Friday, February 25, 2011

Clarifications: And I'm Not Talking About Wisconsin

Does "free economic association" mean an open marketplace, as in "marketplace of ideas" or are you saying "free economic association" falls directly under the first amendment as defined by the supreme court in the same manner than humans may have freedom of social association as insinuated in the concept of free speech?

When you say "Government workers operate within a monopoly where they can use the political process to choose who sits across the negotiating table with them" does this mean there is no alternative to the people at the table other than who the government workers choose?
I mean the freedom to choose with whom one receives services from. You don't have much of a choice when it comes to who teaches your kids, polices your streets, or processes your car registration.
Government workers are blessed with a captive customer base than cannot seek services elsewhere. This would be a monopoly. When box makers strike, the customers can go elsewhere for boxes while labor and management solves its issues, which usually hurts both parties in the short term, and quite possibly the long term. As labor, I would prefer my customers not experience better service and product from another supplier, especially if that supplier may even be cheaper. The market serves as a check on excessive labor demands.
In my line of work, labor and management both know a strike will hurt them, and try not let things go that far.
Teachers, on the other hand, love to hold captive students hostage with strike threats, knowing the difficulty of taking business elsewhere.

I don't need to explain how narrow interest groups can hold excessive power over the democratic process do I? The process that picks those who negotiate with other people's money across the table from those who also have the power to reward these same negotiators with money for themselves? It becomes less of a negotiation and more of a 'let's see what we can get away with' session.

And are you saying that you want to strike down an entire class of contracts without any detailed review of what they actually SAY simply on the suspicion that all the people the govt. workers have negotiated with are in their pocket? Without having to actually prove that's the case?

I think that the topic of their integrity is a worthy discussion.

Do you really think that because someone happens to be employed by the state, they forfeit any right to negotiate collectively for the best compensation that the labor market will bear?

Not entirely. But I think they should be governed according to a different set of assumptions than paper workers, teamsters, or any other union who must compete for a profit, as opposed to having a customer base assigned to them.
As for 'race to the bottom', in regards to teachers not having unions: in the unionized government systems, it seems that the biggest factor in teacher pay is years on the job, not skill/effectiveness as a teacher. A non-unionized, private school can put the compensation money where they need it based upon teacher effectiveness/educational needs.

Like I said somewhere else: If high salaries equaled good teaching, explain how I was taught better than I deserved by nuns who were paid meagerly by comparison?


RW said...

Government workers should not be able to negotiate their wages and benefits because I can't go get a license plate from somebody else. This is the argument?

I'm not sure I see the direct link between cause and effect here but I have a sneaking suspicion that's not a good enough reason. They should just get what we pay them and that's it? I don't see the incentive of making public jobs a career, then. If my son-in-law the cop wasn't looking at that pension he's due after putting his ass on the line on the south side of Chicago, I'm sure he'd have stayed a bartender.

It's one thing to discuss the integrity of a contract already on the books. But that isn't striking them null, as you wanted to do in the first case.

Gino said...

you're jumping...
we all negotiate our pay, union or no union, collectively or independently, so that accusation makes no sense.

its about how negotiations happen. personally, i think we could solve much of the problem by not allowing public employee unions to spend union cash on political campaigns, or endorse candidates.

as for your son in law: somebody would take his place.

RW said...

I jumped nothing. The reason you don't want to have government employees able to negotiate their wages and benefits as a group is because I can't find another acceptable agency to give me a license plate for my car. And I just don't see why.

But let's see how much better you can negotiate on your own compared to a union. Go ahead. Give it a whirl. And good luck with that.

Gino said...

i have a union for a reason, and in my line of work i'd be stupid not to.

but i also have checks in the marketplace.

Foxfier, formerly Sailorette said...

Teachers, on the other hand, love to hold captive students hostage with strike threats, knowing the difficulty of taking business elsewhere.

Teachers, heck, look at what happens every time government overspends-- "ooh, we have to cut police, fire, parks, lower the hours at the DMV and get rid of things people like-- rather than cutting the number of assistant deputy secretaries to the assistant secretary of waste prevention." Heck, up here in Washington they're slashing funding for the state fairs-- which actually make a good chunk of money-- but they want to spend nearly a hundred times what they'll "save" on making it so we can give illegal aliens driver's licenses. And the free birth control for college kids is safe.

Mr. D said...

If the PEUs were apolitical, it wouldn't be as much of an issue. But there's no way to avoid that. The conflict of interest is huge when you can effectively choose the people you're negotiating with.

The dirty little secret about some PEUs is that they don't really do much on the labor side for work rules. My wife works for the county library system and she could tell you some stories that would amaze you. The AFSCME local she belongs to is amazingly feckless when it comes to helping out the folks it purports to represent.

The real issue here is that Walker's proposal essentially makes Wisconsin a "right-to-work" state, which makes it exponentially tougher for the unions to collect dues.

It's about the money. It always is.