NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 13, 2008

Unions keep losing membership as a share of the national workforce, which explains why organized labor's main political focus is changing the rules to force more workers into unions, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

Witness a bill that Senate Democrats are pushing this week to require that hundreds of thousands of local police and firemen submit to collective bargaining:

  • Under current law, every state has the ability to set policies that govern its public workforce.
  • In some states, police, firefighters and paramedics belong to unions that collectively bargain for their contracts.
  • In others, unions representing public-security workers can bargain over pay, but not over benefits or work rules.
  • And in some others, these workers can choose not to belong to a union.

Democrats want to change this for the entire country:

  • A bill that passed the House last year would make the top officials at local unions the exclusive bargaining agents for public safety officers in every town or city with more than 5,000 people.
  • They would also have the authority to bargain for everything -- pay, benefits and work rules.
  • The goal is to give labor the whip hand with local governments, and further coerce nonunion members to join the dues-paying ranks.

Public unions have far more clout than private unions because there is no competition for government services; they are by law a monopoly.  This is especially true of police and firefighters, who can do great harm to public safety if they strike, says the Journal.

Federal emergency plans rely on the cooperation of local "first-responders," who need the flexibility to adapt to local problems and circumstances.  Work rules negotiated according to national union standards make no sense when the safety needs of New York City are so much different than those in Fargo, says the Journal.

Source: Editorial, "The Union Police," Wall Street Journal, May 12, 2008.

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