Public Employee Unions Explained

 

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Now, there is a good deal of evidence in favor of the opinion that many of these societies are in the hands of secret leaders, and are managed on principles ill-according with Christianity and the public well-being; and that they do their utmost to get within their grasp the whole field of labor, and force working men either to join them or to starve. Under these circumstances Christian working men must do one of two things: either join associations in which their religion will be exposed to peril, or form associations among themselves and unite their forces so as to shake off courageously the yoke of so unrighteous and intolerable an oppression. No one who does not wish to expose man’s chief good to extreme risk will for a moment hesitate to say that the second alternative should by all means be adopted.

Pope Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum

 

 

 

Klavan on the Culture, you are correct!  Public employee unions, by funding Democrats and providing election workers, effectively were able largely to write their own compensation packages, taxpayer be hanged.  It was a decades long merry party at the expense of the public, and many states are on the verge of bankruptcy as a result.  The battle over public employee unions is just the opening round in a huge political fight across the nation as the states, which are unable to simply print money as the federal government does, desperately grapple with looming fiscal insolvency.  Change is coming as change often does:  brought about by onrushing reality.

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8 Responses to Public Employee Unions Explained

  • Spot on! Collective bargaining is not a right. If it actually was, why is it the case that every person in this country is not obligated to be a member of a union in order have the “right” to collectively bargain? It is all about Democratic power and money but not about rights.

  • This is a really good one too. It’s by the Heritage organization and a little shorter than the other 2.

  • Public employees are like mothers in many ways…no one appreciates what they do until they aren’t there doing it. When schools deteriorate, good students no longer study to become teachers, long lines persist at government facilities due to worker shortage, children who are abused do not get the services they need, individuals with physical, emotional and/or mental challenges are left untreated…maybe some of you will begin to realize that many government workers are providing valuable service to a variety of vulnerable populations. And none of them are getting rich.

  • “Public employees are like mothers in many ways…no one appreciates what they do until they aren’t there doing it.”

    Considering the absenteeism rampant among public employees as opposed to people in the private sector a lot of them on any given day aren’t doing what they are paid to be doing in any case.

    “When schools deteriorate”

    We are spending more on public education today, adjusted for inflation, than we have ever spent, and the results are pathetic. That helps explain the rise in the homeschooling movement.

    “good students no longer study to become teachers”

    Education majors usually come from the bottom 25% academically of their colleges and universities.

    “long lines persist at government facilities due to worker shortage”

    We have that now and we have more people working for the government now than at any time since World War II.

    “children who are abused do not get the services they need”

    That is the case now, judging from the treatment that kids receive from the government in cases where I am appointed Guardian ad Litem for them by courts.

    “individuals with physical, emotional and/or mental challenges are left untreated”

    Once again, that is the case now. Scandals involving abuse of mentally handicapped individuals in government care are routine, often involving physical and sexual abuse by public employees.

    “maybe some of you will begin to realize that many government workers are providing valuable service to a variety of vulnerable populations.”

    Nah, I think it more likely that more people will awaken to the fact that governmental institutions created to help people have become giant cash cows that provide often rotten treatment to the people they are ostensibly meant to aid.

    “And none of them are getting rich.”

    Almost all of them are doing far better than they would if they had to hustle for a job in the private sector.

  • “We have more people working for the government now than at any time since World War II.”

    That depends on what level of government you are talking about. Federal employment has grown quite a bit, but not necessarily state and local employment. You need only look at all the vacant office space in downtown Springfield next time you’re here to see evidence of that. Many agencies of the State of Illinois have shrunk drastically in the last 10-15 years or so. The agency I work for once employed 25 people; it’s down to 14 today and with two people near retirement will probably be down to 12 shortly. Many state parks and historic sites like Lincoln’s New Salem that once employed numerous full time and seasonal workers are running almost entirely on unpaid volunteer help today — and their physical condition, sadly, shows that.

    I do think that some of the Lincoln sites would be better off being privatized in the long run (a la Colonial Williamsburg) and there is probably enough interest in Lincoln out there to get well-heeled donors interested in a foundation for that purpose. But the reason I suggest that is precisely because the ability of state government to handle these tasks is shrinking, not growing.

  • I would stand by my contention Elaine and I believe the numbers bear me out.

    http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/growth-in-government-employment/

    My county is actually an interesting example of the process. Livingston County in Illlinois has had a remarkably static population for over a century. We had 40,000 people approximately during the Grant administration and we have that today. When my former partner was growing up in a town of 4,000 in the Sixties the town had one cop and two part timers. We now have seven cops and three part timers. The growth of government employment at all levels in this country has been explosive since the Sixties.

  • Well, actually if you look at the chart, federal employment went DOWN in the 1990s and even in 2010 hadn’t quite bounced back to the 1990 level. My guess is that a lot of that decrease had to do with cutbacks in the military following the first Gulf War and the various rounds of base closings prescribed by the Base Realignment And Closing (BRAC) commission.

    As for overall federal and state employment, law enforcement is obviously one of those sectors of public employment that HAS grown explosively as cities and suburbs expand, crime rates go up, and state and federal government provide additional funding for hiring cops. Public schools in fast-growing areas also have to hire more people. They also have to hire more aides and support staff in recent years for things like special education, as I’m sure you know. Since the overall population of the U.S. has increased by 60 million since 1990 it stands to reason that schools and law enforcement would have to grow with it.

    Also some states went through a prison-building spree in the 1980s and 90s and those prisons obviously have to be staffed. Even so, understaffing and working guards overtime to the point of exhaustion is a common problem at some institutions (just ask someone who works at Pontiac Correctional Center ).

  • “My guess is that a lot of that decrease had to do with cutbacks in the military following the first Gulf War and the various rounds of base closings prescribed by the Base Realignment And Closing (BRAC) commission.”

    You would be correct in that assumption Elaine. The military went through a substantial reduction in force following the end of the Cold War.

    “As for overall federal and state employment, law enforcement is obviously one of those sectors of public employment that HAS grown explosively as cities and suburbs expand, crime rates go up, and state and federal government provide additional funding for hiring cops.”

    Population expansion has little to do with it Elaine. What has a lot to do with it is the earmarking of funds as you point out, and also legislation criminalizing fairly trivial matters. After 28 years doing criminal defense work, I’d say much of it is for nought. Local governments tend to use traffic tickets as sources of revenue which involve a fair amount of court time; very low level drug arrests; orders of protection that turn non-physical boyfriend and girlfriend and husband and wife spats into criminal cases; etc. A good 80% of criminal cases today I would estimate have little to do with maintaining public order and a great deal to do with a mistaken belief that government can micro-manage society and cure all ills.

    “They also have to hire more aides and support staff in recent years for things like special education, as I’m sure you know.”

    In regard to increased aides and support staff at schools I view almost all of this as wasted expenditure in my opinion. Schools have gotten endlessly bureaucratic and this development has helped further degrade the performance of an already shaky public school system. The movement to homeschooling is a testament to failing public schools even as we pump ever more funds into these bottomless money pits.

    “Also some states went through a prison-building spree in the 1980s and 90s and those prisons obviously have to be staffed. Even so, understaffing and working guards overtime to the point of exhaustion is a common problem at some institutions (just ask someone who works at Pontiac Correctional Center ).”

    I have represented quite a few guards at both Pontiac and Dwight. The stories they tell me have given me very little faith in how DOC spends our taxpayer funds. Additionally our prisons have effectively become hostels for very low level criminals, not their original intent, rather than places where only the most serious felons are sent. The abolition of county farms where low level offenders decades ago were sent, and which usually ran at a profit to the county, has helped create this problem.

    Our society has operated under the twin illusions that government can truly transform society and cure almost all ills, and that we had limitless funds to support such government. Both these illusions are ending before our eyes.

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