Wednesday, October 14, 2009


October 14, 2009 - 02:30 PM

American_hero, you state that you have "not seen the slightest bit of any evidence of abuses" as far as city government, yet you set yourself up as judge and jury about how the police union and negotiations work without being privy to any inside information or actual involvement in the process. Making "the union boss" the bad guy here, as if the police officers don't have the power to vote down anything the union leaders recommend, is both inaccurate and misleading. I know from your website that you have a low opinion of unions, but projecting your own biases onto the police union isn't justified and makes for a weak argument that police officers can easily refute. A union leader does not get to "dictate", he represents the group, which has the choice to follow his recommended course of action by voting its approval or to reject his platform. Also, this is not a one-sided affair. The city has its negotiations representative and both sides hash thing out until compromises are reached and a contract is agreed upon by both parties. Much of the anger and frustration we are reading in these postings comes from the police force's resentment of the city's strong-arm tactics and breach of trust by reneging on past contract agreements. It is not just about money, which you describe as "greed", but it is also about principles. Joe, I know that you had a bad experience with the police several years ago when you were on your bike. Do think that, unintentionally, this may be coloring your assessment of the situation or are you just influenced by your obvious contempt for and distrust of unions, in general? Sincerely, Karen

Dear Karen:

Well I only know what I read in the papers.  If there was some abuses someone can say.  So far all I’ve read is that the city manager is a mean jerk and “threatened to fire us.”  Never mind that he’s their boss and that’s his job, to “manage” the city’s resources.  They should hire me as their negotiator, then I’d decide if there are any abuses or not.

I know that to many people, the labor unions hold some special place in the hearts and minds, fighting for “the rights of the working man.”  But to an economist, a labor union is simply a cartel that controls the supply of labor.  Of course I don’t hold the policy of a cartel in high regard; they are simply looking out for the best interests of their members – not “the working man” in general.  Now in a free market I don’t dispute the right of workers to assemble into any organization and act according to their own interests.  But I don’t make any apology for regarding GOVERNMENT unions as a political force detrimental to the interests of "the working man” or anyone for that matter.

I don’t think I’ve been particularly critical of the MPOA any more than I’ve been critical of the teacher’s union, which in my view is precisely the same issue with different players.  The teachers castigate the school board and tell all the parents to “tell the school board you want smaller class sizes” etc.  And they are the ones who dictated the larger class sizes!

I’m not the judge of the police department’s operation.  I’ve tried to be fair in judgment, and just a last month the chief’s wife thanked me for my kind words about her husband’s leadership at a public meeting.  However, I’m not the one who put a gun to some guy’s head and threatened “we can kill you right here” and I’m not the one who kicks a man off his bicycle in retaliation for speaking out at a public meeting and I’m not responsible for the man (men actually) who mysteriously die in custody, sometimes with boot marks on his back.  Or picking fights at bars or teenage parties or beating their wives, or singling out businesses for harassment because they are the wrong race.  So if you’re asking if I demand better from this so called “professional police force” yes I do.  But I don’t think this really has anything to do with the city/union negotiations, except to the extent that I can hardly contain myself when they start whining and going on about what a fantastic job they do. 

Notice how suddenly the issue isn’t them but it’s me.

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