Today, a coalition of unions will march on the General Assembly to demand the passage of HB 1583 which would allow for collective bargaining for public employees (teachers and state and local government employees).
James Andrews of the AFL-CIO is given space in today’s N&O to explain his position. However, his points are misguided.
Andrews attempts to make his case by paralleling private sector collective bargaining and public sector collective bargaining. Unfortunately, they are not one in the same.
In private sector collective bargaining the labor union has a stake in the overall success or failure of the company. Therefore, they cannot make their demands so unreasonable as to cause the company to fail or lose profitability since that would hurt them as well. Both the union and the firm share a profit motive, that as the firm is successful, the employees will be as well.
That does not hold true for the public sector. There are no shared profits to motivate and thus, no shared collective interest in success. Employee labor unions can continue to make demand after demand regardless of its economic impact because there is no collective sense of prosperity. There’s no risk of the government going bankrupt, it can always just go out and grab new revenues from the taxpayers!
I can go through the laundry list of other harms from collective bargaining (a basic piece I wrote last year is here): no chance EVER at merit-based pay, increased costs to government and taxpayers, forcibly taking money from employees who don’t join the union (through administrative fees), and the whole cycle of using union dues to support political candidates who will promise to raise pay, which generates more union dues, which generates more money for their campaigns, and on and on…
But we’ll save those for later.