Sunday, February 27, 2011

FDR and unions.

Assorted right wingers and libertarians are claiming justification for Wisconsin union bashing in a quotation from FDR:

"... the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service."

Our course, this is a quotation out of context. Look in the original letter.

FDR affirms the place of unions in government as well as private industry. He is cautioning against strikes by government employee unions as a tool of collective bargaining the way they are used in bargaining with private industry. Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. He argues that the special purposes of government make them inappropriate. He points out: 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."

This is not in any way like stripping bargaining rights from unions in government. Indeed, many states have laws that forbid government employee unions from striking, yet still have strong unions that are able to negotiate. It would be more just for those laws to balance the loss of rights to strike with limitations of government abuses of that advantage, but that's not the case that I'm aware of.


Lord Keynes said...

Good post, and valid points.
However, I personally think FDR was still wrong when he argued against strikes by government employees.

On another topic, have you been following the blogosphere debate on how some libertarians would rather see the earth destroyed than pay taxes to prevent an asteroid from striking the planet?:

This is in fact a logical conclusion of their natural rights ethical theory, and deserves to be
widely discussed on any site that
opposes them.


Joanna Liberation said...

It's basically the inverse of "even Smith wanted taxes" argument.

Joanna Liberation said...

Liberals do love the word "modern"

Polanyi argued that the development of the modern state went hand in hand with the development of modern market economies and that these two changes were inexorably linked in history. His reasoning for this was that the powerful modern state was needed to push changes in social structure that allowed for a competitive capitalist economy, and that a capitalist economy required a strong state to mitigate its harsher effects.

and pretend that the word actually explains anything. We need powerful "modern" state, liberals claim, not just the plain old powerful state. We have always had as powerful states as humanly possible, be it ancient or feudal or absolutist or mercantilist. But no, voila!, it's powerful "modern" state that we have actually needed for prosperity! Now we know!

Joanna Liberation said...

Sorry Mike, my last comment should have gone to your Wisconsin post, please delete.

Mr. Jones said...

Strikes are a bargaining tool. I think that fact is pretty plain.

I wish federal workers could strike though. Shutting down the government to demand impossible wages is certainly a quick way to reduce spending.

-Mr. Jones