Despite claims that “right to work” states do not recognize collective bargaining by public employees, the truth is that “meet and confer” laws are collective bargaining laws. And that has big ramifications for longsuffering taxpayers nationwide.
By forcing public employers to discuss union demands in “good faith,” these laws lend legal leverage to fiscally unsustainable demands for wages and benefits by public employees. And by enabling public workers to secure above-market compensation, they drive the cost of government labor up across the board. That’s why a total ban on public-sector collective bargaining, like the state of Virginia’s, makes fiscal sense even in “right to work” states like Arizona, Texas, Mississippi and Georgia.
More than money is at stake. Collective bargaining laws give unions an exclusive venue for flexing political muscle. Even “meet and confer” laws separate public officers from the public and corral them at a backroom bargaining table with union bosses.
This increases the odds that public officers will yield to union demands and undermines the very foundation of our representative form of government. It inverts a government of, by and for the people, into a government that wears blinders while negotiating with itself over how to spend taxpayer money.
Nick Dranias holds the Clarence J. and Katherine P. Duncan Chair for Constitutional Government and is director of the Joseph and Dorothy Donnelly Moller Center for Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute.
Goldwater Institute: Money for Nothing: Phoenix taxpayers foot the bill for union work
Google Scholar: City of Phoenix v. Phoenix Employment Relations Board
Virginia Code Ann. § 40.1-57.2 (2011): Statute banning public sector collective bargaining