When public unions take over

Steve McCann
Public sector unions have long been a major thorn in the side of European governments and one of the major factors in their budget woes.  In many countries such as Greece, they have virtually brought the nation to its financial knees and many unions throughout the hard hit countries of Europe still refuse to accept the austerity measures necessary to stabilize their various economies.  The recent riots in Athens, Paris and London were fore-runners to the lunacy taking place in Madison, Wisconsin.

Today in Germany, there is a strike by the Deutsche Bahn (government owned railway) train drivers, thus stranding millions as service was cancelled throughout the country.   The union which represents these workers are not demanding more money for the members of the union that work for Deutsche Bahn (20,000), but to force the few private rail companies in Germany that employ 6,000 members of the same union to pay the same as the government in their ongoing negotiations.  

Freight service had already been affected by the strike on Wednesday and on Thursday the busy hubs of Germany's long distance network, including Frankfurt, Cologne and Munich were heavily impacted by the walk-out.

Per Der Spiegel: 

But this week's strikes were only a warm-up for the GDL [union].  With a large-scale walkout, the train drivers' union was able to paralyze rail traffic across the country -- and it has threatened to do it again.

Another complicating factor is that there is no legal regulation of labor disputes in Germany.

The public sector unions in Germany have so much clout that they can do anything with virtual impunity.  The negotiations between the union and the private rail companies has nothing whatsoever to do with the national railway company and its contract with the union.  Yet because of the way the laws are written and the overwhelming clout of the unions vis-à-vis the politicians (whom they own) they can shut down the country at will with no repercussions.

Unless and until the countries of Europe get their public employee wages and benefits under control and rein in entitlement spending, the financial crisis still brewing and coming to a head in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Belgium (with more to come) will in due course engulf the continent.

The battle in Wisconsin and other state capitals are of the utmost importance. Public sector unionism is anathema to a thriving country and the rule of law as the government, who is ostensibly the employer become instead a spineless by-stander.  What is happening in Europe will happen in the United States, if the battle of Wisconsin is lost.
Public sector unions have long been a major thorn in the side of European governments and one of the major factors in their budget woes.  In many countries such as Greece, they have virtually brought the nation to its financial knees and many unions throughout the hard hit countries of Europe still refuse to accept the austerity measures necessary to stabilize their various economies.  The recent riots in Athens, Paris and London were fore-runners to the lunacy taking place in Madison, Wisconsin.

Today in Germany, there is a strike by the Deutsche Bahn (government owned railway) train drivers, thus stranding millions as service was cancelled throughout the country.   The union which represents these workers are not demanding more money for the members of the union that work for Deutsche Bahn (20,000), but to force the few private rail companies in Germany that employ 6,000 members of the same union to pay the same as the government in their ongoing negotiations.  

Freight service had already been affected by the strike on Wednesday and on Thursday the busy hubs of Germany's long distance network, including Frankfurt, Cologne and Munich were heavily impacted by the walk-out.

Per Der Spiegel: 

But this week's strikes were only a warm-up for the GDL [union].  With a large-scale walkout, the train drivers' union was able to paralyze rail traffic across the country -- and it has threatened to do it again.

Another complicating factor is that there is no legal regulation of labor disputes in Germany.

The public sector unions in Germany have so much clout that they can do anything with virtual impunity.  The negotiations between the union and the private rail companies has nothing whatsoever to do with the national railway company and its contract with the union.  Yet because of the way the laws are written and the overwhelming clout of the unions vis-à-vis the politicians (whom they own) they can shut down the country at will with no repercussions.

Unless and until the countries of Europe get their public employee wages and benefits under control and rein in entitlement spending, the financial crisis still brewing and coming to a head in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Belgium (with more to come) will in due course engulf the continent.

The battle in Wisconsin and other state capitals are of the utmost importance. Public sector unionism is anathema to a thriving country and the rule of law as the government, who is ostensibly the employer become instead a spineless by-stander.  What is happening in Europe will happen in the United States, if the battle of Wisconsin is lost.