz:

Public sector employees want to maximize their wages and benefits, too.  But unlike their private sector counterparts, they have a very big role to play in choosing the employers on the other side of the negotiating table.  They do this by taking funds earned through collective bargaining and sending them right back to the people they bargain with in the form of political contributions.

If that sounds like a rigged system, well, that’s because it is.

Opposing collective bargaining rights for public employees does not make one anti-union.  After all, many of the great champions of the American labor movement - including George Meany, the first president of the AFL-CIO - sensibly opposed public sector unions.  Franklin Roosevelt, another friend of labor, put it well: "The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service."  But for the past half century it has been transplanted into the public service, and while the results have been great for public employees, they’ve been a disaster for taxpayers.

02. Oct 31, 2014 at 07:03pm by Bill615:

Another key point that was touched upon but not expressly stated.  In the private sector, the owners/shareholders choose the board, who chooses the officers that negotiate the union contracts.  In the public sector, unions, which nowadays are 90% political, campaign and work to put elected officials in office.  The elected officials are then beholden to those unions, so there is absolutely no adversarial process to engage in real bargaining.

And what happens when someone is elected that is not beholden to the unions, and tries to restore some fiscal sanity to the government?  Enter Scott Walker, who is now public enemy number 1.  The Walker election highlights everything that is wrong with unions and their greed.  They don’t care if they bankrupt a state so long as they get their way.  Hopefully, the citizens of Wisconsin will see through the union lies and agenda, and reelect Walker.

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