Letter to the Editor - Dec. 12

December 12, 2011

Maryland unions don’t have this much power

To the editor:

Mr. Waters, your column of Sunday, Dec. 4, gives the public sector unions too much credit as to their power through collective bargaining. The state of Maryland, by law, severely limits the state’s employees power to negotiate. It limits the issues that are permissible to bargain. These unions are not permitted to strike and many of the economic issues negotiated are subject to funding by a fiscal authority.

No public sector union holds a gun to the head of its employer.  In fact in recent years, both parties have been involved in interest-based bargaining. Interest-based bargaining allows both parties a period of training so they can share their interest and work to meet those common interests in a nonadversarial environment

How is your claim of fraudulent disability payments the fault of the unions? It is management that controls the claims. There is a process in place to adjudicate each case. It is management that holds all the cards in the end.  

Here is another example: The teachers’ unions have been demonized for negotiating the tenure system. Mistakenly, the public views this as employment for life. Tenure only means a teacher may be dismissed from their teaching position for “cause.” There is an evaluation system agreed to by the Board of Education and the teacher’s union. It is in the best interest of the teaching profession to keep quality teachers. If unsatisfactory teachers are not removed, it is the failure of the administration.  It has nothing to do with the power of the unions.

Public sector unions have been given a bad rap recently. Let’s remember that they are first and foremost public servants, no matter what their position or capacity. Mr. Waters, I hope you have not forgotten that at one time, you were a public sector employee and your union was your voice.

Randy Changuris

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