Generally I’m a fan of the YouTube-friendly governor of New Jersey, but in this clip I think he’s getting a little bit out of control.
Christie: “I love collective bargaining. Let me at them. Get me outta the cage and let me go! Alright, we’re ready to go. We’re ready to collectively bargain. Let’s have it be real collective bargaining, where someone is in there representing the people who pay the bills.”
That last part is dead right, but it’s also the problem. The problem, of course, isn’t that Chris Christie wouldn’t do a great job if he went toe-to-toe in a collective bargaining battle with New Jersey’s government unions. I have no doubt that he would. He cares about the taxpayers a great deal more than he cares about the unions he’s always ripping on. The problem arises when a Democratic governor, whose party gets substantial campaign donations and manpower to stir up unrest, wage street campaigns, etc from the government unions, also sits across from those same unions at the bargaining table to decide on their benefits and pay packages. There’s a built-in conflict of interest there, and no one at the table is really representing the taxpayers who have to pay for everything the government unions get. Also, not all GOP governors are created equal: For every one Chris Christie who relishes the fight with the government unions, there are probably 10 weaker GOP govs who fear the fight because they lack the backbone for the politics of it all. So they give in to the unions without much of a fight, leaving the taxpayer to pick up the tab. The entire process is inherently unfair to the non-unionized taxpayer.
There’s a bottom line in all this that few have addressed so far: Collective bargaining for government workers isn’t and never was a “right.” It was always a privilege, and an expensive privilege at that. And it’s a privilege that some states are concluding they can simply no longer afford.