Thursday, August 17, 2006

Race To The Bottom: Anti-Union Organization Says Drag Public Employees Down

When it comes to new projects by Richard Berman's anti-union Center or Union "Facts" (sic), I'm always torn between giving them more publicity, versus truth telling -- a bit of comic relief for my readers.

Berman, who we've written about before, is (in)famous for flacking corporate America's arguments in favor of drunk driving, eating plenty of mercury in fish, paying low wages and killing people with tobacco and obesity, has now turned his attention to ensuring that workers return to those thrilling days of yesteryear when bosses were bosses and workers were slaves.

Berman's latest target is public employees -- Michigan and Oregon public employees to be specific. His Oregon advertisement is odd, however. Check it out:
Thanks to lobbying by government employee union bosses and the contracts they hammer out, Oregon's public employees often work under conditions that most private-sector taxpayers would envy. Typical employment includes:

  • 12-26 days of vacation, based on seniority

  • 8 hours of sick leave per month

  • Up to 18 hours of personal leave each year

  • Nine paid holidays

  • Benefit dollars to spend on medical and dental insurance, and life insurance for employee and/or dependents

  • Membership in the Public Employee Retirement System (PERS)

  • What message do you take from this?

    a) "those damn public employees, wasting my tax dollars, or

    b) "sounds good to me. Where do I sign up?"

    Berman is clearly banking on (a).

    Of course, we've seen these attacks on unionized public employees before -- most recently during the New York Transit workers strike last December when Stephen Malanga, writing in the Wall St. Journal, attacked the "porcine" benefits earned by NY public employees -- outrages like fully paid health care, pensions and decent wages -- the same benefits that most American manufacturing and industrial workers earned until relatively recently. And before that, the luxury lives of rich and famous public employees was used a reason to support California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's attempt last year to curb the power of public employee unions in his "paycheck deception" initiative last year.

    One only hopes that reason will prevail and people will compare what unionized public employees have, compare it to their increasingly Wal-Martized jobs, and decide that being a member of a union sounds like a pretty good deal. The question is, do we let the exploited and de-unionized private sector drag down the heavily unionized public sector, along with its decent pay and benefits, or do we let the public sector set an example for what the rest of non-union America can achieve?

    A race to the bottom, or a fight to the top?

    Related Stories