The question isn’t really whether unions are inherently bad. They have a deleterious effect on competitiveness, one could argue, in certain industries. On the other hand, unions driving up labor costs put pressure on companies to create labor-saving innovations, leading in many cases to increased productivity and profitability for those companies who can apply the innovations most successfully.
Public employee unions are a bit harder to justify, particularly when the employees covered in those unions enjoy civil service protections as is the case in most states (including Wisconsin). But that’s not really the point behind this post.
One question which should be asked is whether the interests of private-sector union members and those of public-sector union members are really sympatico. Because a union which extracts concessions from a private company beyond what that company can afford will kill that company. Ultimately, the unionized employees know that there’s a limit to what they can get and what the economy will bear, and so there’s a point beyond which they can’t push without putting themselves out of a job.
Unions in the public sector face no such strictures. For one thing, there is no “management” for them to negotiate with in many cases. There’s a politician, who in many cases is in office because union money bankrolled him and union organizers hit the streets to get him elected. He’s not negotiating with his own money; he’s a politician spending money earned by people he doesn’t even know and in many or even most cases he thinks the idea of redistributing wealth is a grand idea. So hiring people he doesn’t need and lavishing benefits the state can’t afford on them is a phenomenal political move.
Except as Margaret Thatcher once said, “the problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.” And that’s where we are today. The unions have broken the public fisc in state after state, and the voters have finally wised up to the idea that public sector employees, who are far less productive and employ far less innovation than private sector employees do (think about what Apple does, or John Deere, or Boeing or Pfizer and how rapidly they’re able to improve their product offerings, and compare that to – public schools or the DMV), are getting paid way too much money and have benefits packages beyond anything anybody could justify.
So guys like Scott Walker, who has been beating this drum for a long time and told no lies before he was elected governor, rolled into office in November. Walker represents the will of the people of Wisconsin, regardless of what some of the polls say. He was brought into his job to get a handle on that state’s government, reining it in and cutting its cost. He’s by no means some fringe guy.
And the fact that he isn’t was made clear by the actions of the unions themselves, as the immediate demands he made of them on pension and health care contributions in order to balance Wisconsin’s budget they agreed to.
But it’s when Walker decided to go further that all hell broke loose.
Walker is trying to restructure state debt. In order to do that he needs to insure that as soon as he’s gone some other politician won’t give the store away again. So he’s looking for a way to change this imbalanced situation whereby unions can elect their bosses with taxpayer dollars; he’s trying to do away with collective bargaining, which 24 states already ban, and he’s also asking that unions undergo recertification every year by a silent-ballot vote of their membership. And he’s asking that public union members have the right to demand their dues not be spent on political contributions.
In other words, he’s attempting to redefine the relationship between the government and its workers to that of an individual employer-employee relationship. Given that there are still civil-service safeguards in place which don’t exist in the private-sector, of course.
For this, Walker is called Mubarak or Hitler. It’s laughable and offensive, but that’s what he gets for his trouble.
You’d think the head honcho in charge of most or all of the unions who have occupied the state capitol in Madison and held those Walker=Hitler signs for two weeks would want to present the best possible face for his people.
Not exactly. Asked about the Hitler comparisons on Meet The Press yesterday, this was AFL-CIO pasha Dick Trumka’s response…
“We want to — I — look, we ought to — pro, anti- union , it doesn’t matter. We should be sitting down trying to create jobs. When — and look, if you think that the argument that you’re doing in Wisconsin is winning, as you said, Kim , the polls show that every – Wisconsin , vast majority of the people think this governor has overreached. His popularity has gone down. They’re saying to him, ‘Sit down and negotiate. Don’t do what you’ve been doing.’ So he’s losing. If that’s the argument you’re going to do this year or next year, it’s a loser for, for anybody who advocates it.”
No, Dick. You were asked if it’s appropriate to compare Walker to Hitler.
There is no “vast majority” in Wisconsin who say Walker overreached, and even if there was there’s no majority at all for calling him Hitler.
Calling him Hitler will probably affect his popularity. People think Hitler is bad, so when you say somebody is Hitler they might not know much about it but they’ll think he might be bad, too. Which is why they’re calling Walker Hitler in the first place.
It’s time someone specifically called Trumka out and asked him how he can effectively represent both private-sector and public-sector unions at the same time. It’s time someone asked him why his union spends millions upon millions of dollars in campaign contributions to one party while demanding that the dues-payers in those unions get increases upon increases in compensation – and how this arrangement is not inherently corrupt. Particularly given that in many places his unions dominate the workers have no real choice but to be in the union and pay dues that Trumka uses to buy Democrat politicians.
Trumka won’t answer those questions, of course, because reasoned dialogue isn’t part of his makeup. Dick Trumka can’t disavow comparisons between Scott Walker and Hitler when he couldn’t even disavow murder or graft.
As president of the United Mine Workers (UMW) union, Trumka led multiple violent strikes. Trumka’s fiery rhetoric often appeared to condone militancy and violence, especially against workers who dared to continue to provide for their families by working during a strike. As a Virginia judge ruled in 1989, “violent activities are being organized, orchestrated and encouraged by the leadership of this union.”
Take the murder of Eddie York, a nonunion contractor, who was shot in the back of the head and killed while leaving a worksite in 1993. Trumka and other UMW officials were charged in a $27 million wrongful death suit by Eddie York’s widow. After fighting the suit intensely for four years, UMW lawyers settled suddenly in 1997 — just two days after the judge in the case ruled evidence in the criminal trial would be admitted.
Later, as Secretary-Treasurer of the AFL-CIO, Trumka pleaded the Fifth Amendment before Congress and a court-appointed election monitor over his role in an illegal fundraising scheme to benefit the Teamsters president Ron Carey’s re-election. Trumka has remained in his position ever since despite an AFL-CIO rule (adopted in 1957) which held that union officials who plead the Fifth have “no right to continue to hold office” in the union umbrella organization.
This guy is a thug. There’s no other way to describe him. And the fact that he talks to the White House every day and hangs out there twice a week is an indication of what kind of leadership this country has at present.
Besides, Scott Walker doesn’t have a moustache like Hitler. Doesn’t Trumka have a moustache? How about that.