The Spectacle Blog

Collective Bargaining “Rights”

By on 3.10.11 | 9:08PM

I like Fox News, which aims to be fair and balanced. But even Fox isn't immune to the biases of the legacy media and the left-wing blogosphere. Tonight, for instance, on the "Fox Report," Shepard Smith declared:

New outrage in Wisconsin after a three-week standoff and huge protests at the state capital. The governor there, Scott Walker, is about to sign a bill that ends most collective bargaining rights for most state workers.

The Republicans...took the spending measures out of the bill and passed just the portion limiting union rights...

Now, Smith aimed to be fair, I'm sure. Still, Smith's description of Walker's modest reform proposal was laden with "rights" talk that is inherently biased against reform, against Walker and against the GOP.
Why, for instance, did Smith say the Wisconsin reform "limit[ed] union rights?" That's what the public employees unions say, but that's not what Walker and Wisconsin GOP legislators think. As they see it, their reform simply limits union "power" and "privileges," not rights.

I happen to believe that Walker and the Wisconsin GOP are correct. There is no constitutional "right," after all, to collective bargaining by public-sector employees.

Federal workers, for instance, don't have the "right" to collectively bargain for wages and benefits. And "only 26 states have laws like Wisconsin's granting collective bargaining rights [sic] to most public workers," reports the Manhattan Institute's Josh Barro.

Twelve states, Barro notes, "have no public-sector collective bargaining law" whatsoever.

I don't mean to pick on Smith and Fox, because they are not alone: Most reporters at most media outlets, sad to say, have repeated union spin about collective bargaining "rights."

But in any democracy -- and especially the United States -- "rights" are sacrosanct. They cannot be denied.

That's why anyone with even an ounce of political sense tries to attach the "rights" label to his cause. Because by doing so, you give yourself a distinct political advantage in both the court of public opinion and the legislative process.

Instead of calling it a right or a privilege, reporters should simply call it what it is, "collective bargaining," and let readers and viewers decide for themselves whether it is a "right."

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