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    Goodbye Constitution Freedom America by Don Jans

    Are Public Employee Unions Unconstitutional?

    By Larry Sand

    Philip K. Howard argues that they are, and should be done away with.

    “All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management.”

    The above caveat about government unions – usually known by the kinder and gentler “public employee unions” (PEUs) – was not issued by Ron DeSantis or Donald Trump. The statement was made by progressive icon Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

    Additionally, George Meany, president of the AFL-CIO for 24 years, once stated, “It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government.” Both men understood that the very nature of government makes it wrong for its leaders to enter into negotiations with any union. When government unions negotiate, they often sit across the table from people they helped put in office with generous campaign contributions. And when these unions go on strike, they walk out on the taxpayer.

    PEU leaders fully understand their advantage. Victor Gotbaum, president of District Council 37 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) in New York City, bragged in 1975, “We have the ability, in a sense, to elect our own boss.” Los Angeles teacher union honcho Alex Caputo-Pearl clearly agreed, writing on his union’s blog in 2019, “We have a unique power – we elect our bosses. It would be difficult to think of workers anywhere else who elect their bosses. We do. We must take advantage of it.”

    Clearly, the PEUs are by their nature, political. In fact, the National Education Association spent twice as much on politics in 2021 as it did on representing its members – $66 million compared to $32 million, according to the union’s LM2, a report that must be filed with the federal Department of Labor. Additionally, Open Secrets reports that over 99% of the union’s political spending went to Democrats. This is especially galling because Fox News, citing, reports that donations from the two national teachers unions have long been on the rise and grew from $4.3 million in 2004 to more than $32 million in 2016. (It’s worth noting that the teachers union spending doesn’t represent their rank and file politically. A 2017 EdWeek poll found that 43% of teachers described themselves as politically moderate, 29% as liberal, and 27% as conservative.)

    And now a new book suggests we take an unprecedented step to change this egregious scenario. In Not Accountable: Rethinking the Constitutionality of Public Employee Unions, Philip K. Howard, who has been described as a “radical centrist,” and is the author of 1995’s The Death of Common Sense, a New York Times bestseller,  argues that teachers unions and, in fact, all public employee unions, should be ruled unconstitutional because they have thoroughly undermined the country’s democratic form of government.

    In City Journal, Steven Malanga has written a spot-on review of the book in which he deftly sums up the problem created by the formation of PEUs: “from labor leaders threatening to un-elect recalcitrant politicians, to public-employee contracts that protect bad teachers and cops from getting fired, to policy decisions made to create union jobs rather than produce good government, to the emergence of government unions as the biggest advocates for tax increases and the biggest opponents of restraining budgets, to the absolute financial mess many local governments, and taxpayers, face with public pensions.”

    It doesn’t take Howard much time to come to his conclusion in this brief read. He describes our current situation as an “unconstitutional mess”and maintains that the courts should intervene. At the federal level, he argues, “the legislation that protects public-employee unions violates Article II of the Constitution, which proclaims that ‘the executive power shall be vested in a President.’”

    Howard explains, “More federal employees die on the job than are terminated for poor performance. Regular stories emerge of employees who cannot be terminated despite outrageous behavior—such as the EPA employee who spent the day surfing porn sites.”

    He describes what makes public and private unions very different.

    To continue reading, go to

    The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of Citizens Journal


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    I know Better
    I know Better
    1 month ago

    PEU’s are bad, plain and simple. “we can elect our own bosses” pretty much says it all. That system is corrupt, corrupting, ineffecient, expensive and totally unnessary. PEU’s and redicicuouslly expensive pensions are at the HEART of all that ails California.

    Leo G Alvarez
    Leo G Alvarez
    1 month ago

    The phrase, “Are Public Employee Unions Unconstitutional?” opens up the subject to philosophical commentary rather than to legal interpretation. Yet the article posted in in the Citizens Journal April 5, 2023 edition raises the topic as a constitutional (Article 2 of the US Constitution) argument. This was an argument set forth in 2017 by Phillip king Howard, an attorney when he argued that the Civil Service system was unconstitutional.
    Further, Article 2 of the United States Constitution regards the Presidency and its powers and responsibilities and does not mention nor introduce the duties and responsibilities of anyone other than the President, Congress, and Electors but certainly not Unions which did not exist in the 1700’s.

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