So, the teachers unions’ annual attempt to give themselves even more leverage in negotiations by making their contracts eternal is back in the mix. The lobbying by union employees and donations to politicians are ultimately taxpayer funded, so this bill probably won’t go away until it passes someday.
What’s notable, this time around, is that the bill accompanies a labor dispute in Warwick, leading to this telling point from Warwick Teachers Union President Darlene Netcoh:
Netcoh said the bill “levels the playing field between employers and employees.”
Referring to [Warwick Schools Supt. Philip] Thornton, she added: “Would he go to work every day if he didn’t have a contract? I don’t think so.”
One wonders how it could have escaped Netcoh’s attention that plenty of Rhode Islanders go to work every day without contracts. See, it’s called “a mutually beneficial transaction.” The employer has work that has to be done, and the employee has a need to earn income. If a contract makes sense in a particular circumstance, then the parties draw one up and abide by it; otherwise, the contract is essentially a casual, even verbal, agreement to do work and to pay for work that’s done.
In government, though, it’s not about that mutually beneficial transaction, in part because nobody’s spending their own money. Contracts for government employees are fundamentally agreements about how much one party will take from taxpayers and transfer to the other party, and so they’ve become a mechanism for labor unions to get politicians to lock taxpayers into expenses.
This eternal contract legislation is about ensuring that taxpayers are locked in to the promises of elected officials (often elected with the help of the employees) to an even greater degree.