F.D.R. Warned Us

“It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.”

That wasn’t Newt Gingrich, or Ron Paul, or Ronald Reagan talking. That was George Meany — the former President of the AFL-CIO — in 1955. Government unions are unremarkable today, but the labor movement once thought the idea absurd.

The founders of the labor movement viewed unions as a vehicle to get workers more of the profits they help create. Government workers, however, don’t generate profits. They merely negotiate for more tax money. When government unions strike, they strike against taxpayers. FDR considered this “unthinkable and intolerable.”
Government collective bargaining means voters do not have the final say on public policy. Instead their elected representatives must negotiate spending and policy decisions with unions. That is not exactly democratic – a fact that unions once recognized.

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