Public sector labor unions represent a lot of workers we rely on every day to make our society a better place. Many of these workers risk their very lives to keep us safe. Among the workers public sector unions serve includes police officers, firefighters, nurses, and teachers.
But in the wake of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker surviving the recall election last week, Republicans are becoming more adamant that Walker’s policies become commonplace throughout the country. Perhaps the biggest policy Republicans want to entrench is the destruction of collective bargaining rights. During an interview on Fox News with Chris Wallace, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels openly called for eliminating public sector union rights, calling the collective bargaining rights of public employees “a fundamental problem.”
“There’s, I think, a fundamental problem with government becoming its own special interest group,” Daniels stated. “Ultimately, there is not really bargaining in those situations because government sits on both sides of the table. I think government works better without them, I really do. There’s a reason that defenders of labor … always said that unionism had no place in the public sector, that it was necessary freedom, and it is, in the private sector. But that it was a bad idea in government.”
Wallace brought up the fact that when Daniels ended public sector unions in Indiana in 2005, the salaries of public employees spiraled downward and they had to pay much more in health care costs. Despite the evidence presented by Wallace, Daniels denied that anything was wrong with his policies, saying “we’re not really believing that we’ve done anything but improve the lot of Indiana public employees.”
How are the lives of employees improved by taking away their right to bargain for their own pay and benefits? This is the problem with Republicans. They think by taking our rights away, they are “improving” our lives. The only lives being improved by these anti-union policies are the lives of wealthy businessmen who want to pay employees less and ship jobs overseas. That does nothing to help American workers and create American jobs, and punishes the people who sacrifice much to keep us safe, healthy, and educated.