February 10, 2010

Even FDR Was Wary of Public Employee Unions

Marc Comtois

This article by Rich Lowry and this piece in the Wall Street Journal both alluded to Franklin Roosevelt's wariness towards public employee unions. I was surprised. So I dug around and found one source that supports this claim. In a letter to a public employee union, Roosevelt explains that, yes, they do have a right to organize, but there are some restrictions:

All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.
Well, that hasn't really come to pass now, has it?
Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that "under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government."
Interesting that he viewed strikes by Federal employees in such a way.

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As I have long maintained - public employee unions are illegal!

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at February 10, 2010 7:57 PM

“There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.” Silent Cal.

That being settled, what do the unions threaten? Is it that they believe that no one is qualified to walk in and take over operation of GSA? Or the IRS?

Maybe we could subcontract the GSA out to Dubai.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at February 10, 2010 9:12 PM

JFK signed an executive order permitting federal public sector employees to unionize -- payback for union support in his election (we don't know how he rewarded Richard Daley for the Chicago voter fraud that illegitimately placed him in office).

After that, states started dropping like dominoes. The RI General Assembly passing a statute permitting unionization of state and local employees in 1966.

There are now more unionized workers in government than in the private sector.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at February 10, 2010 9:50 PM

Public unions are a logical and economic absurdity. They should never have been allowed. Collective bargaining against the taxpayers...ridiculous.

Posted by: Dan at February 10, 2010 10:10 PM

A platform calling for the repeal of the state statute allowing unions for state and local workers would make one heck of a talking point for Republican candidates.

Imagine one side running on much lower taxes (especially property taxes), far better quality services and no more teacher strikes / work to rule ... and the Democrats having to support the public unions and the bad quality and the taxes and the strikes.

But of course, that would mean that the RIGOP would actually like to offer the voters a real alternative and want to win more than a token few seats.

Nevermind. I was just fantasizing. We know that the RIGOP would never want that.

Posted by: Ragin' Rhode Islander at February 10, 2010 10:59 PM

Dn writes:

"Public unions are a logical and economic absurdity. They should never have been allowed. Collective bargaining against the taxpayers...ridiculous."

Part of Margaret Thacher's rise to power was the Bristish government's experiment with socialism. One of the first lessons learned in socializing much of the industry, by bailout/takeover, was that the government could not stand up to labor unrest/strikes.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at February 11, 2010 11:39 AM

Kim Kardashian Sex Tape Scenes just Beyonc 233 and Kim Kardashian both want you to smell like them. The glamourous ladies have each dropped thier own fragrances recently—Kim K's self-titled scent

Posted by: pypeopevopy at September 4, 2011 11:46 PM
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