Most Americans are aware of the union protests taking place in Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, and other states. Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin wants a bill passed that would require union members to help pay for their own health care and pensions as well as do away with collective bargaining. Union members have agreed to the costs of health care and pensions but are protesting the probable loss of collective bargaining. President Obama has called the bill an "assault on unions."
The protests have attracted nation-wide interest, but not everyone understands exactly what collective bargaining means or how it works in government unions. Now that there are more members in government unions than there are in private unions, it is important that we understand collective bargaining in government unions.
The Heritage Foundation explained that collective bargaining is a privilege and not a right. "There is a big difference between rights and privileges. Americans have the right to vote. The state, barring a felony conviction, cannot take that right away. Driving, on the other hand, is a privilege. The state can refuse you the privilege of driving for a myriad of reasons including failure to pass a test showing you know the rules of the road or failing to purchase auto insurance.
"Similarly the freedom of association is a right shared by all Americans and protected by the First Amendment. In contrast, collective bargaining is a special power occasionally granted to some unions. In upholding North Carolina's ban on government union collective bargaining, a federal court wrote in Atkins vs. City of Charlotte: `All citizens have the right to associate in groups to advocate their special interests to the government. It is something entirely different to grant any one interest group special status and access to the decision making process.'"
The Heritage Foundation points out that the proposed Wisconsin bill does not infringe on the people's right to associate and lobby their state government. The bill does give employees the right to choose whether or not to join a union without fear of losing their jobs. It also would require unions to collect their own dues rather than have the state withhold the money directly from employee paychecks.
The Heritage Foundation has a new video that should be helpful in understanding the rise in government unions and the monopoly power they have through collective bargaining. I hope that you will watch the video and learn how government unions with collective bargaining are bleeding our states into bankruptcy.
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