Thursday, February 24, 2011

Why Governments Are Going Broke

Reflecting on Wisconsin, a reader writes:
The primary purpose of public unions is to grab for their members more than they would get on the open market. (Think about that!) They do this by public strikes (which are combinations in restraint of trade) and by using the power of campaign ads to buy politicians who will spend taxpayer dollars to pay off those who can keep them in power. No wonder governments are going broke while taxpayers are paying more!

1 comment:

MK said...

I don't know who the reader is or where he or she works but it's been my experience that as with so many issues, much depends on where you sit. Different professions have different issues, different public sector workers face different workplace situations So no one size fits all solutions or answers.

In the federal goverment, unions don't bargain on base pay. They have been active on other issues, such as performance management, workplace safety, abusive conduct by managers (or workers--yes, really), etc. Although I'm not a member of a union, my what I’ve seen largely has been positive.

In one case, a union representative was very helpful in calming down, at least for a while, a situation involving a worker who had unrealistic expectations. As a colleague and friend of the manager involved, I was grateful for that. The union rep had street cred with the dude which others in the office did not. It was a pretty tense environment, some empployees didn't want to be in the room with the disgruntled employee, for fear he might attack the boss. I had the opposite reaction, I always made a point of hanging around so the two wouldn't be alone, in an effort to protect the supervisor.

I know of other instances where union reps have worked as facilitators and advisors, providing good solid counsel to employees and helping to resolve issues fairly during workplace disputes. Based on that, I have no objection to union reps providing a buffer and keeping an eye on dangerous situations. Yeah, I know, Human Resources and the lawyers are supposed to keep things in balance. But I'm talking about the real world, LOL.

Given the situations I’ve observed in which union reps benefited a workplace and helped soothe things down rather than stir them up, I think Scott Walker erred in linking financial to non-financial issues. Whether he has another agenda or not, it makes it harder for me to believe that what he is doing is just about money. While I don't believe in John Dean's theory of “conservatives without conscience,” with the problems that authoritarian tendencies cause, I do think the GOP suffers from the loss of moderates and from RINO hunting and its image on talk radio and some of the blogosphere. I can see a Mitch Daniels listening to someone like me if I have ethical issues in the workplace or think my colleagues need protection. Walker, with his talk of the National Guard, and some of the angrier faces on the right, not so much. Few on the anti-union right have tried to build up credibility as people who will act fairly and not just be motivated by money. If Jonathan Haidt is right that many conservatives don’t value fairness and social justice as much as liberals, then who’s going to fill the void in some of the areas requiring fairness and balance, if unions are crushed?