The coming vindication of Gov. Scott Walker.
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State and local government workers today are not exploited in sweatshop conditions for poverty wages as the workers in union lore of old. Today it is taxpayers who are the ones being exploited. Indeed, in the great Wisconsin public employee union debate over the past two years, not one example has been brought forth of a state and local government worker who has been mistreated by his democratically elected employer. Government employees are also protected today by civil service laws, which reflects the special protections government employees already enjoy with their employers subject to the democratic process.
Moreover, local governments in Wisconsin couldn’t resist union demands because intransigent unions could just force them into arbitration, which was rigged to favor union demands. School districts, towns, cities and counties could find themselves on track for bankruptcy because of an arbitrator’s ruling, which just followed arbitration precedents, even though it left the district or local government with no economic means to recover.
Government employees work for democratically elected officials representing the will of the people, not greedy miscreants exploiting them for personal profit. This is another reason why there is no legitimate role for government unions, and there should be no collective bargaining rights for government bureaucrats. The democratically elected Congress or state legislature cannot sit down and bargain with government employee unions as equals, because government employee unions are not the equals of the representatives that were elected by the people to govern. Government employees are subject to the democratically expressed will of the people like everyone else. They are not and should not be treated like aristocrats with special legal privileges, exempt from democratic governance. If government workers feel their pay and working conditions are inadequate or oppressive, they can join the democratic process to elect new representatives like everyone else. The public will respond to their plight and join in voting out abusive elected officials. Private sector workers, by contrast, cannot elect new employers.
Such fundamental, unworkable problems with government unions used to be commonly understood, which is why even an ultimate liberal like Franklin Roosevelt would not recognize such unions. And that is why strikes by government workers have been commonly prohibited in American history as well. These public servants are providing essential public services, and they should not be allowed to deprive the public of those services. But today this common understanding of the past has been lost in too many jurisdictions. As a result, we find exactly oppression of the public in some local or even state jurisdictions.
These are the reasons that federal employees have no legally recognized collective bargaining rights at all. Governor Walker’s reforms would still provide for more collective bargaining for Wisconsin government workers than allowed those so badly oppressed federal workers, whose wages are set by an act of Congress rather than by collective bargaining.
And these are the reasons that Governor Walker’s reforms are just, as well as practically effective in keeping state spending, taxes and deficits under control. Supporters of Governor Walker’s reforms are not looking to deny middle class prosperity to working people, as government employee union apologists contend. Rather, they want the broadest possible prosperity among working people, and rapid economic growth to maximize the highest possible standard of living for all.
The June 5 Walker recall vote in Wisconsin represents a critical turning point for the entire nation. If the public employee unions prevail in recalling Walker because he dared to challenge their legal privileges and political power, these unions will be entrenched nationwide as the new American aristocracy, which the common serfs are doomed to serve and pay. In Wisconsin, the immediate result will be another tax increase while any economic recovery remains weak and fragile, as the savings of Walker’s reforms will be reversed. The result will be more such tax increases nationally.
But it is not just Walker’s highly successful, pro-taxpayer, pro-growth reforms that are put to the test in this election. Now that the government public employee unions have put Walker and effectively those reforms on the ballot, the clout of those unions with the public is at stake as well.
If Walker wins, the result means not just that he and his reforms have been vindicated. It means that the government public employee unions do not have the knee-jerk support of the public that they and the union controlled media have claimed. Now that the issue is being put to the test, if Walker wins the unions just don’t go back to where they were before the recall election. It is the government worker unions that will be discredited. As the Wall Street Journal also explained on April 17, “The Wisconsin recall donnybrook in June will test whether voters value their own bottom lines more than the political power of unions.”
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