Pawlenty:”The moral case for unions…does not apply to public employment.”
In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty went over familiar ground regarding public employee unions and leads him to conclude:
The moral case for unions—protecting working families from exploitation—does not apply to public employment. Government employees today are among the most protected, well-paid employees in the country. Ironically, public-sector unions have become the exploiters, and working families once again need someone to stand up for them.
Key to his conclusion is his comparison of what was and what is when it comes to the make up of unionized America. It’s worth highlighting. First, what was:
When Americans think of organized labor, they might think of images like I saw growing up in a blue-collar meatpacking town: hard hats, work boots, tough conditions and gritty jobs. While I didn’t work in the slaughterhouses, I did become a union member when I worked at a grocery store to help put myself through school. I was grateful for the paycheck and proud of the work I did.
The rise of the labor movement in the early 20th century was a triumph for America’s working class. In an era of deep economic anxiety, unions stood up for hard-working but vulnerable families, protecting them from physical and economic exploitation.
Much has changed. The majority of union members today no longer work in construction, manufacturing or “strong back” jobs. They work for government…Since January 2008 the private sector has lost nearly eight million jobs while local, state and federal governments added 590,000.
Federal employees receive an average of $123,049 annually in pay and benefits, twice the average of the private sector. And across the country, at every level of government, the pattern is the same: Unionized public employees are making more money, receiving more generous benefits, and enjoying greater job security than the working families forced to pay for it with ever-higher taxes, deficits and debt.
This is why Franklin Roosevelt thought public employee unions were a non-starter. For his part, Pawlenty explains the politics of how this happened–despite the warnings of FDR–and offers some ideas for what needs to be done to fix it.