Friday, February 18, 2011

Friday Link 2/18

A few posts ago, Doug wrote on the field of inquiry known as Public Choice. Here's a public choice question that Doug and I have discussed between us: is there a public choice argument to distinguish the pros and cons of private industry unionization from those regarding public sector unions (that is, unions of government employees)? I believe that the answer is "yes." Through avenues such as a standard public choice argument of concentrated versus diffuse costs, we see that public employee unions can have disproportionate influence on elections involving their union. If that translates into disproportionate electoral success, that means the unions dominate the government body that they (the unions) are nominally negotiating with. This has been evidenced in school board elections (not infrequently held on dates different than typical "November" elections) in which unionized teachers are disproportionately elected as members of the school board. The end results is, in effect, that the unions are negotiating with themselves.

The paragraph above is a brief summary of these arguments. For today's link, I recommend the linked article by Prof. Stephen Bainbridge of the UCLA Law School for a more detailed treatment of this topic. (Notice that from his own imbedded link that Prof. Bainbridge makes arguments in support of private sector unions.)

Thanks to Legal Insurrection blog for the tip to Prof. Bainbridge's piece. Full Disclosure: I am an employee of a public organization in which there is a certified faculty union. I have chosen not to join that union. I have discussed on this blog my disagreements with some of the policies negotiated by the union, one of which had a negative impact on my salary.

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