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UNIONS: Critics should consider more than cost

Letter by Charles Pregaldin, Tacoma on Nov. 6, 2012 at 9:53 am | No Comments »
November 6, 2012 10:10 am

Guest columnist Ken Miller says he’s not a union-hater (TNT, 11-5), and I take him at his word, but apparently he’d like them better if they had no power to protect their members from the kinds of abuses that led to the formation of unions in the first place. The prescriptions he offers are mostly aimed at doing exactly that.

Allow management to fire workers arbitrarily, Miller says, and let it determine pay, benefits, and working conditions unilaterally – pay that he says ought to be “below average,” though he doesn’t say why.

If we must have a Civil Service Board, make it management’s creature. Establish a dual pay scale, paying new hires less, and eliminate seniority. In other words, fire everybody and hire younger, cheaper people who know they don’t dare expect more than a precarious existence maintained at management’s whim.

Certainly it would make a manager’s life easier, if the workers could simply be ordered to do as they’re told and take what they’re given without asking any questions or making any demands, upon pain of instant dismissal. But, Miller doesn’t explain how it would benefit the people of Pierce County to have our schools and our police, fire, and other government departments staffed by underpaid and demoralized employees, except that it would be cheaper.

In government services, as in everything else, however, you get what you pay for. Cheaper is almost never better, except in the minds of people who don’t know better than to consider only price.

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