Monday, September 17, 2012

Public sector unions and public safety

This is for Phoebe
The Chicago Public Schools system sought a preliminary injunction on Monday morning to end the city’s teachers’ strike immediately, maintaining that the walkout, now in its second week, is illegal and represents “a clear and present danger to public health and safety.”
 Compared to FDR's letter to the Federation of Federal Employees (1937):
All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress... Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that "under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government."
I'd thought the public safety issue had gone by the wayside (unless we're talking police strikes) so that public sector strikes were now the order of the day, and the remaining problem was only that a public sector union had no effective counterweight, but apparently no, you can still claim a threat to public safety.

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