There are many people who claim that public employees should not have the right to collectively bargain. There are two examples in my own list of blogs that I regularly read.This post is about why I disagree:

For starters, what is collective bargaining? Collective bargaining is where a large group of people band together to bargain (collectively) with another group of people. Examples of this include public employees banding together to form a union. This union then sends representatives to negotiate working conditions with their employer, the taxpayer. The taxpayer himself has formed a collective unit that appoints representatives to negotiate on their behalf. The representatives of the taxpayers then negotiate with the representatives of their employees, and a deal is reached.

By using their representatives to prohibit the employees from being able to negotiate, the taxpayers seek to gain an unfair advantage over the employees by making sure that they are the only ones at the table. A “take it or leave it” approach, if you will.

Aside from the moral issue, there is the constitutional one. How can you prohibit one group of citizens from exercising their First Amendment right to associate with others and petition their government for a redress of grievances while allowing others to do the same? How is the right of groups like the TEA party, NRA, AARP, or NORML to collectively lobby for government largess for their members any more valid than the right of the IAFF, FOP, or NEA to do the same for THEIR members? Does the mere act of drawing a government paycheck negate your constitutional rights? Or does it only count when it is your own ox being gored?

I am not arguing in this post that the pay and benefits of any given public employee are appropriate for the position, all I am saying is that denying any group the right to negotiate those benefits is the equivalent of telling them to sit down and shut up. Certainly not the behavior of a free society. “I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend with my life your right to say it.” is a mere platitude to both the Liberal Left and the Conservative Right. To both of those camps, your right to speak is dependent on what you have to say.

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TOTWTYTR · February 20, 2011 at 9:51 am

I tend to agree with you, but this is a pretty complex issue. Collective bargaining does give everyone a more even hand, at least in theory.

The problem seems to come when public unions support one party (usually Democrat) in return for more money at negotiating time. That sort of Quid Pro Quo infuriates the people who have to pay the freight.

When the economy is as bad as it is right now, people taking sick days from work and complaining about being asked to contribute to their retirement and health plans look greedy.

The big problem in Wisconsin right now is that for the unions it's a PR disaster. The even bigger problem for all of us is that it's likely to ripple across much of the country and hurt all public employees.

Bob S. · February 21, 2011 at 4:47 pm

Sorry but I'm not saying you don't have the right to negotiate your pay and benefits; I'm saying that due to your position as government employees it may not make sense to allow collective bargaining.

Someone posted a comment about the Air Traffic Controllers going on strike — illegally and to me that is representative of the reasons why.

As an individual, you still have the right to negotiate your pay and benefits just like any other private individual.

How is the right of groups like the TEA party, NRA, AARP, or NORML to collectively lobby for government largess for their members any more valid than the right of the IAFF, FOP, or NEA to do the same for THEIR members?

Well, lets see:
1. Unions can force members to pay dues and be a part of the union even if they don't want to.
2. If people don't like the actions of the NRA, AARP, they can take their money elsewhere; in a union not so much.
3. The perception and reality of a advocacy group is completely different from the collective bargaining power of a union.
If say the teachers don't like a decision and protest by calling in sick it cripples an entire segment of activity (school). Show me where the NRA has done the same thing.

When you accept the government paycheck, you accept a limitation on your rights. Just as I accept a limitation on my rights as an employee.

Why is this any different?

There are things you can't speak about, things you as a government representative have to do differently, etc.

Maybe we should allow the military to unionize also, eh?

Or the school board administrators?
Since many of those people rise from the ranks — are they still union members? Isn't there a conflict of interests?

Divemedic · February 22, 2011 at 10:16 pm

1. You are wrong. I work as a public employee for a union department. I am not in the union, nor do I pay union dues.

2. See #1.

3. Calling in sick as a "sick out" is illegal in Florida, and has nothing to do with collective bargaining, not to mention wrong. Employees doing so SHOULD be punished.

4. You are sorely mistaken. I do not give up my constitutional right to assemble and protest the government merely because you don't like the fact that I get a government paycheck. My rights are not negotiable. Not one, not ever.

Try and shut me up using force, and I will have to resort to another amendment.

sofa · February 24, 2011 at 6:19 am

When the Unions were talking, I don't remember any problems. Now that the Union will not accept the results of the election, now that the Union is acting up- Now there is a problem.

After 2008, I don't remember people taking over the Congress and the White House to 'collectively bargain' against the results. People bitched and watched for criminal and Unconstitutional behavior.

But not the Unions. To hell with the state election in which cutting costs was the primary issue. Now that the Union has abandoned their jobs, created choas to the citizens by shutting the schools, stormed the capital, is busing in outside agitators…

Now that the Union is creating huge costs for the State which is already under financial pressure…

Now that the resident at is funding and directing interference with the States business (sedition- look it up)…

Now it's beyond speech. It's beyond collective bargaining. It's action. It's impacting the lives of every student and family in the state. It's effecting businesses. It's taking over buildings. It is beyond speech. It's thuggery, and the threat of continued and escalating violence. It's what unions do.

The nation is watching: Is this behavior the new normal, now? Then we are without the rule of law. And collective bargaining resembles is about brute force.

sofa · February 24, 2011 at 6:32 am

And when government employees are in a Union- Who are they organized against?

Against "the people".

And who are the 'bargaining with'? Other Union members, or the people (who just voted to attack the budget).

So they are organized against the people.

And the people don't think that right. And they ran on platforms to do something about that. And they are trying to do it.

The Union position seems to be that they will act out against the vote, and against 'the people'. Because the Union members expect to force people making 37K median income, to keep paying them 80K to 90K median income. The budget in Wisconsin (and elsewhere) is broke, and the increasingly poor people have said that they are no longer able to pay the wages for the much better off union members.

The Union can no longer ignore the consequences of ignoring reality. And the more they act up and create more expenses, the less the people are willing to tolerate.

sofa · February 24, 2011 at 6:43 am

And when unions act out and become thugs (inevitable), then do not be surpised if it doesn't go like the unions expect.

There might be some pushback against extortion.

sofa · February 24, 2011 at 6:51 am

Hell, I'm probably all wrong; or maybe not.

But it's just the manufactured crisis needed to force a 'national solution' engineered by the 'organizer in chief'.

Wouldn't that be convenient?

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