There are many people who claim that public employees should not have the right to collectively bargain. There are two examples in my own list of blogs that I regularly read.This post is about why I disagree:
For starters, what is collective bargaining? Collective bargaining is where a large group of people band together to bargain (collectively) with another group of people. Examples of this include public employees banding together to form a union. This union then sends representatives to negotiate working conditions with their employer, the taxpayer. The taxpayer himself has formed a collective unit that appoints representatives to negotiate on their behalf. The representatives of the taxpayers then negotiate with the representatives of their employees, and a deal is reached.
By using their representatives to prohibit the employees from being able to negotiate, the taxpayers seek to gain an unfair advantage over the employees by making sure that they are the only ones at the table. A "take it or leave it" approach, if you will.
Aside from the moral issue, there is the constitutional one. How can you prohibit one group of citizens from exercising their First Amendment right to associate with others and petition their government for a redress of grievances while allowing others to do the same? How is the right of groups like the TEA party, NRA, AARP, or NORML to collectively lobby for government largess for their members any more valid than the right of the IAFF, FOP, or NEA to do the same for THEIR members? Does the mere act of drawing a government paycheck negate your constitutional rights? Or does it only count when it is your own ox being gored?
I am not arguing in this post that the pay and benefits of any given public employee are appropriate for the position, all I am saying is that denying any group the right to negotiate those benefits is the equivalent of telling them to sit down and shut up. Certainly not the behavior of a free society. "I may not agree with what you have to say, but I will defend with my life your right to say it." is a mere platitude to both the Liberal Left and the Conservative Right. To both of those camps, your right to speak is dependent on what you have to say.