Quick Hit: City Unions

May 11, 2014

In a May 10 article in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, “Two on Council Favor Limiting Unions,” union officials express surprise that their council would be considering legislation that might end mandatory collective bargaining with city employees.

Both officials were active and welcome participants at an all-day Indiana Policy Review Foundation seminar last year titled “The Economics of Public Safety.” Four different presentations by credentialed speakers that day made clear why a city council might want to withdraw mandatory collective-bargaining privileges from a municipal work force.

In his summation, for instance, Dr. Tyler Watts, an economist and adjunct scholar of the foundation, explained why the union leaders might characterize such a move as “an attack on workers” and why a mayor might vigorously defend that characterization:

“Public-sector unions’ political clout generates a uniquely perverse set of incentives for the bureaucrats and politicians who manage government budgets. In a striking contrast to private-sector union dynamics, public-sector unions face a situation in which the interests of ‘management’ are strangely aligned with those of the workers.”

It is not difficult, then, to understand why city union leaders would fight to maintain this relationship. It is difficult, however, to imagine that they are surprised in these economic times by a council’s attempt to take politics out of the municipal payroll.

Indeed, they might have to get used to the idea.

— Craig Ladwig

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