Why Public Sector Unions are a Really Bad Idea

Dec 2018
1,336
468
New England
#1
In another thread a conversation broke out about public sector unions, so thought I would start a thread on it.

First off, those of us who do not belong to unions ought to understand that many of the employment benefits we enjoy come straight from the trade union movements dating back over a century ago. Weekends, health benefits, safe working conditions, and much more that we all take for granted as employees exists today because of what union organizers fought for and won long before our time. Those of us who work for a living are in their debt. Unions, on the whole, have been and remain a good thing.

Like FDR, however, I do have an issue with public sector unions because of the conflict of interest they create. What makes unions work in the private sector is that both sides of a labor negotiation are fairly represented: workers through their union leadership and the owners of the company through management. They meet. They haggle. They disagree. They compromise. They reach a deal that both sides can live with.

Public sector unions tip that balance when an elected official sits across the negotiating table from a union, and that same union’s endorsement is needed to keep that official in office. When it comes time to address a contentious issue, say pay raises, the public sector union is still in there swinging away for their members. The elected official, however, may be compromised. If union backing is key to winning that office he or she must face the unhappy possibility that the right thing to do for the taxpayers they represent is exactly what the endorsing union leadership does not want. This problem is further aggravated in one-party state like mine (Massachusetts) where, perhaps for all but gubernatorial candidates, party king-makers with control over the ballot have as much to do with who wins the next election as does the electorate.

Recognizing that public sector unions create an unhealthy environment in which to negotiate difficult issues does not make one anti-union. It just means that the problems unique to public sector unions may outweigh their benefits.
 
Likes: Sabcat
Apr 2013
35,870
24,360
Left coast
#3
IMO I am against all unions now, at least in the western world. The issues that made unions necessary are pretty well enshrined in law now.

But even so, non-governmental unions do have push-back from the business entities whose workers they represent. There is some degree of balance.

Politicians however almost have one overriding goal, to get reelected or get their party's candidate reelected. And public unions on strike means voters don't get their various government goodies, being money of some sort, approval of new projects and even mundane things like fixing the burned out traffic light. Voters get made at the politicians, another example of it's easier to blame one coach than 45 lazy athletes type of syndrome.

And even more so for teacher's unions. Every time we have a teacher's strike here, the parents never comment on how the kids are losing out on their education, the only concern is "well, who's going to babysit my kids in the daytime?"

So yes, public service unions are way too powerful.
 
Jul 2014
13,525
8,187
massachusetts
#5
IMO I am against all unions now, at least in the western world. The issues that made unions necessary are pretty well enshrined in law now.

But even so, non-governmental unions do have push-back from the business entities whose workers they represent. There is some degree of balance.

Politicians however almost have one overriding goal, to get reelected or get their party's candidate reelected. And public unions on strike means voters don't get their various government goodies, being money of some sort, approval of new projects and even mundane things like fixing the burned out traffic light. Voters get made at the politicians, another example of it's easier to blame one coach than 45 lazy athletes type of syndrome.

And even more so for teacher's unions. Every time we have a teacher's strike here, the parents never comment on how the kids are losing out on their education, the only concern is "well, who's going to babysit my kids in the daytime?"

So yes, public service unions are way too powerful.

And as the number of workers represented by unions has fallen, so have pensions, benefits, working conditions and wages.
 
Likes: catus felis
Jun 2018
4,170
1,003
South Dakota
#6
Yeah Yeah Yeah. Everybody hates unions......until they need one.
My first job out of the Navy was at a major aircraft company building Atlas missiles. Fortunately there was no requirement to join or pay dues. I didn't. After a year I saw how they operate and decided that unions weren't for me. I resisted the intimidation and hazing tactics till I saw an opportunity to get a job with a better work environment where we were able to focus on getting the job done rather than constantly looking over our shoulders. It's difficult to do the job right when you have two bosses working at odds. Funny, on my new job I went right back in the same place I'd quit as a vendor. I talked to my old coworkers there who were crowing that they'd just beaten management up and forced them to give a $.05 per hour raise. They immediately tried to make me feel bad by asking what I got? I told them I got a 10% raise. Speechless. One said wow! $.10, twice what we got. I said no not $ .10 10%. Their wage at the time was $3 per hour so they got 1.5 % I was making $5 so my raise was .50 per hr. Kinda deflated their balloon.
 
Likes: Sabcat
Jun 2018
4,170
1,003
South Dakota
#7
And as the number of workers represented by unions has fallen, so have pensions, benefits, working conditions and wages.
One of my sons is a teamster. The erosion of those jobs hasn't occurred because the union was flexible in their dealings with management. Even the archaic practice of comparing hire dates to determine pecking order is still there to a degree. The union does not actively participate in management.