Home > Public Service, The Outsiders, Unions > Federal Intervention in Wisconsin Proves My Point

Federal Intervention in Wisconsin Proves My Point

In a previous post, entitled A Word From Wisconsin, and My Fundamental Problem With Unions, I attempted to make the point that public sector unions and private sector unions were really no different.

Yes, public sector unions occupy both sides of the bargaining table.  Yes, public sector unions’ “agreements” with their employers are nothing more than a giveaway of political spoils.  Yes, striking against the public interest is unjustified.  But the basic brand of corruption remains the same: unions cannot exist in their current form without government intervention on their behalf.  The argument about public sector vs. private sector unions takes place at the far margins of an unjust legal framework.

I suppose it is important to note that I have no philosophical problem with unionism in a free market, but we emphatically do not have a free market.

Instead, the government has its thumb on the union side of the scale, and in return unions of all stripes have become nothing more than political action committees for their most generous benefactors.  In a free market for labor this would be impossible; neither a corporation nor a union would be able to act with the force of law, as the government does when it artificially props up unionism.

And so we see that a recent development in Wisonsin has proven my point, despite attempts by unionistas to portray it as just one more reason why unions are necessary.  It seems that, under federal labor law, the U.S. government can withhold $46.6 million of transportation funds if Wisconsin removes provisions in its laws designed to coddle unions.

The Huffington Post (I know, I know) reports the story:

Budget referees and transportation officials in Wisconsin have informed Gov. Scott Walker (R) that if he were to pass his controversial anti-union legislation into law, he could be forfeiting tens of millions of dollars in federal funds for transportation.

Under an obscure provision of federal labor law, states risk losing federal funds should they eliminate “collective bargaining rights” that existed at the time when federal assistance was first granted.

But wait, there’s more!  And it is scintillating:

The provision, known as “protective arrangements” or “Section 13C arrangements,” is meant as a means of cushioning union (and even some non-union**) members who, while working on local projects, are affected by federal grants.

**(Note that the “non-union” workers referenced above come under union rules, including Project Labor Agreements and Prevailing Wage regulations, and so are no different than their officially-union counterparts.)

What’s that you say?  You’re surprised that the law has manipulated in such a way as to explicitly favor unions, even as against the public interest of an entire state?  Perhaps you have not been paying attention.  Hence, my fundamental problem with unions.

Then again, if I were a Wisconsin voter, I would view the loss of $47 million in transportation funds as a fair trade for removing the threat of billions of dollars in inflated public union wages, ridiculous health care demands, and chronically underfunded pension costs.  Imagine how many potholes you could fill if you didn’t have to pay the salary of the Undersecretary to the Assistant Chief of Staff Pro-Tem to the Adjunct Chairperson of the Department of Education’s Blue-Ribbon Panel on Minority Affairs.


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