May 13, 2013
David G. Savage:
Church-state, literally? Supreme Court weighing public school graduation in a church
May 10, 2013
Rabbi Berel Wein: Be all that you should be
May 8, 2013
Peter Ford: Why China is welcoming both Israel's Netanyahu and Palestinians' Abbas
Obama administration quietly backs out of appeal over new contraceptive mandate
At Kerry-Putin meeting, US-Russia relations thaw --- a tad
The Kosher Gourmet by Leela Cyd Ross :
Almost too pretty to eat, this colorful salad with Sicilian inspiration will tickle the taste buds and delight your visual sensibility
May 6, 2013
May 3, 2013
Kids, kittens the Same?
With employee perks at struggling Internet pioneer Yahoo! it's hard to tell
Artificial kidney offers hope to patients tethered to a dialysis machine
April 29, 2013
Poland's new Jewish museum celebrates life, doesn't revisit Holocaust
Terrorism in America: Is US missing a chance to learn from failed plots?
Boston Bomber's 'Svengali' Revealed
Tiny satellites + cellphones = cheaper 'eyes in the sky' for NASA
April 26, 2013
Clifford D. May:
Defense in the Age of Jihadist Terrorism
Sharon Palmer, R.D.:
How to feel your best -- with plenty of energy, a healthy weight and optimal mental and physical function -- without driving yourself batty
April 24, 2013
Admit it: No one has any idea what's going on
April 22, 2013
US man departing country arrested on terror charges
An unorthodox but growing treatment in a 9-year-old's battle against cancer
April 19, 2013
Caroline B. Glick:
Why Obama's visit to Israel had no impact on public opinion or government policy
Gold collapse: The start of something big?
Livable super-Earths? Two candidates among Kepler's latest finds
April 17, 2013
Too much of a good thing? 'Palestinians' realize downside of foreign aid boom
BAD NEWS: EVERYONE IS RIGHT!
April 15, 2013
Egyptian Christians respond with harsh words to attack -- rocks, Molotov cocktails, and gunfire -- against main cathedral
Marcy Darnovsky and Karuna Jaggar:
High Court to decide if you should own your DNA
US bracing for more Russian blowback after taking action against 18 more human rights violators
April 12, 2013
New cybersecurity bill: Privacy threat or crucial band-aid?
Jewz in the Newz by Nate Bloom:
The Kosher Gourmet by Susan Russo:
Jackie Robinson's Friend, Hank Greenberg; CNN's Jake Tapper; Texas County in the News is named for 19thC. Jewish soldier and Congressman
FRUITY QUINOA STUFFED PEPPERS: A flavorful, colorful and edible vessel of delicately fluffy, mildly nutty filling combined with chewy apricots, tangy cherries, and crunchy pistachios
April 10, 2013
North Korean missiles: Could US shoot them down?
Warning: Don't waste your capital being fooled by profit prophets
Donald Hensrud, M.D.:
Mayo Clinic Medical Edge: Take vitamin supplements with caution --- even approved, they may actually do damage
74 DNA discoveries move cure closer for three cancers
April 8, 2013
Jonathan Tobin: What Part of No Preconditions Do American Jews Not Get?
Is Putin finally trading his own party for a new power base?
Jewish World Review
March 3, 2011
/ 27 Adar I, 5771
Union rights that aren't
If Wisconsin governor Scott Walker were getting a dollar for every protester, politician, and pundit accusing him of union-busting, attacking public-sector employees, or waging a war on working people -- to say nothing of those likening him to Hosni Mubarak and Adolf Hitler -- it wouldn't be long before he could personally close his state's $137 million budget shortfall.
To angry protesters occupying the Capitol building in Madison, it may seem clear that Walker's bill restricting the scope of collective bargaining for government employees is "an assault on unions," as President Obama called it, and no doubt many of them would agree with the AFL-CIO that "nothing less than democracy, fundamental rights, and freedom are at stake" in the fight over public-sector bargaining.
But they aren't at stake. There no "fundamental right" to collective bargaining in government jobs. Indeed, labor leaders themselves used to say so.
Arnold Zander, the Wisconsin union organizer who became the first president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, wrote in 1940 that AFSCME saw "less value in the use of contracts and agreements in public service than . . . in private employment." Instead of collective bargaining, he explained, "our local unions find promotion and adoption of civil service legislation . . . the more effective way" to serve the interests of government employees. As late as the 1950s, AFSCME considered collective bargaining in the public sector desirable but not essential, and viewed strong civil service laws as the best protection for government workers.
In December 1955, in a New York Times Magazine essay on "Labor's Future," no less a union icon than AFL-CIO president George Meany wrote: "The main function of American trade unions is collective bargaining. It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government."
Obviously, Big Labor's outlook later changed. Dozens of states -- starting with Wisconsin in 1959 -- passed laws that authorized collective bargaining in the public sector, and public-sector unionism skyrocketed in the decades that followed. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in January that while union membership has dwindled to just 6.9 percent of the private-sector workforce, among public employees it has grown to more than 36 percent. Today most union members work for government. With public-employee dues swelling union coffers by hundreds of millions of dollars annually, it's no surprise that organized-labor and its allies now embrace collective-bargaining in the public sector as a "fundamental right" that only a union-busting tyrant would threaten.
Yet even today, public-employee collective bargaining is far from universal. According to a General Accounting Office summary, in only about half the states are unions allowed to negotiate labor contracts for most public workers. The other states either limit bargaining rights to specific government employees, such as teachers or firefighters, or ban public-sector collective bargaining outright. Among the states that don't allow public employees to bargain collectively are North Carolina, Texas, and Indiana; at last report, "democracy, fundamental rights, and freedom" were doing just fine in all of them. They'll do just fine in Wisconsin, too, if the governor's proposed reforms are passed.
And then there are federal employees. Obama scolds Walker for trying to restrict collective bargaining by government employees to wages, yet the two million federal civilian (non-postal) workers Obama presides over can't even bargain over that much: With rare exceptions, the wages, hours, and benefits of federal employment have never been subject to union contracts. The president appears to be quite OK with that. Last November he unilaterally announced a two-year pay freeze for all federal civilian federal employees, informing them -- no negotiating -- that they were going to "make some sacrifices" adding up to $2 billion this fiscal year.
Does this mean that federal employees are oppressed and underpaid? Hardly. Average federal wages far outstrip those in the private economy. When benefits are included, federal worker compensation averages $123,000 -- more than double the private-sector average of $61,000. Federal employees don't need collective bargaining over pay and pensions to be treated well, and the lack of bargaining rights has not busted federal-employee unions.
As even labor leaders once acknowledged, it is civil-service rules, not collective bargaining rights, that safeguard public employees' interests in hiring, promotions, and discipline. Wisconsin could abolish public-sector collective-bargaining entirely, and its government workers would still be strongly protected from management abuse -- and as free as they are today to join unions able to advocate on their behalf.
Wisconsin Republicans are targeting only the public unions' overweening political clout. They pose no danger to the welfare of public employees -- let alone to "democracy, fundamental rights, and freedom."
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.
Jeff Jacoby Archives
© 2010, Boston Globe
Richard Z. Chesnoff
Frank J. Gaffney
Victor Davis Hanson
A. Barton Hinkle
Judge A. Napolitano
Cokie & Steve Roberts
Debra J. Saunders
J. D. Crowe
Ask Doctor K