Friday, February 18, 2011

Do Public Sector Workers Have A Fundamental Right to Organize?

I've blogged extensively on how and why public sector unions are both a political and fiscal toxin to our society and why they should once again be outlawed as they were in our country until approximately fifty years ago. It is outrageous now to hear some on the left claiming that the right of public union employees to organize is a "fundamental right" in our nation. That is pegging my B.S. meter. To make that claim requires a complete ignorance of history. Prof. Bainbridge throws a light on some of that history:

. . . The case for private sector unionism, however, does not extend to the public sector. As Daniel DiSalvo writes, leading labor and political figures long recognized that public sector unions were a bad idea:

Prior to the 1950s, as labor lawyer Ida Klaus remarked in 1965, "the subject of labor relations in public employment could not have meant less to more people, both in and out of government." To the extent that people thought about it, most politicians, labor leaders, economists, and judges opposed collective bargaining in the public sector. Even President Franklin Roosevelt, a friend of private-sector unionism, drew a line when it came to government workers: "Meticulous attention," the president insisted in 1937, "should be paid to the special relations and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government....The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service." The reason? F.D.R. believed that "[a] strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to obstruct the operations of government until their demands are satisfied. Such action looking toward the paralysis of government by those who have sworn to support it is unthinkable and intolerable." Roosevelt was hardly alone in holding these views, even among the champions of organized labor. Indeed, the first president of the AFL-CIO, George Meany, believed it was "impossible to bargain collectively with the government."

He further explains that:

In 1943, a New York Supreme Court judge held:

To tolerate or recognize any combination of civil service employees of the government as a labor organization or union is not only incompatible with the spirit of democracy, but inconsistent with every principle upon which our government is founded. Nothing is more dangerous to public welfare than to admit that hired servants of the State can dictate to the government the hours, the wages and conditions under which they will carry on essential services vital to the welfare, safety, and security of the citizen. To admit as true that government employees have power to halt or check the functions of government unless their demands are satisfied, is to transfer to them all legislative, executive and judicial power. Nothing would be more ridiculous.

The very nature of many public services — such as policing the streets and putting out fires — gives government a monopoly or near monopoly; striking public employees could therefore hold the public hostage. As long-time New York Times labor reporter A. H. Raskin wrote in 1968: "The community cannot tolerate the notion that it is defenseless at the hands of organized workers to whom it has entrusted responsibility for essential services." . . .

Do we read the whole post. And as Prof. Bainbridge concludes:

In sum, public sector unionism lacks the economic justifications for private sector unionism. It results in significant distortions of the political process, which have real adverse consequences for the taxpayers. What's happening in Wisconsin (as ably monitored by University of Wisconsin law professor/blogger Ann Althouse) thus is quite heartening. The efforts by the Governor and the republican legislative caucus to reform public sector collective bargaining rights is an essential step towards fiscal sanity and political democracy.

Related Posts

1. Public Sector Unions: A Toxin, A Crisis & An Opportunity
2. Read'n, Writ'n & Unioniz'n
3. What, Marx Or Lenin Weren't Available?
4. Gov. Chris Christie, What Leadership Looks Like
5. California: From Riches To Public Sector Unions To Ruin
6. Detroit's Public School System, School Board & Teachers' Union
7. Unions & Teachers: The Alpha & Omega
8. Living With Public Sector Unions
9. Public Sector Unions
10. Obama, The Stimulus & Teachers' Unions
11. Yet Another Reason Why Public Sector Unions Should Be Done Away With
12. Grand Theft Democrat
13. Another Win For Teachers Unions, Another Defeat For DC Students
14. Reason 10,001 Why Public Sector Unions Need To Be Outlawed
15. Public Sector Unions Go To War To Prevent Democratic Change In Wisconsin
16. Change You Can't Have: Obama & The DNC Interfere In Wisconsin State Politics
17. Do Public Sector Workers Have A Fundamental Right To Organize?

1 comment:

Ian Random said...

The biggest problem with public sector unionism is that after awhile they end up on both sides of the negotiation table. Now that they are so big, they are unstoppable. I have a whole laundry list of things for public sector unions to help then understand their position for instance once they strike any service they provide is automatically outsourced which would've been great in NYC when they decided to not plow the snow.