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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Monday, February 28, 2011

Two lies I'm sick of hearing, so shut up already with them

by folkbum

1. Federal employees don't have collecting bargaining rights. FALSE. They do! It only takes a second or two with teh goggle to find references to the fact that "the vast majority of Federal employees have collective bargaining rights." So shut up.

2. FDR opposed public-sector unions. FALSE. He supported them! You see FDR quoted a lot these days, saying this: "All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service." Sounds pretty serious. And it is! As usually understood in 1937, labor struggles were ugly, violent, and disruptive. (See, for example, this.) Which is why Roosevelt, in context, tells a very different story:
The desire of Government employees for fair and adequate pay, reasonable hours of work, safe and suitable working conditions, development of opportunities for advancement, facilities for fair and impartial consideration and review of grievances, and other objectives of a proper employee relations policy, is basically no different from that of employees in private industry. Organization on their part to present their views on such matters is both natural and logical, but meticulous attention should be paid to the special relationships and obligations of public servants to the public itself and to the Government. [. . .]

Particularly, I want to emphasize my conviction that militant tactics have no place in the functions of any organization of Government employees. Upon employees in the Federal service rests the obligation to serve the whole people, whose interests and welfare require orderliness and continuity in the conduct of Government activities. This obligation is paramount. Since their own services have to do with the functioning of the Government, a strike of public employees manifests nothing less than an intent on their part to prevent or obstruct the operations of Government until their demands are satisfied. Such action, looking toward the paralysis of Government by those who have sworn to support it, is unthinkable and intolerable. It is, therefore, with a feeling of gratification that I have noted in the constitution of the National Federation of Federal Employees the provision that "under no circumstances shall this Federation engage in or support strikes against the United States Government."

I congratulate the National Federation of Federal Employees the twentieth anniversary of its founding and trust that the convention will, in every way, be successful.
FDR did not ask them to disband, he did not tell them to stop bargaining, he did not revoke their right to bargain. Instead, FDR celebrated the success of the federal employees' union, and encouraged them to continue in their civil, moderated behavior. So shut up.

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