February 24, 2011

Quote of the Day

This sharing of powers in wage determination and conditions of employment through the negotiation process has in turn diminished public officials' authority in other areas of policy involving organized employees.

The net effect has been to create what amounts to a two-chamber local government. One chamber is made up of elected representatives and chief executives--aldermen, councilmen, county board or commission members, mayors or other chief executives--the traditional decision-making body for local government. The other chamber comprises the organized public employees who have gained official recognition to negotiate. The public business on wages and conditions of work, and therefore indirectly on policy, cannot be carried on without mutual agreement between these two Chambers. . . .

The implications of this new method of reaching decisions in local government put an entirely different aspect on the sovereignty of councils and executives and elected officials as well. The challenge of organized public employees can mean considerable loss of control over the budget, and hence over tax rates and over government programs and projects.

The gravity of the challenge was recognized by some municipal officials at least ten years ago, but most of them took the position that to study the new phenomenon was to encourage it. As is usually the case, the ostrich stance was a mistake: When employee organizations suddenly burgeoned, municipal officials were not prepared with effective rejoinders before legislatures and in negotiations.

That is the former Socialist Party mayor of Milwaukee, Frank Ziedler, in a 1969 magazine article. (It is reprinted today in the WSJ's Notable and Quotable.)

Quote of the Day Posted by Harrison Bergeron at February 24, 2011 10:05 AM

Fascinating. This caution against public-sector unions comes from a Socialist Party member. Taken with another celebrated version of the same opinion, one wonders why these collectivists would ever have been opposed to what has become the most powerful method of "freely" electing leftist politicians in modern history.

I think I have the answer: Leftist politicians don't really care about "the little guy." They care only about their own power. And even as powerful unions help them to gain power, they also threaten and diminish that power. And as we've seen in the Middle East, too much power in the hands of a mob can be a dangerous thing.

Posted by: johngalt at February 24, 2011 3:39 PM | What do you think? [1]