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Community Commentary: Collective bargaining not a bargain for Costa Mesa residents

August 05, 2011|By Chuck Cassity

Collective bargaining. Sounds innocuous, doesn't it?

After all, it's just a term for when a bunch of nice people get together, form a union or association, and then lend each other their group authority and the weight of their numbers to extract better wages and benefits from those for whom they work, under the threat of picking up their sweaty headbands and lunch buckets and heading off to the bunkhouse if they don't get their way.

You know, the evil demons who make it their business to mistreat, abuse, overwork and under-appreciate the efforts put forth by the loyal minions who toil endlessly so "The Man" can continue to ride around in his stretch limo and eat caviar and drink French wine at expensive restaurants while laughing derisively at the trolls way, way down the food chain.

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To be sure, I'm talking about private corporations here. The big-time outfits that make the stuff we just love to buy.

And most Americans don't have a problem with private corporations. If private businesses want to pay union wages and live with union rules, they should be free to do so. And if customers discover that products and services produced by union labor cost more — without a concomitant increase in quality, longevity and/or utility — they should be free to vote with their feet and pocketbooks and buy from concerns that aren't saddled with union involvement.

And they do, having chosen of late, as an example, to buy many more Hondas and Toyotas and Mazdas and Nissans made in right-to-work states like Alabama and Mississippi and South Carolina, than union-controlled GM and Chrysler and Ford cars made in Detroit (have they turned out the lights there yet?).

It's the public employee unions that are the focus of this meager literary effort. Despite the fact that FDR prohibited federal workers from collectively bargaining back in 1937, and Jimmy Carter signed legislation preventing Fed workers from unionizing in 1978, putting up a firewall against our current 2.2 million federal workforce(!) from doing so even now, states and counties and cities and townships often permit it. And often, it's now appearing, to their peril.

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