As Jonah points out – there is a difference between civil service unions and private sector unions. Civil servants have benefits that private sector workers can only dream about. In the private sector workers were exploited and often paid for their lives for management’s stinginess and vindictiveness (see the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911) which killed 146 young immigrant girls because management locked the doors so they could not sneak out of the sweat shop for a smoke or to get some fresh air.
Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, March 25, 1911
What dangers do elementary school teachers face, getting hit by spitballs?
by Jonah Goldberg
Public unions have been a 50-year mistake
The protesting public school teachers with fake doctor’s notes swarming the Capitol building in Madison, Wis., insist that Gov. Scott Walker is hell-bent on “union busting” in their state. Walker denies that his effort to reform public sector unions in Wisconsin is anything more than an honest attempt at balancing the state’s books.
I hope the protesters are right. Public unions have been a 50-year mistake.
A crucial distinction has been lost in the debate over Walker’s proposals: Government unions are not the same thing as private sector unions.
Traditional, private sector unions were born out of an often bloody adversarial relationship between labor and management. It’s been said that during World War I, U.S. soldiers had better odds of surviving on the front lines than miners did in West Virginia coal mines. Mine disasters were frequent; hazardous conditions were the norm. In 1907, the Monongah mine explosion claimed the lives of 362 West Virginia miners. Day-to-day life often resembled serfdom, with management controlling vast swaths of the miners’ lives. And before unionization and many New Deal-era reforms, Washington had little power to reform conditions by legislation.
Meanwhile, government unions have no such narrative on their side. Do you recall the Great DMV cave-in of 1959? How about the travails of second-grade teachers recounted in Upton Sinclair‘s famous schoolhouse sequel to “The Jungle”? No? Don’t feel bad, because no such horror stories exist.
Government workers were making good salaries in 1962 when President Kennedy lifted, by executive order (so much for democracy), the federal ban on government unions. Civil service regulations and similar laws had guaranteed good working conditions for generations.
The argument for public unionization wasn’t moral, economic or intellectual. It was rankly political.
The unions and the protesters in Wisconsin see Walker’s reforms as a potential death knell for government unions. My response? If only.
Read the rest: Public unions must go
Gov. Walker is now withholding the paychecks of the 14 state Senate Democrats who have refused to attend the session.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) State senators who miss two or more session days will no longer get paid through direct deposit. They’ll have to pick up their checks in person on the Senate floor during a session.
The new rule is aimed at forcing the return of 14 Senate Democrats who have been hiding in Illinois since Thursday. They fled the state to stall a vote on an anti-union bill, and have threatened to stay away until Republican Gov. Scott Walker agrees to compromise.
Gov. Walker is hitting them where it hurts, in their pockets.
(Hat Tip: Mike C and RD at GCP)