What do we want? UNC ANNOYING PROTESTORS FREE! What do we want? UNC ANNOYING PROTESTORS FREE! Etc., etc., etc. Yesterday UNC went a long way towards achieving this, every pedestrian’s dream. The university has created new guidelines for protesting on campus. In short, you may not barge into the Chancellor’s office, chant in unison, and sit down like a bunch of hoodlums. This has, of course, always been understood to be an unwritten rule of protesting, but apparently members of the student organization Students Action with Workers (SAW) did not get the memo.
Last semester SAW conducted a 16 day sit-in in the Chancellor’s building because the university would not comply with their “demands” that they “stop union busting.” The demonstrations accomplished nothing more than offer fodder for the DTH and discredit the organization as well as its members. The protest ended with five arrests and no one caring.
One of SAW’s most immediate concerns is to unionize North Carolina’s public sector. They consider the fact that public collective bargaining is banned in North Carolina a violation of human rights. And, they even have the U.N. to back them up. But what of public sector unions? Do government employees have the right to unionize? I am inclined to say no.
When government unions are formed a few things inevitably happen. First, the goal of the union is (naturally) to improve wages and working conditions for the government employees. Therefore, the unions support political candidates that most pander to them. If he wins, their candidate, in turn, offers the union what it wants. This results in better wages for the union members, thus allowing for a more affluent union and, by extension, a more powerful union. In the end, a cycle of never-ending wage increases occur without regard to a free-market pricing mechanism. The increase in working benefits creates more incentive for people to enter into government work, and thus the size of the government-working class is increased. Of course, private citizens pay the wages.
Government unions have the express purpose of increasing the size of government because it offers job security and privileges. And, as the government grows and involves itself in more and more markets and sectors its natural tendency, as Milton Friedman explains in Capitalism and Freedom, is to centralize its power. Therefore, unions become larger and more powerful. Union bosses thus gain undue leverage over the American political process and over our general welfare. This is unacceptable.
Barry Goldwater wrote in his book Conscience of a Conservative that if a union is to serve its purpose it must allow that “association with the union is voluntary; the union confines its activities to collective bargaining; the bargaining is conducted with the employer of the workers concerned.” I feel that government unions would break these three conditions. First, the tendency of public unions is to make membership compulsory. Second, a government union cannot help but involve itself with political lobbying as well as collective bargaining. And, thirdly, the tendency of government towards centralization does not allow for bargaining to be conducted in the most efficient manner possible. These breaches, in my view, eliminate the legitimacy of government unions.
In closing, “Say naw to SAW!”