... George Meany, the legendary AFL-CIO president during the Cold War, also opposed the right to bargain collectively with the government.
Why? Because unlike in the private economy, a public union has a natural monopoly over government services. An industrial union will fight for a greater share of corporate profits, but it also knows that a business must make profits or it will move or shut down. The union chief for teachers, transit workers or firemen knows that the city is not going to close the schools, buses or firehouses.
This monopoly power, in turn, gives public unions inordinate sway over elected officials. The money they collect from member dues helps to elect politicians who are then supposed to represent the taxpayers during the next round of collective bargaining. In effect union representatives sit on both sides of the bargaining table, with no one sitting in for taxpayers. In 2006 in New Jersey, this led to the preposterous episode in which Governor Jon Corzine addressed a Trenton rally of thousands of public workers and shouted, "We will fight for a fair contract." He was promising to fight himself.
Thus the collision course with taxpayers. Public unions depend entirely on tax revenues to fund their pay and benefits. They thus have every incentive to elect politicians who favor higher taxes and more government spending. The great expansion of state and local spending followed the rise of public unions.This is much like the complaints that congresscritters and senators vote for their own raises. There's no accountability on government or union bosses.
The taxpayers are forced to give money to the government. Unions get their money in both dues and salaries from the government. Unions then spend money buying politicians who will grant them political favors in the form of increased wages and better benefits... at the expense of the taxpayer. The unions are accountable to no one, the politicians are accountable to no one after the elections are bought, and the taxpayer has no means to hold anyone accountable... until now.
It's worthwhile to note that the petulant employees in the Wisconsin are teachers. Teachers who are refusing to teach. Their employers are their students parents - and instead they are going on marches demanding that their students parents pay them more money, even though those same parents are making less money in this recession. And now police unions are supporting them.