- Politics and Social Issues»
Public Employee Unions
Public Employee Unions
Public Employee Unions - Are They Necessary?
The raging debate across the midwest right now are the public employee unions. Are they breaking the states and cities across this nation with their out of control contracts and extra benefits for members? In Wisconsin, that decision appears to have already been made. Governor Scott Walker has all but decided he wants to curb public employee union power in the state of Wisconsin. The Wisconsin State Assembly passed a bill yesterday to reduce the power that their public employee unions have contractually right now. But, what is really at stake are the collective bargaining rights of the public employee unions. That is what this entire mob scene in Madison (and spreading to Ohio and Indiana now) is all about. State Democrats are holed up in Illinois so as not to give the governor the quorum he needs. They have refused to perform their sworn duties. Governor Walker has stated that if the measure he has set forth (a $165 Billion bond issue) is not passed by Tuesday, the state will begin laying off thousands of state employees by April Fool's Day, April 1. Protesters say they are willing to pay more toward their pensions and health care. But, under no circumstances will they give up their collective bargaining rights.
I'm somewhat torn on this issue of public employee unions and collective bargaining rights. I was a public employee union member for two years before I went into a management position in the federal government (from which I am now retired). The public union employee side of me can see where there is no union without collective bargaining. Management can do as they wish without having to worry with the restrictions of a contract. The problem there is that you have managers who will take full advantage of this. Just as an example, let's say you bid on a job that gives you weekends off. You have been waiting and waiting to get enough seniority to get that weekend job. You finally get that job, only to have a manager tell you that he needs you working on weekends. And guess what? That manager gives YOUR weekends off job to his girlfriend, his brother or even one of his drinking buddies. That manager will have that kind of power if there is not a contract in place that prevents that kind of abuse. It does happen now, but for different reasons than the one I just gave. That is a lot of power to bestow upon some people in federal management corp who probably couldn't get a management position at McDonalds in the private sector. That is no exaggeration. I worked in federal government at the management level for far too long to realize there is incompetence at both the white collar and blue collar level. Incompetence is rewarded in the federal government. The difference is that the union is obliged to protect incompetent workers from being fired. That is the crux of Governor Walker's problem in Wisconsin with the public employee unions. He can't cut out waste in a state that is all but bankrupt.
Now, some people will comment on this hub that what is going on in Wisconsin has nothing to do with cutting the budget. It has everything to do with "union busting." That is the impasse both sides are at right now. I don't believe it is union busting. I do believe Governor Walker wants to drastically reduce the power that public employee unions have in Wisconsin. However, the realistic side of things is that he needs leeway to cut out waste in government. That may mean cutting pay of public employees. That may mean cutting back the part the state pays on employee health care. Do I support busting up the unions? No, I do not. Realistically, that is not going to happen. Public employee unions are too entrenched to be cast aside like a rag doll. However, I don't think the public employee unions are looking at things in no other way but that they will lose members and money...especially money. This is why there are so many other unions taking part in this fight. Today it is public employees unions in Wisconsin. Tomorrow it could be the AFL-CIO or the purple-shirted thugs at the SEIU.
There is even thought to ban public employee unions. Many see them as a waste of time and money. The picture of the public government employee (federal, state or city) is that he is lazy, highly paid and a functional illiterate who couldn't get a job in the private sector. I must admit there is some truth in that. Hell, let's be honest...there is a lot of truth in that. I've seen it with my own two eyes. If a manager (such as myself) asked a clerk if contract proposal #7217 (again, just as an example) is ready for distribution, the clerk could actually file a grievance against me for "harassment." That actually happened to me twice just by simply asking if a certain document was ready. In each instance they had not gone past the five days allotted to complete the task "according to the union contract." You would be amazed how much that kind of BS happened all the time in the federal government sector.
So, are public employee unions on the way out? There weren't any public employee unions until 1962. President John F. Kennedy saw the public employee unions as an aid to the Democratic Party. What he never expected was for these unions to grow into the revenue consuming behemoths that they are now. The end result is that states and cities are at the point of bankruptcy. Both sides must meet somewhere in the middle and cool the white-hot rhetoric. The public employee unions must stop yelling that the state governors are Nazis hell-bent on destroying families. The states must stop calling all the union organizers socialists and communists (although there are socialists and communists demonstrating with the unions in Madison, WI). If the states go bankrupt, then this entire issue becomes moot. I'm not sure the unions or the state governments are looking at it in this perspective.
Unions brought a lot of good into this country. If not for unions there might not be child labor laws. There most likely would not be a forty hour work week. But, unions must face today's reality. The reality is they could lose all their members due to layoffs if they don't seek common ground. Losing collective bargaining power is the straw that is breaking the union camel's back. They are going to go to the matresses on this issue. Thus far, all we have heard are the extremists talk. It's time for the adults in the room to start talking. This excludes the kiddies with "D" after their name hiding out in Illinois today. Men and women of good will can come together to reasonably meet each other halfway. The time to start is now.
Public Employee Unions
- Public Employee Unions
The raging debate across the midwest right now are the public employee unions. Are they breaking the states and cities across this nation with their out of control contracts and extra benefits for members? ...