Public Unions or a Republic?
By Chad Steenhoek
With the current struggles in states all across this country it is clear that public unions have no place in a representative republic.
I contend private unions are just and needed. People who work for the local mom and pop store or for a large corporate conglomerate are in need of representation in their work place. When people work they are entering into an agreement with their employer—I will give you part of my life and power over my time, in-exchange I will require payment. This gives the employer power over an individual. In a broken world there needs to be a check on that power and that comes in the form of a union. When people form a union to speak as one voice, they are able to negotiate with the owners of the company and not face any backlash like termination or poor treatment. There is also inherent fairness that occurs with any negotiation because the employee knows that if they demand to much the employer will close its doors and they will be out of a job.
In public unions there is no such relationship. In fact it is the complete opposite. In a public union the employer is the tax payer. The person that does the negotiating is the elected official. This, as you can see, leads to a disconnect between the people who do the work and those who pay the bills. To make matters worse the negotiator (elected official) understands that if he gives the unions a good deal he can buy their votes going forward. Thus, going forward they are not inclined to take a hard line because politically it does not help them. So with the unions requesting an unfair deal and the elected official with incentive to give in to their demands who is left out? You guessed it—the taxpayer. Public unions also have an ability to change their working conditions that private unions don’t have and that is an election every two years.
Our Founding Fathers knew that this type of relationship between elected officials and unions was something to be avoided. Benjamin Franklin said, “When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic.”
This is exactly what we have with public unions.
The unions know if they vote for the right people it is money in their pocket. It is also what we have in elected officials because large public unions provide hundreds of millions of dollars to campaigns each cycle. So we have unions voting themselves money and the elected officials doing the same.
Thomas Jefferson said, “To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” This is exactly where the taxpayer finds himself today. He pays for the unionized public employee who then takes his money and gives dues to a union, who then funds campaigns for ideas the taxpayer may not agree with. This relationship is unjust.
With the power and misuse of tax payer money inherent with the existence of public unions, and with the power it bestows upon elected officials it is not surprising that the Tea Party has come out to oppose them. Franklin’s words are foreshadowing a future, a future with public unions and no republic or a republic with no public unions.
I choose the latter.
(Chad Steenhoek is a former Republican candidate for the Iowa Legislature who is currently a Regional Director for “Strong America Now.” For more information go to www.strongamericanow.com.)