The Great Fraud: Public Sector Bargaining Rights

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Bloated, rapacious, violent public employee unions indifferent to the suffering and social decay to which they contribute have been eating Wisconsin and other states alive for decades.

They’re not giving up their elite status without a massive fight and they don’t care if they take the whole nation down with them into the abyss. But Americans are watching their allies, the Democrats, closely. Whatever their feelings on unions, Americans are disgusted by the absconding Wisconsin state senators who fled in order to deprive their Republican opposition of the quorum needed for passing legislation.

The backlash against this anti-democratic stunt and against the unions’ legalized thuggery continues to build. Wisconsinites want their elected officials to balance the books, but the spendthrift unions won’t allow that to happen. Outraged that they may finally be held to account for their many abuses, participants in the labor movement are outraged and using the seductive language of rights to defend the fat cat government worker unions.

Of course, rights have nothing to do with this, but try saying so to a union true-believer without losing your front teeth.

Propagandists for compulsory unionism do not admit that from at least the days of the Communist Manifesto reasonable people have quite properly viewed labor syndicates with suspicion and sometimes horror. In the 19th century, strikes were largely considered to be criminal acts and labor unions were viewed as “conspiracies in restraint of free trade” that threatened to tear the fabric of the republic apart.

But the way the left tells the story, the collective bargaining “rights” that both private and public labor unions enjoy today were engraved on the stone tablets Moses carried down from Mount Sinai. This rhetoric, which masks the fact that these rights are actually privileges, has served the grasping racketeers of organized labor well over the years, even though it is predicated on a fraud.

That fraud is known as group “rights.” It is the idea that when a group of people get together they somehow magically gain rights that supersede the rights they hold as individuals. It is a lethal, misanthropic fallacy that negates the very spirit of 1776.

Contrary to the fairy tales told by leftist professors, the idea of group rights was antithetical to the Enlightenment-era thinking of the Framers. They understood that a collective right is not a right at all – except in the minds of those who have no understanding of rights. They would never have wanted to extinguish the right of individual workers to walk away from union-negotiated contracts. The Constitution mandated the most exquisite protection of individual rights and treated the right to enter into a contract, in particular, as sacrosanct. It was not created to protect what Mussolini later called corporatism.

But this all-American reverence for individual rights gave way to pressure over time. As organized labor became increasingly violent and troublesome, eventually, lawmakers grew weary of the unrest fomented by radical agitators. Worn-down, shell-shocked politicians purchased so-called labor peace by selling out the U.S. Constitution. How exactly did they betray it? They ignored the fact that America’s great national charter protects the right of individuals to freely associate with others. At the same time, it does not protect any purported group rights.

Although the Constitution does allow some regulation of commerce and commercial arrangements, such as contracts, the document does not give labor unions (or business corporations, for that matter) any kind of right to claim a government-enforced monopoly. Yet Congress has so distorted the plain meaning of the Constitution that lawmakers nowadays are perceived to be acting constitutionally when, in violation of basic free trade principles, they offer exemptions from antitrust regulations to certain privileged economic entities.

Exemptions have been handed out to the powerful. For example, Congress exempts Major League Baseball and health insurers from federal competition laws, which probably has something to do with why a ballpark beer can cost close to $10 and why health insurance premiums were skyrocketing long before Obamacare was rammed through the legislature. Amazingly enough, the ability of organized labor to use coercion is protected in statutes and regulations from Honolulu to Jefferson City to Boston.

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  • Chezwick_Mac


    Why is it Democrats are threatening Republican Senators in Wisconsin with a recall effort for the latter's intention to fulfill their campaign pledge to cut public spending, but there is no Republican attempt to start a recall effort against Dems for their absconding and dereliction of duty?

    • sky

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    • Jim_C

      Because there's really no political cost, and much to gain, for democrats to do so. Conversely, Republicans are already on thin ice (thanks to Walker) in terms of public perception, which is why they're starting to call for Walker to compromise.

    • conservatard

      Last I heard there were 13 recalls being discussed with 8 Republicans and 5 Democrats being threatened with recall.

  • davarino

    I know, let all the public sector union workers go into the private sector, except police and fire fighters, and see how far they get there. That wont happen because they all know the feeding trough isnt as big in the private sector and they wont have the colluding politians to help turn on the gravy spigot. The government wont have to deal with that stuff anymore, which they shouldnt, and we the people can have our taxes decreased, and have better services.

    As a tax payor I vote for that option : ) Ah, no more standing in a long line to talk to a smug government employee.

    • Jim_C

      Davarino, just wondering: do you think police and fire have the right to be union members who negotiate for wages & benefits?

      • coyote3

        Of course they can belong to a union. You can't prohibit that. Collective bargaining is a different matter. In the private sector there is a somewhat adversarial relationship. In the case of the public sector there is no one representing the employer, the taxpayer, so no collective bargaining, and of course no strike.

        • Jim_C

          The elected representatives presumably stand in for the taxpayer. If the taxpayers voted for pro-public union reps, that's what they get.

  • USMCSniper

    The Case Against Public Sector Unions

    Public employees unions have wielded huge influence to gain perquisites for themselves at the expense of the public. Early retirement, job tenure, high wages, and generous defined-benefit pension plans have gained increasing attention from commentators and voters, though many public sector perks are intentionally shrouded and confuse the public debate. What has received far less attention is the pernicious effect of public sector union privileges on the provision of public goods in the United States. Public sector unions have greatly distorted state spending priorities and made it more difficult for states to devise innovative public goods that would benefit their citizenry as whole. For example, prison guard unions have directly influenced penal policy, fighting reduced sentences or decriminalization of drugs. Teachers’ unions fight charter schools and merit pay. The strong organizational rights of these unions, protected or abetted by statute and regulations, enables their outsized influence on public policy

  • Jim_C

    Hate to say it, but show's over, WI Dem Senators. You accomplished your goal of preventing a hasty passage and brought the issue out to light. OK, we all talked about it, and your allegiances are duly noted. Now get back to work and vote.

    Parliamentary gimmicks are fine for making a point but once the point's made…

  • Texasron

    By leaving the state rather than doing their job, the democrat senators abandoned their responsibility and jobs they were hired to do. On that basis they should be recalled from office and replaced.

  • bill garrett


  • Fran

    Mathew wrote:
    That fraud is known as group “rights.” It is the idea that when a group of people get together they somehow magically gain rights that supersede the rights they hold as individuals. It is a lethal, misanthropic fallacy that negates the very spirit of 1776.

    We, the United States are a 'group'. Funny how the of founding fathers created a group with the sole purpose of expanding our rights. It is indeed the very spirit of 1776.

  • Wesley69

    Labor unions do serve and have served a purpose in the workplace. That said, unions, by their desire for power and greed have many times killed the goose that laid the golden eggs. Take a look at the Rust Belt and see what I mean.

    Public sector workers are government employees working for the citizens of a state. When public sector unions call a strike, or work slowdown, or demand higher salaries or benefits, the taxpayer is the one who loses. Wisconsin and other states are in the mess they are because the state governments, to get campaign funds and votes, gave unions whatever they wanted. Due to the economic situation today, this can no longer be done.

    If we truly want to be democratic, each worker should have the choice of joining a union or not. The unions oppose such RIGHT TO WORK laws. They want workers to join a union or be fired. How democratic is CARD CHECK, that this administration and unions want passed. A union could become the representatives of workers in a factory without even a vote.

    Americans support the idea of unions and the rights of workers to be paid fairly. But do they support the use of union dues to influence state and national elections. As they come under attack, unions are not laying down. They are displaying their ugly side. Then again, the unions have the greatest ally of all; President Obama.

  • Armando

    Unions of any sort are obsolete in a modern economy, whether in the public or private sector. There are enough laws on the books today protecting the individual employee from exploitation by his employer. Rid the country of this union blight once and for all. Bring back meritocracy in the work place. Enough of this "equal opportunity employer" drivel!