Collective bargaining and government: A toxic brew

By Trey Kovacs and Russ Pohl, Pioneer Press

What happens when special interests gain control of the public purse? Some recent events provide a clue.

At the start of this school year, in Illinois, Chicago teachers proved harder to drag back from summer vacation than students. In Wisconsin, a court manipulated legal precedent to preserve government employee unions’ privileged status — after elected officials curtailed those privileges and voters upheld those changes by voting down a recall of the governor. In Michigan, a union-backed initiative on the November ballot would make union bosses more powerful than the legislature.

What is the common thread linking these events? State laws that grant government unions the power of collective bargaining. When elected officials transfer government authority to any private entity — a union or any other — an Orwellian role reversal occurs. The special interest group becomes the master over cost, effectiveness, and availability of government services, while taxpayer funds are directed to serve the prevailing special interest group.

For those reasons, and as recent history, shows, government unions will go through hell and high water to keep power over the outlays of public funds.