The Great Fraud: Public Sector Bargaining Rights

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Legislatures across the country have also gone out of their way to exempt labor unions from antitrust laws, which is one of the reasons they run wild today. It was a mistake, and it was compounded exponentially when policymakers decided to let government employees form unions, since public employee unions can never serve the public interest. As James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation notes:

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.

Public employee unions, which are always willing to collude with politicians against the common good, inexorably lead the jurisdictions they infest to fiscal ruin and discontent. Look across America. Look at strike-crazed Europe where socialism has never secured labor peace.

People on the left once understood the elegantly simple proposition that government unions are anti-democratic, tax-devouring scams. Even the labor-loving father of the New Deal, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, thought it “unthinkable and intolerable” for government employees to be able to go on strike against the citizenry. The legendary labor leader George Meany, who was president of the AFL-CIO concurred, saying, “it is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.”

In 1959, the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO explained the troubling constitutional ramifications of public sector unions in terms that would make current AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka’s heart sink. That body counseled that, “In terms of accepted collective bargaining procedures, government workers have no right beyond the authority to petition Congress — a right available to every citizen.”

Yet here we are. A community organizer and labor agitator is in the White House sending DNC-approved goon squads to Wisconsin to reinforce the dirty hippies and labor activists threatening Republican lawmakers with violence.

Leftists are so intent on defending what has become their beachhead in Madison that they have resorted to desperately contorted, absurd arguments. For example, millionaire leftist Michael Moore flew to the Wisconsin capital and made the nonsensical argument that the showdown with Republicans had something to do with wealthy people.

“The smug rich have overplayed their hand,” he said. “They had to strip us of our dignity. They had to shut us up and shut us down so that we could not even sit at a table with them and bargain about simple things like classroom size or bulletproof vests for everyone on the police force or letting a pilot just get a few extra hours sleep so he or she can do their job.”

Think what you will about Moore’s rant against “the rich” and corporate America but they are not parties to the dispute in Wisconsin. The argument is between tax-eating government employee unions and the taxpayers who are supposed to be their masters. No amount of grandstanding by a radical anti-American propagandist can change that fact.

In a sense the left’s break with reality is a good thing. As leftist hero Saul Alinsky taught, you can’t get anything done if you refuse to first accept the way things are right now. The labor movement is in complete and utter denial, unable to see the freight train of fiscal reality barreling down the tracks toward it, and there’s something really beautiful about that.

It’s going to be more difficult in the future for public sector unions to blackmail the people’s elected representatives and enrich themselves at taxpayer expense.

It may even help to save America.

Matthew Vadum is a journalist in Washington, D.C. His book on ACORN and its infiltration of the Obama administration will be published in mid-2011.

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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

      patriotactionnetwork artical economics of finance the basics everyone should know, citizenwarrior website scroll down to old post click go to Shria @banks, sound money now

    • 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!