Government Union Collective Bargaining 101

Uploaded by HeritageFoundation on 04.03.2011

Recently, Wisconsin and other states have begun to restructure generous government union benefit
packages in the face of exploding state budget deficits.
But while news coverage has been extensive there has been little focus on what exactly
collective bargaining is, and how it works in government.
Collective bargaining gives unions a monopoly on the government's workforce:
the government must employ workers on the terms the union negotiates, and may not hire
competing workers,
so nothing can get done without an agreement with government unions.
Essentially union leaders, not elected representatives have the final say.
This un-democratic arrangement is new:
even diehard advocates of private labor unions like President Franklin Roosevelt and former
AFL-CIO president George Meany strongly opposed giving unions such power over the
government. Unlike in the private sector, government negotiators do not bargain with their own
money - they're giving away taxpayer dollars.
Government unions spend millions of dollars to elect friendly politicians who then turn
around and award them generous packages.
Government unions have a direct stake in keeping government big,
no matter what the voters may want. For example, while taxpayers, including government
union members, have a vested interest in keeping their own taxes low,
government unions actually campaigned for higher taxes,
[chanting "Raise my taxes!] "Where's the money, where's the money?"
and they're aggressive moves have paid off:
while private-sector unions have been in decline, from roughly 20% in 1980
to less than 7% in 2010, government unions have not.
Today, 52% of all union members now work for the government.
Rather than eliminating workers rights - as union bosses have claimed - Wisconsin seeks
to restore them by giving state employees the choice of whether they want to pay union
They also want to restore the rights of voters to decide how their tax dollars are spent.
Right now, government unions have the power to elect the management they negotiate with,
making politicians beholden to special interest groups, not voters.
It's time to reform government, restore fiscal sanity, and return power back to the people.