Public Workers As Civic Workers

Last fall, before Gov. Scott Walker lowered the boom on public employee unions, I wrote about the hard times coming for public workers.The links appear broken for my Milwaukee Magazine stories, but here’s the cover story that appeared in Isthmus.

I returned  to the topic for this Isthmus column, making the case that unions need to retool their game to prosper in the 21st century. Here’s how I framed the issue:

Simply put, sympathy for battered union members doesn’t mean support for the old union agenda. Gallup and Pew polls show a sharp decline in union favorability ratings. And Walker was right when he said that unions can selfishly manipulate the political system to enrich themselves…. He was also right to think the union agenda can be at cross-purposes to the public interest. Walker’s mistake — to his and the state’s detriment — was to fumble the fix.

That leaves an immensely important question still unanswered: Can a meaningful public-employee unionism emerge in the 21st century?

I  argue:

Unions need to embrace merit and high-quality performance as core values. They need to lighten up on work rules, as Joel Rogers, the head of the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, says. They need a mission statement focused on public service.

Follow this link to read more.

Explore posts in the same categories: Labor, Politics,

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