Some public employees may have gained a victory, but the people of Ohio voted themselves a big loss.
I am not against unions or collective bargaining; I participated in both for many years. Unions serve a valuable and necessary purpose. In fact, I currently work with a union, but to have a fair collective bargaining process both parties must represent their respective interests trying to achieve mutually beneficial goals. That is rarely the case when unions bargain with politicians who are largely dependent on the unions for their jobs. Public employee unions are not the same as other unions.
Many states and cities have gotten themselves to the brink of bankruptcy as labor costs and pension liabilities consume their budgets. That didn’t happen as a result of effective bargaining by government officials. The fact is that collective bargaining in the traditional sense does not work with public employees and their unions and bureaucrats and politicians because no one looks out for the interests of the group with the most at stake; taxpayers. (apparently in Ohio taxpayers don’t even look out for their own interests.)
In Ohio the unions spent $30 million (of member dues) to defeat legislation limiting collective bargaining for state workers. Ohio unions were still able to negotiate for wages and working conditions. There is no victory for anyone. Where is Mr Spock when you need him? Voters in Ohio threw out all logic with their vote and rather were swayed by some misdirected emotional attachment to firefighters, police officers and teachers. Public employees deserve a fair compensation package, but regardless of the job they do or service they perform, that package must be affordable to the citizens who foot the bill today and into future. It was only the most costly and the most subject to abuse issues that were off the table, mainly pensions and other benefits.
The voter who holds the view that “teachers are underpaid or first responders risk their lives and deserve every penny they get” without regard to economic reality or the total concept of public employment, has no right to complain about taxes or loss of other government services. Attempting to manage public labor costs is not an effort to hold down the middle class; rather it protects the vast middle class dependent on government services.
Even while the OWS crowd blames their woes on the one percent, in many states and cities far more damage is being done by public employee union contracts and the politicians who supported them. Mr. Spock would support the logic of politicians trying to fix long-term problems not overturn their efforts or vote them out of office.
In the meantime our Secretary of Labor makes it clear where the sympathies of the Obama administration reside. How inappropriate is it for a cabinet member to be so one-sided. Read this statement carefully. It hits all the right emotional buttons and mixes the attributes of public and private collective bargaining as if they were the same. Such political pandering is reprehensible.Guess what, government entities are not businesses and don’t operate as if they are, that is the difference.
OPA News Release: [11/09/2011]
Contact Name: Carl Fillichio
Statement by Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis on Ohio labor law vote
WASHINGTON — Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis today issued the following statement on the Nov. 8 Ohio labor referendum, in which a majority of voters rejected a state law limiting collective bargaining:
“Last night, Ohio voters delivered a bona fide victory for public sector workers everywhere.
“After months of advocacy and organizing, the people of Ohio have defeated a law that would have silenced the middle class and curtailed the collective bargaining rights of thousands of teachers, firefighters and police officers. Ohio has made it clear: these dedicated public servants still need a seat at the table to demand fairness, dignity and respect — especially in tough economic times. Through their unions, they have a voice in their workplace, in their future and, most importantly, in our future.
“In my time as labor secretary, I’ve seen firsthand time and time again how unions make remarkable contributions to the strength and prosperity of our nation. In workplaces across the country, collective bargaining is helping businesses improve their bottom line, providing tax payers with high-quality services, making workplaces safer and more productive, and ensuring that all Americans have the opportunity to make it into the middle class.
“I am proud to join everyone in Ohio and across the country in celebrating the voice of workers, which can only be guaranteed when they have the right to organize and bargain collectively. Congratulations to all who contributed their time, passion and dedication to achieve this incredible feat for working families.”
While Ohio voters were shooting themselves in the left foot on this issue they couldn’t resist taking aim at their right as well. They overwhelming approved a (meaningless) referendum rejecting the Obamacare mandate to carry health insurance. Hey folks, you may not like the Affordable Care Act or Obama, but the logic and reality is that you cannot have affordable health care if you allow people to game the system, jump in and out of coverage as they need it and dare I say it, not “pay their fair share” in premiums even if they don’t use health care. Everyone has to be in the pool.
Ohio voters, and I suspect many others, seem to think you can deal with selected issues in isolation without extended consequences, you can’t!
- Collective bargaining goes up for vote in Ohio (sfgate.com)
- Ohio collective bargaining law defeated in blow to GOP governor, victory for unions (americanpeoplesplatformblog.com)
- Ohio Issue 2: Voters To Decide Fate Of Collective Bargaining Law (huffingtonpost.com)