A lot of people are talking smack about their servants. They’re spoiled. Overpaid. Their benefits are too rich and they don’t work hard enough. Opinions are harsh.
The servants I’m talking about are the people who clean our streets and run our schools. They fill the potholes and keep traffic flowing. Public employees serve us all, every day, in myriad ways most of us never think about -- until something goes wrong. Then they’re a bunch of incompetent, overpaid oafs. We don’t care that that their pay often lags well behind the private sector; that they’re doing more work with fewer people, relative to the population they serve, than since the early 1960s; or that most of them consistently do a great job.
People don’t go into public service to get rich. The work's not glamorous and too often not appreciated. But when some bad actor on the public payroll games the system or doesn't fulfill our expectations, too many of us seem eager to punish the whole lot of them. Thank goodness there is still a little protection against such vendettas.
If a public employee screws up, agencies can discipline or even fire them. But there’s a process to go through -- sometimes a good one, sometimes one that could be improved. For their service we have struck a deal not to pick them off at will.
Unions make sure those agreements are honored, and that workers are treated fairly. Unions help them negotiate -- not impose -- reasonable working conditions. But now many seek to hamstring or disband the unions that protect public employees against workplace abuses. That's just not the American way. This nation has always found its strength through unity: E Pluribus unum. Unions honor and uphold that tradition. They protect the people who serve us all. Their contribution is critical, but to say it's thankless would be an understatement.