Saturday, June 25, 2011

NYT Op Ed on Public Sector Unions

For purposes of full disclosure, let it be known that I am NOT a member of a public sector union, although I do believe in unions and feel they are the ONLY real path for ensuring employee rights and voice.

Here is an excerpt from this excellent editorial
Public or Private, It’s WorkBy GARRET KEIZER

Published: June 24, 2011

"...The fact is that our entire economic system rests on the principle of paying someone less than his or her labor is worth. The principle applies in the public sector no less than the private. The purpose of most labor unions has never been to eliminate the profit margin (the tragedy of the American labor movement) but rather to keep it within reasonable bounds.

"But what about those school superintendents and police chiefs with their fabulous pensions, with salaries and benefits far beyond the average worker’s dreams?

"Tell me about it. This past school year, I worked as a public high school teacher in northeastern Vermont. At 58 years of age, with a master’s degree and 16 years of teaching experience, I earned less than $50,000. By the standards of the Ohio school superintendent or the Wisconsin police chief, my pension can only be described as pitiful, though the dairy farmer who lives down the road from me would be happy to have it....

He should have it, at the least, and he could. If fiscal conservatives truly want to “bring salaries into line” they should commit to a model similar to the one proposed by George Orwell 70 years ago, with the nation’s highest income exceeding the lowest by no more than a factor of 10. They should establish that model in the public sector and enforce it with equal rigor and truly progressive taxation in the private....."

MAJIA HERE: Unions have played an incredibly significant role in American and European history in ensuring that all the wealth of a nation doesn't end up in the hands of just a few people. Therefore, it is hardly surprising that the demise of union power in the U.S. has coincided with the concentration of economic wealth and influence in just a relatively few individuals. See the chart!

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