Monday, November 28, 2011

The Reasonable Union Myth

Continuing with the recall theme, I spoke with a woman who stated that the unions were offering all the concessions that were needed, such that Walker's subsequent "gutting" of union collective bargaining "rights" were a needless and largely personal attack on workers rights.

I didn't ask but do wonder whether her or anyone else really believes this narrative. My own belief is that unions have reliably demonstrated a pattern of conceding nothing unless it helps members and or union leadership. And this is how they should behave insofar as it is an organization created to empower its members.

The reality is that unions offered benefit and pension concessions as a tactical move to stall and hopefully prevent the needed curtailing of their political power via the forced unionization of government employees and the subsequent steady flow of dues money. And this was the right move for the union insofar as they were negotiating from a position of weakness and this was a desperate attempt to forestall the more damaging attempts to end the forced unionization of members and the restriction of certain bargaining opportunities.

But for anyone to conclude that the unions were simply looking out for the people of Wisconsin and offering reasonable concessions to ease the strain on the state budget - rather than a calculated attempt to retain as much power, money and influence as possible - well, such a person is either ignorant, delusional, or both.


Anonymous said...

This is simply incorrect. As contract planning evolved following the rejection of contracts negotiated with the Doyle administration, the negotiating team was always mindful of the need for public services and was prepared to agree to many concessions. This decision was based not only on the desire to keep highly trained union members on the payroll, but also in recognition of the damage that could be done to the neediest members of society should these workers be unavailable due to layoff. Hard as it may be for some to believe, public service workers really do have a service ethic.

Denis Navratil said...

Thank you for your comment anon. However, I am not sure how concessions on health care and pension costs would help keep a highly trained union member on the payroll. Typically, a highly trained individual, whether union or non-union, would be more likely to leave for greener pastures if their total compensation was voluntarily lowered. But you think this would be an enticement to stay on the payroll? Not sure that adds up unless you mean that lowered compensation would mean fewer layoffs. That might allow less highly trained individuals to stay on the payroll because the newest union members would be the ones to lose their jobs, not the more highly trained ones. And yes, it is hard to believe that public service workers are somehow driven purely by the desire to help the neediest members of society. If this were the case, these self sacrificing souls would hardly need the services of a union. They would be grateful simply for the ongoing opportunity to help the less fortunate.

GearHead said...

My, what short memories union supporters have. What annoys me is the ongoing big lie being told to us from union leaders and members alike. "Walker didn't run on this and wouldn't have been elected if he did."

Nonsense! That was the whole point of the special lame-duck session called by Doyle after the election, but before the Christmas break (and before the new Governor was sworn in.) To jam negotiated contracts through at the 11th hour as a parting flip-off to Walker and the taxpayers. As you remember, that session flopped because Russ Decker (D) voted against them. The union thugs knew doggone well what was coming, because Walker campaigned all along on it, and WEAC and all the other unions were freaking out Barrett didn't win.

Denis Navratil said...

An excellent point GH and one I had forgotten as well. But then we know that the left's preferred narrative is the one that media disseminates. Thanks for setting the record straight.

Gearhead said...

Here is why that special session was called:

Yeah, you could say the unions knew all along what was coming. I'm still cheering.