News & Events

Critic’s exaggerate labor’s power

Critics exaggerate labor’s power

July 18, 2011

JEFF JACOBY painted a false picture of public sector unions (“Close the door on public-sector unions,’’ Op-ed, July 13). Checks and balances work just fine when managers and employees negotiate in the public sector. Both sides are aware of the requirement for a balanced budget. Managers know that voters will limit tax increases needed to support contracts. Employees know that layoffs – which are not prevented by union contracts – will follow if a contract is not affordable. Voters can replace managers whom they feel are too generous and can also vote down referenda for property tax increases.

Of course, voters can also elect fair, responsible leaders. In fact, since 1980, when Proposition 2 1/2 passed, municipal managers, employee unions, and voters have for the most part acted together to preserve municipal governments that are big enough and professional enough to do what citizens want. As Jacoby points out, private-sector employees have a right to bargain for their fair share of corporate profits. Public-sector employees have a comparable right to bargain for their share of a community’s potential revenues, because of their role in educating children, maintaining public works, and keeping people safe.

Thomas R. Díaz


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