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Guest view: Killing public employee unions is all about power
GUEST VIEW

Guest view: Killing public employee unions is all about power

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So-called right-to-work bills introduced in this lamentable legislative session meant to maim or kill public employee unions are not really about public employees’ freedom to make their own individual, self-serving deals with their public employers.

For sure, there are Social Darwinist legislators who cynically believe dog-eat-dog labor/management relationships would be a good thing across Montana public schools, health care, law enforcement, and infrastructure development.

But that is not their primary motive.

Stripping public employees of their right to organize into unions that represent employee collective interests is about power. Power. The power public employee unions have beyond the bargaining table. The power public employee unions have to help shape our political discourse and social compact.

Main or kill public employee unions ... and maybe right-to-work advocates can shrink government and the public institutions government exists to maintain and enhance into small enough mass to drown in a bathtub.

Maim or kill public employee unions ... and maybe right-to-work advocates can privatize for unaccountable private profit at public expense the public institutions they replace.

Maim or kill public employee unions ... and maybe right-to-work advocates can kill mill levies and bond issues for k-12 public schools AND the Montana University System.

Maim or kill public employee unions ... and maybe right-to-work advocates can destroy public employee retirement pensions and health insurance premiums that serve not only beneficiaries but circulate consumer dollars in every Montana community.

Maim or kill public employee unions ... and maybe right-to-work advocates can weaken opponents to ballot issues that would cripple adequate and equitable taxation.

Maim or kill public employee unions ... and maybe right-to-work advocates can destroy 40 years of collaborative efforts to fulfill our constitutional promise of free, quality, adequately funded elementary and secondary public schools for all our children.

Maim or kill public employee unions ... and maybe right-to-work advocates will own the Montana state legislature and governor’s office for years and years to come.

So, bills in this lamentable legislative session meant to maim or kill public employee unions are not really about public employees’ freedom to make their own individual, self-serving deals with their public employers. These so-called right-to-work bills are about power. The power public employee unions have to make a significant positive political difference in our state.

Eric Feaver is the immediate past president of the Montana Federation of Public Employees. He is now retired living uneasily in Helena.

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