Government unions wrong

To the editor:

There is something immoral, illegal, and even bordering on the unconstitutional about it. It is odious; it is wrong. What am I talking about? It is about the practice of government workers ability to form unions, and through that means, to form a bloc to achieve increased wages, job security, and other selfish gains. Even worse, unions often use their financial muscle to support the political candidate of their choice. And the money they choose to do this with is even tax exempt.

They seem to have it all wrong. First of all, let us remind ourselves, the government works for us, not the other way around. Often, through self-serving power plays, such as strikes, work stoppages, or poor job performance, government workers are kept on the payroll solely through the efforts of their union. The force of the Teachers’ Union to maintain mediocrity is well documented. It is a proven fact that charter schools produce more in student excellence, yet their very existence is challenged by union leaders who see such learning means a detriment to their membership. Meanwhile school costs keep rising and student learning declines.

Shortly after he was elected president, Ronald Reagan was faced with a nation-wide shutdown of air travel: the Air Traffic Controllers were set to strike en mass, despite the fact that their “contract” forbade it. It was a power play pure and simple. Reagan rose to the challenge, and replaced them all with non-union personnel. It was a bold move, a power play of big proportions, yet, looking back, it is what any leader worth his salt would have done.

Other cases abound: most notable is the force of the unions to “protect” incompetent teachers, to the detriment of the students. Examples of bad work habits abound. In one case a federal employee missed work half the time for a variety of reasons including attending the funeral of her mother who “died” three times. When finally terminated she brought an anti-discrimination suit against the government, and was reinstated.

It seems so backward to me. Unions consistently block proficiency standards instead of raising them. Unions seem to exist as proponents of higher wages only. I have lived through times where the unions helped bring about the demise of the steel industry, while the “right to work” laws in the South helped rescue, almost too late, the automotive industry.

It is a real shame for this country to look on this issue as adversarial. It is proper for both management and its employees to look for ways to improve. The nation of Germany has such a program. It is called an apprentice system, and it puts management and labor on the same side: the success of the enterprise. Employees have representation at the management level.

Unfortunately, at this time, unions are looked on as the representatives of the workforce, and we are the poorer for it.

Jim Beales


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