Government Workers Unionized?

Air Traffic Control Patco Workers Striking

PATCO air traffic controller strikers picketing in their 1981 strike called illegal by Ronald Reagan, who replaced them with enlisted air traffic controllers from the Air Force.

I have been railing on the Educators the last couple of weeks and one of the major complications to fixing the system is that they are unionized.  I am perplexed at the whole concept of how government workers can be unionized in the first place.

Way back when I was a student we were taught that unions were formed to combat the big evil corporations who abused their workers.  In the late 1800s and early 1900s there was child labor in big factories, sweat shops, and extremely hazardous working conditions.  Something had to be done, so the workers unionized.  I know this is an extreme over simplification, but you get the idea.

A lot has changed in the last hundred years.  All of these issues have been addressed by the end all be all cure to everything – you guessed it – Government (over) Regulation.  There are laws now protecting workers from all of the issues of the big bad corporations of years gone by, and yet we still have unions. 

Now in case you haven’t figured it out, I dislike unions intensely.  In my opinion, they out lived their usefulness a long time ago.  But this leaves me in a quandary. If I had to choose between labor unions and the jack-booted over-zealous thugs at OHSA, it would be a really tough call.  They both do so much to stifle American productivity it isn’t even funny.

Several years ago I was running a credit union for a sizable supermarket chain.  They had several hundred stores and employed over 15,000 associates at their peak.  The credit union received a loan application from a produce clerk in a rural Pennsylvania store.  He claimed to be earning $48,000 per year (this was 1994). 

I contacted the store manager to verify his employment and income. I inquired if he was actually the produce manager or assistant manager.  Nope, he was not a supervisor, nor an assistant supervisor.  The  manager said, “Nope, he just stacks the lettuce and mists the parsley. He refuses to take on any more responsibility.”   So I had to ask why he was making so much? 

The answer: “He is in the union, and he has been here for 24 years, and gets the negotiated annual increase.”  Incidentally, I was working about a 65 hours week running the credit union and earning only $45,000.   The end result, the high price union salaries killed the company and everyone lost their jobs.  So much for the benefits of labor unions.  Bitter, you bet I am, but I digress.

So if labor unions were formed to combat the evils of big corporations, then who are the government worker unions counterbalancing?  I believe that would us, “We, the people,”

 The American Taxpayer.  Are we so bad to work for that they need to unionize?  I am sorry, but I have yet to see an over-worked government employee who works in harsh conditions!  With the obvious exception of the military, who can’t unionize and wouldn’t if they could. 

To the unionized government employees out there, if you think that you are indispensable, talk to an air-traffic controller from before August of 1981.   

Public servants are supposed to be dedicated to serve the public good.  Not to serve their own best interest.  Somewhere along the line, that has been forgotten.