Public Sector Unions Put People at the Bottom of the List

Recall of Wisconsian’s law helps ignore who the boss really is

by: Alexander House Thomas

On September 14th, a judge in Dance County, Wisconsin ruled that the anti-collective bargaining law, which effectively ended collective bargaining rights to most public workers, is unconstitutional under the constitutions of both Wisconsin and the United States. We all remember the outrage that the introduction of the bill brought among some Wisconsinites, and the protests that followed as it progressed through the Wisconsin legislature. One image that comes to mind is that of protestors and union members gathered in the capital building chanting that their public disturbances was what democracy looked like. But despite this, the legislation was passed, and Governor Scott Walker survived a recall election that was held last June. He is the only governor in United States history to survive an election of this type.

Now, there is a major problem with the idea that public employees should have the right to unionize: they work for us. That’s right—they work for you and me. They don’t work for a private employer who supplies goods and services to the public. They ARE the goods and services to the American public. They spend their time and effort providing a service, and they get paid with our tax dollars. Without these goods and services, the American system as we know it would collapse. Can we imagine a world without teachers, policemen, or even forest rangers? Of course not, because the world would be on the edge of total anarchy with a bunch of illiterate people. Bain from Batman would be having a field day trying starting a new world order.

Why shouldn’t public employees be part of a union? Well, take for example the recent protests by the Chicago Teachers Union. What was the injustice committed by the city of Chicago? The unionized educators of the Windy City refused a proposed eighteen percent pay raise over the next four years by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. This is after the teacher’s union demanded a thirty percent pay raise over the same period of time. Let it be known that these teachers have the highest average salary of any city in the United States, making almost 76,000 dollars a year—if we don’t factor in the union-demanded benefits. The city’s proposal also links teacher evaluations to student test scores, giving city officials what they say is a more rigorous system to identify the worst-performing teachers and fire them if they don’t improve. Basically, the deal would let the city lay off teachers based on performance, rather than simply based on how long they have served. This idea was based off of a 2008 study by the Illinois Education Research Council, which discovered that Chicago students only score an average of 18 points on the ACT, compared to an Illinois state average, and the national average, of 21. Now granted, it would still be very difficult to fire teachers, as the proposal would still give preference to tenured teachers, but the premise of getting judged by performance with a lower pay raise didn’t please the teachers of the third-largest school district in the nation.

Just for fun, let’s continue to compare the financial side of those who work in the public sector to those who work in the private sector. According to the USA Today, the average compensation for state and local government employees was almost seventy thousand dollars in 2009, with almost seventeen thousand of that being solely benefits. The average private sector employee has a compensation sixty-one thousand dollars for the same year, with only eleven thousand dollars of that being benefits. I’m sorry, but who is controlling whom here? Is it the private individual who is forced to pay part of their hard earned wages towards taxes to pay for teachers, or the public sector employees who are striking because they feel they are getting ripped off by a system that cannot afford to pay raises to those who already make too much? Looking at the facts and recent events, it can’t be the private citizen, because they are the ones getting ripped off in the long run. I mean, do I need to even bring up America’s failing test scores?

The idea of having public unions is so idiotic, that even President Franklin Roosevelt, the man who basically turned our government into a progressive system with a massive amount of reforms, considered the idea “unthinkable and intolerable”. When unions were founded during the Gilded Age in the late eighteen hundreds, they had a purpose for it. They felt harassed by the long hours of working and poor working conditions by private corporations, and all they got in return was a pitiful amount of money in their paychecks. But looking at the public sector today, are any of the problems that were present in the Gilded Age still around? Are state and local employees not receiving a fair day’s pay or good benefits? Of course not. They are simply ignoring the facts in order to get more of our money for pitiful results. Not only was the Wisconsin judge wrong in his jurisdiction, but also told both Wisconsinites and Americans who the boss really is. Well, I think it’s time we walk into the polling booth, and tell our employees who’s really running things.