We are about to witness a huge upsurge of hysteria over Governor Walkers attempts to limit the power of state employees and their unions. So I began to ponder the purpose of unions and to what extent government employees should even need one.
My understanding is that unions formed initially in the private sector. Through a collective with a looming threat of strikes, unions sought to win a greater share of profits, improve working conditions etc.... when negotiating with ownership.
Public sector unionization lacks some key features of their private sector counterparts.
For starters, there is not a worker/owner dynamic battling with each other over profits. Rather than battling over a finite amount of money, ie profits, generated from the efforts of both parties, the government and government unions are battling over a huge and nearly limitless amount of money generated by OTHER people's efforts. This is a recipe for disaster for the other people.
Secondly, where is the worker vs owner dynamic with a government union? Are government workers mere employees or are they the government? In truth I suppose they are a mix of the two. To the extent that they are the government, it sort of begs the question: Why does government need to negotiate with itself?
Thirdly, is government an owner? As an advocate for small government, it is beginning to feel that way to me, but that is a subject for another day. Most of us would like to think that we, as in all of us, own or are in charge of government. And that would include public employees. As "owners," why would they need to negotiate with themselves?
Lets face it, there are three separate parties involved here with three separate goals. Public sector employees want whatever they can get. Elected officials want to be reelected. The rest of us want services delivered efficiently and cost effectively.
Only two of these parties are at the negotiating table. It reminds me a little of the quip about two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. The difference being in our case as lambs that we don't even get a vote.
Yes, I know, the elected officials are there to represent us. But they are also there to represent government employees, also citizens deserving of representation. Since the goals and objectives of government employees and the lambs are rather different, this creates an unresolvable conflict for our representatives.
Furthermore, we mustn't forget the objectives of government officials. They want to get reelected. Getting reelected is not so easy when you drive a hard bargain with a large, powerful and political force such as government employees. The temptation surely is there to appease them at the expense of the lambs.
All of which leaves us with a growing government and a shrinking private sector, brought on by an unnecessary, unfair and ultimately self destructive imbalance of power which favors government employees over regular citizens. It is time to change this formula.
This is the opinion of one lamb with no vote. Thank you Governor Walker for looking out for me.