James Schipper seems to buy into some of the rightwing populists’ arguments against public employee unions:
The latest recession in the US has nothing to do with wages, but the budgetary problems of many states may in part be explained by the high wages which some public sector employees enjoy. Suppose that payroll is 60% of the budget of a state and that unions in that state have pushed wages 25% above market level, then state expenditures are 15% higher than they would be without the unions.
It should not be forgotten that the government is a monopolist. Consequently, it can’t play by the same rules as private companies. If unions demand very high wages of a company, the company may go bankrupt. If government unions demand higher wages, the government can raise taxes or else it has to cut services. In either case, the general public has to be pay a price.
In countries like the US and Canada, less than 25% of the labor force is unionized. In such a situation, unions can’t do much for the majority of workers.
The best way to increase wages in a country is to increase the skills level of the labor force, to restrict immigration and to keep aggregate demand high through the appropriate fiscal and monetary policies.
First of all, this discussion centered from Republicans’ opposition to Obama funding money to give the states so they can rehire some of the teachers they laid off. It had nothing to do with the wages of public employees.
The problem with your argument is that I’m not aware of a lot of public employees who make too much money. The Right doesn’t just hate public employee unions, they hate all unions.
That goes for Rightwing Populists too. Rightwing populists in the US are petit bourgeois, often small business owners, clerks, managers, etc. They feel that they are being attacked by the Rich and the Poor. A dual pincher destroying the middle class. They also hate unionized working class workers for their good wages and benefits. The unionized working class is also screwing the middle class rightwing populists.
None of this makes any sense, but this is what they believe.
Rightwing populists are furious that public employees continue to get COLA raises every year to adjust for inflation when their wages are flat. Public employees in general are paid fairly for their work. In the private sector, similar jobs are often poorly paid, such as teachers. Private school teachers are treated horribly and paid worse.
It’s not a progressive position to line up with abused workers in the private sector against unionized workers and public employees who are paid fairly and get good benefits. That’s just sour grapes bullshit.
Also, the pubic employee unions are some of the last major unions left in the US. This is why the Right hates them so much. And the teachers unions are also some of the strongest unions left in America. This is why the Right hates them. The stupid Charter school movement is a rightwing plot to destroy the teachers unions because charter schools are nonunion.
Is it progressive to state that unionized workforces destroy workplaces and that non-unionized workforces produce functioning workplaces? Of course not. But this is the Charter School argument, and the whole political spectrum, left to right, buys it.