In this post below, ‘Puter, in his inimitable fashion, returns to his comfort zone: public sector union bashing. Sweet, sweet union bashing. Can there be anything better? Anyhoo.
Posted on my blog, but it’s short, so here it is in it’s entirety for you:
Via the Gormogons, in an post on public teacher’s unions:
Unions have but one function: improve their members’ wages, benefits and work conditions at all costs.
Compare this to the statement:
Public companies have but one function: improve their investor’s earnings.
Explain to me how the two statements are fundamentally different, and how we can hold one voluntary organization of individuals who are primarily concerned with making money to be better or worse than another voluntary organization of individuals who are primarily concerned with making money.
‘Puter thought this to be a fair question, so he responded thus (slightly edited for readability):
‘Puter thinks his post was clear on this issue, but it could have been clearer.
Short answer: The difference between the corporation and the union in your two statements is the nature of the relationship between the capital and the employer entity. In the corporation, the capital is voluntarily provided. In the governmental entity, the capital is involuntarily taken. This is the critical difference.
‘Puter was primarily concerned with teachers’ unions in the post, which are public sector unions, not private sector unions. While related, ‘Puter believes private sector unions are fundamentally different from public sector unions and should be treated as such. ‘Puter doesn’t particularly like unionization in today’s employment world, but private sector unions are far less noxious to ‘Puter. Here’s why.
Public sector unions, at least in New York, are not voluntary associations. New York is not a right to work state, and the education system is a closed shop. Nor is the taxpayers’ association with public sector unions voluntary. Taxpayers cannot choose a different product (private schools) and take their money elsewhere. Taxpayers are required to contribute to the sustenance of the union beast. In this closed cycle loop, the public sector unions take mandatory union dues (paid by many unwilling taxpayers), contribute them to like-minded politicians, who then grant the unions gold-plated salaries and benefits. This cycle has run unimpeded for years in New York and has been the prime driver in its current fiscal crisis. There is no consideration of profit in the government employer/government unionized employee relationship. Politicians raise revenue (read taxes and fees) to reward the unions for their patronage, and taxpayers can do nothing about it. They are not free to take their capital elsewhere. Nor, as a result of the vicious cycle described above are taxpayers able to dislodge entrenched politicians to short-circuit the cancerous process.
Corporations, and, as a result, private sector unions, are much more constrained, as the flow of capital (shareholders, bondholders and customers) supporting the company is dictated by product quality and profitability. Shareholders and bondholders flee companies that are not operating well, and they are free to do so. Customers are also free to take their money elsewhere for any reason, or no reason whatsoever. Therefore, private sector unions are far more constrained in negotiating terms and conditions of their employment. Private sector unions cannot insist on terms and conditions of employment so unreasonable that it prevents the corporation from turning a profit. Further, unions cannot make demands that affect product quality negatively, lest customers flee drying up the life blood of both the corporation and the union: money. Similarly, capital will flee companies that have significant labor strife, as risk is increased. This (along with outmoded labor laws) limits the ability of corporations to impose their will on employee unions. Generally, the relationship between private sector unions and employers is much more equal, primarily due to the ability of capital to reward good actors and punish the bad. No such downside exists in the public sector.
‘Puter supposes that’s not entirely true. Private sector unions can (and have) run companies into the ground before. See, e.g., GM, Chrysler. The UAW was so greedy (and management so accommodating) product quality plummeted, reputations were destroyed and the companies ultimately failed. Well, at least until the government ignored bankruptcy law, screwed the bondholders and rewarded the UAW by saving their metastatic contracts, leaving GM and Chrysler zombies saddled with crap products and unsustainable legacy costs.
‘Puter thinks that answers your question. If not, please respond and ‘Puter’ll try to do better. ‘Puter appreciates the good faith in your argument, and, while ‘Puter and you may end up disagreeing in principle, this is still a worthwhile discussion to have.
See, boys and girls? That’s how to have a grown up discussion. Sam politely disagrees with ‘Puter and shows his work. ‘Puter politely responds, showing his work. Debate ensues. Enlightenment may (or may not) follow.
Grownups disagreeing without yelling. What a concept.
Always right, unless he isn’t, the infallible Ghettoputer F. X. Gormogons claims to be an in-law of the Volgi, although no one really believes this.
’Puter carefully follows economic and financial trends, legal affairs, and serves as the Gormogons’ financial and legal advisor. He successfully defended us against a lawsuit from a liquor distributor worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in unpaid deliveries of bootleg shandies.
The Geep has an IQ so high it is untestable and attempts to measure it have resulted in dangerously unstable results as well as injuries to researchers. Coincidentally, he publishes intelligence tests as a side gig.
His sarcasm is so highly developed it borders on the psychic, and he is often able to insult a person even before meeting them. ’Puter enjoys hunting small game with 000 slugs and punt guns, correcting homilies in real time at Mass, and undermining unions. ’Puter likes to wear a hockey mask and carry an axe into public campgrounds, where he bursts into people’s tents and screams. As you might expect, he has been shot several times but remains completely undeterred.
He assures us that his obsessive fawning over news stories involving women teachers sleeping with young students is not Freudian in any way, although he admits something similar once happened to him. Uniquely, ’Puter is unable to speak, read, or write Russian, but he is able to sing it fluently.
Geep joined the order in the mid-1980s. He arrived at the Castle door with dozens of steamer trunks and an inarticulate hissing creature of astonishingly low intelligence he calls “Sleestak.” Ghettoputer appears to make his wishes known to Sleestak, although no one is sure whether this is the result of complex sign language, expert body posture reading, or simply beating Sleestak with a rubber mallet.
‘Puter suggests the Czar suck it.