Government workers don’t need unions

The Economist

a href=””>TODAY’S New York Times editorial wisely comes out against the proposal to allow states to declare bankruptcy as a union-busting, budget-saving move. (Josh Barro’s reasoning against state bankruptcy rings sound to me.) However, I think the Times’ goes wrong here:

It is true that many public employee unions have done well during a time of hardship for most Americans. The problem, though, isn’t the existence of those unions; it is the generous contracts willingly given to them by lawmakers because of their lobbying power and bloc-voting ability.

The Times‘ contention that the existence of public-employee unions is not the problem is true, if it is true, only because the unions “fix” a bargaining-power deficit public workers don’t have. Without public-sector unions, government workers would lobby their way to padded paychecks, unobtanium-plated pensions, and hermetic job security anyway. Which is just to say, government workers don’t really need unions at all. Indeed, the strategic logic behind private- and public-sector unions is fundamentally different. “The process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service,” as some little somebody called Franklin Delano Roosevelt put it back in 1937.