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A Rational Advocate
"The most formidable weapon against errors of any kind is reason"

THE UNREASONABLE POWER OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNIONS

President Bush had threatened a veto if the Homeland Security Act did not include provisions that would allow the new department flexibility in dealing with employees.  Such provisions to include the right to waive collective bargaining rules and to eliminate the lengthy and difficult procedures to move or terminate federal employees now existing in federal law.  With difficulty, and some compromise with members of Congress, the Act was finally enacted with provisions that somewhat minimzed the ability for public employee unions to adversely affect homeland security.

It is obvious that the Homeland Security Department of our country should not be hampered by the actions of any groups and especially those of public employees protected by law.  It stands to reason that this should also be the case for all departments of government.  Fairness alone dictates that one working in the public sector should not have have this advantage over those who work in the private sector.  The fact that those employed by public sector employees enjoy the benefits provided them by being allowed to belong to a union illustrates an important advantage.  That being the fact that since public sector employees are not confronted with the type of competition for their respective jobs that exists in the private sector they can exert inordinate pressure, including the threat of a strike, with little chance of being penalized or replaced.

There is no doubt that no one wants to lose a good job, especially in the public sector when that job usually provides a salary comparable to those existing for the same provided labor in the private sector.  The main reason being that the public sector job includes many perks not provided to those in the private sector – and – when union membership is allowed, it provides the opportunity to use it as leverage in bargaining.  When the threat of closing down public schools, ceasing to provide government services including garbage disposal and the like is thrust on the electorate those in public office have the tendency to cave in to demands.  After all the least path of resistance for them is to dip into the public coffers to satisfy the claims and calm potential public discontent with the results of a strike.

By and large, public sector employees enjoy very good peripheral benefits such as those for health, disability, sick leave, life insurance, pension and job security.  When calls are made by public union officials to increase salaries because they are not comparable to those in private industry one never hears reference made to these usually superior peripheral benefits enjoyed by those in the public sector.  In addition, it is well known that it is quite difficult to fire a public sector employee due to the provision's protecting their employment that are written into law.

There has been a growth of public sector unionized employment that appears to lead to a larger government and attendant higher taxes.  In addition, some public sector unions are working to convert private sector non-union jobs to ones in the public sector.  David Denholm, Presidentof the Public Service Research Foundation, an independent organization that studies union influence on public policy, states that the Service Employees International Union is working to convert private sector in-home health car workers to public employees and then organize them.  He indicates that they have already organized nearly 80,000 such workers.

The movement to organize public employees began in 1932 and gained strength along the way with the election of liberal government administrations at all levels of government.  An important administrative action occurred in 1958 when Robert Wagner, Mayor of New York City, granted collective bargaining rights to unions representing city employees.  At the federal level, President John Kennedy issued an executive order in 1961 that legitimized collective bargaining for federal employees and provided the stimulus for similar action by other levels of government enabling this privelege for all public employees.  What has evolved are public unions that have greater power to effect their desires on their employers (the taxpayers) then any private sector unions that exist.  They are not going to go away but their powers can be reduced.  It would appear that the elimination of the power to strike would be one that should be instituted to level the playing field.

It should be obvious that allowing public employees to be unionized provides them an inordinate amount of power that should not exist since they are provided with the perks heretofore mentioned that offers them the security that private sector do not rarely enjoy.  After all, all employees in the public sector are supported by the taxes paid by those employed in the private sector.  Why should taxpayers in the private sector, that provide the funds to support those in the public sector, be economically penalized by way of legally allowed inequitable labor practices?  The right to strike provides the ultimate power to effect the public employee union's demands the same as if they were to hold a gun to the head of taxpayers.

The danger to the freedoms we enjoy in the private sector this encroachment by the public sector imposes should be readily apparent.  It is hoped that those who recognize this truth communicate these views to their various government representatives and at the ballot box.

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