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Unionized Government Employees: Our “Civil Servants” Are Becoming Un-Civil Masters — 4 Comments

  1. I couldn’t agree more Carol. Private sector unions are what they are and will decline over time due to being non-essential. Public unions are a direct conflict of interest and it’s not even just the people being held hostage to higher wages and benefits. I don’t have a problem with exceptional people making exceptional compensation. The biggest crime is the unions forcing exceptional compensation for the mediocre and incompetent. If you want to purge the incompetent you had better have an act of congress for what that’s even worth now.

    I worked as a teamster for quite a few years. Only because the job I was able to get was a union shop and the pay was good. My second week there left me with my lasting impression of unions. I was young, energetic, and ready to go. There was a job to do and I got it done. I guess too good because the shop steward after two weeks had to pull me aside and advise me that I had better slow down because I was making the older guys look bad. By older guys he didn’t mean old and unable to perform the physical work. He meant old as in they have been there a while and know the game. His final advise was that I was the newest guy and if they all worked as fast as I did the company wouldn’t need me.  That was then. I have no problem with the teamsters but I actually had little dealings with them. The pay was good. I had good health care and I have a 15 year pension waiting for me to collect. If the company was willing to tollerate it I guess it served them too. The problem is when this mentality comes into the public sector and keeps voting themselves the right to that attitude.

  2. This is an excellent article, Carol. I concur completely, for all the reasons you cite and more. The very premise that public servants ought to be able to use the tools of collective bargaining (e.g. strikes or ‘sick-outs.), to coerce the public into paying them more than they are worth, for the essential services we are willing to fund (e.g. fire, police, civil defense), is fundamentally wrong. We should be selecting the very best candidates available for these jobs, and those of the mentality that they are willing to work for only the mean value of their labor among a brotherhood pool, are by their very nature not among the exceptional.

    Please do not dismiss the pernicious effect of private sector unions on our taxes too, especially the trade unions. All government infrastructure contracts contain provisions that contract labor must be paid ‘prevailing wages.’ This is code for ‘union scale.’ So, even if a nonunion contractor bids on a government job, he must pay his employees union scale while working on that project. This effectively insures that only union shops can ever successfully bid on government jobs. Union scale can easily be two or three times what the real prevailing wage is among nonunion shops in a given locale.

    The taxpayer pays the difference, and I submit that without government (at all levels) supporting them, the trade unions would die too. This is especially true, if the government didn’t give them a special deal on unemployment payments. When I first abandoned my corporate career for entrepreneurship, I started a nonunion electrical contracting business. Competition was brutal, and too frequently as a job wound down, I found myself needing to underbid a project, just to keep the good employees I had accumulated working for me. Good men, who give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay, can always find another job.

    It didn’t take me very long to see the advantages of signing a contract with the IBEW to become a union shop. Not only did it allow me to bid on government jobs (schools became my specialty), it gave me a tremendously flexible skilled work force. I could have two men working for me one week, have twenty more show up Monday morning, and lay half of them off again on Wednesday. I didn’t have to underbid a job just to keep people working, and made far more profit on the bids I did win. The fascinating thing was that most of the guys didn’t mind at all being laid off. Many appreciated it, because bouts of work interfered with their lifestyle.

    I don’t know about elsewhere; but in California, unemployment payments are an integral part of the typical trade unionist’s regular income. When someone is laid off here, they have to wait two weeks before they can start collecting unemployment, and they have to continuously bring evidence to the unemployment office, showing that they are actively seeking employment, for it to continue. Unless they are in a trade union, that is! They only have to wait the two weeks once a year. After that, even if they are only out of work for one day, they get paid unemployment for that day. Moreover, since their source of jobs is their union hiring hall, they are not required to go out looking for work. They can sit home waiting for a call. It is quite a racket, which the rest of us all subsidize.

    Although as a taxpayer, the tremendous waste of government resources offended me, as a businessman, the union contract leveled the playing field. I really didn’t have to care how much I was overpaying for mediocre help, because I knew my competitors were paying exactly the same. My edge came from intelligently managing the workflow, not any disparity in wages. Besides, since my own personal income was based on a percentage of revenue, the more tax money I expended on labor, the more money I made for myself. What a country… ◄Dave►

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