Budget battles put government unions on the spot

GovLoop members ponder the attacks on government employee unions in cash-strapped states.

There was a Twisted Sister song that served as an anthem for rebellious teens and 20-somethings who grew up in the 1980s. Here's the refrain:

We’re not gonna take it
No, we ain’t gonna take it
We’re not gonna take it anymore

Those lyrics came to mind recently as political protests erupted from north Africa to the northern United States. Curious about the perception of government colleagues toward their counterparts in places like Wisconsin, I asked the GovLoop community: Do worker unions help or hurt government?

Pam Broviak, assistant director of public works for Geneva, Ill., framed the conversation.

“All the unions I have watched organize in local government were created because employees no longer wanted to be subject to the whims or lack of leadership of elected officials,” she wrote. “But I have seen examples that were both a benefit and a detriment to government. It's a benefit when it prevents professional, hardworking people from being fired for no good reason. It is always a bad thing when the union protects a poor-performing employee who was only hired by a past elected official as a favor to one of their friends.”

Brian Gryth, legal and technical support manager for Colorado, offered his firsthand perspective.

“I am a union member, and most of our activities are targeted at securing a good working life for our members,” he wrote. “As one of my managers once said about the union, you can either see the union as this external force or you can see it as people. At the end of the day, we are all colleagues and we are all working to the benefit of the people we serve.”

Speaking of the people we serve, Darryl Perkinson, a Navy superintendent, thinks the public ought to do some soul searching. "A discussion must occur among all Americans about the value of our expectations. What is our personal expectation concerning what we want local, state and federal governments to do for us?” he said.

Open-government initiatives can create those opportunities for citizens to tackle the tough decisions facing public officials. For instance, North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue (D) launched a Balance the Budget Challenge by inviting residents to grapple with the same data she reviews in allocating state resources.

John Evans, a North Carolinian and a specialist at the Internal Revenue Service, is confident that unions and public officials could constructively participate in a similar crowdsourcing process to avoid situations like the standoff in Wisconsin.

“Union members are well aware of the budget situation and, if asked and sincerely listened to, will likely have useful suggestions on how to reduce spending on nonessentials,” he wrote. “Bluster and bombast and announcing a conclusion in the media before even beginning to bargain in good faith, as seen in Wisconsin, won't work.”

So what does it take to bring reasonable people around a table for negotiations? I’d say it’s time to start standing on the table — or on government as a platform, as Tim O’Reilly describes Government 2.0. What if more governors and other senior officials used Web-based tools to enable employees to generate options, weigh their relative value and make hard choices together?

It sure beats people shoving each other around and shouting, “We’re not gonna take it,” doesn’t it?

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.