Thursday, February 24, 2011

UNION FRIENDS

"This time its personal"

Its hard to turn anywhere without seeing news and getting someone's opinion about the Wisconsin chaos. The left unequivocally supports the unions, the right supports the governor. For the left, this is about unions having the right to exist and against cruel attempts to destroy unions. Leftists consider this an attack on working families and teachers. For the right, this is about trying to reduce the state's crushing debt load and asking union workers to pay their fair share, to give a little so that the state has a future.

Both sides have a point, and both are in error, as I see it. The left's biggest mistake is presuming that the governor simply wants to destroy the union and is cruelly ripping them off after a fairly negotiated contract. They demand that the state honor the contract and not cut their wages or benefits in any way. In this, they do not seem to want to realize or cannot understand that the state is unable to continue paying these wages and benefits and that the teachers are, in fact, very well paid and compensated. So much so, in fact, that its bankrupting the state of Wisconsin and cannot continue.

The right however makes a mistake by lumping all membership and the concept of unions in with the problems. The rank and file regular folks who happen to belong to a union may or may not agree with its politics or its decisions. They are just people who have to belong to the union in order to work in a field, and as such pay their dues and go to work. While many of them are on the streets protesting, most of them aren't holding up idiotic signs and saying stupid stuff on camera or deliberately ignoring CNN reporters when asked pointed questions. They're just out there because, lets face it, nobody likes pay cuts. And that's what the governor is asking them to take; a cut in pay.

We as conservatives have a responsibility to the truth and should show integrity even if (and when) the left will not and does not. It is not the union membership that we should have a problem with here. Its the union leadership and the Democratic Party who is their partner that is the problem. Union leadership in association with a long Democratic Party domination of the Wisconsin government has year after year acted as if the money was always going to be there, that meaning well trumped ability to pay, and that what unions asked for was not just reasonable but a moral imperative.

Union leadership takes the dues of its membership and spends it on themselves first, their political schemes second, and what the membership needs and wants last. The leaders are very well paid and comfortable while they leach off the membership of the union, taking a portion of their pay without giving any benefits in many cases. They're the ones who are stirring up the most trouble, refusing to even consider the cuts to help the state survive.

The concept of public unions is problematic to say the least, it turns the concept of unions on their heads. As Doug Ross puts it:
The historical basis of unions revolved around workers receiving a reasonable share of a company's profits. But that tenet is nonsensical when applied to public service. Governments don't make profits; they simply assess taxes.
Public Service unions pay and work for their bosses to get voted into position, then the bosses reciprocate by coming up with contracts and payment for the unions. This is, to say the least, conflict of interest. However, in our concerns about the union structure and our ire at how the union leadership behaves and is costing the states they wish to control we have to remember that the union membership is simply our neighbors, our family, our friends, and our fellow citizens working at a job.

*This originally ran at the Washington Examiner Opinion Zone blog.

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