Jack Dunphy talks about an e-mail from his police union urging solidarity with the SEIU and Moveon.org. He first quotes the letter as describing Scott Walker’s plan as “shocking” and responds:
I must point out there is nothing particularly shocking about what Gov. Walker and the Republican majority in the Wisconsin legislature seek to accomplish, especially given that they campaigned and won election largely on their vow to curb state spending and close a looming deficit. They are merely trying to do as officeholders what they promised to do as candidates (which, on reflection, is shocking enough in itself). And it is troubling that we as police officers were being asked to endorse the lawless actions of the 14 Wisconsin state Senate Democrats who bugged out like a bunch of crooks with the cops at the door rather than allow the democratic process to unfold. Elections have consequences, I suppose, unless you can take it on the lam and prevent them.
He then continues:
There then came this paragraph:
At noon local time on Saturday, February 26, MoveOn.org will hold rallies in front of every statehouse and in every major city to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin. Find a Rally to Save the American Dream near you by visiting the website and entering your zip code. You can also show your support by sending words of encouragement to Wisconsin’s workers via a special website created by the SEIU.
What? MoveOn.org? The SEIU? And they were asking cops to march in this parade? Surely this had to be some kind of elaborate Internet hoax.
And it got worse. If you dared to click on the link to find a rally, you learned that in addition to MoveOn.org and the SEIU, the events were to be sponsored by National People’s Action, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, USAction, the Daily Kos, Media Matters, and every other leftist fringe cabal this side of the Socialist Workers Party. The post concluded with a stirring exhortation: “Our brothers and sisters in Wisconsin are under attack. They need and deserve our support. The time to pull together is NOW.” They might have gone with something a bit punchier, like “Workers of the world, unite!”
It was no hoax. Would that it had been.
Read it all. One interesting part of Dunphy’s article is his support for the idea of unions for public employees:
But while I refuse to link arms with MoveOn.org, I also disagree with conservatives such as Jonah Goldberg (to whom I am indebted for opening the door to me over at National Review Online) who advocate for the elimination of public employee unions. Writing in the Los Angeles Times last Tuesday, Goldberg described private sector unions as having arisen out of the struggle between business owners and the workers from whose sweat they derived their riches and whom they exploited in the pursuit of greater profits. “It’s been said,” wrote Goldberg, “that during World War I, U.S. soldiers had better odds of surviving on the front lines than miners did in West Virginia coal mines.” Public sector workers, he says, have no similar history of oppression by their employers.
Which is true, as far as it goes, but it ignores the adversarial relationship rank-and-file police officers often have with both their own management and the city governments that employ them. True, on a typical work day we’re at little risk of a mine shaft cave-in, but we live with the fairly constant peril of getting the shaft from our bosses. Only the protections we have gained through collective bargaining prevent those bosses from making our working conditions intolerable.
And then there is the more basic, even conservative principle that labor is at bottom a commodity, one that is traded at prices determined by the market. Police officers, firefighters, teachers, and what have you should have the right to choose those who will negotiate a fair price for their labor on their behalf.
I share Dunphy’s view that public employees sometimes need protection from their bosses. But here is the problem I have with unions for public employees charged with public safety: how do you flex your muscles when the bosses ignore you? With work stoppages or slowdowns?
To be simplistic, while there are naturally advantages to any group banding together to show solidarity, I have always believed that a union’s trump card is the threat of a work stoppage. And that is the reason I don’t feel comfortable joining a union. I can’t imagine myself refusing to come to work over some labor dispute. And absent that, what leverage do I have?
I have heard of police engaging in the “blue flu” and have never respected that. It’s dishonest, and it poses threats to public safety when law enforcement is not properly staffed.
I’ll see if I can get Jack to explain here how his union gets its muscle. In the meantime, I’m pleased to have found an issue where I may be more “conservative” than he. I didn’t think it would ever happen!