Public Sector unions are back in the news
In 2011, to cure Wisconsin’s budget deficits, Governor Scott Walker sponsored legislation to reform the public sector unions. That started an unprecedented battle. The public sector unions spent millions in election and court battles to defeat his program. They lost.
The battle continues:
Wisconsin may have been the first state to clip the wings of government worker union collective bargaining—but it seems the gyre has turned and it will be far from the last.
Recently, Iowa initiated Walker- like reforms, and the United States Supreme Court decided to hear a case involving public sector union benefits.
A crucial difference between private sector and public sector unions
With private sector unions, there is genuine bargaining with management because the persons on both sides of the table have skin in the game.  Management needs to make profit and has an incentive not to give into every demand.  Correspondingly, the private sector unions have an incentive to get a deal done that keeps the company viable and their jobs alive. Bargaining to a deal is real.
Not so with public sector unions. Government representatives are on the other side of the table.  They have no skin in the game. It is not their money. They have no motivation to make a profit.  In fact, it is often to their advantage to give the public sector unions whatever they demand because they can expect contributions from the union for their political party and their personal political futures.
Far from being careful stewards of the taxpayers’ money, politicians are on the same side of the bargaining table as government employees — against the taxpayers, who aren’t allowed to be part of the negotiation. This is why the head of New York’s largest public union in the mid-’70s, Victor Gotbaum, gloated, ‘We have the ability to elect our own boss.’…Democratic politicians don’t think of themselves as “management.” They don’t respond to union demands for more money by saying, ‘Are you kidding me?’ They say, ‘Great — get me a raise too!’ [Emphasis added.]
Put simply, people in the government business support the party of government.
Ramirez, brilliant again:
Public sector employees’ compensation  exceeds  private economy
The Congressional Budget Office issued a report concluding that federal employees receive pay and benefits 17 percent more than what similar employees in the private received. However, one expert noted the difference is actually greater.
A 2011 report found that federal worker compensation averaged more than double that of the private-sector: $123,000 to 61,000.
The same discrepancies can be found in state public sector compensation. In 2015, California, public sector employees average compensation was $121, 843 compared to $  62,474 for the private sector.
In Connecticut, the public sector compensation is 25% to 46% higher.
Who foots the bill for these public sector bonanzas? [You get only one guess.]
Right – we, the taxpayers!
Lisa Benson nails it. [Lisa Benson is a rare talent who can illustrate a major news story in a single drawing 
It’s not as if public sector employees were doing  a superior job. Quite the contrary is true!
                                                                                    Courtesy of A.F.Branco at Legal Insurrection
Ronald Reagan, the public sector union, and negotiation
Reagan understood the need for true negotiation. Early in his administration, he saw a public sector union acting against the public interest.
The Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization [PATCO] began negotiations for a new contract. There was a significant difference from the usual public sector union negotiation. Instead of a Democrat on the other side of the bargaining table, they faced a fresh, Reagan-appointed head of the FAA, mindful of RR’s standard:
When I took the oath of office, I pledged loyalty to only one special interest group—‘we the people.’ 
PATCO’s demands were extravagant.
Controllers wanted a four-day, 32-hour work week and a $10,000 annual pay raise — equal to nearly $26,000 today, or roughly half of the current median U.S. annual household wage.
The demand was refused and PATCO went on strike. Reagan invoked the Taft-Hartley Act and ordered the union to return to work or be fired. Most union members did not report to work. Reagan replaced them.
His prompt and decisive action set the tone and there were no other significant federal job actions for his term in office.
The Left was not happy about what they termed “union busting”.
The event also served to alert the world, and particularly the Soviet Union, to Reagan’s negotiation abilities, which played a key part in his talks with Mikhail Gorbachev and led to the dissolution of the USSR.
Reagan understood the necessity of negotiating from strength and the critical importance 
of leverage. In contrast to much of today’s diplomatic posturing, Reagan backed his words with action. Reagan knew a strong national defense was essential to deterring Soviet ambitions, but he had inherited a military weakened by years of neglect…’History teaches …that wars begin when governments believe the price of aggression is cheap.’ He convinced the nation it was time to rebuild. [Emphasis added.]
His approach applies to all negotiations:
We will need to proceed in a way that takes both differences and common interests into account in seeking to resolve problems and build a new measure of trust and confidence.
Reagan, Walesa, and the Left
Lech Walesa was the Polish hero who established the Solidarity union in 1980. In 1981, martial law was declared, 6,000 leaders of Solidarity were detained; hundreds were charged with treason, subversion and counterrevolution; nine were killed; Walesa was jailed and the union was banned. By June, 1989, Walesa was released and agreements were signed legalizing Solidarity and calling for open parliamentary elections. In December 1990, nine years after he was arrested and his labor union banned, Lech Walesa became President of Poland.,9171,159069,00.html

When talking about Ronald Reagan, I have to be personal. We in Poland took him so personally. Why? Because we owe him our liberty… We knew he believed in a few simple principles such as human rights, democracy and civil society. He was someone who was convinced that the citizen is not for the state, but vice-versa, and that freedom is an innate right. I often wondered why Ronald Reagan did this, taking the risks he did, in supporting us at Solidarity, as well as dissident movements in other countries behind the Iron Curtain, while pushing a defense buildup that pushed the Soviet economy over the brink. …it was a time of recession in the U.S. …when the American public was more interested in their own domestic affairs. It took a leader with a vision to convince them that there are greater things worth fighting for. …President Reagan, in a radio address from his ranch on Oct. 9, 1982, announces trade sanctions against Poland in retaliation for the outlawing of Solidarity. I distinguish between two kinds of politicians. There are those who view politics as a tactical game, a game in which they do not reveal any individuality, in which they lose their own face. There are, however, leaders for whom politics is a means of defending and furthering values. For them, it is a moral pursuit. They do so because the values they cherish are endangered. They’re convinced that there are values worth living for, and even values worth dying for.

[Emphasis added.]

In 1983, while Solidarity was banned, Reagan celebrated the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Lech Walesa:
…a triumph of moral force over brute force…the  people of Poland…have shown in their support of Solidarity, just as they showed in their support for his Holiness Pope John Paul II during his visit to Poland, that the Government of that nation cannot make Lech Walesa a nonperson. They can’t turn his ideas into nonideas.’ [Emphasis added.]
[More about the collaboration of the Pope,  Reagan  and Walesa can be found in A Pope and A President,copyright 2017,  Paul Kangor, ISI Books .]
Even before he was elected, Reagan spoke out:
These are the values inspiring those brave workers in Poland. The values that have inspired other dissidents under Communist domination.  They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost.  They remind us that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction.  You and I must protect and preserve freedom here or it will not be passed on to our children. Today the workers in Poland are showing a new generation not how high is the price of freedom but how much it is worth that price. [Emphasis added.]
Now comes the truly amazing: the reaction of the Left. They claimed these words are inconsistent with President Reagan’s position on public sector unions. In typical Alinsky-style, the Left did not simply disagree; they ridiculed and name called:
After all the moronic and self-serving blather that conservatives have spewed about Ronald Reagan and unions in the past month, look at what turns up.  Now just imagine how they will twist themselves into balloon animals trying to spin this little historical artifact. [his  words quoted immediately above.]
Reagan’s statement on Lech Walesa’s union is totally consistent with his position on public sector unions.  In both cases, the government’s thumb is on the scales.
With public sector unions, there is no fair bargaining; the government gives the unions what they want. With Lech Walesa’s union, there was no fair bargaining, the government simply refused whatever the union proposed.
What is the common denominator: the government!
Of course, the Left just does not get it. As noted:  people in the government business support the party of government.
Government is not the solution to our problem;
government is the problem.

Dick Coleman

Richard M. Coleman served as National Co-Chair, Lawyers for Reagan-Bush ’84 and really does miss RR. A graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, Dick is a Fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and a past president of the Los Angeles County Bar Association and of the National Caucus of Metropolitan Bar Leaders. A professor on the faculty of Pepperdine University’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution for 17 years, he received Pepperdine’s Excellence in Teaching Award. He has hosted TV forums on legal and financial topics and written and spoken extensively on political issues.

© Richard M. Coleman 2018