In brief, what many of us on the right find objectionable about public-sector unionization is that it turns incentives around to put employees and management (i.e., elected officials) on the same side of the negotiating table, with taxpayers on the other side without representation. Developments in Rhode Island since the Supreme Court’s Janus ruling reinforce that impression. The unions are in the midst of a campaign to convince non-members to join. For example:
For the last two weeks, the president of one of the AFSCME locals at the University of Rhode Island has been on a campaign to win over potential union members who had, at some point in their work-lives, made a decision to opt-out of their union.
His target: a relatively small cluster of state workers in a professional staff unit at the university who have been paying a “fee” instead of union dues to Council 94, American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees.
The Raimondo administration has essentially gone mum since the “Janus” decision, except for the public release of a memo in which Gov. Gina Raimondo reaffirmed the state’s ban on giving out the personal contact information of state workers.
In other words, “management” is taking steps to give the labor unions total and un-countered access to employees while denying any similar access to groups that might oppose unionization. Of course, that access might not be necessary if the administration were doing what it ought to be doing in the oppositional design of labor negotiations and assuring the public that it is taking every step possible to let employees know what their rights are, including the benefits of being free of a labor union.
But a Democrat government in Rhode Island would never do that (and Republicans only rarely), so it falls to outside groups, like the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity. The irony is that the government-insider types accuse the Center of being a creature of out-of-state business interests, which isn’t true, but even if it were, Rhode Islanders should take note that the only people on their side in this arrangement are the “outside groups,” which is necessary because nobody on the inside of our representative democracy actually represents them.