Because I don’t get it.
The “American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees” has been asking Wisconsin businesses to display this sign to show their support:
(It’s the rectangular white one with the green print.) They haven’t had many takers, and some local businesses are getting leaned on. “Many Union Grove businesses Tuesday received a letter from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Each of them declined to display a sign stating, ‘This business supports workers rights’ – with a prominent AFSCME logo below that. As a result, the union threatened them with a ‘public boycott.'”
Is a public boycott different than a regular boycott? I hereby promise to go into any business (and buy stuff!) if I see it being picketed by union people who don’t work there.
Go ahead and read the article. Notice the unstated premise (which is very, very common in current discourse) that ‘support for workers rights’ is synonymous with support for unions. I don’t get that.
More importantly, I don’t get the notion that public sector unions and private sector unions are the same thing. They’re not. Or at least they shouldn’t be. I’ll explain.
In the private sector, you’ve got unions and you’ve got management. And they have a sort of adversarial negotiating relationship, in which each is trying to get the most for it’s side. There’s nothing wrong with that. In the private sector, though, the unions realize that the company has to make a profit too. An enterprise that isn’t profitable is one that nobody wants to be involved with. It’s one that will be going away soon, and then nobody has a job. Private sector unions understand that.
In the public sector, the employer is the government. The government doesn’t need to make a profit; it (in theory, at least) is just trying to break even. That means that public sector unions are trying to get their slice of the government pie. For them to get a bigger slice, somebody else has to take a smaller one. I’m sure that public sector unions understand that too, but there’s no reason for them to care.
Bottom line: public sector unions are lobbyists. And they should be treated like lobbyists, not like unions.