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February 24, 2011


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One individual = one small voice, easily marginalized or silenced. Perhaps it is impossible to honor old bargains in the present economy. In that case, voiding a specific set of contracts might be understandable. Using government muscle to ban organized group opposition in the present is a completely different idea - hardly a market-based solution.

You fail to point out in this article that the state, or any employer really, is a collective entity in terms of bargaining.

The employer (the state in this instance) represents the entire collective opportunity for employment in the field of (education, civil service which ever you care to discuss).

So perhaps the poll questions you SHOULD be asking are "Would you favor the removal of an employees collective bargaining rights in order to strengthen those of the state?"

Would you like to work in a job where all step increases are eliminated, where years of experience no longer count for anything, where your salary could not go up more than the consumer price increase, for the rest of your life? That's what may happen in Wisconsin. Just asking.

"I understand their importance for a muscle-driven industrial economy where powerful firms can exploit labor. But America isn't that country, especially not when the employer is a state government" - Maybe not a muscle-driven industrial economy, but ABSOLUTELY a capatalistic big business driven economy that, in turn, is exploiting the working class. And in my opinion,that is just as bad.

Please be substantive oh Sophist for the top 2%: if we simply put taxes where Eisenhower had them there would be no problem of fiscal 'austerity'. But that was a time when the social contract of a 'common good' still held, before CEO's thought it just to compensate themselves at 475 to 1 ratios to their workers (The Economist's figures). Trickle down economics has finally worked for the Norquist top 2%: the USA has the worst income disparity of any OECD nation. Your false dilemma above: 'Would you favor a law in your state ending collective bargaining for public-sector workers or higher taxes on your children over the next few decades?' would only be true if you added 'higher taxes for the children of the top 2% and corporations'.

Your phrasing is equally disingenuous. It's not "collective bargaining" per se that is causing the budget problems. The unions in Wisconsin have already agreed to the pension and health concessions the governor wanted. Collective bargaining in itself will not necessarily make future budgets worse. If the governor had any integrity he would allow collective bargaining and then drive a hard bargain in future negotiations. By the way, why don't you ask this question: "Would you favor a law in your state ending collective bargaining for public-sector workers or higher taxes on rich people like the Koch brothers and Rush Limbaugh who so far have not been asked to sacrifice one penny during this economic crisis." Funny how the national dialog on this subject has been steered to put the burden of economic recovery on the people at the bottom, rather than the people at the top who caused the problem.

1. We had "individual bargaining" till late 19th century, and it did not do a thing for the workers. That's the reason labor unions were organized in the first place. Do we really have to repeat all the mistakes of the past to learn what's bad for us? Do you have to stick your hand in the fire every year to remind yourself that it's hot?

2. What does collective bargaining have to do with manual labor? Software engineers, flight attendants, hotel workers cashiers can be overworked and undercompensated just the same.

US companies have slashed their workforce and even in this crisis are making great profits, because now everybody who's left is doing double the work for the same compensation as before. The question is what part of these profits should go to the investors, and what part should be used to compensate the workers. When workers in the private sector complain that they do not get the benefits of the public workers they should be fighting for better benefits, rather than dragging everybody down.

"I just don't understand why a worker in a modern service-sector economy would even want collective rights."

Seriously?!!? I mean, you really just said that? Have you ever even had a real conversation with a worker in the service sector?

OMG - First of, no one is talking about 'collective rights' you nit. They are talking about an individuals right bargan collectivilly, i.e. an individuals right to collaborate and work together for a common cause.

Secondly, you really think the asking the actual question at hand is not fair, but you would ask if '...or pay higher taxes on your children?'' Where the hell are you from that you pay children tax? Is that like luxury tax on a car or something? Do you pay "kid tax" only when the child is born? Or is it an annual tax?

Then you say "... were powerful firms can exploit labor....America isn't that county" Have you ever read an American History Book? Ever heard of slavery? Every heard of Chinese Rail road workers? Do you realize that 7 year old children used to be paid 3 cents for a 16 hour shift in coal mines in this countyr? Do you know that people were forced to work 96 hours a week in this county without any thing called overtime? You are a complete numbskull.

You yourself today reap numerous benefits because of poor souls who fought and died to make this a better place to live. And you are too stupid to even realize it!

The problem with promoting "individual bargaining rights" in a workplace is that workplaces with more than 100 employees normally set pay grade, overtime, benefits, pension and even vacation policies for all workers. They almost NEVER allow an individual negotiate for their package. You may be able to negotiate your sign on bonus or your severance, but your servitude to the man will not be negotiated.

Unions are the only way to even come close to the power of large organizations. As an individual, they will happily tell you its a free country so like it or leave it when it comes to working for them. But the idea that everybody will walk out just scares them into a being fair.

I am a teacher and I teach my middle school students to pay attention to the source of information and always question motives. I am both saddened and appalled at the deceptive manueverings of the state leaders who create a smokescreen using the current state deficits as a way to crush unions. I credit the American people and believe they will see through such manipulations. We have a history and can gain insight from looking back, not to get fooled again.

Wow Tim! Are you on David Koch's payroll? How small minded of you to suggest that what workers and the middle class should really be fighting for is individual rights! Everyone knows: The power is in the people as a collective whole. The people always have more power than any one individual could ever have.

You apparently live in a vacuum somewhere if you honestly believe there is no need for collective bargaining.You also apparently don't work under a cba yourself.Let me just say that collective bargaining is the only reason there is still a middle class in this country....so you better pay close attention because if big business gets their way on this they will squish you like a bug. The result rich and poor.You won't be on the rich side my friend

Funny, but I would think that a conservative would applaud the notion that "We the people..." could make rational decisions in our own *collective* self-interest. Seems to me that we would still be carrying U.K. passports if Jefferson, Adams, etc. had opted for individual bargaining with George III.

Those who favor collective bargaining for a group are generally afraid to get and hold a job on their own individual merits. Once in a group they feel safe and dont have to produce results that are above average. It is my opinion no government workers should have seniority to keep their jobs. they should have compete and produce results just like regular working folks.

"I just don't understand why a worker in a modern service-sector economy would even want collective rights. I understand their importance for a muscle-driven industrial economy where powerful firms can exploit labor. But America isn't that country, especially not when the employer is a state government."

Having worked in the public sector (State) without representation, it is extremely easy for the administration to ignore, step-on, and abuse the rights of those without a Union.

The ability to bargain, discuss, and demand as a larger, cohesive body is a necessity to succeed in the changes the workers need and want. Without, the administration will usually not meet with you on a serious level.

Knowing this first hand and talking with others anecdotally, America is far from being an exploiter of labor in the public or private sectors.

Until the law is free of personal inclinations, no employee's rights are protected. Too often employment decisions and merits are based on who is liked, not entirely who is effective.

Collective barganing is a great idea as and heres why in Washington state when you work for state or are a teacher and the heads of agencys need to look good on budget meetings the little guy/girls are the first to go,so even when management are not doing there jobs the employees that get fired are usually the hard workers not the slackers...I beleive gov needs to look at the past to fix the present and the future because the financial hole is getting bigger an we as Americans will not be gauged no more.. Look around the world people all over the globe are fet up with there gov reps...

I really am sorry that you people are such cowards, you allow your country to force their views on our countries while they rape your own country. the true question was " Was the mafia really a bad thing , when they were strong long ago we had a way to fight back. they allow your sand castles to be knocked down, its covered up and you do nothing. you are now feeling the pain the rest of the world is now forcing on you, i and everyone i know for the past 10 yrs after you started an illegal war, we all boycott any products or services from the USA, see we are not like americans , we will not support your death camps like you did with hitler, we actually read books and we know the place to hurt you is trade, simply if we dont buy your lies and hate you will starve and die alone

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