Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Nationwide Collective Bargaining Solidarity – Saturday, February 26

“Employers and employees alike have learned that in union there is strength, that a coordination of individual effort means an elimination of waste, a bettering of living conditions, and is in fact, the father of prosperity.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1929

For the past nine days, we have watched as teachers, students, nurses, state workers and others protested in Madison, Wisconsin. This week we understand that many of our own school district teachers showed their support for fellow teachers with the ‘wearing of red’. We now learn that this Saturday at noon, across the country, the protest and show of solidarity is going national. In cities from coast to coast, including every state capital, people will come together to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin.

Union leaders in Wisconsin agreed to Gov. Walker’s proposal to increase contributions to their health and retirement plans to help close a projected $3.6 billion budget gap. The move would cut the take-home pay of many union workers by about 7 percent. However, union leaders nationwide are incensed about Walker’s additional proposal to strip public employees of the collective bargaining power – the lifeblood of a union.

I received an email announcement from political action organization, about the ‘Rally to Save the American Dream’ offering details of Philadelphia’s planned solidarity rally at:

Love Park
Broad & JFK Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19101
Saturday, February 26
12 Noon

The invitation asked for us “. . . to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin and for all the people of Pennsylvania to stand up as well. It is time we all speak out and demand an end to the attacks on worker’s rights and public services across the country. We demand investment, to create decent jobs for the millions of people who desperately want to work. And we demand that the rich and powerful pay their fair share. We are all Wisconsin. We are all Americans. Please join me at the rally and bring a friend!”

The announcement further suggested that if you believe in the middle class and the American Dream, you fight for collective bargaining rights. Declaring your support for the Wisconsin workers, attendees on Saturday are asked to show up wearing the Wisconsin Badger colors: red and white.

From Clarence Darrow in 1909, the words “With all their faults, trade unions have done more for humanity than any other organization of men that ever existed. They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the development of character in men.”

I think we can all agree — these are historic times in our country.

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  1. These words from David Brooks of the NY Times are appropriate to draw a distinction between public sector unions and private sector unions:

    “Even if you acknowledge the importance of unions in representing middle-class interests, there are strong arguments on Walker’s side. In Wisconsin and elsewhere, state-union relations are structurally out of whack.

    That’s because public sector unions and private sector unions are very different creatures. Private sector unions push against the interests of shareholders and management; public sector unions push against the interests of taxpayers. Private sector union members know that their employers could go out of business, so they have an incentive to mitigate their demands; public sector union members work for state monopolies and have no such interest.

    Private sector unions confront managers who have an incentive to push back against their demands. Public sector unions face managers who have an incentive to give into them for the sake of their own survival. Most important, public sector unions help choose those they negotiate with. Through gigantic campaign contributions and overall clout, they have enormous influence over who gets elected to bargain with them, especially in state and local races.

    As a result of these imbalanced incentive structures, states with public sector unions tend to run into fiscal crises. They tend to have workplaces where personnel decisions are made on the basis of seniority, not merit. There is little relationship between excellence and reward, which leads to resentment among taxpayers who don’t have that luxury.”

    The full columns is excellent.

    1. Brooks also goes on to say that Walker made a mistake trying to get rid of public unions.

      To your point, an economist recently ran a correlation between the debt in each state and whether they have laws which allow for collective bargaining rights. There was no correlation. I will find the study and post it so that you can take a look.

    2. Thanks for this link. I typically find David Brooks very pragmatic (which kind of equates to not politically correct).. Thanks

  2. I don’t think the Governor is trying to get rid of public unions, he is just trying to put taxpayers on equal footing with them when it comes to bargaining.

    If anyone bothers to read the legislation, if it is an attempt to “bust the unions” it is fatally flawed. The legislation gives unions the ability (not necessarily the need) to renegotiate on an annual basis.

    If you really wanted to bust the unions, you would take this away to be replaced with long-term contracts. That way, when the economy is bad (like now) it would lock them in to long-term contracts. As the legislation is written, annual negotiation makes it possible for the unions to ride the waves of a good economy the same way the Governor wants them to suffer through the bad like everyone else in their state (and country).

  3. There is as usual, a whole world of empirical evidence that refutes Citizenone, Dave and From the West.

    From the West misleads us that Wisconsin’s public sector workers will retain the right to negotiate. The truth? They will only be able to bargain for basic wages – not exceeding the annual rate of inflation.For all intents and purposes, Wisconsin’c public secor workers have lost thei right to collectively bargain with the passage of Gov. Walker’s bill.

    Mainline taxpayer got it right. There is no correlation between the collective bargaining power of public sector workers and the size of state budget deficits. A case in point: Texas, with an estimated $27 billion deficit this year and no collective bargaining rights among its public sector workers.

    There is also a plethora of research showing public sector workers – federal, state and local – do NOT enjoy higher compensation than the private sector.When workers are compared for education level and years of experience, public sector workers make less in almost all categories.

    Also, re the sources offered above, the Cato Institute is a conservative think tank with an agenda. And David Brooks is a self-identified conservative with an ideological bias toward limited government.

    Here is a compendium of studies on public employee compensation:

    Also an analysis of private and public sector compensation:

    1. everyone has an agenda kate, except you and your sources. Get a job. Public sector unions are scared to death that the gravey train is about to end. No more auto deductions for dues.

      The taxpayers need protection too. Debt and deficits. The people of Wisconsin and Ohio have spoken. In 2 years the country will come around completely.

  4. Kate
    Are you saying you don’t believe what Brooks said? He’s an observer and I think he is dead on. What’s to dispute? He isn’t using facts and figures — he’s simply commenting on where the bias/disconnect originates.

  5. I’m surprised Kate woundn’t believe David Brooks. After all its in the NY TImes. But he is exactly right on his comparisons.

    Obama! Obama! Obama! best community organizer we ever had as president. Lots of money and power at stake

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