Public Sector Employee Unions

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What is our government for?

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
Preamble to the U.S. Constitution
This means different things to different people, and it means different things to us at the beginning of the 21st Century than it did to the people who wrote it, at the end of the 18th Century.
Here are two views of government (there are variations; everyone has an opinion. . .;-):
Conservative perspective:
·        Government takes money that people could use.
·        Government is a drag on the economy.
·        Government is a barrier to business.
·        Government services are for the weak and/or lazy; if you work hard you will succeed.
·        Government is the problem.
Citizen perspective:
·        Government needs money to perform the services it is organized to do (establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide a common defense, promote the general welfare, etc.).
o       Specifically, here at DATCP, to “promote the general welfare” we ensure fair trade practices, monitor/enforce environmental regulations, enforce food safety regulations, and help maintain the health of our livestock industry.
·        Government spending is an engine for the economy; it can stimulate the economy.
·        Government action has developed numerous markets/products/services that would not exist otherwise (secondary mortgage markets, environmental protection/remediation, university research/development activities, wildlife/fisheries management, weights/measures standards).
·        Life happens: sickness, accidents, age, job loss, circumstances beyond our control; government services can assist citizens to regain their balance in a turbulent world.
·        Government can provide agreed-upon solutions to common problems.
We rely on public sector institutions – our government and government employees – to set and enforce the regulations that will protect us from physical and financial harm. There are a variety of ways that federal, state and local government protect the public, including: food quality standards, environmental controls, financial securities regulations, consumer fraud protection, workplace and product safety standards, and so on. With the support of citizens and businesses, government can set and enforce these protections on behalf of the public good.
Economists agree that one of the main advantages that make America so successful come from what are called “public structures.” The public structures that Americans have created include the physical structures that we need to get things done, like highways, seaports, airports, and energy and communications grids. They also include organizational structures like public safety institutions (police and fire), a functioning court system to settle disputes and criminal cases, and environmental protection agencies and regulations. Developing countries have many smart, hard-working individuals, but they do not have the public structures that are essential for overall success.
Our nation’s success is based on the power of people working together and each in his or her own way. We all benefit when citizens work with the public sector to identify problems and come to consensus on a vision to address those problems. Whether it is determining health and safety regulations, protecting our natural and cultural environment, or providing for the needy, our nation’s quality of life now and into the future depends on citizens and public agencies working for the common good.
We live in a world where public problems once thought extraordinary now seem routine -- and they are piled one on top of the other. But what is truly disturbing is the nagging sense that we have lost our capacity to address these problems effectively. . . This sense of ineffectiveness is caused in part by the fact that we live in a world where no one is "in charge." No one organization or institution is in a position to find and implement a solution to the problems that confront us as a society. . . Instead, in order to marshal the legitimacy, power, authority, and knowledge required to tackle any major public issue, organizations and institutions must join forces in a "shared power" world.
            John M. Bryson and Barbara C. Crosby, Leadership for the Common Good
As public sector employees, we have a key role in providing the services our government was organized to perform, and in cooperating with the public to find solutions to problems as they arise. As we provide those services to the general public, we depend on our union to provide us with what we need and what our families need: bargaining for decent wages and working conditions, benefits that are most cost-effectively provided by our employer (in our case, the state), and protection from the politics that public sector work often entails. We also need fellow employees, colleagues and co-workers, who may become friends as we work together to do the state’s work for its citizens.

Too often our bosses – in particular, our political bosses – care more about the politics of an issue than they do about the structure that frames an issue. They don’t care that we have families to support, that we feel strongly about issues such as environmental or consumer protection aside from our work, that we have family, friends and neighbors who depend on us to do our job to the best of our ability, regardless of whether a campaign contributor would be harmed by our actions. Our union works to keep our interests in front of politicians who would otherwise run us over in their efforts to reward their friends (and sometimes, punish their enemies).