Public Sector Unions: Not as Advertised

Recently, union members launched protests because legislatures around America have begun to address budget deficits by eliminating perks long considered sacrosanct by public employees. While it’s reasonable to expect unions to represent their members’ self-interest, their actions beg the question: are they?

For example, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker continues to reject union compromises “over collective bargaining rights,” triggering protests by “tens of thousands.”

In Congress, lawmakers introduced a bill “that would freeze hiring government wide except at the Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs departments,” in order to cut the federal budget. Federal employee unions responded by “pushing back hard against the GOP-proposed cuts”

In Indiana, “thousands” protested as a bill advanced that would end the requirement that all employees pay union dues.

These protestors are what Open Secrets calls “public sector unions,” which “represent workers at every level of government -- federal, state and local.” But they have a hidden agenda that’s bad for America.

Some public employee unions support gun control. Former American Federation of Teachers (AFT) president Sandra Feldman believes that many school shooting incidents were committed by boys who “grew up in a culture where adults have a positive attitude toward guns, and the access to guns of all kinds is nearly unfettered.” She believed the solution was to:

Pass state and federal gun control laws that do a better job of restricting children's access to guns. Mandatory child safety locks on all guns would be a good start. So would stricter laws for licensing and monitoring those who sell guns.*

In 2010, the AFT was the second-highest contributor ($5,183,670) of all public sector unions, after the National Education Association ($6,778,993). Former National Education Association (NEA) president Reginald Weaver supported gun control, having praised three top national gun control proponents for their legislative accomplishments:

Thank you Senator Kennedy, Representative McCarthy, and Mrs. Brady [of Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence]. The [NEA] commends the sponsors and is proud to offer the support of its 2.4 million members for key provisions of the Children’s Gun Violence Prevention Act.*

Public sector unions benefit from growth of government jobs and power, as this in turn strengthens their political clout. For example, Phil Glover, legislative coordinator for the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), testified before Congress that an “explosion in the federal prison inmate population is the direct result of Congress approving stricter anti-drug enforcement laws involving mandatory minimum sentences in the 1980s.…”

Glover used this “explosion” to justify asking Congress to “recognize the need for additional BOP [U.S. Bureau of Prisons] staffing.” He then claimed private prisons were not a cost-effective alternative, compared to government union-run institutions.

Since justifiable homicides occur “during the commission of a felony,” armed citizens reduce the need for prison space -- and additional staff -- by eliminating criminals who may spend many years behind bars.

Likewise, gun control often turns law-abiding citizens into criminals. For example, the Legal Community Against Violence believes: “Laws that require firearm owners to report lost of stolen firearms serve several public safety functions.” But in Connecticut, if a repeat theft victim doesn’t report stolen guns within 72 hours, he faces a class D felony after the second “offense,” and up to five years imprisonment.

Research shows that many organizations not traditionally classified as part of the gun control lobby spend heavily on anti-rights politicians.

* AFT and NEA quotes from archived articles no longer available online.