The Public (Unions) Be Damned

Roger Kimball has an article up on the Obama regime’s latest power-gift to public sector unions. It’s damning in its own right, but it’s hardly unique. It’s quite possibly the most blatant exploitation by the unions, but it’s not the first. As Roger notes, public sector unions have been one of the greatest scourges on fiscally-responsible governments.

In fact, it has me questioning the very validity of public sector unions. Because the model of the private-sector union simply doesn’t translate into the public sector.

In the private sector, management has a great deal of power over the workers. But they are have constraints on them, factors that limit their actions. For example, it would be good for labor relations to simply give the workers whatever they want, but they can’t. They are accountable for many things, but two of the main ones are productivity and the bottom line.

Neither of them really apply to the public sector. “Productivity” is notoriously hard to measure in the public sector, and the bottom line is largely irrelevant. The costs won’t be borne by anyone management has to account to, but “the taxpayers.” There is not only no incentive to do things like come in under budget, but a perverse incentive — spend less this year, get less to spend next year.

Further, the raison d’etre of unions is to protect the workers from being exploited by management. Pretty much all of the abuses unions are organized to fight simply don’t — and can’t — happen in a government workplace. There are already tons of protections for federal workers — look at the horror stories involved in trying to fire one that desperately needs to be fired.

In the public sector, the power balance is hopelessly out of whack. The unions can demand more and more concessions and pay hikes and protections, and there is absolutely no reason for their management — who often belong to their own unions — not to simply grant them. There is absolutely no connection between the concessions they grant and their own authority, compensation, or even job security.

Public sector unions are simply a luxury that we — the taxpayers, the ultimate layer of “management” in the public sector — can no longer afford. It’s time for them to go.

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