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10.01.2008 0

Union Monopoly Violates Worker Rights and Endangers Public Safety

  • On: 10/07/2008 17:07:14
  • In: Big Labor
    Under current law, the power to govern public employees and unions is left to the states, including rules for collective bargaining, Right to Work protections, etc.  In 23 states, workers have the right to work even if they do not wish to join a union, which is, of course, as it should be.

    That could all change, however, if the so-called, “Public Safety Employer-Employee Cooperation Act of 2007,” is enacted into law.  The bill – which does anything but promote “employer-employee cooperation,” and actually would endanger “public safety” – has already passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming 314-97 with strong bipartisan support.  It now is in the Senate, where it has 32 co-sponsors, including, remarkably (or, perhaps not so) 11 Republicans. 

    So reports the Wall Street Journal in its editorial yesterday:

    “A bill that passed the House last year would make the top officials at local unions the exclusive bargaining agents for public safety officers in every town or city with more than 5,000 people. They would also have the authority to bargain for everything — pay, benefits and work rules. The goal is to give labor the whip hand with local governments, and further coerce nonunion members to join the dues-paying ranks.

    “Sixteen states have considered legislation like this since 1996 and voted it down. The bill, pushed hardest by the International Association of Fire Fighters, would impose it nationwide, superceding all of these state laws. This arguably violates the Constitution’s 10th Amendment, which leaves to the states any powers not specifically given to the federal government — which presumably includes a state’s labor relations. It would also conflict with constitutions in states like Michigan, raising the threat of protracted legal disputes.”

    In other words, this legislation would repeal Right to Work protections for public safety employees in all 50 states – those protections that allow employees to work without having to join a union.  And it would also force them all to assent to collective bargaining.  This would critically undermine the historic role that the states have always had in determining labor laws.  And it would place virtually every fireman and police officer under the dictates of a union boss.

    Plus, it would substantially increase taxes:

    “As ‘unfunded’ federal mandates go, this is also a doozy. Unions that organize private companies are at least subject to market competition. If they make their employers uncompetitive, the union workers lose their jobs. Public unions have far more clout because there is no competition for government services; they are by law a monopoly. This is especially true of police and firefighters, who can do great harm to public safety if they strike. Unionization gives them enormous clout that drives up costs and eventually the tax burden.”

    Americans do not mind paying for police, firemen, and emergency personnel.  But there is a threshold that can be crossed where the costs involved eventually cut into the quality of the services provided because of the limited resources available.  To the union bosses, however, with their insatiable appetite for political power and bulging purse – public safety is a secondary concern.

    As the Journal notes, work rules negotiated in accords with national union standards are not necessarily in accordance with the needs of public safety, which often require flexibility because the needs of large cities are quite different from those of smaller localities. 

    Such was the purpose of federalism, but that is clearly in danger now.  Flexibility in how public safety and emergency personnel are administered on a State and local basis is the law of the land now.  But with one fell swoop, Congress could wind up turning public safety into a one-size-fits-all equation for disaster. 

    And the bill’s false moniker notwithstanding, cooperation between employers and employees will be a memory of the past – and public safety will be a receding relic of a bygone day.

    ALG CTA: We encourage journalists across the nation to urge their audiences to please contact President Bush and remind him of his promise to veto this legislation, and to also please contact Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to make certain that enough Senate Republicans vote against this bill so that there will not be enough votes to override the veto.

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