Collective bargaining essential for committed workforce,vibrant economy

| July 11, 2014
Brenda Robinson

Brenda Robinson

By Brenda Robinson

The pending approval by the City Council of the firefighters most current contract causes a reflection of last month’s end of collective bargaining for city employees who are not firefighters are police officers. The vote, along party lines, with six Republican voting to overturn Mayor Tom Henry’s veto and three Democrats voting to sustain, mimics national partisan divide. However, the vote more so raises a legitimate question. Why do a great number of conservative politicians fear unions?

Collective bargaining is not that deep. The process is merely negogiations between employee representatives and the employer in an attempt to reach a contract in which both sides can agree. Once both sides agree, the contract is validated and put in place. Generally, both sides understand that neither side will get all their particular side desires. And, reasonable people know such is life. None of us get all we want, all of the time.Let’s examine the history of unions and try to determine why their is a get rid of unions movement:

Within the private sector, “real”collective bargaining or unions is almost history. Gone are days of the strong Teamster, American Federation of Labor (AFL), and Congress of Industrial unions when skilled and unskilled workers were assured of a good day of work means a good day of pay. Until the mid 1800s, workers were not treated fairly. More often, workers were underpaid, overworked and victims of hostile work environments. Private sector management and typical workers sometimes resorted to fighting in their work places, putting both labor and management in danger. Both groups eventually saw the need for unions. Thus, when unions became realities in the late 1800s, management and labor benefited. Historically, private sector unions were more powerful and, frankly, considered more necessary than governmental unions. However, with the deliberate political movements to weaken both private and public sector unions, private sector unions are currently weaker than public ones.

‘60s. Some local and state governments actually gave their consent for formation of collective bargaining, particularly for wages and better work conditions. Reportedly, by 1972, more than 30 percent of state and local workers were unionized and for the next 36 years unionized employees were on the rise. Thus, this movement to delete or diminish collective bargaining is a relatively new phenomenon.

In comparison, in the 1970s, one-third of all private sector workers were represented by unions. At the end of 2008, that percentage was nine percent. Ironically, public sector workers started their unionization movement a hundred years after the private sector movement, yet the public sector unions are now stronger than private ones. But, for how much longer?

Reportedly, Mayor Henry said the ousting of collective bargaining was unnecessary as “the city’s budget is balanced and there is a cash reserve.” Republicans on the council said “the action will give the city more flexibility and save money. How? Of the 1,800 city employees, 750 are police and firefighters, 550 are not unionized, and 500 are unionized. Police and firefighters will continue collective bargaining. How much can be saved on 27 percent of the 1,800 employees?

Governmental employees are civil servants. Policies and procedures for hiring and firing are in place. When courses of action are necessary for the good of the organization, collective bargaining and council representation is the best way to institute same. When workers have input within the workplace, the results are a more committed workforce. When workers earn a decent wage the community prospers as food, shelter and healthcare will not be paid with tax dollars. Workers will spend more, businesses will sell more.

This get rid of union movement, with which Fort Wayne City Council unfortunately has aligned, is a mistake. And, after examination there is no reasonable answer as to why some conservative Republicans fear unions. Yet, some of these politicians seemingly believe to slowly chip away at workers’ wages, benefits, and connectiveness to an organization somehow makes said organization stronger.

Unions must not reach the same fate as the song made popular by an old school group, Peter, Paul, and Mary. This group asked the question, where have all the flowers gone, long time passing? Where have all the flowers gone, long time ago? Young girls have picked them everyone. When will they ever learn? Let’s not have future generations say, where have all the unions gone, long time ago? Politicians picked them off everyone. When will they ever learn. Let’s support the politicians who believe in and are pushing to sustain collective bargaining.t


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Category: Local, National, Opinion

About the Author ()

Brenda Robinson is an NNPA Emory O. Jackson award-winning columnist for Frost Illustrated.

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