Letter: Politics makes for strange bedfellows
The battle waging in Wisconsin between the representatives of the tax-payers and those on the public dole has stirred me to examine the history of public employees. To my surprise I actually found myself in agreement with a union president, a top attorney for the NEA, and one of the most liberal presidents in our nation's history. This is unchartered territory for me!
Former AFL-CIO President George Meany: "It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government." Government collective bargaining means voters do not have the final say on public policy. Instead, their elected representatives must negotiate spending and policy decisions with unions. That is not exactly democratic - a fact that unions once recognized. The founders of the labor movement viewed unions as a vehicle to get workers more of the profits they help create. Government workers, however, don't generate profits. They merely negotiate for more tax money. When government unions strike, they strike against taxpayers. FDR considered this "unthinkable and intolerable."
President Franklin D. Roosevelt, the patron saint of the American labor movement, wrote to the president of the National Federation of Federal Employees in 1937: "Meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the government. All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for officials to bind the employer. The employer is the whole people, who speaks by means of laws enacted by their representatives. "Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of government employees.
Recently retired NEA General Council Bob Chanin posed the question of why NEA is an effective advocate. He said, to a standing ovation by the teachers attending, "It is not because of creative ideas, it is not because of the merit of our position, it is not because we care about children, it's not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power and we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year because they believe we are the unions that can most effectively represent them, the unions that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees."
Chanin added, "Why are conservative and right wing bastards picking on NEA and its affiliates? It is the price we pay for success. NEA and its affiliates have been singled out because they are the most effective unions in the United States and they are the nation's leading advocates for public education and for the type of liberal social and economic agenda that these groups find unacceptable." Wow! The NEA has a liberal social and economic agenda? What a shocking revelation! I thought the NEA and teachers were about providing children an unbiased quality education, not liberal indoctrination.
The problem is there is no "collective bargaining." The taxpayer - the "employer" - isn't a player in the bargaining process. "In terms of accepted collective bargaining procedures, government workers have no right beyond the authority to petition Congress--a right available to every citizen." Public sector unions are a client of the Democrat party. There's a quid pro quo between union leaders, union employees and the Democrat party. Democrats open the vault to union employees, employees pay dues to the union bosses, and union bosses funnel the money back to the Democrat party. A political party is basically buying the votes of union members. Politicians promoting the welfare of certain segments of the population, rather than the general welfare, not only go against the principles of our republic, but are immoral.
Union contracts make it next to impossible to reward excellent teachers or fire failing ones. Union contracts give government employees gold-plated benefits - at the cost of higher taxes and less spending on other priorities. I recently received an email stating that a large gun manufacturer is creating a new gun called "the union worker;" it does not work and you cannot fire it.