American schoolchildren are taught that they are being raised in a democracy, where elected officials pass the laws, bureaucrats administer the laws, and government workers dutifully carry them out.
That’s a crock. Americans at this time are mostly governed under rules generated by an unelected bureaucracy, the so-called “dark state”. Worse, personnel and financial matters are controlled by the workers themselves through their government unions. The rest of us are left out of the loop.
It was in the 1960s at the height of the “rights“ revolution that 38 states and the federal government first granted government unions the right to collective bargaining. Curiously, government workers already had civil service protections and there were no abusive work conditions needing reform. Government employees were considered to have a moral duty to protect the public interest, not bargain against it.
Since the door was cracked open, there has been a relentless torrent of workers’ rights and benefits. In every bargaining cycle workers win so many concessions from the bosses they elect that government managers no longer really manage. Unions do.
There are consequences. Baltimore schools have received heavy criticism for having 23 schools last year without a single student proficient, i.e. barely adequate, in math. Baltimore is hardly alone. Chicago had 37 schools last year with zero students proficient in either math or English and many other urban school districts have similar records of failure.
Normally, administrators faced with a crisis of this magnitude would radically overhaul their operations and personnel. But because of union controls, political leaders, school boards and administrators are essentially powerless to make meaningful changes. In Illinois, an 18-year study found two out of 95,000 teachers were terminated for poor performance. The dismissal rate in California, the home of multiple failing districts, is even lower. In fact, almost every teacher is rated as excellent.
The disastrous closing of the schools during COVID-19 and the attendant learning loss were also totally union-inspired. Long after it was well known that children were at minimal risk from Covid, intransigent unions refused to return to the classroom. The educational damage callously inflicted on our school children is a national shame.
Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd, igniting racial riots worldwide, was a known bad actor with multiple complaints on his record. But the police chief lacked the authority to terminate or even reassign him. Union-imposed “due process“ for police typically precludes interviewing the officer until he views all witness statements, then multiple hearings and reviews, and finally a chance for a reprieve from union-selected arbitrators.
The process is so daunting that many supervisors don’t even try to address bad behavior. Of the 2600 complaints against Minneapolis police officers in the prior decade, just 12 resulted in disciplinary actions, none of them severe. This inability to discipline rogue officers is a major contributor to the undeserved poor public image plaguing many police departments.
The outsized influence of unions has a single source: their ability to financially influence elections. Public unions in America collect about $5 billion in compulsory dues annually or $20 billion per election cycle. So for example, newly elected Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson, who will head the “management“ team in union negotiations, received over 90% of his campaign funding from public unions, assuring the talks will go smoothly.
The captive New York legislature passed 21 bills to enhance public employee benefits in 2021 alone. In California, union-mandated rules are so lax that last year, 3600 state employees received $100,000 each in overtime pay, very little of it legitimate overtime. In Illinois, a state that would declare bankruptcy if it were a private enterprise, Governor J.B. Pritzker settled his political debts with a 19.28% raise for 35,000 State employees.
Put simply, government unions have used collective bargaining and campaign cash to seize effective control of government and run it for their own benefit. A republican government can’t work if authorities selected through the democratic process don’t have the ability to do their jobs.
We need to find fearless leaders who will have the guts to take on the unions and once again restore the government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons
As we move through 2023 and into the next election cycle, The Prickly Pear will resume Take Action recommendations and information.