Monday, February 21, 2011

Public Employee Unions Should Be Made Illegal

Unions by their very nature are the antithesis of efficiency. With their onerous work rules, the inability to readily fire for cause or ineptness, and seniority rules that protect the status quo and make it difficult to hire new blood with new ideas, unionization results in costs that far exceed those in comparable non-unionized areas.

Added to the above, public employee unions have saddled the taxpayers with benefit packages that far exceed those of the vast majority of citizens and burdened our children with billions in unfunded benefits. Those benefits are driven by the ability of these unions to hold the citizens hostage, and demand never ending increases from politicians that use OPM (other peoples money) to buy support, both campaign funding and votes from the union hierarchy.

President Franklin Roosevelt, the Progressive icon, recognized this problem back in 1937. In a letter to Luther Steward, then President of the National Federation of Federal Employees, he wrote that "meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government". He went on to say that government employees should not have bargaining rights or a closed shop similar to private sector unions.

Public employee unions should be made illegal.

For the large majority of our history, public employee unions have been illegal. It is only since the 1960s and 1970s that they have been allowed. Currently, they are legal in roughly half the states. The United States has carried on a four-decade experiment in legalization, and the results are in: public employee unions are a cancer on our country.

Public employee unions flourish because government is, by its nature, a monopoly. Thus, there is no need for unionized government units to compete against non-unionized units. Moreover, public officials who negotiate with public employee unions generally lack the same incentives that private employers have to keep costs down. The result has been a fiscal disaster, with numerous states and municipalities now going over the waterfall of bankruptcy.

Enough is enough. Legalization of public employee unions has been a disaster. It is time to end the experiment and make them illegal once again, at both the federal and state levels. I expect that this will become one of the great political issues of the next decade.

Read full Power Line article here.

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