Public Employee Collective Bargaining Is A Right: But So Is Refusing That Right

March 16, 2011 by
Filed under: Uncategorized 

I recently made a comment on a public forum that “Unions are a basic Natural right in the PRIVATE sector.  However, the PUBLIC sector is totally different, for many reasons;” to which the response was “Curious…can you give me some reasons why this basic natural right (as you call it) does not apply to all people?  Are public sector workers second class citizens?” 

My response was as follows…

“Sorry, but this isn’t summed up in a sentence or two.  If you are genuinely curious, please read the following, even though it is likely to get a little bit long… 


“First off, it’s not so much that public employees don’t have the right to associate and form a union, rather ‘We the People’ don’t have to allow that right. 


“Now; it has nothing to do with the ‘class of citizen,’ but the precepts and justifications for the job.  In the most basic concept of a private job, an individual uses their talents and faculties to put their labor to use for in the way that best suits them, to gain the most ‘money,’ or utilization, out of their labor.  If they are successful, they will expand to the point where they hire more people, in order to reduce their labor and maximize their leisure.  That is the basic origin of a business/company/corporation that employs people. 


“So, once people are hired, they will naturally try to get the maximum amount of recompense for their labor.  Essentially, the employer will naturally try to buy their labor as cheaply as possible, and the workers will naturally try to sell their labor for the maximum remuneration.  If they can’t come together on a price, it is a Natural right of people to associate, or essentially form a ‘union’ in order to try to gain a higher wage collectively; or at least to use the strong arm of mass persuasion to influence the employer, who naturally would lose quality if he got rid of his whole work force and hired inexperienced new help.  So that is the basic origins, and the ‘Natural right’ of people to associate and/or form a union. 


“An employer, however, does not have to allow an association or a union of his employees.  He can, therefore, remove individuals from his employment at his discretion (in a truly free society and workplace); whether it’s an individual employee who he no longer wishes to employ, or his entire workforce (which would be contrary to his desires under normal circumstances, but may be an option for him in certain circumstances).  Again, both the employer and the employees have Natural rights in the employment situation: the employees the right to associate, and the employer the right to accept or reject the association.


“Now…what is a government job?  Government exists - in the American Republic, as spelled out in our founding documents, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, etc. – ONLY to protect the Natural rights of all our inhabitants of this nation – primarily property rights – and basic services the private sector cannot, will not, or should not provide.  Our government is therefore a necessary evil, and is funded collectively by ‘We the People’ to provide that protection.  The government does not produce anything, it doesn’t sell anything, and it is not a corporation or a business; if you work for the government, you work for ‘We the People.’  The job exists only because the people have a need for it, which is what makes it a public service. 


“Now, throughout the history of this nation – at the federal level, and for years at the state level as well in most states – the citizens, ‘We the People,’ have rejected our employees that opportunity.  We have basically said ‘here are the expectations, the qualifications, and this is the pay; take it or leave it, and if you don’t perform, we will fire you.’  It is still that way at the federal level in ALL instances.  Too many states gave up that position, and allowed collective bargaining by their employees.  Now, some of them are taking back that position they gave up.  There is nothing wrong, illegal, immoral, or otherwise with states taking away collective bargaining.  It is called a ‘right’ to collectively bargain, but it is equally as much a ‘right’ for us, the citizens, or the body politic, to reject that ‘right.’  We have no responsibility or requirement to accept their association. 


“So, from there, you can decide where you stand, and where you want your state to stand.  Me, personally, I do not want my public employees to bargain, so I choose to support the candidates who will fight to strip that right from them, and support my right as the employee to disallow unions; and I expect them to do so.  You are free to disagree in the opinion of collective bargaining; but the facts are the facts.”

So there you have it.  And again, you can support unions or you can oppose unions in the public sector; it’s your choice.  In my humble opinion, unions promote and protect the lowest performers – or the weakest link – while neglecting the superior performers.  I understand why slugs love the unions, but I cannot understand why top-notch performers would participate in unions.  Promoting mediocrity and neglecting superiority is not the American way.  Nonetheless, if that is what you seek in your job, in the private sector, then that is your right.  However, as a non-business owner, it is equally my right to demand better of my employees; the public sector workers.  For that reason (amongst many) I reject the public unions, and encourage those who represent me to see the benefits of my perception.


One Comment on Public Employee Collective Bargaining Is A Right: But So Is Refusing That Right

  1. Jere Hodges on Fri, 18th Mar 2011 9:48 pm
  2. I like your public/private segregation in this discussion, but I would take it one step further:

    Where the union of professional workers recruits, trains, and provides qualified workers to business owners – I support their existence and their right to set the market value for the labor they provide.

    Where the employer recruits, trains, and assigns employees to their jobs – the union is nothing but a racketeer organization that provides no value to the owner-worker relationship.

    All public unions fall under the second example.

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