February 24, 2011

More Union Differences

Monique Chartier

Further to Marc's post, David Brooks outlined additional differences between public and private labor unions in a piece Tuesday about the Wisconsin situation.

Private sector unions push against the interests of shareholders and management; public sector unions push against the interests of taxpayers. Private sector union members know that their employers could go out of business, so they have an incentive to mitigate their demands; public sector union members work for state monopolies and have no such interest.

Private sector unions confront managers who have an incentive to push back against their demands. Public sector unions face managers who have an incentive to give into them for the sake of their own survival. Most important, public sector unions help choose those they negotiate with. Through gigantic campaign contributions and overall clout, they have enormous influence over who gets elected to bargain with them, especially in state and local races.

As to that penultimate sentence, with school committees around the state littered with teachers, union members and/or their spouses as well as prominent paid union staffers sitting in the General Assembly, Rhode Island is Exhibit A of public sector unions "helping choose those they negotiate with". The result of that "help" has been decades of short-sighted elected officials who have irresponsibly bestowed upon the state expensive government, chronically unbalanced budgets, high taxes and even higher unfunded post employment liabilities.

Returning to the difference between solidarity public and solidarity private, I would add just one more item to all of the excellent points raised by Brooks, Goldberg and Comtois: along with us non-unionized folk, private unions are on the issuing rather than the receiving end of the disbursements that fund public compensation and benefits.

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This is a great attempt at divide and conquer. It seems as if you want us to believe that you and other tea party types support private sector unions. As if they would not be the next target for you guys and your corporate/rethuglican overlords;

Posted by: triplerichard at February 24, 2011 3:17 PM

triplerichard - many of "us guys" have no problem with private or public unions - provided that people are given the free option not to join them. Where I live in Virginia we have public and private unions and nobody on either side complains because we have right to work legislation protecting our freedom of/from association. They get their collective bargaining and those who don't like them don't have to join - a fair system that works out well for everybody (except the union leadership). What could you possibly morally object to about such a system?

Posted by: Dan at February 24, 2011 3:43 PM

This would make more sense if the Teapublicans cared whatsoever about corporate influence in elections. I guess that's because businesses like defense contractors or energy firms never help "choose those they negotiate with," right? I wonder why that never comes up on blogs like this one. What a mystery!

Posted by: Russ at February 25, 2011 12:41 PM

Prove your assertion that there is any undue "corporate influence" in elections in this country, or you have no basis for your statement.

Posted by: BobN at February 25, 2011 1:58 PM

I stand corrected. Bob has convinced me that money has no impact on political campaigns and that companies donate money to campaigns expecting nothing in return.

"What follows the money?"

Posted by: Russ at February 25, 2011 2:57 PM

So are you suggesting that corporations don't donate money (clearly false) or that money doesn't impact outcomes (highly questionable)?

Tidal wave of outside money swamping 2010 elections

Half a billion dollars from independent groups with strong but unofficial connections to Republicans and Democrats is flooding into congressional campaigns across the country this year, according to a study released Monday...

While big money in politics is hardly new, there never have been sums of this magnitude in midterm elections...

"Some companies in sectors hit hard by new regulations — including financial, energy and health care interests — are grabbing for their checkbooks," the study says, "and they are actively seeking the anonymity provided by new and older independent groups in the post-Citizens United world."

In August, the AFL-CIO said it would join with the Service Employees International Union and United Food and Commercial Workers for a political effort estimated to cost at least $94 million. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees intends to spend at least $50 million, the center's study reports. America Votes, a coalition of some 400 liberal groups, plans to spend $8.5 million.

The unions plan to zero in on 26 states, notably swing states in which Democrats have done well recently but face trouble this year, such as Nevada, Ohio and Illinois.

However, the GOP-aligned efforts appear to dwarf their Democratic rivals. From Aug. 1 to Sept. 20, the study found, Republican-leaning interests outspent Democrats by about 5 to 1 on ads.

Posted by: Russ at February 25, 2011 3:16 PM

BobN is appears to be well practiced in the art of intellectual dishonesty. Either that or he is completely severed all ties with reality like conservative hero Glenn Beck.

Posted by: triplerichard at February 25, 2011 3:45 PM

That's the heart of it, Trips. Most progressives will concede that unions impact elections and governance (kind of the point). Notice you don't see anything about why union influence might be necessary to prevent the GA from being completely captured by corporate special interests.

Monique prefers to bash union members or folks who maybe know a union member for the great sin of being engaged in, excuse me, "littering" (we Teapublicans don't hate teachers, as evidenced by our comparing them to trash... nice) the political process or in the governance of their childrens' schools (the horror!).

Posted by: Russ at February 25, 2011 3:58 PM

Russ, I'm disappointed that you can't do better than a link to an article by the CEO of Common Cause. Everyone knows that CC is not an independent goo-goo group, but a bright star in the Progressive constellation (i.e., conspiracy) of the Democracy Alliance. His allegations carry no more weight than yours do.

You seem to be alleging that Gov. Walker is doing the bidding of the Koch brothers, but that article provides exactly zero evidence to support such a claim. Besides, there are many alternative explanations, including that individuals make campaign contributions to like-minded candidates. I'm sure you do the same with Leftist candidates - shall we allege that they are doing your bidding in exchange for your money?

3Rich's posts speak for themselves. When he is coherent at all, the most he can do is spew insults.

Can't anyone on the Left provide some real facts to support their arguments? You know, only your allies believe you until you begin to put up some genuine arguments, you're not persuading anyone who isn't already on your side.

Posted by: BobN at February 25, 2011 4:20 PM

Once again BobN you display another example of your inability to be intellectually honest. If I spewed any insults here they pale in comparison to yours and those of your cohorts in thought Tommy and Mike Capelli. But then again why would we expect any thoughtfulness from them when it is easier to just rant and rave about the evilbif the other side.

Posted by: Triplerichard at February 25, 2011 4:27 PM
I'm sure you do the same with Leftist candidates - shall we allege that they are doing your bidding in exchange for your money?

Yes, I'm saying that. The system is horribly corrupted by the money raised by the campaigns and readily admit that money buys influence no matter the source (while noting that corporate and rightwing groups raise more).

Whether or not it's true (it's impossible to prove and even in those cases could be dismissed as one bad apple), it's perceived to be true and therefore has a profoundly antidemocratic effect.

Posted by: Russ at February 25, 2011 4:52 PM

Well, then Russ, this is the allegation I'm asking you to prove. The article you linked fails to do that. Can you do better?

Posted by: BobN at February 25, 2011 6:08 PM
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