After all, even without collective bargaining, government employees would still enjoy far-reaching protections under existing public service laws – more protection than most private sector workers. And they would retain their full right as citizens to ask the government to change policy. The ability of public sector workers to organize is hardly sacrosanct; It is by no means a fundamental civil or constitutional right. It has only been authorized by most states and places for about half a century, and so far it is unclear whether this experiment has served the public interest. In addition, section 8 (b) (4) of the Act prohibits striking for certain objects, although the objectives are not necessarily unlawful if they are achieved by other means. An example of this would be a strike to force Employer A to cease operations with Employer B. It is not illegal for Employer A to voluntarily cease operations with Employer B, nor is it illegal for a union to simply require it. However, it is illegal for the union to strike to force the employer to do so. These issues are discussed in more detail in the Explanatory Note to section 8 (b) (4). In any case, workers who participate in an illegal strike may be dismissed and are not entitled to reinstatement. «At some point,» New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in a speech to his state`s mayors in February, «there has to be parity between what`s happening in the real world and what`s happening in the public sector world.» The labor movement in America is therefore increasingly composed of government employees, and government employees are increasingly unionized.
This change has clearly transformed the labour movement in the country. Much more important to most Americans, however, is how it has changed the relationships between public sector employees, the governments they work for, and the public they serve, often with less-than-salutary results. While private sector unions have faded, public sector unions have grown dramatically. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2009, for the first time, more public sector workers (7.9 million) than private sector employees (7.4 million) belonged to unions. Today, unionized workers are more likely to be teachers, librarians, garbage collectors, police officers or firefighters than carpenters, electricians, plumbers, autoworkers or miners. To tolerate or recognize any combination of government officials as a labour organization is not only incompatible with the spirit of democracy, but also incompatible with any principle on which our government is founded. Nothing is more dangerous to the common good than to admit that employed servants of the state can dictate to the government the hours, wages and conditions under which they will provide essential services vital to the well-being, safety and security of citizens. To admit as true that government employees have the power to stop or control the functions of government if their demands are not met is to give them all legislative, executive and judicial power. Nothing could be more ridiculous.
Another common objection to collective bargaining with public sector unions was that it would mean that elected representatives would be stripped of some of the decision-making power over government functions and transferred to union officials to whom the public had not delegated that authority. From this perspective, democracy would be threatened if elected officials began sharing power with union leaders to determine the wages, benefits and working conditions of government employees. In addition, collectively negotiated work rules could change what public servants do on a daily basis in a way that is not tolerated by elected officials or voters. (2) he has not been convicted of any other offence during the period following the offence of disqualification ; and It is not so easy to grasp the comparable value of government employees who do not have colleagues in the private sector, such as police, firefighters and law enforcement officers. But it is precisely this monopoly status that has given the union representatives of these workers enormous influence, which they have turned into big profits. For example, in New York State, district police officers earned an average salary of $121,000 per year in 2006. That same year, according to the Boston Globe, 225 of the 2,338 Massachusetts state police officers earned more than the $140,535 annual salary earned by the state`s governor. Four state soldiers received more than $200,000 and another 123 received more than $150,000. While people whose work involves a higher risk to life and physical integrity certainly earn higher wages, union power has clearly added a substantial bonus.
The storm triggered by these proposals demonstrates the political influence of civil servants` unions. Christie`s decree was strongly condemned by union leaders and their allied politicians; His battle with public school teachers prompted the New Jersey Education Association to spend $6 million (from membership fees) on charges of attacking Christie over a two-month period. The lesson for reformist politicians was clear: confront public sector unions at your peril. The emergence of strong unions in the public sector was by no means inevitable. Before the 1950s, as labour lawyer Ida Klaus noted in 1965, «the issue of labour relations in the public service could not have meant less to more people, both inside and outside government.» To the extent that people thought about it, most politicians, union leaders, economists and judges opposed collective bargaining in the public sector. Even President Franklin Roosevelt, a friend of the private sector unions, drew a line with regard to government employees: «Meticulous attention,» the president insisted in 1937, «should be devoted to the special relations and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the government. The collective bargaining process, as it is generally understood, cannot be transferred to the public service. The reason? F.D.R. believed that «a strike by civil servants shows nothing less than their intention to obstruct the work of the government until its demands are met. Such action, aimed at paralyzing the government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. Roosevelt was not alone in this view, even among defenders of the labor movement.
In fact, the first president of the AFL-CIO, George Meany, believed it was «impossible to bargain collectively with the government.» It is true that ending the organizational capacity of government employees today is politically unthinkable in states where it exists. But if state and city tax grievances become painful enough, the unthinkable could one day become a political necessity. Of course, for all Americans – including public sector employees – it would be better if the situation did not reach this point of disaster. We can all hope that a robust economic recovery will ease the burden on states and cities and give policymakers more room to manoeuvre. However, if such a rapid recovery is not imminent, the most attractive solution will be for everyone to return to the real world – if only public sector civil servants and unions can be reasonable enough to try. For a case study of how public sector unions manipulate both supply and demand, consider the California Correctional Peace Officers Association. In the 1980s and 90s, the CCPOA lobbied the state government to increase the number of prison facilities in California — because more prisons would obviously mean more jobs for correctional officers. And between 1980 and 2000, the Golden State built 22 new adult prisons (before 1980, California had only 12). The CCPOA also lobbied for the 1994 «three shots» Penal Code, which provided for harsh penalties for repeat offenders.
The number of prisoners exploded – and as expected, the new prisoners needed more guards. The Action Stream has been no less successful in increasing members` compensation: in 2006, the average union member earned $70,000 per year and worked more than $100,000 in overtime. Correctional officers can also retire at age 50 with 90% of their salary. Today, 11% of the state budget – more than what is spent on higher education – goes to the prison system. [Correction attached] Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is now proposing to privatize parts of the prison system to escape the grip of the unions – although his proposal has so far met with predictable (union-backed) political resistance. This is the duty of the labour commissioner no later than 1. To collect, compile and submit to the Governor an annual report containing statistics on all the departments of labor and the industrial interests of the State, especially with regard to the financial, social, educational and health situation of the working classes. and all other statistical information tending to increase the prosperity of the productive industries of the State. It shall also submit such proposals as it deems appropriate for legislation to promote and increase the prosperity of the industries of the State and to protect the life and health and prosperity of the persons employed therein. All state, district, district and city officials shall furnish to the Commissioner of Labour, upon request, all statistical information on labour which may be in their possession as such officers. The Commissioner of Labour and his authorized representatives have the power and authority to enter any workplace or public institution in the exercise of their functions in order to collect facts and statistics on the employment of workers and to carry out inspections for the proper application of all State labour laws.