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Argument: Collective bargaining gives public unions unequal power

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David Crane. "Should public employees have collective bargaining?" SF Gate. February 27th, 2011: "in 1962 the federal government gave collective bargaining rights to federal employees, and in 1977 California followed suit. However, because state employees already had civil service protections, collective bargaining wasn't needed to equalize their power with employers' power. As a result, collective bargaining for public employees in California changed the balance of power and - most importantly - gave public employees power over their compensation and benefits. In the private sector, compensation and benefits are determined through negotiations conducted by unions representing employees and management representing shareholders. Neither side has influence over the other, and there is a healthy tension as each side works to increase its share of the pie. If unions don't deliver enough compensation and benefits, workers can make changes to union leadership. If management delivers too much compensation and benefits, shareholders can make management changes. But in the public sector, no such healthy tension exists because unions can use campaign contributions to gain control of 'management,' which in California's state government means the 120 legislators and the governor who together determine employee compensation and benefits. As a result of the focused power of the unionized public-sector workforce, management (i.e., legislators and governors) can end up being more responsive to public employees than to 'shareholders,' that is, citizens benefiting from public services (e.g., students paying tuition at state colleges, parents taking kids to state parks, private-sector union workers building bridges, etc.) and taxpayers paying the bills. Collective bargaining is a good thing when it's needed to equalize power, but when public employees already have that equality because of civil service protections, collective bargaining in the public sector serves to reduce benefits for citizens and to raise costs for taxpayers. Citizens and taxpayers should consider this as they watch events unfold in Madison."

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