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Janus v AFSCMEC - First Amendment vs. "Free Rider"

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  • Janus v AFSCMEC - First Amendment vs. "Free Rider"

    Recently a case was heard by the Supreme Court over whether the state may compel a non-union member to pay a share of collective bargaining costs of public sector unions. Having read the oral arguments of the case (Janus v AFSCMEC) I think that the view that collective bargaining actions by public sector unions are inherently political, and therefor, compulsory dues payments by non-members violates their First Amendment rights by forcing them to pay for political speech they disagree with.

    The other side argues that it creates a "free rider" problem, in that these non-union members often benefit from the Union's efforts, without having to pay for it. This is not an uncommon issue, but it is an economic, not a legal one. If I spend a lot of money on improving the external appearance of my residential property, some of the economic benefit of my cost may very well accrue to my neighbors (who may also benefit from my having made the neighborhood more appealing), but that does not give me a legal entitlement to force them to pay for part of my cost (which I willingly paid) merely because they also benefited. In economics this is known as an externality.

    Now, in some situations, net external COSTS of one person's actions may create a tort action (and even, I would argue, where systemic and endemic a grounds for regulatory or other government actions to ameliorate the externality by shifting the costs back to the primary beneficiary of the activities resulting in those external costs), there is not a reciprocal basis for recouping costs of the primary beneficiary when there are net external benefits to the activity.

    I encourage anyone who would like to share their views to actually read the oral arguments, as well as familiarize themselves with the economic principles and thinking on net external benefits vs. net external costs.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Marcus1124 View Post
    Recently a case was heard by the Supreme Court over whether the state may compel a non-union member to pay a share of collective bargaining costs of public sector unions. Having read the oral arguments of the case (Janus v AFSCMEC) I think that the view that collective bargaining actions by public sector unions are inherently political, and therefor, compulsory dues payments by non-members violates their First Amendment rights by forcing them to pay for political speech they disagree with.

    The other side argues that it creates a "free rider" problem, in that these non-union members often benefit from the Union's efforts, without having to pay for it. This is not an uncommon issue, but it is an economic, not a legal one. If I spend a lot of money on improving the external appearance of my residential property, some of the economic benefit of my cost may very well accrue to my neighbors (who may also benefit from my having made the neighborhood more appealing), but that does not give me a legal entitlement to force them to pay for part of my cost (which I willingly paid) merely because they also benefited. In economics this is known as an externality.

    Now, in some situations, net external COSTS of one person's actions may create a tort action (and even, I would argue, where systemic and endemic a grounds for regulatory or other government actions to ameliorate the externality by shifting the costs back to the primary beneficiary of the activities resulting in those external costs), there is not a reciprocal basis for recouping costs of the primary beneficiary when there are net external benefits to the activity.

    I encourage anyone who would like to share their views to actually read the oral arguments, as well as familiarize themselves with the economic principles and thinking on net external benefits vs. net external costs.
    At one time I had to support afscme and I hated it. When I got the job, I had no idea the union I had to join was a political entity at all, but it soon became clear.

    It's a great racket they run (for themselves). Get employees signed up, give them good wages, BUT make them donate to their nasty political organization. And it is nasty, ever had the pleasure of reading their regular 'publications' ? They lie and lie and lie. So people that may not agree with the crap the union says or does, will NEVER oppose the garbage they write or do because their job and income may be endangered !

    I wonder if people were given a choice, if they would opt out of supporting these unions ? I think it SHOULD be a choice. People shouldn't be silenced with an economic threat of job loss by not agreeing with other peoples political views. People shouldn't be forced to support a union that is completely one sided, just a money collecting tool for one political party.

    מה מכילות החדשות?


    • #3
      Originally posted by Captain Trips View Post

      At one time I had to support afscme and I hated it. When I got the job, I had no idea the union I had to join was a political entity at all, but it soon became clear.

      It's a great racket they run (for themselves). Get employees signed up, give them good wages, BUT make them donate to their nasty political organization. And it is nasty, ever had the pleasure of reading their regular 'publications' ? They lie and lie and lie. So people that may not agree with the crap the union says or does, will NEVER oppose the garbage they write or do because their job and income may be endangered !

      I wonder if people were given a choice, if they would opt out of supporting these unions ? I think it SHOULD be a choice. People shouldn't be silenced with an economic threat of job loss by not agreeing with other peoples political views. People shouldn't be forced to support a union that is completely one sided, just a money collecting tool for one political party.
      Exactly, I have no fundamental problem with the existence of unions in the private sector so long as you have right to work rules, but I have a fundamental problem with public sector unions (as did FDR).

      מה מכילות החדשות?


      • #4
        Originally posted by Marcus1124 View Post

        Exactly, I have no fundamental problem with the existence of unions in the private sector so long as you have right to work rules, but I have a fundamental problem with public sector unions (as did FDR).
        I do too now, from personal experience.

        מה מכילות החדשות?


        • #5
          Originally posted by Captain Trips View Post

          I do too now, from personal experience.
          Of course the issue here is not whether public sector unions should exist, but whether or not the government can require and actively facilitate forcing non-members to give money to the union. Given the fact that every single person on the union's side of this readily admits that this will have a negative impact on unions' political power, they basically grant the premise, that insofar as public sector unions are concerned collective bargaining is inherently political in nature and therefore a violation of the non-members First Amendment rights to compel them to support it.

          מה מכילות החדשות?


          • #6
            Originally posted by Marcus1124 View Post
            Of course the issue here is not whether public sector unions should exist, but whether or not the government can require and actively facilitate forcing non-members to give money to the union. Given the fact that every single person on the union's side of this readily admits that this will have a negative impact on unions' political power, they basically grant the premise, that insofar as public sector unions are concerned collective bargaining is inherently political in nature and therefore a violation of the non-members First Amendment rights to compel them to support it.
            Which they wouldn't have to admit to, if the union weren't so obviously corrupt, .......

            ....that it's a given that a lot of people will drop their support IF THEY'RE ALLOWED TO !

            And it is - a given.

            If it weren't, AFSCME wouldn't give a crap about any of this, they'd have no reason to.

            מה מכילות החדשות?


            • #7
              Originally posted by Captain Trips View Post

              Which they wouldn't have to admit to, if the union weren't so obviously corrupt, .......

              ....that it's a given that a lot of people will drop their support IF THEY'RE ALLOWED TO !

              And it is - a given.

              If it weren't, AFSCME wouldn't give a crap about any of this, they'd have no reason to.
              This is nothing to do with union corruption, the plaintiffs point is just true, collective bargaining by PUBLIC sector unions is inherently political in nature, and therefore forcing someone to contribute financially to those efforts is a violation of their First Amendment rights.

              מה מכילות החדשות?


              • #8
                Originally posted by Marcus1124 View Post
                This is nothing to do with union corruption, the plaintiffs point is just true, collective bargaining by PUBLIC sector unions is inherently political in nature, and therefore forcing someone to contribute financially to those efforts is a violation of their First Amendment rights.
                It is.

                I disagree about union corruption. If this weren't about corruption, this issue would never have been an issue.

                It takes a corrupting strategy to find a way to legally force people to make donations every paycheck to a political organization they disagree with.

                When you get involved in a job of this nature, you eventually can't help but become aware of some of the legal manipulations that go on to keep this kind of thing working and seeming legitimate & fair.

                It's a real piece of legal "artwork" they've pulled off.

                מה מכילות החדשות?


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Marcus1124 View Post

                  This is nothing to do with union corruption, the plaintiffs point is just true, collective bargaining by PUBLIC sector unions is inherently political in nature, and therefore forcing someone to contribute financially to those efforts is a violation of their First Amendment rights.
                  If collective bargaining were inherently (and mostly) political in any workplace, enforcing a "closed shop" would be illegal for the reasons you state -violation of first amendment rights. If an open shop were the rule, it would be fair due to the voluntary nature of the association.

                  There should be no such thing as a "right to work" law, since this is effectively a "doppelganger" of a closed shop law, with the corrosion of bargaining labor contracts as the objective. One either has an open shop law or a closed shop law in a true republic. The open shop allows people to not be party to the labor contract or it's particular benefits, and they won't pay union dues. Or they could be in a state with a closed shop law, which allows labor unions to keep all workers in a given workplace within the bounds of a collective bargaining contract. Those labor union leaders can -and should be- subject to legal costs if or when a court determines their activity crossed the line from economic to political activity. A lack of "tangible benefit" could be one factor to argue their conclusion.

                  The argument that public sector labor unions are inherently political might be a (generally) valid point today, but that isn't how many of them started decades ago. That would be claiming public sector employees had generous (or even fair) compensation many years ago, an argument which is fairly easy to refute. It would also be a good argument -even if it won't be tested- to claim that open shop laws for all public sector jobs would prove that there is a downward trend in compensation for employees in that sector, as a natural instinct by administration to pay as little as possible. That inclination isn't as strong as it is in the private sector, but it exists, always for natural reasons (not just because the boss "tends to be cheap").

                  מה מכילות החדשות?


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by radcentr View Post
                    If collective bargaining were inherently (and mostly) political in any workplace, enforcing a "closed shop" would be illegal for the reasons you state -violation of first amendment rights. If an open shop were the rule, it would be fair due to the voluntary nature of the association.

                    There should be no such thing as a "right to work" law, since this is effectively a "doppelganger" of a closed shop law, with the corrosion of bargaining labor contracts as the objective. One either has an open shop law or a closed shop law in a true republic. The open shop allows people to not be party to the labor contract or it's particular benefits, and they won't pay union dues. Or they could be in a state with a closed shop law, which allows labor unions to keep all workers in a given workplace within the bounds of a collective bargaining contract. Those labor union leaders can -and should be- subject to legal costs if or when a court determines their activity crossed the line from economic to political activity. A lack of "tangible benefit" could be one factor to argue their conclusion.

                    The argument that public sector labor unions are inherently political might be a (generally) valid point today, but that isn't how many of them started decades ago. That would be claiming public sector employees had generous (or even fair) compensation many years ago, an argument which is fairly easy to refute. It would also be a good argument -even if it won't be tested- to claim that open shop laws for all public sector jobs would prove that there is a downward trend in compensation for employees in that sector, as a natural instinct by administration to pay as little as possible. That inclination isn't as strong as it is in the private sector, but it exists, always for natural reasons (not just because the boss "tends to be cheap").
                    Not in "any workplace", but where it involved the public sector it is inherently political.

                    With regard to Open/Closed shop laws, I have also given this some thought. First, there is no First amendment issue with either (those supporting and those undercutting closed shops) in the private sector, because the act of collective bargaining itself involved is not inherently political in nature because it does not involve seeking benefit from a public entity. The real question is whether or not the state is interfering in the right of contract in a way that is outside the scope of traditional police powers. In this regard, there is not a perfect mirroring of right to work and closed shop laws. State-mandated support for closed shop rules is the state sanctioning employment discrimination against a class of people; whereas state-mandated open shop laws are legally proscribing discrimination. To say a state may/should not facilitate or enforce discrimination is not logically incongruent with also saying the state MAY proscribe that same type of discrimination. Nor does it mean that the state is free to do either it wishes under its inherent police powers. Now, it is inarguable that there are broad ranges of things that states have the power to establish under policy and statute that restrains unfettered freedom of contract (laws criminalizing the sale of organs, for example), the question is whether or not open/closed shop legislation (insofar as the private sector is concerned) within the scope of those powers, and thus left up to the legislatures of the state to decide to each their own (which ever way they decide--or even those which take a third option, which is to stay silent, facilitating neither open or closed shop contracts).

                    מה מכילות החדשות?


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Marcus1124 View Post

                      Not in "any workplace", but where it involved the public sector it is inherently political.

                      With regard to Open/Closed shop laws, I have also given this some thought. First, there is no First amendment issue with either (those supporting and those undercutting closed shops) in the private sector, because the act of collective bargaining itself involved is not inherently political in nature because it does not involve seeking benefit from a public entity. The real question is whether or not the state is interfering in the right of contract in a way that is outside the scope of traditional police powers. In this regard, there is not a perfect mirroring of right to work and closed shop laws. State-mandated support for closed shop rules is the state sanctioning employment discrimination against a class of people; whereas state-mandated open shop laws are legally proscribing discrimination. To say a state may/should not facilitate or enforce discrimination is not logically incongruent with also saying the state MAY proscribe that same type of discrimination. Nor does it mean that the state is free to do either it wishes under its inherent police powers. Now, it is inarguable that there are broad ranges of things that states have the power to establish under policy and statute that restrains unfettered freedom of contract (laws criminalizing the sale of organs, for example), the question is whether or not open/closed shop legislation (insofar as the private sector is concerned) within the scope of those powers, and thus left up to the legislatures of the state to decide to each their own (which ever way they decide--or even those which take a third option, which is to stay silent, facilitating neither open or closed shop contracts).
                      All good points for the private sector. As far as the public sector is concerned, it is inherently unfair to impose one of either of the following two laws: closed shop or "right to work" regulations. The only fair law for the public sector is open shop: One has two choices 1)Join the labor union, pays dues, and enjoy (and suffer) the conditions of the contract. Or 2) Stay out of the labor union, avoid the dues as well as any benefits (and punishment) that are particular to the contract. That will send a clear signal to those unions who engage in more political activity than preferred by a given workplace labor staff. They will lose funding, and it will be very clear why they are losing membership dues. The problem with "right to work" is the weakening of contract law; allowing parties to benefit from a contract -that specifies compensation for defined labor- is only fair when those parties made a tangible contribution to resources needed to complete a contract.

                      As for the other current issue with public unions, a "right to strike" is generally opposed by the public (taxpayers), myself included. Public sector unions need to simply focus on those labor issues that still need attention, like maintaining the integrity of retirement funds, capping medical insurance costs to members, and/or improving other conditions specific to their workplace. They cannot push for wages that are higher than the private sector, as a rule, because the condition of public sector employment generally imposes lower take-home wages, to lower the immediate taxpayer burden. In exchange, the public sector employee can enjoy lower costs for other things. That is how I understood the trade-off, and I took advantage of it (as a public-sector employee) by enjoying early retirement at age 55. Of course it was "partial retirement", as my modest monthly retirement had to be supplemented by part-time work in the private sector. As far as anyone else I know, retiring that early from any position below that of executive or the rare technical job in the private sector, is nearly impossible. The contracts that made that possible for me were negotiated by public sector unions, which made a defined benefit (with affordable medical insurance) possible after X years in a full-time position. Naturally, administration had to push back on those contracts, which have since been modified (X+5 years) to keep the public employee retirement fund solvent. A public sector union that loses sight of the basic math (keeping membership benefit costs low), while devoting significant resources to non-work related political issues, should lose funding. That funding should only come from an open shop, to keep things honest.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by radcentr View Post
                        All good points for the private sector. As far as the public sector is concerned, it is inherently unfair to impose one of either of the following two laws: closed shop or "right to work" regulations. The only fair law for the public sector is open shop: One has two choices 1)Join the labor union, pays dues, and enjoy (and suffer) the conditions of the contract. Or 2) Stay out of the labor union, avoid the dues as well as any benefits (and punishment) that are particular to the contract. That will send a clear signal to those unions who engage in more political activity than preferred by a given workplace labor staff. They will lose funding, and it will be very clear why they are losing membership dues. The problem with "right to work" is the weakening of contract law; allowing parties to benefit from a contract -that specifies compensation for defined labor- is only fair when those parties made a tangible contribution to resources needed to complete a contract.

                        As for the other current issue with public unions, a "right to strike" is generally opposed by the public (taxpayers), myself included. Public sector unions need to simply focus on those labor issues that still need attention, like maintaining the integrity of retirement funds, capping medical insurance costs to members, and/or improving other conditions specific to their workplace. They cannot push for wages that are higher than the private sector, as a rule, because the condition of public sector employment generally imposes lower take-home wages, to lower the immediate taxpayer burden. In exchange, the public sector employee can enjoy lower costs for other things. That is how I understood the trade-off, and I took advantage of it (as a public-sector employee) by enjoying early retirement at age 55. Of course it was "partial retirement", as my modest monthly retirement had to be supplemented by part-time work in the private sector. As far as anyone else I know, retiring that early from any position below that of executive or the rare technical job in the private sector, is nearly impossible. The contracts that made that possible for me were negotiated by public sector unions, which made a defined benefit (with affordable medical insurance) possible after X years in a full-time position. Naturally, administration had to push back on those contracts, which have since been modified (X+5 years) to keep the public employee retirement fund solvent. A public sector union that loses sight of the basic math (keeping membership benefit costs low), while devoting significant resources to non-work related political issues, should lose funding. That funding should only come from an open shop, to keep things honest.
                        Leaving aside for the moment that there shouldn't be any public sector unions, the setting of public sector compensation and work rules should be set by the people, through their elected representatives. The whole point at issue in this case (which is not about whether this policy or that one is "fair", but whether or not it is constitutional) is that because public sector employment and all the compensation and rules that come with it are matters of public policy, the very act of collective bargaining is by definition political activity, for which people should not be compelled to fund.

                        Also, right to work does not weaken contract law any more than a law saying you may not enter into contracts that violate many other matters of public policy (in fact, the concept of contracts being potentially unenforceable due to conflict with public policy is itself a firmly established principle in contract law.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Marcus1124 View Post

                          Leaving aside for the moment that there shouldn't be any public sector unions, the setting of public sector compensation and work rules should be set by the people, through their elected representatives. The whole point at issue in this case (which is not about whether this policy or that one is "fair", but whether or not it is constitutional) is that because public sector employment and all the compensation and rules that come with it are matters of public policy, the very act of collective bargaining is by definition political activity, for which people should not be compelled to fund.

                          Also, right to work does not weaken contract law any more than a law saying you may not enter into contracts that violate many other matters of public policy (in fact, the concept of contracts being potentially unenforceable due to conflict with public policy is itself a firmly established principle in contract law.
                          Setting all compensation and work rules via policy from publicly elected officials sounds unworkable. "Micromanagement" describes one likely reaction that would ensure failure. Manager in dept. X needs an IT specialist that has at least 5 years experience with programs Y & Z. Normally, he needs to get support from his boss and HR for an extra compensation package to attract said IT specialist from the private sector. He does this after proving the hire will more than pay for itself thru increased productivity, thruout the department. The IT tech won't accept the offer without a contract -compensation and certain other job conditions that have been altered slightly to make the deal possible. That contract can be done with some flexibility -within established boundaries- after approval by experienced administration in operations and human resource. Those people are currently accountable to elected officials thru a line of administration. However, the elected official cannot "drill down" deeper than the administrator who directly reports to him, since he has other obligations such as the execution of the platform for which he was elected. Even if that agenda includes reducing the size of our public sector, he'll need to maintain a bureaucracy of some type. This is called "span of control" in business operations, and applies to both the public and private sector. If it's big enuf, it has a bureaucracy, period.

                          A certain portion of work rules and compensation can be "set in stone", while others cannot. The collective bargaining contract was one way for the public to delegate that task to administration familiar with the requirements of a given operation (fe road maintenance). Conservative or libertarian political leaders could have pushed back against the "labor contract" strategy with something that resembles your proposal: Maybe a referendum on each contract, or a "Human Resources Master List" that defines entry level wage, other compensation, job description, and other conditions. Maybe the public will prefer to delegate that tedious work to someone like the elected official. That person will either establish his own group to define those details, or he will use the current strategy of using a merit-based bureaucracy to toe the line on a "master list", with adjustments as needed. The adjustments "as needed" is where the Unchanging Contract (or "master list") strategy fails. Depending on changing conditions or changing resources (fe changes in trained labor pool from which to hire), the hiring manager needs boundaries, not some rigid master list.

                          The public isn't going to be called upon to vote up or down on the IT specialist's compensation, nor will it concern itself with the other particulars of his job. It expects results that satisfy certain standards, within a certain range of cost. IOW, the basic elements of a contract, overseen by those administrators who directly support operations staff, who execute tasks at a given standard. There is a way for people and elected officials to make certain that standards are met within budget, and that involves the audit. People often believe an "audit" is merely an accounting of how money was spent, but (at least in the public sector) it also means a description of how well executed tasks achieved objectives and other benchmarks (like safety). I'm surprised and disappointed that the "new right" failed to pick up on the audit tool, which could have been used in tandem with a base "master list" of job descriptions and compensation. Without that strategy, we have no way of knowing if a given task can be accomplished under current (or changing) conditions while paying that employee X wage. Of course, that should be determined after an analysis of whether the job is even needed. The auditor should be a direct report to the elected official, whose fortunes rise or fall based in part on how competent the audits.

                          Without that, we have the potential of divisions (like road maintenance) failing because they depend entirely on the lack of expertise by the elected official, or the disinterest of the voting public. To be sure, a labor contract does nothing except provide current details on compensation and job conditions; it does little better than a "master list" as far as flexibility for the hiring manager. The only reason a labor contract is better is because it allows for adjustment of compensation within the job description, which can also be refined depending on circumstances. Further, the labor contract can be applied to specific work groups, and adjusted by those parties (boss and worker) who are most familiar with the requirements of the job. The "master list" strategy only competes well against the labor contract when it includes an independent, expert review -the audit- which replaces the labor contract for adjustments needed for a given job, over time. If there is no timely adjustment (fe waiting for next election cycle), a division loses labor and/or effectiveness. The other right-wing strategy, simply replacing public sector work with private sector work, is not a dependable strategy, as far as providing acceptable results for a reasonable price.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by radcentr View Post
                            Setting all compensation and work rules via policy from publicly elected officials sounds unworkable. "Micromanagement" describes one likely reaction that would ensure failure. Manager in dept. X needs an IT specialist that has at least 5 years experience with programs Y & Z. Normally, he needs to get support from his boss and HR for an extra compensation package to attract said IT specialist from the private sector. He does this after proving the hire will more than pay for itself thru increased productivity, thruout the department. The IT tech won't accept the offer without a contract -compensation and certain other job conditions that have been altered slightly to make the deal possible. That contract can be done with some flexibility -within established boundaries- after approval by experienced administration in operations and human resource. Those people are currently accountable to elected officials thru a line of administration. However, the elected official cannot "drill down" deeper than the administrator who directly reports to him, since he has other obligations such as the execution of the platform for which he was elected. Even if that agenda includes reducing the size of our public sector, he'll need to maintain a bureaucracy of some type. This is called "span of control" in business operations, and applies to both the public and private sector. If it's big enuf, it has a bureaucracy, period.

                            A certain portion of work rules and compensation can be "set in stone", while others cannot. The collective bargaining contract was one way for the public to delegate that task to administration familiar with the requirements of a given operation (fe road maintenance). Conservative or libertarian political leaders could have pushed back against the "labor contract" strategy with something that resembles your proposal: Maybe a referendum on each contract, or a "Human Resources Master List" that defines entry level wage, other compensation, job description, and other conditions. Maybe the public will prefer to delegate that tedious work to someone like the elected official. That person will either establish his own group to define those details, or he will use the current strategy of using a merit-based bureaucracy to toe the line on a "master list", with adjustments as needed. The adjustments "as needed" is where the Unchanging Contract (or "master list") strategy fails. Depending on changing conditions or changing resources (fe changes in trained labor pool from which to hire), the hiring manager needs boundaries, not some rigid master list.

                            The public isn't going to be called upon to vote up or down on the IT specialist's compensation, nor will it concern itself with the other particulars of his job. It expects results that satisfy certain standards, within a certain range of cost. IOW, the basic elements of a contract, overseen by those administrators who directly support operations staff, who execute tasks at a given standard. There is a way for people and elected officials to make certain that standards are met within budget, and that involves the audit. People often believe an "audit" is merely an accounting of how money was spent, but (at least in the public sector) it also means a description of how well executed tasks achieved objectives and other benchmarks (like safety). I'm surprised and disappointed that the "new right" failed to pick up on the audit tool, which could have been used in tandem with a base "master list" of job descriptions and compensation. Without that strategy, we have no way of knowing if a given task can be accomplished under current (or changing) conditions while paying that employee X wage. Of course, that should be determined after an analysis of whether the job is even needed. The auditor should be a direct report to the elected official, whose fortunes rise or fall based in part on how competent the audits.

                            Without that, we have the potential of divisions (like road maintenance) failing because they depend entirely on the lack of expertise by the elected official, or the disinterest of the voting public. To be sure, a labor contract does nothing except provide current details on compensation and job conditions; it does little better than a "master list" as far as flexibility for the hiring manager. The only reason a labor contract is better is because it allows for adjustment of compensation within the job description, which can also be refined depending on circumstances. Further, the labor contract can be applied to specific work groups, and adjusted by those parties (boss and worker) who are most familiar with the requirements of the job. The "master list" strategy only competes well against the labor contract when it includes an independent, expert review -the audit- which replaces the labor contract for adjustments needed for a given job, over time. If there is no timely adjustment (fe waiting for next election cycle), a division loses labor and/or effectiveness. The other right-wing strategy, simply replacing public sector work with private sector work, is not a dependable strategy, as far as providing acceptable results for a reasonable price.
                            Of course this is all demonstrably untrue, since we had public sector employees LONG before we had public sector unions, and somehow we managed to get by.

                            But of course this is all irrelevant to the question at hand in this case, whether or not collective bargaining on the part of public sector unions is inherently political (by virtue of the fact that they are negotiating with the government).

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Marcus1124 View Post

                              Of course this is all demonstrably untrue, since we had public sector employees LONG before we had public sector unions, and somehow we managed to get by.

                              But of course this is all irrelevant to the question at hand in this case, whether or not collective bargaining on the part of public sector unions is inherently political (by virtue of the fact that they are negotiating with the government).
                              True, public sector employees didn't starve to death -as far as we know- before public sector unions came into play. That point is not exactly why unions exist, anyway. Labor unions exist to improve job conditions, even though slavery no longer exists.

                              To the main point of your argument, a claim that public sector unions are inherently political, since they deal with the government: My take distinguishes between a government that legitimately deals with contracts on a consistent basis, vs. politicians who soil their careers when they fail to deal with contracts on an administrative ("clean") basis. Contracts are part of "doing business" in the public sector, not just the private sector. While you would like to separate labor contracts from the longer list of All Contracts, that will be difficult. That is to claim a group of workers has a right to organize and elect those among them, who will negotiate work conditions and compensation, only if they are not working in X sector.

                              I proposed a method to detach political misdeeds from labor contracts in the public sector (this could be applied as well in the private sector, for critical services). But it seems that solution did not get a particular response from you. To summarize, there are two components ...work strikes/slowdowns are not permitted in the public sector, and all public sector unions are open shop. Another occurs to me, which I neglected to place as a third component: The audit. Administration exercises the audit on a regular basis, which gives the public an efficiency rating for that work unit. Should the union make overbearing demands, management can show that there is no extra money (or safety equipment, shorter hours, etc.) to distribute. An audit proved that. OTOH, if the audit goes against management, it could be used to gain concessions by the union. Keep in mind the open shop; that those who are not part of the bargaining unit may not get what the union members get. The open shop puts pressure on the union to keep politics out of the equation, when management keeps politics out as well. Everyone gets the same safety equipment if the audit demonstrates a deficit; everyone works shorter hours for the same bi-weekly pay (this lowers other costs per employee, providing efficiency is maintained). Management -if they are clever- will lower non-union hourly pay only as much to cover the union membership fee, in order to convince employees to stay out of the bargaining unit. A worker would appear to have no advantage by joining the union, until it comes time for a grievance. This is where the public union's usefulness is tested. If the union can show that poorly managed workplace rules is better defended by shop stewards, they will gain membership. If management is "nearly perfect" in their enforcement, or the union demonstrates it is inept against poor management, the union loses membership.

                              None of this describes a political environment, beyond the "favorites" game between management and labor seen in most work places, whether public or private. Politicians may try to drum up support from public sector unions, but they'll run up against the audit and span of control (politician X can do little to nothing as far as forcing compensation for groups or individuals). The union leadership may want to curry favor with politicians, but the open shop will ensure their energy is focused on the tried and true basics: compensation, conditions and successful grievance.

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