Public Union: Public Enemy

Some of us have been writing about the fact that public union = public enemy for a very long time. The damage that those unions have done makes them well deserving of the word “enemy” of the taxpayer. This excellent Prager University video sums up the scandal that conservatives and Republicans have failed to effectively address for many decades:

Public-sector unions have been gaming the political system for decades, bankrupting whole cities and plunging states into massive debt. How did this happen and can it be stopped? Akash Chougule, senior policy fellow for Americans for Prosperity, has the answers in this sobering video from Prager University.

The opening of the transcript follows the video — with emphasis added.

From the transcipt:

How would you like to fund politicians with whom you strongly disagree?

Not interested? How about if I… forced you? How would I do that?

Well, what if I said, “If you don’t pay, you lose your job.”

For decades, millions of state and local government workers—police, firefighters, teachers, and others—have been forced to make that choice.

And who forces them? Public-sector unions; that is, unions who represent public-sector employees. How? It’s pretty straightforward.

First, they demand employees pay hundreds of dollars in union dues as a condition of employment—meaning if they don’t pay, they get fired. Next, they use that money to support and elect union-friendly politicians. Then they negotiate contracts with those same politicians— kind of like negotiating with yourself. It’s a sweet deal—unless you’re a worker who doesn’t agree with those union-friendly politicians. Or the taxpayer who has to foot the bill for those union contracts.

This game plan is not a secret. Here’s what the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees say on their website: “We elect our bosses, so we’ve got to elect
politicians who support us and hold those politicians accountable.”

These perverse incentives might help explain why, for most of American history, pretty much no one thought that unionizing government workers was a good idea.

This includes liberal icon President Franklin Roosevelt. Roosevelt was a very strong supporter of private-sector unions, but a very strong opponent of public-sector unions. Here’s what he said on the subject in 1937: “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining…cannot be transplanted into the public service…”

Roosevelt recognized that public-sector unions could hold the government hostage at will. They could simply threaten to walk off the job if they didn’t get what they wanted. Sanitation workers, for example, could put public health at risk by refusing to collect the garbage. Other public employees would have similarly disruptive power. This was, Roosevelt believed, “unthinkable and intolerable.”

In 1943, New York state’s highest court agreed, calling government unions “not only incompatible with the spirit of democracy, but inconsistent with every principle upon which our government is founded.”

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