Carlos

Public Employee Unions

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I'm really busy with school right now but the obvious relevance of this question to current events in Wisconsin makes me ask the question:

i) Should public employee unions be allowed, and if so, under what circumstances?

ii) Should members of said unions be allowed to vote?

I'm leaning towards no for both, on motivation of this reasoning from the popular political blog "Ace of Spades":

Public employees should not be allowed to unionize or if they are, they should be forbidden to contribute to political campaigns. The current system essentially allows the employees to buy off the managers (politicians) in order to rip off the owners (the public). It's a system that is corrupt by it's very existence. The proof of this is the public pension and benefits schemes that threatens to crush the fiscal solvency of many states.
I also want to point out Gabriel's point -- about how crazy it is that these unions can donate to political campaigns. This is nothing but legal corruption: they are currently permitted to bribe the government officials signing their contracts.

http://minx.cc/?post=312174

Thoughts are appreciated.

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I'm really busy with school right now but the obvious relevance of this question to current events in Wisconsin makes me ask the question:

i) Should public employee unions be allowed, and if so, under what circumstances?

ii) Should members of said unions be allowed to vote?

I'm leaning towards no for both, on motivation of this reasoning from the popular political blog "Ace of Spades":

Public employees should not be allowed to unionize or if they are, they should be forbidden to contribute to political campaigns. The current system essentially allows the employees to buy off the managers (politicians) in order to rip off the owners (the public). It's a system that is corrupt by it's very existence. The proof of this is the public pension and benefits schemes that threatens to crush the fiscal solvency of many states.
I also want to point out Gabriel's point -- about how crazy it is that these unions can donate to political campaigns. This is nothing but legal corruption: they are currently permitted to bribe the government officials signing their contracts.

http://minx.cc/?post=312174

Thoughts are appreciated.

A government is not a business; it should not be involved in any business-like activities; there should be no unions, which represent (if and when they are in place) the workers' side of a business. The whole idea of "the business of government" must be thrown out.

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The reason this is so hard to deal with, that is, reconciling freedom of association with the manipulation of politicians, is because public employees, by their very nature, don't represent free association. They exist through expropriated funds. In a rational world, an employer (taxpayer) and his union are equally free to leave the negotiating table. Today's government unions allow the tax payer no such freedom, in which case, one may well ask why then they should be granted a one sided advantage in negotiation.

I would say that the condition of employment should be that they may not threaten strike, and if they do, then employment is terminated.

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I am a teacher, and I don't belong to a union, partly because I have no need for it. In our state we have unions that lobby for educators, and I reap benefits that way. I do however, belong to a professional organization that offers a buy in to some legal protections for a small fee every year. I see that as a legitimate expenditure.

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My wife was employed by a very large urban public school system for five years and there were occasions of mistreatment of her - and other employees - where something like a union was needed. The MEA (Michigan Education Association) worked hard to get her cleared of false charges of child abuse (there are on average about 150 lawsuits seeking damages for child abuse here) and by personal attacks by an irrational administrator. But, when she later refused to participate in passing along 70% of middle school classes that could not read or write anywhere near grade level, the union did little to prevent the District's dismissing her and they did nothing to couter the District's charges that she was dismissed "for cause". I worked in public finance for a long time and employees do need representation on some aspects of employment. They should not be allowed to strike. They should not get better compensation than is available in the prevailing private economy.

We will likely have a confrontation here in Michigan like the one underway in Wisconsin. It will be interesting to see if our new "Republican " governor and the Republicans in the State Legislature stand their ground.

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But none of these issues require unions! The issue here is the State's monopoly on providing education. With several private schools competing, a teacher facing bad management will simply move to a different school. The failure of the legal system is similarly not a union's problem, it has to do with the State's failure to enforce the law and your wife's rights.

It is a bit like the women in Egypt who say "the Muslim Brotherhood are great. They cordoned any women from the MB in the demonstrations to avoid them getting groped by demonstrators (the brutal rape of that CNN presenter explains why this was necessary - savages!). This shows they are great people".

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But none of these issues require unions! The issue here is the State's monopoly on providing education. With several private schools competing, a teacher facing bad management will simply move to a different school. The failure of the legal system is similarly not a union's problem, it has to do with the State's failure to enforce the law and your wife's rights.

It is a bit like the women in Egypt who say "the Muslim Brotherhood are great. They cordoned any women from the MB in the demonstrations to avoid them getting groped by demonstrators (the brutal rape of that CNN presenter explains why this was necessary - savages!). This shows they are great people".

The state's monopoly on education IS the ultimate issue. As we saw, in the end, those relying on that monopoly power circled the wagons when my wife confronted the failing situation.

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Despite my being an educator, I know very little about private schools. That is partly because there is an incredibly small presence of them here. All of the private schools here are parochial, which to me is an abomination against children. But choice is choice.

Anyway, back to topic, I'm curious if you all think that private school educators would benefit from a union, or is the problem really with unions period?

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Anyway, back to topic, I'm curious if you all think that private school educators would benefit from a union, or is the problem really with unions period?

The problem is that once an employer is dealing with a union he is legally forbidden to deal with anyone else. It's a violation of freedom of association. The employer should be allowed to "fire" the union (i.e. not contract with them) if he doesn't want to agree to their terms. He could then hire on an individual basis, or deal with a competing union, association, guild, or whatever. When a union has the legal "right" to force an employer to negotiate with it, it has a government gun backing it up. That gun is pointed at the employer's head.

Employees are not forbidden by law to "fire" their employers (i.e. stop trading with them - quit whenever they want). By what right are employers denied that same freedom?

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Anyway, back to topic, I'm curious if you all think that private school educators would benefit from a union, or is the problem really with unions period?
I think the question to ask is: what makes schools any different from other industries? I've worked in the software industry for 15 years with no union at all. I have terms in my contract that I must adhere to as an employee and the employer has terms he must adhere to. There is legal action one can take if one or both of the parties are found to be in breach of contract. It be-hooves both parties to know what they're agreeing to, of course. Contracts are still the best way to ensure the proper level of legal protection for everyone concerned.

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Anyway, back to topic, I'm curious if you all think that private school educators would benefit from a union, or is the problem really with unions period?
I think the question to ask is: what makes schools any different from other industries? I've worked in the software industry for 15 years with no union at all. I have terms in my contract that I must adhere to as an employee and the employer has terms he must adhere to. There is legal action one can take if one or both of the parties are found to be in breach of contract. It be-hooves both parties to know what they're agreeing to, of course. Contracts are still the best way to ensure the proper level of legal protection for everyone concerned.

Educator contracts have delineations too. On top of that, at least in Texas, there is a Code of Ethics that you are required to adhere to, and are inspected on once a year. Granted, Texas is a "right to work" state, and doesn't require union participation. We have several organizations that offer insurance, and we have a retirement system that we pay into that (if I remember correctly) is in place of social security. We are provided for pretty well, in my opinion.

That said, there are a number of advocacy groups that rise up when things are going right, such as when the state board of education decided to name an evangelical Calvinist as a major figure in US history.

Does this answer the question you asked, Jason? Probably not. However, when you get into the discussion of education vs. industry (and I don't know where I stand on this), you will come across the argument where industry says you produce a good product and you toss out the bad ones, but education says you have to produce a good product, but you can never send out the band ones. Most educators don't see an equivalence. If you are at teacher, you can never treat a student as you would a bushel of rotten blueberries, because, at the end of the day, that student must leave your care with the knowledge and skills you gave them. If you treat them badly, then you are doing a disservice to them. [insert argument about self-sacrifice here.]

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Does this answer the question you asked, Jason? Probably not. However, when you get into the discussion of education vs. industry (and I don't know where I stand on this), you will come across the argument where industry says you produce a good product and you toss out the bad ones, but education says you have to produce a good product, but you can never send out the band ones. Most educators don't see an equivalence. If you are at teacher, you can never treat a student as you would a bushel of rotten blueberries, because, at the end of the day, that student must leave your care with the knowledge and skills you gave them. If you treat them badly, then you are doing a disservice to them. [insert argument about self-sacrifice here.]
We're still talking about contracts, so it doesn't matter if it's a tangible good (like a computer) or a service (like teaching). The quality of both can be measured in contractual terms. If the teacher doesn't deliver on what he promises, then he can be let go, just as if I don't deliver on my software projects, I can be dismissed. It's the same principle regardless of the field.

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Anyway, back to topic, I'm curious if you all think that private school educators would benefit from a union, or is the problem really with unions period?
I think the question to ask is: what makes schools any different from other industries? I've worked in the software industry for 15 years with no union at all. I have terms in my contract that I must adhere to as an employee and the employer has terms he must adhere to. There is legal action one can take if one or both of the parties are found to be in breach of contract. It be-hooves both parties to know what they're agreeing to, of course. Contracts are still the best way to ensure the proper level of legal protection for everyone concerned.

Educator contracts have delineations too. On top of that, at least in Texas, there is a Code of Ethics that you are required to adhere to, and are inspected on once a year. Granted, Texas is a "right to work" state, and doesn't require union participation. We have several organizations that offer insurance, and we have a retirement system that we pay into that (if I remember correctly) is in place of social security. We are provided for pretty well, in my opinion.

That said, there are a number of advocacy groups that rise up when things are going right, such as when the state board of education decided to name an evangelical Calvinist as a major figure in US history.

Does this answer the question you asked, Jason? Probably not. However, when you get into the discussion of education vs. industry (and I don't know where I stand on this), you will come across the argument where industry says you produce a good product and you toss out the bad ones, but education says you have to produce a good product, but you can never send out the band ones. Most educators don't see an equivalence. If you are at teacher, you can never treat a student as you would a bushel of rotten blueberries, because, at the end of the day, that student must leave your care with the knowledge and skills you gave them. If you treat them badly, then you are doing a disservice to them. [insert argument about self-sacrifice here.]

I would add to Jason's point that a school's "product" is not the quality of children coming out of it (although this is how several private schools justify their high fees when their results are really a product of exceptionally tight selection to start off with and from a pool of people who are more likely to succeed both genetically and in terms of quality of life). It is very much the teaching provided. You may think it is intangible but from what I have heard from enough mothers, parents can tell, no matter how slow the kid. And THEY are the customers.

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I see your points. From what little I know about unions, the downside is that they can keep bad teachers in schools for years and years, even if their activity can be described as criminal. On that basis, then yes, can the unions.

I suppose, no matter what, if the service or product provided isn't up to snuff, there is no defending your stance...And if the product is up to snuff, you probably don't need to defend it. No?

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Exactly! What you will also see is a separation of management and teaching. The teacher is a skilled person who is mobile and can be hired anywhere. It would be incredible to see schools act like banks, where traders are independent from management/shareholders and can choose their place of employment; good traders are rewarded substantially more than average ones. It would be possible to make a career out of teaching - to become a multimillionaire simply by virtue of being able to create a great mind, or at least help one develop to its full potential by igniting the right thirst for knowledge and values - when today it is largely considered a "charity" career done by those who want to "help others" or "do something different/for society", "sacrificing" pay for the "privilege".

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It's like medicine. An academic would say you cannot know if a doctor is good, that a board of doctors (state-run) should decide for you and vet them. When your child is throwing up blood at 3am, I am pretty sure you will know who to call.

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It would be possible to make a career out of teaching - to become a multimillionaire simply by virtue of being able to create a great mind, or at least help one develop to its full potential by igniting the right thirst for knowledge and values

This would simply rock. If teaching were a potentially lucrative business, it would attract the skilled and knowledgeable who right now stick to business/industry.

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It would be possible to make a career out of teaching - to become a multimillionaire simply by virtue of being able to create a great mind, or at least help one develop to its full potential by igniting the right thirst for knowledge and values

This would simply rock. If teaching were a potentially lucrative business, it would attract the skilled and knowledgeable who right now stick to business/industry.

If you think about it, that's how it should be: It is conventional wisdom that teaching is the starting point for everyone's success in whatever field. Successful people had great teachers. This is essential how "experts" who hold clinics and conferences earn their money: provide a great resource and teach people how to use it. Dave Ramsay comes to mind, though I know little of his current financial situation.

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It's like medicine. An academic would say you cannot know if a doctor is good, that a board of doctors (state-run) should decide for you and vet them. When your child is throwing up blood at 3am, I am pretty sure you will know who to call.

Not automatically, unless you've already been dealing with a doctor you like. But that's no reason the government should be the rating agency. I always use Underwriters Laboratories as a good model. (They even make a point of stating that they're not part of the government.) "Watchdog" groups for every industry, including watchdogs for the watchdogs, would be perfectly viable businesses if the government would get the hell out of the way.

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The public employee union problem erupting in states across the country as the corruption is becoming so visible falls in the category of what Ayn Rand called "the product of a mixed economy". That is the source of the dilemmas like right to free association. State and local government should have nothing to do with education and many other functions now performed and controlled by government. Functions like education are far too important to be controlled by coercive union and state monopolies and should be eliminated for reasons of freedom of education as well as the financial and tax burden corruption.

If these functions were not controlled by government, then the problems cited in the beginning of the thread would not arise at all or would be easy to deal with. There would be so fewer 'public employees' that the number voting would be too few to cause the kind of coercively entrenched corruption we now have, and whatever voluntary organizations they belonged to, employment contracts would prohibit strikes damaging public safety.

In today's context, trying to stop union corruption with patchwork measures like prohibiting strikes -- which they are illegally doing anyway by "calling in sick" as in Wisconsin -- or trying to control voting to stop the political dependency, or trying to ban traditionally coercive unions would still not solve the problems and would be on or near the same order of difficulty as solving the fundamental underlying problems because they are all caused by the same statist premises.

Do what you can to fight union power, which is increasingly serving political agendas like causing chaos to deliberately disrupt and break down the whole system and foster socialism, but never stop naming the fundamental issues, especially with respect to the importance of education versus the monopoly which has lead to propagandizing students, looting taxpayers who have nothing to do with the schools, and otherwise wrecking education with 'protected' overpaid bad teachers, bad curricula and banning choice.

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It is interesting to see these protests start to spread around the country.

As the wheels truly come off the economy, the government worker is the last man standing. No government has ever been shrunk without bloodshed (that I can think of).

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It is interesting to see these protests start to spread around the country.

As the wheels truly come off the economy, the government worker is the last man standing. No government has ever been shrunk without bloodshed (that I can think of).

Funny that I'm quoting myself...

I should add that I do not advocate violence. Sorry - should have made that clear. :)

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It is interesting to see these protests start to spread around the country.

As the wheels truly come off the economy, the government worker is the last man standing. No government has ever been shrunk without bloodshed (that I can think of).

Nobody died when Reagan fired 11,000 air controllers...

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As the wheels truly come off the economy, the government worker is the last man standing. No government has ever been shrunk without bloodshed (that I can think of).

Nobody died when Reagan fired 11,000 air controllers...

That was highly unusual. It also didn't shrink the government. They were replaced, and despite his cuts in regulations and spending, their total size, the debt, and the whole government continued to grow to well beyond where he started at the end of his eight years. All you can say for it, aside from his intentions that were impossible to carry out, is that it would have been much worse if Ford or Carter had stayed in office instead.

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