Now retired, I spent much of my 40-year career responsible for labor relations (for management). Although most of that time was in negotiating with unions in the private sector, for a short time I also had the opportunity to deal with some in the public sector. What a difference!
In the private sector, managers were held accountable for bottom-line responsibility; if they acquiesced to unreasonable union pressure, they were fired for poor performance.
Not so in the public sector. In fact, in many instances managers were motivated to negotiate lucrative wages and benefits knowing that their own salaries and benefits would be improved to avoid compression with the union-negotiated wages/benefits.
In the private sector, unions have been losing membership for years. Unions have made up for their loss of members by organizing a large segment of the public sector. This, combined with generally weak public sector management, shrinking tax revenues, sympathetic politicians and judges unwilling to enforce public sector “no strike” laws that exist in many states (including Washington), have resulted in the current chaos that we see in Wisconsin.
After only a month or so in office, Gov. Scott Walker is plunging head first into his campaign pledge to fix the problem. His leadership is a breath of fresh air in what has been a stale climate for far too long.