Not Accountable – Rethinking the Constitutionality of Public Unions

 

Book Review: Not Accountable: Rethinking the Constitutionality of Public Employee Unions | Cato Institute

I maintain that our once “Shining City on a Hill” Republic has been turned into a corrupt Oligarchy, and that the main driver of the conversion is public unions. Two quotes are worthy of remembering: 

FDR could hardly have been firmer: Meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government … The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service.

Until the rights revolution in the 1960s, the idea of negotiating against the public interest was unthinkable. AFL-CIO president George Meany in 1955 stated bluntly that it is “impossible to bargain collectively with the Government.”

The Administrative State is staffed by public union employees. 

Micromanagement and expansive rights became integral to the public union playbook for control—no innovation is allowed unless the official can show it complies with a rule; no decision about a public employee’s performance is valid without objective proof in a trial‐​type hearing. Clearing out the legal underbrush is what’s needed to restore officials’ freedom to use common sense in daily choices.

Why do Americans feel that their votes are essentially useless? 

No matter which party is elected, no matter what its priorities, the one certainty is that government operations will not be made more efficient, or responsive, or, as with schools and police accountability, even functional. Public employee unions keep it that way by layers of legal armor and by the exercise of brute political force.

The book does not discuss what I consider to be the immediate crisis. Our “justice” department personnel are union employees.  As Chuck Schumer said, “Let me tell you, you take on the intelligence community, they have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you,”. 

This is obvious to anyone but a fully committed Democrat, and it is obvious to many of them, and they LOVE it! 

 

Democrats see public unions as their meal ticket. Republican leaders treat public unions like an unfriendly sovereign power that must be dealt with, even if its demands are unreasonable and cause America harm. Would-be reformers of either party, determined to run government prudently, approach unions hat in hand. Any reforms at the margins come at a high price. With two notable exceptions, every effort to rein in union excesses has resulted in abject political defeat. The unions, meanwhile, continue to tighten their grip over government operations.

The book suggests some measures that might help, but I find them inadequate. I believe the SCOTUS is our only hope. 

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  1. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Bill Berg: The book suggests some measures that might help, but I find them inadequate. I believe the SCOTUS is our only hope. 

    If they don’t just duck and cover, again.

    • #1
  2. namlliT noD Member
    namlliT noD
    @DonTillman

    Bill Berg: Book Review: Not Accountable: Rethinking the Constitutionality of Public Employee Unions | Cato Institute

    Bad link.

    Perhaps you meant:

    https://www.cato.org/regulation/fall-2023/book-review-not-accountable-rethinking-constitutionality-public-employee-unions

     

    (Not your fault; a very weird Ricochet bug just did that to me, too.)

    • #2
  3. namlliT noD Member
    namlliT noD
    @DonTillman

    The article misses the real issue: public sector unions are an effective way to channel federal funds into the Democrat Party.

    Check out this table from Open Secrets, Public Sector Unions Top Contributors

    Top Public Sector Unions Contributors

    The columns are:

    | Rank | Contributor | Grand Total | Total to Candidates & Parties | Democrat | Republican | Total to Outside Spending Groups | Liberal Groups | Conservative Groups |

    1 National Education Assn $48,067,429 $3,244,254 $3,074,737 $148,977 $44,836,294 $44,836,244 $50
    2 American Federation of Teachers $18,337,324 $3,665,677 $3,634,996 $8,855 $14,681,430 $14,681,430 $0
    3 American Federation of State/Cnty/Munic Employees $13,910,518 $3,353,799 $3,324,309 $8,076 $10,629,146 $10,629,146 $0
    4 American Federation of Government Employees $2,426,845 $1,052,701 $1,005,928 $46,449 $1,373,604 $1,373,604 $0
    5 National Assn of Letter Carriers $2,062,689 $2,013,894 $1,671,384 $342,500 $48,792 $48,792 $0
    6 International Assn of Fire Fighters $2,053,808 $1,983,041 $1,646,919 $336,122 $90,600 $80,600 $10,000
    7 American Postal Workers Union $1,386,144 $1,384,557 $1,193,249 $191,025 $1,185 $0 $0
    8 National Active & Retired Federal Employees Assn $1,083,879 $1,053,879 $826,086 $227,793 $0 $0 $0
    9 National Treasury Employees Union $752,492 $752,317 $734,287 $18,000 $75 $75 $0
    10 National Rural Letter Carriers Assn $741,469 $726,469 $421,444 $305,025 $0 $0 $0
    11 Federal Aviation Admin Managers Assn $358,564 $358,414 $187,614 $168,800 $150 $150 $0
    12 National Assn of Postal Supervisors $316,000 $316,000 $282,000 $34,000 $0 $0 $0
    13 United Postmasters & Managers of America $235,250 $235,250 $143,200 $92,050 $0 $0 $0
    14 Service Employees International Union $218,326 $20,540 $20,279 $65 $197,719 $197,719 $0
    15 National Postal Mail Handlers Union $182,627 $182,627 $136,127 $46,500 $0 $0 $0
    16 Suffolk County Police Benevolent Assn $152,700 $12,700 $0 $12,700 $140,000 $0 $0
    17 California School Employees Assn $137,206 $137,096 $134,270 $0 $0 $0 $0
    18 National Assn/Farm Service Agency County Employees $110,000 $110,000 $19,000 $91,000 $0 $0 $0
    19 New York State United Teachers $100,172 $99,192 $98,004 $250 $430 $430 $0
    20 Professional Engineers in California Government $96,550 $96,550 $96,550 $0 $0 $0 $0
    Leans Democrat Leans Republican Leans Liberal Leans Conservative

    Showing 1 to 20 of 20 entries

    • #3
  4. Bill Berg Coolidge
    Bill Berg
    @Bill Berg

    namlliT noD (View Comment):

    The article misses the real issue: public sector unions are an effective way to channel federal funds into the Democrat Party.

    Check out this table from Open Secrets, Public Sector Unions Top Contributors

    Top Public Sector Unions Contributors

    RankContributorGrand TotalTotal to Candidates & PartiesDemsRepubsTotal to Outside Spending GroupsLiberal GroupsConservative Groups

    1 National Education Assn $48,067,429 $3,244,254 $3,074,737 $148,977 $44,836,294 $44,836,244 $50
    2 American Federation of Teachers $18,337,324 $3,665,677 $3,634,996 $8,855 $14,681,430 $14,681,430 $0
    3 American Federation of State/Cnty/Munic Employees $13,910,518 $3,353,799 $3,324,309 $8,076 $10,629,146 $10,629,146 $0
    4 American Federation of Government Employees $2,426,845 $1,052,701 $1,005,928 $46,449 $1,373,604 $1,373,604 $0
    5 National Assn of Letter Carriers $2,062,689 $2,013,894 $1,671,384 $342,500 $48,792 $48,792 $0
    6 International Assn of Fire Fighters $2,053,808 $1,983,041 $1,646,919 $336,122 $90,600 $80,600 $10,000
    7 American Postal Workers Union $1,386,144 $1,384,557 $1,193,249 $191,025 $1,185 $0 $0
    8 National Active & Retired Federal Employees Assn $1,083,879 $1,053,879 $826,086 $227,793 $0 $0 $0
    9 National Treasury Employees Union $752,492 $752,317 $734,287 $18,000 $75 $75 $0
    10 National Rural Letter Carriers Assn $741,469 $726,469 $421,444 $305,025 $0 $0 $0
    11 Federal Aviation Admin Managers Assn $358,564 $358,414 $187,614 $168,800 $150 $150 $0
    12 National Assn of Postal Supervisors $316,000 $316,000 $282,000 $34,000 $0 $0 $0
    13 United Postmasters & Managers of America $235,250 $235,250 $143,200 $92,050 $0 $0 $0
    14 Service Employees International Union $218,326 $20,540 $20,279 $65 $197,719 $197,719 $0
    15 National Postal Mail Handlers Union $182,627 $182,627 $136,127 $46,500 $0 $0 $0
    16 Suffolk County Police Benevolent Assn $152,700 $12,700 $0 $12,700 $140,000 $0 $0
    17 California School Employees Assn $137,206 $137,096 $134,270 $0 $0 $0 $0
    18 National Assn/Farm Service Agency County Employees $110,000 $110,000 $19,000 $91,000 $0 $0 $0
    19 New York State United Teachers $100,172 $99,192 $98,004 $250 $430 $430 $0
    20 Professional Engineers in California Government $96,550 $96,550 $96,550 $0 $0 $0 $0
    Leans Democrat Leans Republican Leans Liberal Leans Conservative

    Showing 1 to 20 of 20 entries

    Exactly! The book goes into that, but not at the level of actual numbers you present. Thanks.

    • #4
  5. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    I’m totally against public sector unions, but I don’t think that’s the key to fixing the deep administrative state. The problem is also that Congress delegated too much power to the administrative agencies, without any of the usual checks and balances.  And a problem with that is that Congress is in on the racket, by way of what it calls Constituent Services.  

    If we replaced the Hatch Act provisions that were removed during the Clintons’ administration, that might help a little, but it would be only a first step.   

    • #5
  6. Steve C. Member
    Steve C.
    @user_531302

    Would we permit a private sector union, like the UAW, to donate money and other goodies to the senior executives of General Motors? 

    • #6
  7. kedavis Coolidge
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Steve C. (View Comment):

    Would we permit a private sector union, like the UAW, to donate money and other goodies to the senior executives of General Motors?

    Good way to put it.

    • #7
  8. Rightfromthestart Coolidge
    Rightfromthestart
    @Rightfromthestart

    Just one of the many ways in which we are ski rood. 

    • #8
  9. OccupantCDN Coolidge
    OccupantCDN
    @OccupantCDN

    The problem with public sector unions, is that it becomes a bribery circle. Unions contribute to campaigns that get their negotiating counter party elected – who in turn bribe the unions. Its a whirlpool cesspool of corruption. 

     

    • #9
  10. W Bob Member
    W Bob
    @WBob

    As the quote above says, public sector unions negotiate against the public interest. This is true by definition, since the purpose of any union is to maximize its benefit at the expense of its employer, which in the case of public unions is the government and therefore the people.

    I’ve never understood why people don’t instinctively reject teachers unions, since their purpose is to maximize their benefit at the expense of their employer, and their “employer”—the one for whom they perform services—is ultimately the children they teach. So their reason for existing, by definition, is to minimize the efforts they put in to teaching children, thereby harming children. 

     

    • #10
  11. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    W Bob (View Comment):
    I’ve never understood why people don’t instinctively reject teachers unions, since their purpo

    People gave up control of the schools long ago, and most of them don’t want it back.  There are a few exceptions, of course, and those are now treated as domestic terrorists.  

    • #11
  12. Globalitarian Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    I don’t remember.  I do vaguely remember Reagan squashing the air traffic controllers trying to unionize, but which was the first public service union and when?

    • #12
  13. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Globalitarian Misanthropist (View Comment):

    I don’t remember. I do vaguely remember Reagan squashing the air traffic controllers trying to unionize, but which was the first public service union and when?

    He fired them when they went on an illegal strike. They were already unionized. 

    • #13
  14. Globalitarian Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Misanthropist (View Comment):

    I don’t remember. I do vaguely remember Reagan squashing the air traffic controllers trying to unionize, but which was the first public service union and when?

    He fired them when they went on an illegal strike. They were already unionized.

    Thanks.  Do you know when the first public union was started?

    • #14
  15. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Globalitarian Misanthropist (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Misanthropist (View Comment):

    I don’t remember. I do vaguely remember Reagan squashing the air traffic controllers trying to unionize, but which was the first public service union and when?

    He fired them when they went on an illegal strike. They were already unionized.

    Thanks. Do you know when the first public union was started?

    I think JFK made public employee unions legal in the national government.  Whether that was an executive order, or by congressional action, I don’t know.  I wasn’t paying any attention to that issue at the time, though I can’t think of a reason why I wouldn’t have been interested.   

    • #15
  16. Headedwest Coolidge
    Headedwest
    @Headedwest

    Globalitarian Misanthropist (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Misanthropist (View Comment):

    I don’t remember. I do vaguely remember Reagan squashing the air traffic controllers trying to unionize, but which was the first public service union and when?

    He fired them when they went on an illegal strike. They were already unionized.

    Thanks. Do you know when the first public union was started?

    JFK was the president who authorized federal public unions. I suppose the first one showed within days of his signature. My always sketchy memory was that it was an executive order, not a law.

    • #16
  17. Rightfromthestart Coolidge
    Rightfromthestart
    @Rightfromthestart

    W Bob (View Comment):

    As the quote above says, public sector unions negotiate against the public interest. This is true by definition, since the purpose of any union is to maximize its benefit at the expense of its employer, which in the case of public unions is the government and therefore the people.

    I’ve never understood why people don’t instinctively reject teachers unions, since their purpose is to maximize their benefit at the expense of their employer, and their “employer”—the one for whom they perform services—is ultimately the children they teach. So their reason for existing, by definition, is to minimize the efforts they put in to teaching children, thereby harming children.

    I remember a teachers  union president , Albert Shanker, saying   ‘When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of school children.‘

    • #17
  18. Bill Berg Coolidge
    Bill Berg
    @Bill Berg

    Globalitarian Misanthropist (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Misanthropist (View Comment):

    I don’t remember. I do vaguely remember Reagan squashing the air traffic controllers trying to unionize, but which was the first public service union and when?

    He fired them when they went on an illegal strike. They were already unionized.

    Thanks. Do you know when the first public union was started?

    There were postal worker unions in the 1800s, but they didn’t do collective bargaining. 

    The first state to legalize collective bargaining by public unions was Wisconsin in 1959.

    “The big break came with JFK’s Executive Order 10988 in 1962, authorizing collective bargaining in the federal government. The order stated that its aim was to promote the “efficient administration of the Government” and “effective conduct of public business.” But the actual motivation was political, and historians have concluded that the Executive Order 10988 was payback for union support.” (from the reviewed book) 

     

     

     

    • #18
  19. Globalitarian Misanthropist Coolidge
    Globalitarian Misanthropist
    @Flicker

    Bill Berg (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Misanthropist (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):

    Globalitarian Misanthropist (View Comment):

    I don’t remember. I do vaguely remember Reagan squashing the air traffic controllers trying to unionize, but which was the first public service union and when?

    He fired them when they went on an illegal strike. They were already unionized.

    Thanks. Do you know when the first public union was started?

    There were postal worker unions in the 1800s, but they didn’t do collective bargaining.

    The first state to legalize collective bargaining by public unions was Wisconsin in 1959.

    “The big break came with JFK’s Executive Order 10988 in 1962, authorizing collective bargaining in the federal government. The order stated that its aim was to promote the “efficient administration of the Government” and “effective conduct of public business.” But the actual motivation was political, and historians have concluded that the Executive Order 10988 was payback for union support.” (from the reviewed book)

    Thanks.

    • #19
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