Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Election Day 2011

The hottest measure on Ohio's ballot today -- Issue 2, which asks citizens to decide whether or not the state may limit certain collective-bargaining rights for public employees -- has drawn national attention, and for good reason.
The tone of the campaign has been dishonest, often downright ugly. The outcome, I suspect, will be more of the same.
"All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters."
Those are the words of Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt, penned in a 1937 letter to the National Federation of Federal Employees. Supporters of Ohio Issue 2 have quoted the passage often in recent weeks, noting the irony of a liberal icon explicitly opposing collective bargaining for government employees.

In point of fact, FDR's position wasn't anti-union -- it was pro-People. Every bit of ugliness surrounding the Issue 2 debate -- and neither side may claim the high ground -- can be traced to confusing the two.