Should Public Workers Keep Collective Bargaining Rights?

Reactions to the discussion of whether public sector workers should keep their right to collectively bargain.

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David Madland argued that collective bargaining should be a right available to all workers. But Andrew Biggs said that public sector workers must be reined in. A sampling of your views:

How is this to balance the budget? I can see raising the sales tax or reducing tax breaks doing so, but how does eliminating collective bargaining reduce the deficit? If you want to bust the union, fine, let us do that; if you want to reduce the deficit, fine, let us do that. But why mix the two? It just confuses the situation.

JOEY BROCKERT Madison, Wis.

[Wisconsin Gov. Scott] Walker is right. Why should public unions get to lobby with taxpayers' money? It's a shame that so many public workers would rather be unemployed than be earning a living. Average teacher salary (pre-benefits) in Wisconsin is around $48,000 annually for 190 workdays. Where in the private sector can a working-class citizen make that while working so few days? Stay strong, Walker!

CODY ARENDT Plover, Wis.

The attack on unions is a continuation of the conservative drive to enrich the rich at the expense of working people. In Wisconsin, I understand the governor passed some tax cuts for business and wants public workers to pay. In less developed countries, the policies of enriching the powerful is called "corruption." In America, it is called "capitalism." [See photos of the Wisconsin protests.]

KENNETH VISTE Boise, Idaho

As a retired federal civil servant, I note that these workers are now referred to as "public employees" or "public sector employees." I can't help but think that this is a further attempt of the left to hide the fact that they are supposed to be civil servants working for the good of the public and not just other employees who happen to work for the government. It must be remembered that regardless of what they are called, it is the taxpayers, including me, that pay their salaries and benefits, and for whom they are supposed to be working. We should go back to referring to them as civil servants, and there simply is no justification for public sector unions.

RONALD SMITH Williamsburg, Va.

If we are going to take bargaining rights away from average people, then we need to make lobbyist activities illegal. That would be an equal trade-off. I bet we could raise taxes/plug loopholes for billionaires then.

DEBBIE ESCHMANN Arlington, Va.

Whenever there are more than four tiers of management in a company or institution, it is necessary for the frontline workers to have independent representatives to bargain for their needs. Therefore, in the government bureaucracy, such union bargaining is needed if we want to keep people from being alienated and disaffected in their work.

H.D. URIEL SMITH Lexington, Ky.

  • Read the U.S. News debate: Collective bargaining for public sector workers?
  • See photos of the protests in Wisconsin.
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